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Belittling Horror Excessively: V/H/S 204:37 PM -- Thu October 31, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A couple who do P.I. work are hired to find somebody's son. They break into his house to find a whole lot of TVs and VHS tapes (those are like DVDs, only rectangular, kids). The wife/girlfriend feels compelled to watch them as the husband/boyfriend wanders the house looking for the kid. And we share in the videos she watches as we cap off Halloween month by combining found footage with anthology movies! Hooray ensues!

Scariness Type: There are four shorts in this movie, plus the wrap-around story, which vary in scary. But overall, you will find tons of horrific gore in this movie, as well as some hearty jump-scares and classic creepy horror.

Rating: 4/5 Barbecue Forks.

Body Count: It's probably a good sign that I completely failed to track the body count. I know it was very high though, maybe 50 or so, most of them in the 3rd story.

Fun Fact: VHS tapes can absorb ghostly energy. This is a fact because it's stated with authority by a guy on a webcam.

Best Story: Untrue to standard anthology form, the first story is the best one in this anthology. It's about a guy who is given a bionic eye because he lost one of his eyes in an accident. It's a clinical trial of a new technology, and the doctor warns him that he may see strange things. Also, as the way of explaining how this can be found footage, they say they are recording everything the eye sees as part of the trial (which seems like an outrageous privacy violation, as well as something they just wouldn't and couldn't do). He goes home, and of course, he starts to see ghosts. This is a downright scary story, with all sorts of jumps and really well-done effects. The device of having the entire story shot from his eye actually works very well, with the only odd thing being that he clearly has to reach his hands out extra far to check his watch and do other things like that - you can tell it's really a camera, not something compact that would be right on his face.

Worst Story: I'm gonna split this one. One of the worst stories has a clever idea: a guy is riding his bike with a camera mounted to his helmet, and zombies attack. He ends up dying and becoming a zombie, but of course the camera's still on his head. So it's a zombie movie, from the point of view of a zombie. That's a fun and original idea, but you know, it's just a zombie movie, not that great (not terrible either, but really nasty gore). The other one to share last place seems really interesting for most of its running time - it's about a documentary crew visiting a weird cult to document what they're all about. You know they're actually into some weird demonic stuff and it's all going to come out, but for almost the entire story it just keeps building up and seeming weirder and leaving more clues. Then when everything gets crazy, it's still interesting and compelling. It's only in the final reveal sequence where it all goes wrong with a very silly rubbery monster straight out of Godzilla that is born with the ability to speak English. It might have been my favorite story if they had just found a sane, non-ludicrous way to end it.

The Other Story: The second best story is the last one, where kids are having a slumber party at a lake house when aliens land. It's never clear what the aliens are trying to do, they just sort of come at the people like zombies, but it's well done and very scary how they do it, and there's this awful deafening noise and light show that (I guess?) their spaceship spews out every couple of minutes that just really amps up the stress level. It's reminiscent of the smoke monster in Lost, this terrible noise you can't really identify. The really lame thing in this story is a silly dog puppet - there's a camera mounted on the back of a little dog for most of the story, and it's clearly a puppet, and the people clearly work way too hard to make sure it's always facing the right thing, and that it never runs off on its own.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: It's all the problems you know from found footage movies - why are they still filming, what are the odds the camera would drop facing that way, why is that camera still working, why did you take the time to set the camera down before doing this, and so on. The bionic eye story gets around this entirely though, with just the one silly bit where it's explained that they'll be recording everything he sees. And by the way, right after I watched this movie, I watched The Office, and you know what? That show is done in the style of a documentary, and the characters acknowledge the camera regularly, but they don't mess around with it or worry about the reality of it - they never have to wait for camera guys to get in the car, they never have to argue with people about whether they can film where they are, the camera guys are never in anybody's way. It's fiction, done in a certain style. I don't know why found footage movies can't do this. There's nobody out there who thinks they're real, so why not just roll with it? Use the style without all the contrived nonsense! I don't care if a shot is suddenly filmed from the other side of a room where nobody is, that's okay if it makes the story work better. It would ironically be much more believable if they didn't try so hard to make it believable.

Horror Tropes: We have the found footage rules, like I said. There's also a crazy cult impregnating people with demons,a standard zombie attack, a standard alien invasion that made me think of Signs repeatedly, ghosts doing their usual thing of screaming or disappearing or being behind you, dead bodies getting up when you think they're dead. Fun stuff!

My Take: I loved it. I just had a lot of fun throughout, although I had to cringe a bit as intestines were munched on a few times. I saw V/H/S last year or so (I didn't review it, it looks like? I wonder if I have another set of reviews somewhere... I keep not finding movies I know I saw), and it wasn't that great. This is far better. The bionic eye story is great, despite a weak ending. The other stories are all worth seeing, and the wrap-around story isn't particularly a good story, but it's scary and keeps you wondering. It's not a perfect movie, I had many little issues and a lot of it was kind of dumb, but I certainly got my fun out of it, and I'm glad I'm wrapping up with something so good. Which, by the way, was suggested to me by Netflix Max. Thanks, Max. You obnoxious pile of garbage. I hate that guy. I gave him a chance to suggest movies for me almost every day this month, and he did choose maybe 7 or 8 of them, but mostly he's just an idiot. Also, the ones he chose weren't usually any good.

Missed Opportunity: I don't know, I really could've gone for just one more story in there.

The Lesson: Only watch DVDs, BluRay or streaming. VHS is just no good anymore, what with all the murder and possession. And low image quality.



And that's it folks! 31 movie reviews, with nary a one missed or late. And I finished watching two days early, so on Halloween I can watch Cabin In The Woods, as is my tradition. Since last year. And maybe make my wife watch Resolution. And I think I want to watch Evil Dead 2 and compare it to Evil Dead. Whatever, I'm free to do it all! Or none! Anything I want. Free at last!

Then the ultimate question... I did this all this month, it would take about the same amount of time next month to do Nanowrimo, so...? Maybe? I guess I'm rapidly running out of time to decide, aren't I?
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Ju-On: The Grudge12:32 PM -- Wed October 30, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this house where a woman and her son and a cat (yes, it too) were murdered by the father. As some text at the start of the movie explains, when someone dies violently, there's a special kind of ghost/curse created, a grudge. It is said to kill anyone who enters the house. There is then a series of different short stories that are fairly tightly intertwined, in which anyone who enters the house is killed. Hypothesis confirmation ensues.

Scariness Type: This is much like Silent Hill in that there is very little gore, and not really any significant jump scares, just rather a sense of horror - you see a lot of things coming at you that are simply wrong. They aren't hidden, they aren't popping out at you, they just come at you slowly and you sit there thinking "I don't want to see these things!"

Rating: 3.5/5 Teddy Bears.

Body Count: 10 I believe... a lot of people disappear with bodies found later.

Fun Fact: This movie was originally a pair of TV movies in Japan. Then this movie was made as a sequel to them, then a sequel was made to it, then an American remake, then an American sequel, then some spin-off mini-movies in Japan, then a 3rd American movie. I think. There's been a lot, is what I'm saying.

Best Moment: I really liked the part when one of the characters was riding in an elevator, and she wasn't looking out the window, but we could see, and on every single floor she passed, the ghost of the dead boy was standing there staring at her. It wasn't particularly scary, it was just unexpected and abnormal.

Worst Moment: Hmm. The ghosts were generally very unscary - we hearken back to A Haunting At Silver Falls here, where the ghosts are literally just people covered in white makeup, no special effects of any kind. It's very strange and most of the time it's just not effective. Though that little boy sitting under your table drumming his fingers on his knees, that's a bit off-putting! There are many bits where they are used to good effect (or most effectively, where they aren't used, and there are scary shadows and such instead), but they could've been more effective if they weren't just people in white makeup to begin with.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There are a bunch of times in this movie where people just seem too overly scared before they have encountered anything supernatural. They hear a noise upstairs and immediately they're cowering in the corner, then slowly inching up the stairs, bracing for the worst. Dude, it's probably a cat. A GHOST CAT (the ghost cat, by the way, was played by a normal cat, in no makeup of any sort. It was cute).

Horror Tropes: There's some J-Horror funtimes here - long black messy hair, only used once but really quite odd; distorted faces on TV; photos magically messing up the faces on them; evil ghost phone calls; people dying of fright apparently; themes of alienation and loneliness... this is one of the 'original' J-horror movies (I assume Japan had horror movies before the 90's, but this was when they started hitting America all at once).

My Take: At first I felt like this movie was pretty silly, and I couldn't believe it was worshipped alongside The Ring which was incredibly strange and terrifying (well, as far as I remember now, years after seeing it - maybe it doesn't hold up either). But as I got further into it, it got creepier and more interesting. I still think The Ring was far better though. There are some disturbing personal-space issues with the ghosts in this movie. In the end though, it felt like the last scene was the first point where people began to piece together clues and figure things out, and that was way too late (spoiler: the woman who figured things out died in that same scene). The movie was also really hard to follow, due to language challenges and a non-linear structure, and I confess to reading up on the internet to fully understand what I had just seen. For the longest time I thought the retired cop had a younger daughter and an older daughter (and I couldn't figure out why he was dead all of a sudden either...), until the internet pointed out to me that that was years later and his daughter had grown up and he had died somewhere in between. So I couldn't enjoy it as much when I spent half the time trying to figure out who people were, only to gradually realize this was later, or earlier. That time-jump stuff is not as easy to follow without the handy language cues! I feel like I'm all set to watch the American remake now though. Too bad Netflix only has the third one.

Missed Opportunity: For a film with a ghost cat, they sure lacked the classic scene where a cat jumps out and yowls at somebody even though cats never do that in real life.

The Lesson: Stay out of that one house. I'm not sure which one exactly. Watch the movie so you know what it looks like. You do not want to go in there. It's in Japan though, so you're probably fine.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Evil Dead10:05 AM -- Tue October 29, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Like in every horror movie, a group of twenty-something teens heads to a cabin for a weekend of beer and reefer madness like the kids like. But this time (well, like most times) they find an ancient book bound in human flesh in the basement. Bruce Campbell ensues.

Scariness Type: There's gore by the gallon, including some things I just couldn't watch (that pencil!).

Rating: 4/5 The Classics.

Body Count: 4

Fun Fact: The first credit at the end of this movie is for a bunch of Fake Shemps. A quick google informs me that a Fake Shemp (term coined by Sam Raimi, in this very film!) is a person standing in for an actor, only shot from the back, or only their hand or something is visible. This is based on the fact that when Shemp Howard of the 3 Stooges died, they still had to complete 4 more shorts, and they did so with a stand-in, the original Fake Shemp.

Best Moment: The best thing overall about this movie is that they just went for it. They never stop to say "is this too much?" It's all too much, and it's supposed to be. Movies so often dial things back, and I don't mean sex and violence and all that, but rather just weirdness. Most movies wouldn't dismember someone right in front of you while they're still alive (and even semi-alive afterwards). A lot of things in this movie are the things other movies wouldn't include because it's too over-the-top, too unbelievable, going to look silly no matter how good your effects are. Sam Raimi doesn't care (or didn't back then!), he will film what he wants because it's the story he wants to tell, whether that's gonna come out looking ridiculous or not. I've actually observed this same thing in Hercules and Xena as well. Other shows would never have Hercules swallowed by a sea monster and doing battle with its internal organs, because there's no way to do it without it looking stupid. And believe me, that is true! But it's the story they wanted to tell, so they don't water it down by saying "well, maybe he just wrestles a big shark" (okay, that would also look stupid...). Don't let your limitations fetter your expression, put it all out there like Sam Raimi!

Worst Moment: This movie includes an interesting notion, perhaps unintentionally. You see, demons are evil, right? So they'll kill you, or torture you, or destroy your soul, we all know that stuff. But what no other movie has dared to consider is that another very evil thing to do is to annoy someone! There are demons in this movie that will have you reaching for the volume knob just to stop the laughing/screaming/screeching/giggling. They are truly driving the characters insane, and sadly the audience at the same time. I actually think this is a brilliant notion - why wouldn't demons try to be as annoying as possible as well as deadly? They're supposed to be the epitome of evil, after all. But anyway, the worst moment is sitting through extended scenes of one of the possessed girls, who sits there giggling like a baby for five minutes. Just because it's a good idea doesn't mean I want to hear it! Overall, this whole movie is very loud and noisy. It's not a slow burn, it's exploding in your face and pretty grating.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: In a movie this crazy, you're either in or you're out. But one thing that pushed my limits was the two separate times that Ash found himself with a bookcase falling on top of him. They'd break apart and then he'd be laying there under a board, like the little particle-board boards that make up the side of a cheapo bookcase, and he couldn't get up. He'd have to struggle it off of him over a minute or so. It was so absurd. I'm sure they could've found heavier-looking bookcases to make that work.

Horror Tropes: Well, I already told you there's a group of twenty-something teens going to a cabin! And an ancient evil book with a curse in it you should never read aloud. They don't actually read it, they just play a tape of somebody else reading it, which leaves me wondering why the curse ever stopped being active in the first place, or why the cabin is in decent shape and everything is put away. I guess the demons got bored after they killed everyone, so they left and then somebody came and cleaned up the place for the next visitors. Anyway, this movie isn't too tropey, nobody else would dare copy the madness. Few tropes unless you count Sam Raimi tropes - it's about 99% Raimi-Cam. Nearly every shot is through some crazy angle, from a demon's perspective or just insane.

My Take: This movie from way back in 1981 really does hold up, at least for me. As I mentioned in other parts, it's just sheer insanity on film. But in a fun, goofy way, not some kind of disturbing Cronenberg thing. And there's Bruce Campbell! The budget was nearly zero, but honestly most of the effects are solid and still hold up. The "river of blood" effect in this movie, almost 20 years before Event Horizon, is infinitely superior (because it's actual corn syrup blood stuff, not red water. To be fair, it's also about 1000 gallons less, but I bet the budget is about 1000 times smaller as well). This is definitely an amateur production, and it shows, but it shows in a way that you can easily see that Sam Raimi is going places. It's not any wonder at all that he's one of the biggest directors today when you see what he accomplished here with nothing, and how much style he put into it. Oh, and hey, there's a claymation ending! I told you, they just went for it.

Missed Opportunity: In my mind, Evil Dead 1 and 2 are a bit mixed up (understandably, since Evil Dead 2 is basically a remake), and I kept waiting for Ash to chop off his own hand in this movie, but it never happened.

The Lesson: Never read books.

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Better Two Years Late Than Never!08:27 AM -- Tue October 29, 2013

Hey folks! Our first Supreme add-on in 2 years has been uploaded! I hope it works right, because other than starting it up, I didn't test it. For the first time, I have relied entirely on The Amazing Testing Cooperative (feel free to join it yourself if you want to play new worlds, there are several in testing!). Anyway, go visit the Supreme Add-Ons page and pick up Summer Silliness 9 - BD by Boyd. You could also rate it on the Add-Ons page after you play it, that's always nice.

I was a couple months late to posting this add-on, for a goofy reason... I thought I might not have the tools to do this stuff anymore, or not know how, so I kept putting it off, assuming it would take most of a day to get it all working again (time I did not have). Well, it turns out everything was sitting there and easy to use, so I had it up on the website within half an hour. So, sorry about that. Now I know, and I can fire up the next one as soon as I hear it's ready.


Happy Halloween!! And go sacrifice your items to the horrifying maw of Growganoth in Growtopia. As you might expect from Hamumu, our Halloween event in Growtopia is the biggest and best event the game has ever had.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Paranormal Activity 411:12 AM -- Mon October 28, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A family gets a new neighbor: the woman who got possessed and kidnapped her sister's son in the previous movies and then disappeared. One night, she's taken to the hospital and the family has to care for her son for a few days. Kinect advertising ensues.

Scariness Type: This is the classic found footage! Long shots of empty rooms with nothing going on, until suddenly you notice something moving in the corner! That can be quite scary sometimes, but a lot less so here than in previous installments.

Rating: 2/5 Kinects.

Body Count: 4

Fun Fact: This movie was like a huge product placement for the XBox Kinect. A significant portion of the movie is actually spent showing the sparkly disco dots you get when you use night vision to look at the output of the Kinect camera. Which the family leaves on 24 hours a day for some reason.

Best Moment: When the possessed woman's son leads the other family's son across the street to his house, that's a pretty scary sequence. There's just something that works about furniture draped in white sheets and filmmakers know this - it was also in The Amityville Haunting, and at least one of the others I watched this past week, not sure which. So this strange house, with sheets over all the furniture, and it's almost a maze, and you know something bad is going to be in there, as you turn corner after corner, searching for this missing child... pretty good. Not great though, not even then.

Worst Moment: There's a whole bit where the ghosts/demons/magical powers have locked the family's daughter in the garage, and magically started up the car to choke her with carbon monoxide. It's super ridiculous, in part because the scenario just isn't 'spooky' enough, it's more like something somebody would plot to get some life insurance money or something, but also because it's just so silly, and the room fills up with this thick smoke in under a minute. I guess it's mainly the idea that the ghosts are operating the car that just ruins it all. That's so mundane and non-creepy. It just doesn't go along with randomly sliding objects around in the house, it's this very complex intentional act instead.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The smoke in the previously mentioned scene was pretty ridiculous. As is the final moment of the movie (spoiler alert!) which I have two major problems with: first, there's an absolute army of what I presume are supposed to be witches. I paused it and tried to do some math and I think at least 50 women are clearly visible, and it seems to continue on from there into the shadows, all jammed into the backyard of this house, not making a peep. It's just insane! I guess the craziness of it does make it creepier, but it just left me with so many questions. Did they bring in porta-potties for this event? Were snacks provided? Where are they all sleeping, and where are their cars? My other issue is that the little brother who the big sister is trying to rescue is standing right in front of her, and she's just saying "Come on, let's go! Come on!" instead of grabbing him and pulling him or carrying him. And it'd be nice if she'd set the camera down to do it, but hey, found footage movie.

Horror Tropes: Found footage standards are all around. This movie is so full of completely unbelievable obsession with cameras. They end up rigging all the laptops in the house (of which there are for some reason many, and they're all on 24/7 and never have their lids shut) with some kind of spyware to run their webcam at all times and record it, which apparently doesn't take up much hard drive space since they do it for days straight. Another thing that happens in horror movies (recently anyway) is that you see an ancient pagan symbol of some kind and then in ten minutes, you can google it up and learn all about it, all kinds of plot-appropriate information that perfectly hints at what the threat is going to be. And they believe what they google. Oh hey, here's a non-horror trope: the dad is sitting watching TV in one scene, and you can't see it, you can only hear it. And what do you hear? What you always hear when people on TV watch TV! A machine gun noise, followed by somebody screaming. Always. People on TV just love war movies, I guess.

My Take: I'm a Paranormal Activity fan. I love the thrill ride of looking for the scary thing in the corners of each scene. But even I thought this movie was lame. Like big time lame. One thing it had was too much paranormal activity! At one point, the kid is riding his Big Wheel in the house, and in plain sight in front of him, a chair scoots into his path. He backs up and then another one does. He gets off his Big Wheel, and it starts driving itself around. I mean, this is major major stuff. If it really happened, that family would be outta there! While Paranormal Activity movies are normally lambasted for the boredom of staring at empty rooms, this movie swung too hard the other way. It's just a riot of nonsense happening, and the plot is silly and not at all believable. What made the first movie good (and to an increasingly lesser extent with each sequel) was that it looked real, and it was subtle enough to go unnoticed at first, and then gradually grow until it got them. I still remember the really scary ending stuff in the first movie, when they finally went down into the basement. I don't know if the makers are too wrapped up in the mythology they've built around the movie, or they're not taking it seriously enough and just trying to up the scare ante. All I know is they're doing it wrong. They should watch their first movie again and see what they were doing.

Missed Opportunity: Surely that knife could've done something more than just dropping and sticking in the counter...

The Lesson: Never take in stray kids.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Final07:44 AM -- Sun October 27, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: It's the Revenge Of The Nerds sequel we've all been waiting for! The kids at school who get bullied secretly arrange a party for the popular kids who abuse them, then trap them all at the party. Torture ensues.

Scariness Type: This is what we call torture porn. Not my usual interest, but I was curious because of the plot. But yes, people get tortured, you cringe as they suffer horribly. There's plenty of disfigurement and mutilation, but the psychological torture is the worst of it.

Rating: 2/5 Acupuncture Needles.

Body Count: 8

Fun Fact: I don't know who to root for... this is some truly terrible bullying before the torture party.

Best Moment: The moments when people weren't being tortured were nice.

Worst Moment: Probably the worst thing (aside from nasty torture you don't want to watch, but you can't really label that a failure, right?) is when the Heroic Popular Kid With A Heart Of Gold escapes and returns with a gun, and he actually says the line "Fate brought me here, to stop you." Maybe that's realistic... teenagers would probably want to go for something melodramatic. But it sure sounded cheesy to me. Also, on another note, acupuncture needles don't hurt. That's why they're so super skinny. This girl was jamming them into someone and he's screaming in agony. I know you could apply them improperly (as she was) and they wouldn't be painless, but they're teeny tiny, there's only so much they can hurt!

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: I don't know why movies insist on this, but in this movie, the villains invented their own "acid cream", a mix of acid and nicer things that you can smear on someone's face and it gradually eats it away, hurting more and more over time. Now, that could happen, I imagine, I'm no chemist. But why invent some special new substance? They could've just sprayed acid on the person's face for the same plot effect. No, it wouldn't have been slow, but they never do anything much with the fact that it is slow in the movie anyway. Replace the slowness with sprinkling a little bit on them so they know the threat of a lot of it. Movies always like to invent new things, which is unlikely, when existing things would work fine.

Horror Tropes: Dead body jumps up and attacks you... hmm, I'm sure there's a few others, especially in the Heroic Kid's escape sequence, but overall this was not your typical horror movie.

My Take: Well, I was very interested from the beginning, and the movie even opens with a weird black and white sequence that pulls you in wondering what's going on. And frankly it remained very interesting, right up until the torture! I mean, the story of how horrific the abuse of these kids was (I hope that's not realistic, but... I remember high school, I'm not sure you could overdramatize how awfully kids treat each other), and their plotting of revenge. It was also a little hard to watch, not just because of the torture, but because this was basically Columbine. It was hard not to think of it in real terms, which made it more powerful. And the costumes that the villains wore were downright creepy. Except the leader in his gas mask. That just looked dumb. So this was a very difficult watch all around. I think in the right hands, this story could've been some kind of twisted Oscar material with all the complex issues it brings up. But these aren't the right hands. I can't point to much that is really bad about it in terms of filmmaking or acting, it's just not elevated above an ordinary schlocky horror movie, despite being about something so much more important and complex. What we end up with is a complex-sounding excuse to show some torture porn, really. And that's why I can't rate it too highly. That and the fact that I don't like watching people get tortured.

Missed Opportunity: First, the villains missed an opportunity to guard the people they crippled - they literally dragged them into an unlocked room and left them there. Secondly, the movie missed the opportunity for any of them to escape, or jump out and attack the badguys! I mean really, they were injured to varying degrees, but I guarantee you most of them could still walk at least. What was up with that?

The Lesson: Never get acupuncture.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Amityville Haunting08:33 AM -- Sat October 26, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Oh no! I didn't notice until I was googling to find the exact title for this movie... it's another one by The Asylum! Well, that makes a lot of sense, as you will see. Anyway, today we are wrapping up our "Haunting" trilogy with this 'sequel' to The Amityville Horror. In this movie, a family moves into the infamous Amityville house because it's all they can afford (famous houses being cheap and all), and immediately the realtor who showed them the house drops dead, then a moving guy drops dead, then everybody else who ever visits drops dead. The cops don't mind, the family doesn't mind, and eventually everyone drops dead. Found footage ensues.

Scariness Type: This is a little different from your standard found footage, simply in that there is no searching for what might lurk in the corners most of the time - it's right there. There are many many shots with ghosts (actually just ordinary people, in most cases) just standing in them, not bothering anybody. There are also some creepy ones where shadows move around, or a transparent person is lurking, or a normal person is just jammed in a corner. And occasional bits of gore as people explode.

Rating: 1/5 Why Didn't I Realize This Was An Asylum Movies.

Body Count: 7

Fun Fact: This entire family, except for the son, is deaf. I'm pretty sure that wasn't the writer's intent, but you watch the movie and try to explain it any other way. No human being could possibly ignore another so intently without simply being unable to hear them. The kid is constantly trying to talk to his parents or his sister and they just show no sign of response whatsoever. For that matter, the security guy who shows up later on is a mute. The kid asks him questions and he at least looks at him. And looks at him. And then turns away. Nobody does that! This is bad writing!

Best/Worst Moment: Best and worst have no place in an Asylum movie. It's all the worst, which makes it the best. There's the moving guy falling down the stairs and by the time the camera gets to him (in under 2 seconds), there's a pool of blood around his head, and not a single drop more coming out. Must've been quite a gushing head wound. For a second. There's the security guy (with bizarre unexplained black ops connections??) who has an electric line fall from the sky onto him in one of the most hilarious electrocutions ever filmed. There's the dad's violent beating of a ghost, where he's just punching and kicking the air. There's his mental breakdown where he decides he's in the army again and does a bellycrawl across the living room floor after dispatching orders to his family and saluting the bookcase. It's just all amazing.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The acting.

Horror Tropes: Well, you got your haunted house, your kid with a camera welded to his hand permanently (and I mean permanently, wow), your teens being murdered for having sex, your falling down stairs and breaking your neck (apparently an Asylum favorite - once in this movie, twice at least in Whaley House, maybe three times?), your kid's imaginary friend that's actually a ghost, and your family that doesn't just move out after the third or fourth unexplained death in two days.

My Take: Whaley House had some fun. This one was just terrible. It was the crazy military dad, and the terrible acting from the main kid running the camera (also everyone else, but he had to speak directly to the camera up close, with long rambling descriptions of what happened between scenes). To be honest, this movie looked a whole lot like it would have if that actual kid had really made it, with his buddies, as a fun after-school project. It even kind of seemed like the parents were his parents, just barely willing to participate, but not act, so he'd leave them alone. Wow, I'm giving myself a whole new perspective on this movie. Actually, for a middle school kid, I think he did a pretty good job after all. Congratulations, kid!

Missed Opportunity: What this movie really could've used was some semblance of logic I think. If there had been a plot, a sequence of events that tied the ghostiness together and made it make sense rather than people just randomly being killed, that would've held my interest and given me something to think about. That's a real missed opportunity right there.

The Lesson: Stop accidentally watching Asylum movies! These are the things you have to check for before you choose a movie.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Haunting of Whaley House08:25 AM -- Fri October 25, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: The makers of Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers, Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies, The Da Vinci Treasure, Alien Vs. Hunter, and so so much more, bring you a movie that as far as I can tell is not a direct rip-off of anything specific. In it, a group of twenty-something teens (yeah, that's a thing in movies), one of which is a tour guide at the Whaley House (an actual house in San Diego, which the movie is not filmed at, and which they're being sued for defaming), all go into the Whaley House at night after being told not to, and bring along a famous psychic because why not? Enraged spirits ensue.

Scariness Type: I jumped once! I forget why now, but hey, it happened. So yeah, it's a haunted house movie, with your usual jump scares and lurking horror.

Rating: 2/5 EMF Meters.

Body Count: 9

Fun Fact: My favorite line in this movie is repeated at least 3 times, and I can't say it on this blog. It's a simile, explaining just how haunted the house is.

Best Moment: It's so hard to pick just one. I might have to go with the time when a guy was stabbed through the chest by a chair. Not only was it amazing to be stabbed by a chair, but you could see the plate under his shirt that held the chair in place, which just elevated the entertainment one notch higher.

Worst Moment: I hate to say anything like this is the worst, but the finale of the movie is wrapped up by somebody walking backwards and falling down stairs and dying. On accident, when she's the only one left in the house. Quite a dramatic finale for somebody to just trip and die.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There are too many to count, so let me just generalize: this movie, like a lot of horror movies, has this idea that human beings are incredibly fragile (except sometimes horror movies do the exact opposite, and seemingly normal people will just get up and run around after being shot four times). You've got a guy run through with a chair, a guy who stumbles into one of those water hand pumps, and it plunges right through him. Of course, shortly after that he walks into a thick metal wire (not a thin one, I must emphasize!), and his head pops off instantly. It's the kind of thing that would make you stumble back and cough a couple times, but for this guy it's instant decapitation.

Horror Tropes: There's a real classic at the beginning of this movie: walking backwards into the street and getting hit by a bus. Not horror-specific, but always grand. Speaking of not horror, this movie also contains a Star Trek Earthquake, where the camera jiggles and everybody has to act like the world is shaking, which is great too.

My Take: This is the lowest-of-budget cheesy crap, but it still has scarier ghosts than A Haunting At Silver Falls! It's really a bad movie, as you would expect coming from The Asylum, but I had a good time, I can't deny. I also enjoyed Transmorphers, which was about ten times worse. If you want a bad horror movie, this is pretty close to as bad as you can get, in the good sense - you won't be too bored, something stupid is always happening. The one thing they did do sort of right is the completely random monster that appears in the attic at the end. I have no idea what it was or why it was there (the answer may lie in the dialogue, which I half-ignored, but I sure wouldn't count on it), but it was a scary creation.

Missed Opportunity: I don't know, seems like they could've ended this in any way other than somebody falling down stairs and it would've been better...

The Lesson: Be careful on stairs, always use the handrail and watch your step.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: A Haunting At Silver Falls09:59 AM -- Thu October 24, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A teenage girl's mother dies, so the mother's twin sister takes over raising her. The girl finds a ring in the woods and puts it on, and then for the rest of the movie, she can't get it off. She then keeps seeing a ghost everywhere she goes. Everybody thinks she's crazy, like they do. Pointing and wiggly heads ensue.

Scariness Type: Well, you've got a ghost following this girl around (or vice versa half the time), but the ghost is just a person in white makeup, with no special effects most of the time. So it's weird, it's like there's just another person in the movie that only she can see, and it's not really creepy at all. Then there are crazed torturers, much scarier than the ghost.

Rating: 2/5 Ghost Slobber.

Body Count: 2

Fun Fact: Ferrero Rocher is so tasty that even ghosts can't resist eating it.

Best Moment: The twist in the last quarter of the movie made it all a lot more fun, real quick. It completely changes what the movie is about, which is good, since the ghost was not very scary.

Worst Moment: That ghost, man... super lame. I just couldn't get over how dumb it was just seeing this white-faced girl walking around. It was like a ghost in a play, not a movie.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: When the ghosts took the main character for a ride in a school bus, I was sitting there trying to wrap my head around what was actually happening... was it a dream? Was there a ghost school bus that could physically carry her? Was it a real bus they were controlling? How'd she get home afterwards? I could see a driver on it, but they never let you really see him/her, so what was that about? Most of the movie was filled with these "is it real, is it not?" things, but this one just went too far for me (actually I didn't really like any of them, they feel like lazy writing - stuff should have a way to fit into a certain movie reality instead of just saying, "eh, whatever"). I was so busy wondering how the bus worked I don't even remember what she ended up finding when it took her out to the woods.

Horror Tropes: This movie has 3 or 4 "it was only a dream" sequences. Enough already. There's also an old classic: when somebody has a dream about walking in the woods, then they wake up and have dirty feet. I don't really get the metaphysics of that. Did dirt grow on your feet, did you teleport during the dream (usually there's some sort of evidence that you never actually left the bed, so sleepwalking is out), did ghosts collect it and rub it on, are you hallucinating the dirt? We also have a ghost pointing at stuff and wiggling its head around crazily (which just looked really dumb. How do Japanese horror movies make it so disturbing?). And what I believe is the third usage this month of "Ghost does stuff when nobody is around and it's blamed on the main character, who now looks crazy". There should be a short way to say that, but I don't know what it is.

My Take: Nah, it wasn't good. I was going to say it was okay originally, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it was just dumb. And boy, talk about your conflicts of interest - she goes to see a psychologist, and it's her boyfriend's dad! Who doesn't like her! I can't in good conscience recommend any movie where the ghost just looks like a person in makeup.

Missed Opportunity: Here's the thing... ghosts aren't just people! They're ghostly! It's not just that though, the whole usage of the ghost in this movie was so... normal. Just a person walking around. They missed an ocean of opportunities to be creepy instead of blah.

The Lesson: Don't take in stray rings.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Devil's Carnival11:36 AM -- Wed October 23, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Three people in different circumstances don't actually seem to die as far as I can tell (though all three are probably just about to), yet nonetheless are sent down below, to that place we know bad people go when they die... The Devil's Carnival! So sit right back and you'll hear three tales, three of Aesop's Fables actually, as each of the bad people is taken through a torment related to their sins, and to maximize the torment, the whole thing is done in song! A musical ensues.

Scariness Type: You couldn't get much less scary than this, it only counts as a "horror musical" because the devil is in it, which isn't really fair since he's also in Santa Claus Vs. The Devil, and nobody called that horror (well, some reviewers did, but it was a great MST3K episode).

Rating: 1.5/5 Songs.

Body Count: Although they don't actually seem to die, it's fair to assume the 3 main characters are technically dead. Then one, or possibly two, of them end up dying again inside the carnival.

Fun Fact: It's a musical! What could be more fun than that? By the makers of Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I haven't seen either, but since it contains Giles, it must be better.

Best Moment: The best song by far is the last one, sung by the devil himself. It's catchy.

Worst Moment: The ending is actually truly 100% incomprehensible (to me anyway). There's some concept where one of the 3 souls ... repents? Decides to give in to grief? I have no idea. But because he makes whatever choice he makes, the devil sends him off to Heaven, which is already not making sense to me, but then this somehow leads the devil to decide he's now going to overthrow Heaven by changing all the rules, and it makes even less sense.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Well, this is a musical, set in a carnival run by the devil, and the characters all sing what they feel. It's not exactly buried in verisimilitude.

Horror Tropes: It's a pretty classic horror concept to hoist people on their own petards, with ironic torture. And I guess the devil is a pretty common character. And hey, what horror movie doesn't contain a series of dance numbers based on ancient morality plays?

My Take: I figured what could go wrong with a horror musical? Well, two things really - the horror, and the music. I don't mind there being no horror, but this music was awful. One thing I have a really hard time with in stage musicals is when ten people are singing at once, and it's just noise. I can't hear the words, I have no idea what's going on, and I can't even enjoy the music because it's just this screeching din over it. Same thing happens here. There are a few songs where one person is singing, and that's fine (but not very good music), but the rest of the time you have all these people shouting something together and I just can't understand a word of it. I do like musicals (if they are made by Joss Whedon), but this one is not any good at all. And the plot is a complete mess, at least to the degree that I could understand it (none). Just a big disappointment all around.

Missed Opportunity: I missed the fact that you can't turn on subtitles on the PS3 version of Netflix like you can on PC. It may have helped a lot.

The Lesson: Enunciate, people! Use your words!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Fourth Kind06:51 PM -- Tue October 22, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Milla Jovovich tells us how to pronounce her name (it's not what I always thought!), and then she, and another woman playing "real her", are psychologists treating several people who strangely all have the same delusions of an owl watching them in bed. She tries hypnosis on them, which tends to break them. Aliens ensue.

Scariness Type: Other than the lurking fear of what might be coming to get the characters, there isn't much to scare you. I've heard this movie is terrifying, but frankly, it didn't do anything for me. I think the big money shots are the weird/paranormal moments during a couple of hypnosis scenes, but hardly anything happens even then. I guess if you have it turned up loud, there will be a lot of noisy yelling that will bother you in these scenes.

Rating: 2.5/5 White Owls.

Body Count: 5

Fun Fact: The "real" psychologist looks so much like an alien herself. I really couldn't get it out of my head that the aliens had done some kind of alteration on her, but I think that's just the actress. And now I feel rude for insulting her. Well, I never said aliens looked bad, I guess?

Best Moment: It's not much, I know, but I can't help but note that at the beginning of the movie, each new major character that came onscreen had the actor and character's name displayed under them. I wish all movies did that, I'd know the names of actors so much better, and I'd even know some of the characters' names too! You'll note I'm still calling the psychologist Milla in this review though, so I didn't learn that much. Pretty sure the character's name was Abigail, in truth. But I did learn that Elias Koteas is that one balding guy - I recognized his name and his face, but didn't know they went together. Oh yeah, and he was Casey Jones in the Ninja Turtle movies!

Worst Moment: Enough with the hypnosis, movie psychologists! Seriously! Real psychologists almost never use that stuff. Yet it's all movie psychologists ever do.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The psychologist ends up under house arrest right when she is all set to get out of Dodge because she doesn't want aliens to abduct her. A cop is sitting outside watching her house, and he has a dash cam recording. So of course the aliens come during the night to get her. The dash cam catches this event, and amid all the static that aliens always cause in video, we can clearly see a huge UFO fly over the house to zap it. The cop gets out and runs to the house, freaking out that a UFO has stopped by. Here's my problem with this: if that was actually how they performed the abductions, then it wouldn't have been a secret for years and years... they would've been caught in the first week! Really, nobody else had ever been outside one of the abductee's houses at 3:33 in the morning ever before this?

Horror Tropes: Hmm, I don't have any good ones off-hand for you. Even though I found the movie's format strange and off-putting (combining clips of "real" footage with the dramatized version), what it accomplished was an anti-trope. It made it so they didn't have to do the traditional found-footage thing of coming up with reasons for everything to happen right in front of a camera. These people only used cameras when it made a decent amount of sense - the hypnosis sessions were filmed, the cop turned on a dash cam when watching the house (I kinda doubt that would happen, but it's not insane), and various interviews were filmed, which of course would have to be. All the stuff in-between was just dramatized. Interesting idea.

My Take: I could never quite get fully invested in this movie because of the two-movies trick. A lot of scenes would be like something out of 24 - the screen would be split into 2, 3, or even 4 blocks with different video on each one, and they had this trick which I'm sure they thought was clever, but totally pulled me out of the movie: they'd gradually stretch or shrink different boxes to emphasize them. That just had me thinking about the changing size of the boxes rather than watching what was going on in them. Now, most of the movie was just straightforward, but it was the key scenes that were done this way, so it kinda killed the mood. The whole proceeding would've been better as just a single movie, with no found-footage element. Anyway, with that aside, I just didn't like it too much. Nobody was really likeable, and a lot of them (most notably Milla's balding friend) were just outright hostile and unhelpful, despite encountering the exact same paranormal events she was. The evil alien threat also didn't do much of interest, and didn't seem to have a very interesting reason for being around. I think they were shooting for some kind of high-concept thing where these aliens had actually created humans in the first place, but they didn't do anything with that, so who cares?

Missed Opportunity: Do something with your aliens. They're aliens, come on! They can shapeshift, give bees smallpox, run for President, eat Reese's Pieces, whisper in Fred Flintstone's ear, cross borders illegally, use Macs, blow up world monuments, tear off human-like skin and eat mice, secretly run the government, dissolve when wet, recite poetry, parasitically infest and control humans, train kids to pilot spaceships via arcade games, fight cowboys, plant babies in your stomach, march in lockstep down the screen until they touch ground, wear Edgar suits, rule Omicron Persei 8, come in peace, and do so much more. You may consider this paragraph a fun game for your amusement.

The Lesson: Just say no to hypnosis.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dead Snow08:38 AM -- Mon October 21, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A group of Norwegian med students goes to a very remote cabin in the snow for... well, what seems like a pretty awful vacation, I mean like freezing freezing cold, no TV, and one snowmobile. And no skis even! Anyway, they seem happy about it. And then a crazy old man shows up at their door to give them a very cryptic warning. They should've listened, because after that, the Nazi Zombies come for their gold. Intestines ensue.

Scariness Type: Gore gore gore gore gore. And intestines.

Rating: 3/5 Intestines.

Body Count: 9 people, 1 bird, and 35 or so zombies.

Fun Fact: During the movie, I honestly wondered why it wasn't called "Red Snow", which would've been way better. Now I checked IMDB and I find that in fact it was originally called that. No indication as to why they changed it.

Best Moment: It's always fun, and completely unscary, when the heroes have finally had enough of running away from the scary monsters and find a chainsaw and start wailing away.

Worst Moment: Much more upsetting than zombies crushing skulls was when somebody got pulled into the pit under the outhouse. So much worse. Oh, you know what else was bad and really out of place? When one of the students nearly murders another one with a pillow over her face and her hands trapped, as some sort of perverse joke. And that guy wasn't even the "super evil teen" role we have seen in other movies. What on earth was that? You don't partially murder people and then laugh it off!

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Suspending yourself from a human intestine (as it spools out of a body) is too far. I don't think this movie knows how intestines work. They were present in almost every fight in the movie, doing all kinds of awful things, very few of which were anything close to related to actual intestines. Some strange intestinal obsession in this one for sure. Maybe the writer had Crohn's disease and thus had a real fear of issues related to them. Come to think of it, there were even a bunch of outhouse-related scenes. I could definitely see the writer having bowel fears. Now that's just weird.

Horror Tropes: "It was just a dream", a scene that seems normal until the person wakes up and it didn't happen. I'm tired of that, give me blood drips any day. Also a rather specific element stolen straight from Edgar Wright: the quick-cut "gearing up" scenes, where straps are tightened, hats and gloves are thrown on, etc. They stole the style of these exactly from Shaun Of The Dead and other Edgar Wright joints. Many movies have done these things, but Edgar Wright has a specific style to them, which was clearly duplicated here, and yet is somehow lesser.

My Take: This was almost a good experience. It had the hipness factor of Nazi Zombies and the associated bits of humor (although not as much as I would've expected or wanted), and the hipness factor of college kids and the associated bits of humor (although not as much I would've expected or wanted - this was not written by the Norwegian Kevin Smith), and the fun zombie war with chainsaws and sledgehammers. But it just didn't quite hit it hard enough. There was a little too much darkness, kind of an attempt to be actually scary, but that was wasted in a goofy zombie movie, they should've just gone all out with the fun and humor.

The Lesson: Always check your pockets thoroughly when running from zombies - you never know if you may still have a piece of nazi gold on you.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Fingerprints08:53 PM -- Sun October 20, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: You know the urban legend where you can park your car on the train tracks, and ghost kids will push it off? First of all, that's totally entitled of you - don't you think those kids have something better to do in the afterlife? But secondly, that's what this movie is about! A girl returns home from rehab, although her family moved in the meantime, to the town where those train tracks are. People start getting killed, and she investigates the legend of the train tracks, and whatever. Bad acting ensues.

Scariness Type: Well... there are ghosts, and a weird torture/slasher person, sort of like Jason, but dumber. But scariness? It's scary they made this movie.

Rating: 1/5 Stun Batons.

Body Count: 1 busfull of kids, plus 6 more non-kids.

Fun Fact: I am pretty sure the main character's mom is a robot. An evil robot.

Best Moment: None.

Worst Moment: I think you'd have to dig deep, but some lowlights include the attempted rape, the train hitting the bus and causing it to... well, cut to some random spinning cameras inside the bus as blood was splashed around with absolutely no special effects at all, and pretty much everything the villain ever does.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's a point where the girl and her friends are parked on the train tracks, and of course eagerly awaiting getting pushed by ghost kids. Apparently they're really preoccupied with it because none of them hear or see a semi pulling up behind them until it honks its horn. That is about as believable as every scene in Scream 3.

Horror Tropes: We got our blood drip! I don't actually remember it now, but in my notes it says "modified blood drip", so there may have been something different about how it happened. And of course there's the usual situation where nobody believes the hero, and the supernatural things happening end up making her look like she's doing bad things.

My Take: This was terrible. Just plain terrible. It was clearly direct-to-DVD (or just made-for-TV), as the awful cinematography and ultra-cheapness and low-quality film stock display. I don't know how this can be, but apparently it takes good money to choose a decent font, because I literally could tell this was a TV production based on the fonts in the opening credits. Just so bad. The villain in the end is really unintentionally funny, and pretty much everything else that happens is just terrible.

Missed Opportunity: They could've stopped. They could've said, "You know what? This isn't working. Let's just not do it. We can all go work on something else." They didn't.

The Lesson: Don't watch this.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Pumpkinhead03:13 PM -- Sat October 19, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A group of obnoxious teens heads, as usual, to a remote cabin for partying purposes. Along the way they take a rather odd stop to zoom around on motorbikes for a minute. In the process, they accidentally run over a young boy, killing him. His dad doesn't take the news well for some reason, and finds an old witch in the woods to summon a vengeance demon to slaughter them all. Like you do. Vengeance ensues.

Scariness Type: Oddly enough, this is pretty much a slasher movie, like Friday The 13th, where a guy with a machete runs around chopping people up. The subtle difference is that the guy is a giant alien monster instead, and uses claws in place of machetes.

Rating: 3/5 Stickman Necklaces.

Body Count: 7

Fun Fact: The father who ends up connected with the monster is Bishop, the crazy android from the Alien movies. The monster is a near-exact copy of the alien from the Alien movies. Another odd Bishop note: he (the actor who played him) actually bought the gold coins that he pays the witch with, at various pawn shops and stuff around town. He also used his own gun and some other wardrobe elements. Way to support the team!

Best Moment: I don't know... the final showdown was pretty interesting, I suppose.

Worst Moment: Dare I call this the worst moment? It made me laugh... they used an orchestra sting to turn a friendly dog jumping into a guy's lap into a jump scare. It was stupid.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's really only two things I can point to here that bugged me, and they're more a matter of degree than just something crazy: The "evil teenager" was just too evil. They do that in a lot of movies it seems, but come on, the guy is locking his friends up in a broom closet and cutting phone lines just to make sure they don't call an ambulance for a dying kid? And secondly, I know it's possible to stumble and end up impaled on a pitchfork, I just don't think it's a likely enough occurrence that the coincidence of that happening amidst all this monster excitement is particularly believable.

Horror Tropes: Is it a trope to have a big H.R. Giger alien? It's been done in other horror movies, I know that! We also had "boy chases his dog into certain doom" (usually in front of a truck, in front of a motorcycle this time), "dead monster reaches out and grabs you to reveal its non-dead status", "cowering in the closet and the monster roars at you rather than just tearing you apart" (monsters hate closets, despite what children think), and probably a lot of others. It was a lot more enjoyable to see a huge alien doing the teenager-stalking instead of some boring guy in a mask, but he still made sure to follow all the rules.

My Take: I saw this movie decades ago, probably not when it came out, but a few years later on VHS. And at least once or twice more. I have very strong memories of saying "It's gotta run its course!" to my friends. Somehow we were attached to that phrase. Which is sad because on this viewing, I barely noticed when it went past. It doesn't sound very interesting at all. There was another line we also quoted, but I forget what it was - it's from the scene where the hog-feed-hauling boy is standing next to Bishop's pickup talking to him. But, nostalgia aside, I was surprised to find this movie isn't that bad. It feels very short, but in a good way: stuff is always happening and it just moves right along. And the people in it are not as ridiculous as your usual slasher movie... well, the people of this little backwoods town aren't. The teenagers that are ostensibly the main characters (Bishop is the real main character) are the one-dimensional machete-fodder you've come to expect. There's a fun concept in the movie, where Bishop and the Alien are magically linked because it was awoken with his blood, but I think that could've worked better in a movie where the linked person didn't actually want to sacrifice himself, so the heroes would have to evade the unkillable monster while tracking him down. In this movie, everybody's pretty much aiming for the same final confrontation and it all just wraps right up neat as you please. Anyway, for 80's horror, this is downright decent.

Missed Opportunity: I think the director - since he was Stan Winston, monster-maker extraordinaire - was way too happy to show the alien (oh sorry, I mean demon) clearly. We could've done with a lot more suspense and not-seeing of it. The creature effects were actually really good, but no movie monster is going to really come off that great when you just lay it out in full light.

The Lesson: Don't run over kids. I think the lesson is very clear this time, it demonstrates the consequences in great detail.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Last Will And Testament of Rosalind Leigh04:35 PM -- Fri October 18, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This old woman dies, and her antique collector son, who was estranged from her for most of his life, returns home to either move in or sell the house. What he discovers there is a really messed-up house full of crazy stuff, which it turns out is just about every antique he ever sold. She had bought them all, which is nice and all, but weird. Nothing ensues.

Scariness Type: There are a few jump scares, but this is all about dark, gothic mood and an oppressive dread hanging over it all.

Rating: 2/5 Gollums.

Body Count: One. The guy's mom!

Fun Fact: Other than voices over the phone or through a door, and one shot of two people seen through a window at a distance, and a brief videotape of a bunch of people, this movie contains only one person. Well, and a couple shots of the mom who is dead.

Best Moment: This movie contained the first scene this month to truly scare me (I'm pretty sure ghosts inside a house is all that works for me, at this point): things all around the house are rattling and thumping, and he runs and crouches in a corner, wishing it would all go away like a kid would. He calls his therapist/ex-girlfriend (the relationship is never quite made clear...) and she tells him to just close his eyes and meditate. Things stomp closer and closer as he sits with his eyes closed...

Worst Moment: The dumbest thing in this movie is...

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: the magical space computer! When the guy thinks he sees a monster outside the house, he calls up the alarm company that apparently runs security cameras at his house. He ends up talking to a computer, which somehow patches through security footage onto his laptop, and then talks to him about it as it shows him. This computer recognizes the image on the screen and says it's an animal, but it doesn't know what kind. Was this movie set 40 years in the future? What on earth is this random super space technology doing in this haunted house movie?!

Horror Tropes: A lot of things go bump in the night in this movie! But sadly, blood never drips from above. This is actually a very original movie, other than a lot of the usual ghost things with doors slamming and noises in other rooms.

My Take: As I just said, this movie is quite original. I've never seen anything quite like it. Unfortunately, it's also very boring for about the first two-thirds, and the remaining third has a very cheesy CGI monster in it. And finally, it's all wrapped up with the twist (spoiler!) being that everything that happened didn't actually happen - it was all something the ghost of the old woman was imagining. So it just leaves you feeling cheated. I don't know, I can't hate too much, it was kind of powerful and moving, with some symbolic business, but at the same time there's all the things I just said. So it's not a complete failure. I guess the thing is this: if you still find yourself interested after the first 10 minutes of the movie which literally feature no human beings (other than a voice-over), just empty rooms being slowly panned across, then I think you're all set to enjoy the movie. But I don't think you'll be too sad if you skip out on it either.

Missed Opportunity: Where was Doctor Who to save everybody from this house jam-packed with weeping angels?!

The Lesson: Call your mother, she worries.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Unrest02:28 PM -- Thu October 17, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A new batch of cadavers arrive at a medical school for doctors to chop up for some good old-fashioned learnin'. Unfortunately, one of the cadavers was... oh, I don't know, some weird issue involving an Aztec curse happened, so people start dying. Bonus cadavers ensue!

Scariness Type: It actually got kinda creepy, in the standard sort of "lights flickering and going out, things on the other side of a wall are thumping and scratching" type of way. There are also crazy homicidal and suicidal people, and there's a fairly healthy dose of gore.

Rating: 2/5 Formaldehyde Tanks.

Body Count: 5ish, plus four pre-deceased people for medical research.

Fun Fact: The Aztec empire was very large, but it was in Central America... thousands of miles from Brazil.

Best Moment: Well, it's not amazing or anything, but there's a scene where a guy who's been driven crazy is sitting at a desk, holding a homemade shiv in one hand hidden under the desk, and he's telling the guard watching him to come closer so he can give him something. It's very tense, and it does not end up with the guard being stabbed, strangely enough. That was a well-done bit.

Worst Moment: There was a part that was supposed to make me feel this way, but it succeeded, which was unpleasant: this girl (who wasn't a med student) asked her fiance (who was) to take her in to see the cadavers. He was reluctant, but she talked him into it. Then she freaked out when the body settled, ran out of the room and immediately started berating him violently for having 'forced' her to go in there. I was so mad at her, and thought she was the dumbest person on Earth. Which is what you're supposed to feel, but really, can anybody be that ignorant of the immediate past? It was way over the top.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Two of the characters end up (fairly ridiculously) taking a dive into a tank that I believe is filled with formaldehyde... SUCH a bad idea! And yet the worst thing that happens is one bobs up and goes "Augh, it got in my eyes!" but he was fine. He even ended up drowning in it to the point of needing resuscitation, and was fixed just as easily as if he'd drowned in water. Now, I'm no scientist, but I think formaldehyde is signficantly worse for you than water.

Horror Tropes: Blood drip YAYYYYY!! I think that should be a requirement in all horror movies. There's a ton more tropes in this movie, but not ones I can really point out... it just all felt the same as all other horror movies with scenes of lights flickering out, and pulling back a shower curtain with a pool of blood under it, all that stuff.

My Take: One kind of interesting thing about this movie is that there is never a monster/ghost of any sort. Stuff just kind of happens, and that's it. Most of it is mental even, people being driven crazy rather than anything actually happening (although there are some breaking bulbs and that sort of thing, but not a lot of stuff flying off shelves). I kind of liked that because the corpse kept seeming like it was going to get up, but it never did anything at all... that you could see! What I didn't like was the movie. It was just pretty dumb, with a really unspecific and illogical threat. You could've made a very good movie with this premise - a person corrupted by some evil power is dead, their body is cut open by doctors and their spirit gets mad at this intrusion (or the evil in them is released by the physical act of cutting), and starts killing everyone involved. They just didn't succeed. Everything was very vague and nonsensical, and not really that interesting, and plot holes plot holes plot holes.

The Lesson: At the beginning of the movie, a guy presents the lesson for you right in the dialogue: "You know that box you can check to donate your body to science? Don't."

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Apollo 1811:00 AM -- Wed October 16, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Although Apollo 17 was officially the last manned mission to the moon, it turns out there was actually an Apollo 18 mission. It was top secret because they were deploying some kind of missile detector or something to beat the Russians with. Then everyone involved was horribly killed, so probably best kept secret. Until, that is, the enterprising makers of this movie "uncovered" the footage in 2000something and shared it with us all! So brave. Found footage ensues.

Scariness Type: Little bit o' jump scares, little bit o' gore, mainly your usual found-footage tricks: waiting and watching, wondering what's going to be in the corner.

Rating: 2.5/5 Moon Rocks.

Body Count: 5

Best Moment: All the astronaut business in general was extremely realistic feeling, and I'm fairly certain they mixed in actual NASA footage, and they did such a good job that the real stuff looks just like the fake stuff. At least in the early going. Once they're actually on the moon, it gradually gets more and more movie-ish and feeling less real. Especially when the CGI monsters show up.

Worst Moment: Something I really didn't like in this movie is that they took the fun part of found footage - watching the corners of the screen, trying to spot the horrible lurking thing - and removed the game from it. Several times during the movie, they artificially zoom the shot and even put a highlighting circle around the scary thing you're supposed to see in the otherwise empty shot. Ostensibly, this is realistic - this is a 'documentary' and the makers want you to catch that stuff, they're trying to inform the public. But in reality, this is a horror movie, and that's just a total joy-killer.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: One thing I really couldn't figure out was why these guys were carrying flashbulbs to illuminate dark craters instead of a perfectly ordinary flashlight. Maybe it's some technical thing related to actual space travel, but what I really think is that they did it for the classic found footage trick of seeing a pitch-black room in just a series of flashes of light, and waiting for the one flash that's going to reveal the big scare.

Horror Tropes: Blood drip from above! Whoo! Then there's stumbling around in the dark until you encounter a dead body and screaming and running (Dead people can't actually move, relax). And while it's not really horror tropes in general, this movie was full of found-footage convention - setting up motion-sensing cameras (not that useful on a non-horror-movie moon) and then going to bed for the night, demanding that you keep filming when you never would, making sure your camera is pointed the right way, and all that. It was like transposing the rules of found-footage horror onto the moon.

My Take: I was hooked at first. This is, by orders of magnitude, the most expensive found footage movie I've ever seen. Huge sets (they're on the moon!), spaceship interiors and exteriors, a lunar rover, all kinds of things. Things that would be nothing special in a normal movie, but found footage usually costs like $20 to make because they just go out in the woods or in somebody's house and film whatever's there. It also has real actors in it (the main astronaut is a guy from the show Alphas), which is kind of funny for found footage, but I actually appreciated the nod to the audience - "Look, we both know this isn't actually real, so we're not gonna hire no-names just to try to pretend." And just the style and appearance and sound of all of it really seems like legitimate NASA footage from the era. I even think they filmed some space stuff in zero-G (not in space, mind you, but on an airplane). That could be trickery, but it looked right. So where did this great mockumentary go wrong? With the monsters. They weren't scary, and there just wasn't much suspense about them, they were kinda just right there. The astronauts didn't know that, but we sure did! Especially since the filmmakers zoomed in on them for us. I think they had a ton of potential here to make something amazing, if they had just come up with a more spooky threat. The whole space psychosis angle which was caused by the monsters was a lot more interesting of a threat than the monsters themselves. They practically had a "Here's Johnny!" moment. It might have been a better movie to just have an astronaut go crazy for perfectly normal reasons, and I don't even like "guy goes crazy" movies (I want supernatural stuff!).

Missed Opportunity: What this movie needed was... well, any monster other than little rock spiders. The monsters were a total let-down and not at all scary. Give me moonghosts! Space Ghosts?

The Lesson: We should fund NASA! Pure science and space exploration leads to all the incredible advances we need in every other area. Let's GO TO MARS!!! But the moon first. Come on, is there any reason we don't have a functioning moon colony right now? It's sickening.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Collection10:43 AM -- Tue October 15, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Some kids go to a rave, in which 90% of the partiers are mowed down by a giant death shredder, and then the main character (one of said kids, but not one of the ones that is shredded) is kidnapped by "The Collector", a serial killer who apparently slaughters large numbers of people and takes one from each attack back to his secret lair. In the process, for reasons I'm not super clear on, one of his previous victims is set free. Some commando type guys hire/force the previous victim to lead them to The Collector's lair, because they are hired to rescue the main character. Incidentally, the previous victim guy is also a main character, I don't know which one is more main of a character. Traps ensue!

Scariness Type: There's gore a-plenty, jump scares a-few, and a serial killer's creepy house of deadly traps and grotesque 'sculptures' made of human body parts stitched together in incorrect ways. That guy's a weirdo.

Rating: 4/5 Bear Traps.

Body Count: 86 at least, plus 2 dogs. See, it's really hard to count, since in the first 5 minutes of the movie, at least 60 people die as the ravegoers meet a giant lawnmower thing, and then there's also a crusher room and a series of slicer-upper traps. It's pretty brutal!

Fun Fact: That rave looked like it was taking place in Zion!

Best Moment: These movie killers are always so specific about what they do. In this movie, you have a guy whose thing is laying ridiculously elaborate traps (which is fun!). But something I really liked was that when things really turned against him - a swat team was getting ready to beat down the door, and his victims were escaping - he didn't mess around. He picked up a machine gun and 2 big german shepherds (well, he didn't pick them up, but he told them to come with him from wherever they were kept) and just stormed into the room and tried to gun down all the goodguys before things got any worse. Now that's real life. Sure, you want to stick with your gimmick, but when the fan is being struck with waste products, you pull out everything you've got to just get through it and move on to the next genius trap extravaganza.

Worst Moment: I didn't really enjoy the arm-breaking scene...

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Nothing about this movie was remotely believable, it was just fun instead. But two things really made me say "that did not happen that way!" One was when the villain had some gasoline on him, was laying on the ground next to a bunch of cans of gasoline, and the hero (male edition in this case - remember, we have two to choose from) drops a lit cloth on him, and he goes up in a massive blaze... He then later is just mysteriously missing from that spot next time they look. He got away, apparently completely unscarred. Totally insane. The other thing wasn't really one thing, it was just that all the characters in this movie were resourceful to a degree that would make MacGyver jealous. For the villain, that was his gimmick - he made impossibly elaborate traps, fine. But all the goodguys were nearly as brilliant as him, ranging from memorizing the path to his house based on the turns that got him there (and carving marks into his own arm to track it) to re-breaking your own broken arm so you can bend it better. Yeesh, that was a rough scene.

Horror Tropes: I didn't write this down, so I can't verify it, but you just know we had a blood drip from above scene. There had to be. Of course there was also the killer disappearing when you think he's dead (see above as to why that was ridiculous), and a nice case of Extra-Crazy Stockholm Syndrome.

My Take: This movie was tons of fun, and I totally enjoyed it. I hear it's the sequel to The Collector, which I'd be happy to see too. Now, let's be clear - I had a lot of fun with this movie, but it is not by any means a good movie. It's stupid. Soooo stupid. But that's okay, it was fun and silly and my brain was checked at the door. I forgot to get a number with it, but they were able to find it in there and return it to me afterwards. It was like an entire movie of "Well, Mr. Bond, I'll leave you here to die in my elaborate mechanism while I go demand more millions from the U.N.! I'm sure you'll be dead when I return! I don't need security cameras, that's fine, I trust you to die." again and again.

Missed Opportunity: More traps! We could've had more!

The Lesson: Watch your step. Just watch your step.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Silent Hill: Revelation12:12 PM -- Mon October 14, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This is the second Silent Hill movie. A girl moves to a new town, having moved very often to stay ahead of the law, who are pursuing her dad for murdering someone. What she doesn't know is that they're really trying to stay ahead of the evil cult from Silent Hill, who want her back in their town for some reason. They succeed, and she is in Silent Hill. Mass exposition ensues.

Scariness Type: There are jump scares to be found, and there is gore, but the main thing here is something I can really only call "horror". There are all kinds of monsters and scenes that are just wrong, like people with their entire face being a mouth, or lots of things with no eyes, and so on. They don't jump out at you, they don't really scare you, they just sort of horrify you - they are things that should not be.

Rating: 2/5 Contortionist Nurses.

Body Count: 7, although sometimes instead of dying, people became mannequins, or seemed to still be alive through awful torture that should've killed them and other oddities. If I counted everybody that should be dead (like the prisoners whose arms got chopped off at the elbow), the number would be much higher.

Fun Fact: Hair color is a reliable indicator of evilness. But watch out for completely white hair! It's the worst.

Best Moment: Probably the best thing was the attack of the Mannequin Spider. That thing was very creepy, in a good way.

Worst Moment: There isn't really a worst moment, more of a worst element to the whole thing: the plot is an absolute jumble. Nothing makes any sense at all, things just happen one after another until you get to the conclusion, which feels totally unearned and just as random as all that came before it. Because there is so much stuff in the plot, most of the movie is taken up by really bald exposition, people just rattling off information. And it's funny that despite the continuous stream of information, you still don't know what's going on (in a bad way).

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This whole movie felt like a sort of amusement park ride. I never felt like the main character was in any danger at all (and, according to what I could understand of the plot, I think rightly so - she may have been perfectly safe!), and that really sapped any drama from the various chase scenes. I'm not actually sure what made it seem so harmless, but it did. She just never seemed to be threatened, and it didn't help that she didn't seem very concerned either. I'd be more concerned with a bee in the room than these people are about giant murderous monsters charging at them. Also, the high school she attends is All Hallows High. Come on, dude. We deserve better.

Horror Tropes: Don't worry honey, it was all a dream... but wait, more horrible things are happening!! Oh wait, that was also a dream. I want to mock that idea more, because it is cliche and stupid, but I have definitely had dreams about waking up from dreams and thinking I really was awake until I finally woke up for real.

My Take: I've never played a Silent Hill game, or really any horror game for that matter. I have Alan Wake in my Steam Pile, I should fire it up sometime. Anyway, I'm not attached to the game series in the slightest, although it's always interested me, and the movies are the same way. I think I liked the first Silent Hill movie pretty well. When I saw there was a new Silent Hill movie on Netflix, I just had to see it. One thing I really love (which the first movie was full of, and this movie only hits a little bit) is the transition from nice normal world to twisted evil version. It looks really cool, and it's a fun device, a faster version of the "Thank heavens the sun finally came up!" element in some horror movies (most notably for me, The Blair Witch Project). But this movie really felt like a video game, with the triforce being pieced together and keys and bosses and just the general sense of non-danger. With all the magic trinkets and rules and tons of exposition, this movie actually felt a lot more like a fantasy film than horror. It was Alice In Wonderland, only more disturbing, if you can get more disturbing than that. My biggest problem with this all is how it wraps up way way too easily. I don't even understand the fight on the carousel, which was so important as to be the subject of a prophetic nightmare at the movie's start, yet when it comes to reality, it ends in a minute flat with zero repercussions, with the entire battle consisting of one hug. It's like a Care Bears movie. The whole thing missed any feeling of an epic quest. She just waltzes into this town, grabs her dad, and leaves. Simple as that.

Missed Opportunity: They missed the opportunity to include some peril! Anywhere! How about getting injured, or narrowly escaping something? How about not instantly solving every problem with zero effort? How about not being literally handed the magical trinket you need to win the game? Then again, I really question whether she needed it at all, it was pretty useless for something they made such a big deal of. Also, I've missed the opportunity to play this game series, I really should.

The Lesson: Monsters with giant swords won't hurt you, don't worry about it!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Terror Tract07:18 PM -- Sun October 13, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: John Ritter is a real estate agent showing people various houses, only he can't seem to resist detailing the gory details of how the previous owners died in each house. Anthology ensues!

Scariness Type: There are a bunch of jump scares, and some gore.

Rating: 2/5 Grannies.

Body Count: 13 people, 2 cats, 1 dog, a worm and a bird. At least half of the human deaths occur in the last minute of the movie, so that's exciting!

Fun Fact: Bryan Cranston (who's the star of the 2nd story in this anthology) played opposite the exact same monkey (the villain of the 2nd story) in an episode of Malcolm In The Middle.

Best Story: The third story is about a teenager who's been having psychic visions of a serial killer. He goes to a psychologist and is telling her about this (of course she doesn't believe him, and she's worried he's the killer). This segment had an interesting killer (the "Granny Killer" - he wears this old lady mask which is really creepy, way better than the stupid Scream mask. But he also says goofy things in a granny voice like "Why are you scared? It's only Granny!"), and a fun, if small, mystery. I'm not saying it was great, it was still cheesy and pretty lame, but it was the best one.

Worst Story: And for worst story, we have the first story - a woman is cheating on her husband, but he had found about it already, so he snuck back home early and was going to kill both her and her lover, but ends up killed himself. The rest of the story involves the difficulty of hiding the evidence of his death (because nobody in movies is ever willing to consider just telling the truth... he was trying to murder them, they wouldn't have gone to jail!), and of course the possibility of his vengeful spirit returning. It's pretty slow and very cheesy, and just oozes 80's Tales From The Crypt drama. It ends with one of those lame non-twists, the kind of thing that just amounts to "wasn't that weird?" because it doesn't mean anything or change anything.

The Other Story: The middle story is about Malcolm's dad battling an evil monkey that his daughter really likes and doesn't think is evil. It's very silly. It's fun, mainly because of Bryan Cranston's ability to look distraught and freak out about things. But it's very, very dumb.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This was all so silly and ridiculous. In the first story, there's a guy with no special training who holds his breath underwater effortlessly for at least 2 minutes, just calmly swimming around. I was feeling much more nervous than he was. The second story is one big pile of insanity, I can't really point to a specific element. The third story I find much easier to swallow, nothing was hugely wrong with it, I'd say. And the wrap-around story? Well, that was basically a cartoon. My disbelief remained firmly affixed to the floor for this entire movie, no suspension occurred.

Horror Tropes: The first story is just one giant trope, it's like it's straight out of one of those "101 Weird Spooky Tales!" books, right down to the wet footprints and creaking gate. The second story includes not one, but two, instances of placing your hand in blood without looking and then looking at your hand, and then looking to see what's so bloody and freaking out. The third story includes the classic "I have something for you!" while reaching into your jacket pocket and the other person takes you to be threatening to kill them. Just use your words, people, I'm always saying it.

My Take: This movie, released in 2000, should've been from about 1985. Every single thing about it screams 80's, to the point that I assume it was intended. They weren't just going for silly horror, they intended to create something that looked like it was from the 80's, and they succeeded beyond all reason (perhaps it's why they hired John Ritter, even). It's such a crazy throwback that I feel like there must be some kind of story behind the production, though I can't seem to find it. Overall, it's about what you'd expect - really silly lightweight horror with a Tales From The Crypt feel, so it's more half-intended comedy than it is horror. I had fun watching it, as I am guaranteed to with an anthology, although the stories did get progressively better from a rather uninteresting first story through to the pretty decent third story. The wrap-around story of the real estate agent showing houses was fun to watch, but really wasn't even a story. It did have an entertaining ending though!

Missed Opportunity: It's the opposite problem we found with ABCs of Death - if they had just jammed in one more story in this movie, then the existing stories could've been tightened up more and I think the result would've been something more fun.

The Lesson: Make sure you inquire about the neighborhood when buying a house.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Resolution10:33 AM -- Sat October 12, 2013

This review contains NO spoilers. Nobody should be spoiled for Resolution. Just watch it.

Resolution earns a full 5/5 Meth Pipes, and the coveted Different Review Format Than Normal. You should absolutely see it. Be warned however that, while it doesn't have much violence or anything sexual or even anything particularly scary other than ideas, it has enough F-Bombs that if you bleeped them, you would be communicating in morse code. So be aware of that if you have concerns about language. This movie has more language than the Tower of Babel.

The plot of the movie, at least initially, is very simple: There's a guy who does nothing but smoke meth all day and think that a dog is helping him write a book about squirrels. Another guy who was his friend before he spiralled into drugs sets out to his remote cabin and chains him to the wall to force him to dry out for a week and see if he can convince him to go into rehab. Endless interruptions by incredibly weird people ensue.

It's entirely possible that this movie just caught me at the right moment or just happens to work for me personally, but I thought it was amazing. I was trapped at my wife's office for several hours (on the rare occasions that I leave my house, I usually ride into town with her, which means I'm stuck there as long as she is), so unlike at home where I seek constant distraction, I was glued to this screen with headphones in and nothing else to do for the entire movie, so I paid close attention the whole time. And I was rewarded for my effort with a truly unique experience.

This is one of those really strange meta-movies that's talking about more than what you see onscreen. Everything is operating on at least 2 levels. But if you put that part aside for a moment and just focus on what you're actually seeing, it's still great. The characters are all extremely quirky and interesting, and I hadn't really thought about that until this movie, but most movies have totally generic characters. This is the tough guy, this is the girl who lost her parents. In this movie, every character is totally off-the-wall, nothing you would ever expect, and it feels like there's a huge backstory behind each of them. There most likely isn't, but that's okay, their dialogue makes the movie entertaining, and that's before you even get to the plot. There are parts where I laughed out loud, even though kids were being tutored in the other room.

The plot, I won't spoil. But it's some weird paranormal stuff going on here, and it builds up until ... well, an ending I really enjoyed, and had some difficulty comprehending. I confess that afterwards I read some IMDB discussions and went "OH SNAP" to ones that helped me expand on what I was thinking, and that made me enjoy it even more. So this is definitely a thinker of a movie, and it's got things to say (I won't tell you about what, because you should be as unspoiled as possible), and at the same time it's fun to watch on a pure entertainment level. I actually liked the resolution of Resolution, not just the weird stuff but actually how the human story was resolved. Which in itself sort of breaks the rules of the movie, but I won't get into that. Just watch it.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: 6 Souls08:18 AM -- Fri October 11, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A psychologist is introduced to a patient with multiple personalities by her father who is also a psychologist. Even though it's her dad's job to fix the guy, she gets all up in that and tries to figure the guy out. Unfortunately, she discovers that his various personalities are those of murder victims. And people around her start dying too. Soul-sucking ensues.

Scariness Type: This movie doesn't try too hard to scare you. It's more that it's about scary and weird things that would be quite awful if they happened to you. It was listed as a "crime thriller" on Netflix, though I would call it a horror movie. A few too many ghostly murders for your standard crime genre.

Rating: 3.5/5 Inkblots.

Body Count: 12

Fun Fact: People hang assorted objects all over the place with string and wire. It's a standard decorating strategy, used by many different people. At least in this movie.

Best Moment: The crazy guy did a good job of being a different person in each of his personalities. The final personality in the climax was an especially difficult and potentially hilarious scene, and he did a good job of not making it seem ridiculous.

Worst Moment: See below. Really, I can't pull anything else out when that moment is blinding me with lack-of-science.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There's a security video which contains footage of a ghostly shadow hanging over somebody. When a guy who does audio engineering is examining the footage, he suddenly has an epiphany - "why, this looks like an audio waveform!" (the shadow itself). So he uses that very common piece of software we all have (I'm sure it comes with Windows, alongside Minesweeper), which extrapolates a 3D image of a waveform from video footage, rotates it and converts it into a normal audio waveform (while simultaneously completely changing it, I have no idea why), which he then plays, to discover it is the sound of somebody's voice. So... this visual phenomena was a 3D model of a sound in real space. In the right format. This is no suspension bridge, it's a suspension airship, and it's on fire. Oh the humanity.

Horror Tropes: Like all horror movies, this one wraps up at the end, but then has a sequel set-up moment where the danger isn't really gone. We always see that, but it really bugged me here, because in many movies, you get something like they bury the killer, walk away, and then a hand pops out of the grave. That's fine, gives us a little time before the next movie. In this movie, it was so immediate a threat (the evil ghost had jumped into the body of her daughter, who she was holding at the time) that the story really isn't done. It's not an ending at all, it's more like the midpoint of the final confrontation. And by the way, that is such a dumb trope. The story's done, you resolved it. Let it be done. If you want the killer to come back, then have his hand pop up at the beginning of the next movie!

My Take: Well, first of all, these are the most unethical psychologists I've ever seen. I'm not like an expert on the rules, but they were definitely not following any of them. But anyway, this was pretty enjoyable, and I liked where it was going, all up until the end. The way it wrapped up, and what all the rules of the magical stuff involved were, just didn't work. First of all, I don't think there were any logical rules - maybe I just wasn't quite following it, but it was kind of like "this guy had had his mouth stuffed with dirt, so uh... I guess he can touch other people and make them die from dirt coming out of their mouths!" It doesn't fit the lore that you actually learn during the movie, it's just kind of something related to it. So this is one of those movies where it seems like it's leading somewhere good, but it just sort of peters out and crumbles apart when exposed to the light of logic.

The Lesson: Don't eat dirt - you already know it tastes bad, but it can also keep your soul from getting back into your body! I mean, assuming it's not currently in your body. Your soul, that is. Dirt should not be in your body - see the beginning of this paragraph for details.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: ABCs of Death03:37 PM -- Thu October 10, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: The producers of this movie chose 26 directors from all around the world (many different languages in here!), gave each of them a letter of the alphabet, and told them to come up with a word that starts with that letter and make a very very short horror movie based on the word, with no constraints. A complete lack of constraints ensues.

Scariness Type: You have 26 different stories here, but I think I can safely say there's a whole lot of gore, and I guess the other main thing is just trying to be as weird and shocking and taboo as possible. Not really jump scares or anything.

Rating: 1/5 Ducks.

Body Count: 48 people, 1 spider, and 1 completely unacceptable kitten.

Fun Fact: Zetsumetsu is extinction in Japanese! It's also utter insanity.

Best Moment: As much as I enjoyed "F is for Fart", I think the story for the letter V was the best. Because it was one of maybe two shorts in the movie that actually had a story. It was a sci-fi tale that in the course of its 5 minutes-or-so was able to build up a world with forced sterilization, and mutant psychic powers, and an underground movement, and a secret goverment program to eradicate the mutants. And tell a story in that world. Of course, the story didn't really have much of an ending, but I was still impressed.

Worst Moment: Several of the shorts made absolutely no sense at all. Some because they were being artsy, and others because they were trying to be as absurd as possible. So what is the worst moment? So hard to choose. The one I keep remembering is G is for Gravity. It was all first-person video, and here's the entire story: a guy pulls up to the beach, gets out his surfboard, loads up a bunch of bricks into a bag, and then he paddles out into the ocean and drops in and I guess dies because that's the end. Suicide, I guess. Just nothing to it at all, total waste of time.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Most of what this movie contained was absolutely nuts. It's not something you really suspend your disbelief for in the first place, it's more like the Spike & Mike animation festival (it even included a couple animated sequences!).

Horror Tropes: I don't know, but they probably used most of them in there somewhere.

My Take: I can't turn down a chance to watch an anthology horror movie! But you know what they should've done? Made this a TV series, give their 26 directors each half an hour (or do 2 per show, and give them 15 minutes). The 4-6 minutes each of these stories lasted really meant they couldn't do anything that even came close to a story. It was more like "isn't this weird?" or "here's a bad guy, now he kills this guy! Whoa!" Which is not interesting. It kept me watching, since there was something completely new every few minutes, but it really wasn't worth the time. And if there is anything that offends you, you'll find it in this movie. Really crazy stuff. Only a few of the stories were any good at all, and even those were pretty worthless just due to their length. All in all, not something you should see.

Missed Opportunity: Like I said, they should've made it a series so the stories could be a decent length.

The Lesson: Our alphabet has too many letters. Maybe go Hawaiian next time.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Event Horizon01:57 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A rescue team is launched out to Neptune when a signal is sent from a ship that hasn't been heard from in 7 years. Turns out the ship was doing some fancy space-folding experiments, and it also turns out that when you travel outside of normal spacetime, bad things ensue. Bad things ensue.

Scariness Type: A lot of gore, a lot of crazy people.

Rating: 3/5 Captain's Logs.

Body Count: Something like 3. There are also two people who are launched into an evil chaos dimension, but we'll have to count them missing in action. And there's the entire crew of the missing ship, but I only count deaths that occur during the course of the movie.

Fun Fact: Morpheus is here, piloting a ship that is remarkably similar to the hovercrafts in The Matrix. I gotta think there was inspiration there (this came out two years before The Matrix).

Best Moment: The best moment would probably be when we see the ship's engine core for the first time. That's an odd best moment, but it's because the best thing about this movie really is the set design. This giant spaceship which is built like some kind of demonic cathedral, with a puzzle-box for an engine, a meat grinder leading to the engine room, and doors that seal shut with spikes for no reason at all. It's not realistic, and I'm sure OSHA would have something to say about the working environment, but that's entirely not the point. It's just sort of amazing and completely sets the tone.

Worst Moment: I'm sure this doesn't really qualify as a worst moment, but it's what came to mind. When the giant ocean of blood comes pouring out, all I could think about was how it was clearly too expensive (or just messy?) to load it up with enough coloring to actually make a deep red, so what we end up with really looks just like Kool-Aid. You can tell it's colored water rather than something thick and dark like blood, and I just couldn't put my brain into ocean-of-blood mode, all I saw was red water.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Speaking of suspension, the captain's chair in the rescue ship is totally silly. If you really keep your eye on Laurence Fishburne in that chair, you'll see him just sort of gradually spinning around, facing nothing in particular, going in circles, for the duration of any scene he's in it. He looks lost. It's a spacey concept for a chair (it hangs from the ceiling and can slide back and forward on a track, and rotate), but not a very logical or useful one. Especially if he just sits and spins all day.

Horror Tropes: Well you know we had blood dripping from above! Then of course we had the assorted hallucination tropes (see the silhouette behind a sheet, yank the sheet back and see nothing; see somebody, turn to tell somebody else and the person you saw is gone; believe a hallucination so much you just follow it even though it makes no sense and then fall down a hole).

My Take: I heard that the original concept of this movie was "The Shining in space", and while the similarities there are obvious, the real massive inspiration behind this movie is clearly the Hellraiser series. It's all up in there. We almost have Pinhead even, by the end. Overall, I wanted to like the movie, because it has an amazing style, and space-horror is always a good idea, and the core concept is something I always enjoy, but while it seems to be building up to something good (or something horrific at least), the last third just kind of falls apart. Or rather, it doesn't fall apart. It just doesn't get crazy enough to justify all the style. The guy who goes crazy (all space and no aliens makes Homer something something) doesn't have this gradual descent that you want, where he's broken down and loses it, he kind of just suddenly snaps all at once (well, and he's pretty messed up from the get-go), and it doesn't ring true or feel right. I read that about half an hour was trimmed from this movie, and that may have been to its detriment in that regard. And then the crazy guy's super-strength (and return from death) is really the only sort of demonic presence we encounter. I was ready for a full-blown descent into Clive Barker's mind, and we pretty much just got space-captain brawl action instead. And a giant ocean of blood, but come on, when isn't there a giant ocean of blood?

Missed Opportunity: The engine room is basically a sphere, with giant, man-sized spikes jutting out from the walls everywhere. And not once does somebody get impaled on them. Somebody even falls into that room from high above and still manages to completely miss them. It's almost perverse. Perhaps the craziest thing in the whole movie.

The Lesson: Keep your eyes in your face, where they can do the most good.

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... And we're back!01:56 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013

I think. I don't have a whole lot of faith in all the spit and bailing wire I just strapped around the site, but I do see some journals and forum posts that weren't there before.

A general website development tip - even if your admin panel gives you a nice handy "Update MySQL version" button, don't click it unless you know what you're doing (turns out not even the techs knew what they were doing in that regard, so I don't feel as bad as I could). So that took the site down and made an extreme ultimate mess of all things. I've restored everything from backups as far as I know, the most that could've been lost now (barring some huge surprise, which is plenty possible) is posts made in about a half hour window earlier today, after I did my manual SQL backup.

Hey, that's web tip number 2: If you're going to destroy your site, back up the database first!

Please let me know if you see anything deeply wrong with the website still, I've only taken the time for a quick glance so far.
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Restoring from backup!01:06 PM -- Wed October 9, 2013

Sorry folks, major problems here, and we are restoring the server from backup. The restore is actually done, and the site is fine, but it's now sent wayyyyy back in time. I have a database backup from today that I'm trying to get set up now, but it's much bigger than the maximum size allowed, so I'm working on that. With luck, this post will soon disappear and all the other posts will reappear. We'll see.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Broken11:40 AM -- Tue October 8, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: This whole review is mega-spoilers, beware. While a family is having a lovely meal together, a big mirror suddenly breaks for no reason. This is bad luck. Gradually each of them is murdered and replaced by a mirror-duplicate who comes out of a mirror that breaks. Something like that ensues.

Scariness Type: This is a weird movie. It's very slow and quiet. It's got this long spiral of dread for the entire movie.

Rating: 3/5 Jeeps.

Body Count: Four or so? Something like that. But maybe 0 in a way, they all get immediately replaced by exact duplicates. Evil exact duplicates.

Fun Fact: Dextrocardia is a condition wherein your heart is on the right side of your chest instead of the left. It also means you are an evil mirror-person.

Best Moment: There are some shots in the movie that are done from 'behind' a mirror. You see this black, empty world on the mirror side, and then the real world on the other side, like you're looking through a window. Those shots are really cool, and they sort of speak to me, relating to a story idea I've worked on off-and-on for years about a kid who can travel into mirrors and exit from any other mirror in the world. I guess it's a thing we think about - mirrors are weird, so we perceive some sort of magic there.

Worst Moment: I don't know if it's the worst really, but there's this moment when I almost giggled. The main character is investigating a drip in the attic of her boyfriend's house, when suddenly he pops up through the attic entrance, lit from underneath, looking so ridiculously evil it's just hilarious, questioning why she should be up there. He looks like an evil puppet.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Everything the evil mirror-people does seems to suggest they are literally just regular people, who happen to have very bad intentions, and seek to replace the normal people. Everything that is, except when one shows up and pops her fist straight into her duplicate's mouth, right up to the wrist. Just BOOP straight in there, and she wiggles it around or does something inside because it kills the poor girl in a bloody fashion. I have no idea what that was. It was definitely supernatural because you can't just do that to somebody (plus you'd get bit really badly), but it's the only supernatural thing the mirror-people ever do aside from coming out of mirrors.

Horror Tropes: I don't quite remember, but I think we got the blood-drip-from-above in this one! If not, there was still a water drip that she dreamed was blood.

My Take: There was stuff I really enjoyed about this movie, and I have no problem with slow, moody movies in general. At times this one really dragged it out a bit much though, with dozens of replays of a car crash the main character was in, over and over, every time she sat around thinking about it. There is a twist in this movie, and it may not even be entirely obvious what it is, because there's not much dialogue here, you kind of piece things together for yourself. I'll tell you what my theory is, and of course, like the rest of this review, it's a total spoiler: The main character got mirror-murdered very early in the movie, and the person who got in the car crash was actually her evil twin. The twist is that the car crash gave her amnesia, so she forgot to be evil. It was only at the end when she found her good twin's dead body that she remembered she was supposed to be evil and the ridiculously long and boring shot of her driving at the very end was her getting ready to... do whatever it is evil mirror-people do. Go cause more mayhem. Not a happy ending, I guess. But good for her that she got her life figured out.

Missed Opportunity: I think they missed out on making this faster-paced and more involving. Also more clear what is going on.

The Lesson: Don't break mirrors, it's bad luck. Haven't you already heard this? Plus you have to clean them up.

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Solarthon!11:51 AM -- Mon October 7, 2013

Hello folks, let me spam you. We're helping to build solar systems for 7 low-income families in Temecula on November 9th. But we need $400 to get it going! There are 7 families getting solar all on the same day, so if you can even spare $7 to donate to the cause, you'd be making a big difference. It is a real live legitimate charity, so you can write it off on your taxes too. Come on, click the link, donate a few bucks, and not only will some people get free electricity for decades, but the planet will get a tiny bit cleaner too.

Note: we will actually be physically involved with building one of these solar systems, so one family might not actually end up with working electricity. Still, we're gonna try!

Click the pretty picture and help people! Click it click it now

If you can't afford to help out, please spread the word. What Grid Alternatives is doing is really cool, and cooler yet if they do well enough to keep expanding and take over the world with solar power.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Possession09:42 AM -- Mon October 7, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: There's this old box, see, and it's a bad box. A little girl buys it at a yard sale and proceeds to get way too attached to it. Tantrums ensue.

Scariness Type: Well, it's an exorcism movie. The twist is that instead of being Catholic, it's Jewish!

Rating: 3/5 Yarmulkes.

Body Count: One person, and one moth.

Fun Fact: This movie contains real live footage of Gmail instead of some made-up magical email system. I always appreciate that.

Best Moment: I'm not sure. When the dad took the box away, the ensuing freakout and weirdness and chase and all the issues involved worked nicely, though I don't know that I'd say it was the "best moment". Nothing stands out too much thinking about it now.

Worst Moment: There's a part where a guy is mind-blasted by the possessed girl in some way, resulting in his gums bleeding and his teeth coming loose. This is awful and I don't allow it. I have nightmares like that.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The first thing the girl does when she gets the box open is to remove a ring from it and put it on. For the rest of the movie, she's wearing this evil ring, and it's turning her hand grey. It's plainly visible, and it just makes no sense that neither of her parents, or anybody else for that matter, grabs that hand and freaks out about whatever disease this ring is obviously giving her. On a second disbelief moment, the end of this movie takes place in a fully-functioning hospital, and while the characters are screaming and wind is whipping through and the lights are flickering for twenty minutes, not one person comes to see what's going on. It's totally strange.

Horror Tropes: One that always gets to me is when somebody sees something horrible, and stares at it. Then somebody else sees them looking and asks "What is it? What's wrong?" Instead of replying to them like any human being would, the person in a horror movie always just slowly raises one arm and points at it. The other person should then throw their arms up and yell, "I know where you were looking, I want to know what you are looking at!! Use your words!" But instead they always come running over and stare at it too. One day there's going to be a movie where this just happens in a continuous chain until the entire population of a town is staring slack-jawed at one spot with one crooked finger raised at it. Oh yeah, and we get another fine blood-dripping-from-above scene in this movie too. Those are the best.

My Take: Turn some lights on!! These people live in a nearly pitch black house, lit by 20-watt bulbs at wide intervals. I know they're trying to set a mood, but that was just silly. I thought this movie was just fine overall. It kept me interested, and it was indeed a different take on the usual exorcism movie. A lot of it was the same, but because they had this lore of the dybbuk box instead of just an arbitrary demon randomly hopping into the girl, there was more interesting stuff going on instead of just a priest chanting and the girl yelling at him until somebody wins. I wouldn't call this a good movie, and I don't rate it highly, but it works for me.

Missed Opportunity: One person died? That's it? Come on, some demon you are.

The Lesson: Don't shop at yard sales.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Awakening12:22 PM -- Sun October 6, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Way back around World War I or something (maybe, I'm pretty hazy on this whole thing), there was a paranormal investigator in England who didn't believe in any of that rubbish and was always debunking mediums and whatnot. But as always happens in movies and never happens in real life, she was called to an old house which it turns out has a ghost in it! Zoiks! It also has a creepy groundskeeper who never seems to not be carrying a rifle, a creepy dollhouse that seems to contain scenes of what is actually happening in the house, a creepy housekeeper, a nice guy (with a creepy injury), and some creepy kids. Creepiness ensues.

Scariness Type: Creepiness! Nah, it's not really scary, more just your basic (convoluted) ghost tale with some jump scares.

Rating: 3.5/5 Bells.

Body Count: At least 6...

Fun Fact: No better way to entertain your kids than with crawlspaces in the wall!

Best Moment: Maybe when she looked into the dollhouse and saw a doll matching herself looking into a tinier dollhouse (which I'm guessing had a tinier doll and even tinier dollhouse inside, right?), only behind her there was another doll watching her. Yikes. Actually probably my favorite part was the very first scene, where the investigator debunked a seance. I wish the whole movie had been like that, like a whole Sherlock Holmes thing where she's busting frauds and we get to see all their sneaky rigs and all that. That's a movie I want to watch.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: The groundskeeper was probably a bit too horrible of a person. One of those Snidely Whiplash types that I would generally say don't exist, but man, I had a phone call with a government office yesterday, and I don't know if it's because he wasn't getting paid (well, it was state government, so he should've been paid!), but that guy was nasty. So some people are just bad. Especially bureaucrats.

Horror Tropes: The ol' hand reaching up out of the lake routine, and the ghost that always stays just ahead of you as you try to chase it up the stairs thinking it's a person, until you inevitably reach a dead end and wonder where they could've gone. Also, let's not forget the skeptic who is faced with a real ghost! And then there was the ghost face pressing up out of a pillow. And a stretchy-face ghost. And the person you think is alive but was really a ghost the whole time (not the main character!). Really got quite a collection in this one!

My Take: All in all, this was pretty entertaining. It was a fairly convoluted story, and yes there were twists, which I approve of. It was only marginally a horror story (though it was entirely a ghost story), and the few little jump scares almost seemed thrown in as obligatory. That's okay, I really mainly watch horror movies for their twisty stories anyway, and we had plenty of that here. It may have even been too complex for its own good.

Missed Opportunity: I missed the opportunity to watch large chunks of this. I think I was cooking or something. Luckily, Sol Hunt saved the day by watching with me and telling me about all the stuff I missed. Or half-missed, I kept walking in and seeing bits off and on.

The Lesson: Guns don't kill people... tigers kill people.

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Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Popin Cookin Sushi12:13 PM -- Sun October 6, 2013


Popin Cookin Sushi
8/10 YUMS
This is fun stuff! To fully understand what you're getting yourself into, and what a social phenomenon it is, you need to see a Youtube video showing you how to make it (the Japanese instructions make it a bit challenging otherwise). Plus, they give you a far better review than I could. There are many videos of each of the different Popin' Cookin kits, and they are both informative and entertaining. If you buy your own kit, you absolutely must use a youtube video to guide you through, or you'll make a terrible mess of things. Well, unless you can read Japanese.

So what is Popin' Cookin? It's a candy that you make yourself, using the provided packets of powder, little plastic tubs and tools, and water (not included - I hope you have access to water). It's a really fun little science experiment of sorts, which ends up with something... edible? Sorta. Let's get that out of the way: for yummiest candy, stay away from Popin' Cookin. For fun and adventure, Popin' Cookin is what you want. As you can see in the video, there are a lot of steps involved in making this, though it's all really easy, mostly you just pour a packet of powder into one of the slots in the tray and then stir it up. Then you put it all together, and it looks super cool. That's all there is to it! Then of course you eat it, and it's not so great, but you had so much fun you don't mind.

There are quite a few different Popin' Cookin kits, from hamburgers (that one looks amazing, I will try it one day - it even involves a little microwaving!) to bento boxes to donuts and ice cream. They're all sort of the same food-wise: semi-gummy edible playdoh type stuff, generally with a fruity sort of flavor. What's really special about the sushi are those fish eggs you see on the seaweed roll. Those are made by mixing up two different liquids, and then using the included eyedropper to drop one liquid into the other. Some mystical chemical reaction takes place, and each droplet becomes a little ball of jelly with a liquid center, like boba if you've ever had that. It's super cool.

As I mentioned above, these aren't very tasty. Well, I've heard different things about each different box, but I can tell you from experience: the sushi kit is not very tasty. By far my favorite part is the seaweed - it's some kind of grape fruit roll almost (that doesn't come as a powder, it's just a thin sheet you roll out flat with your fingers), and combined with the rice (which has a ramune-like flavor) and the fish eggs (which are... well, something fruity, and also kind of weird/fun because they pop open in your mouth), they make that particular sushi actually enjoyable. The other 3 sushi you create are a lot less tasty, because the egg and tuna toppings are this kind of fruit-flavored jelly that isn't really that pleasant, and the rice is rather a weird texture.

If I were truly rating this kit on the Yums, it would get something like 2/10. It's pretty much barely edible, other than the seaweed roll. But I actually highly recommend Popin' Cookin kits, and I will definitely get more of them in the future, because they're really fun. I'm willing to eat the results to justify creating them, and I'm sure kids would be less discerning, because hey, at least it's sweet. And sometimes weird is its own entertainment. So overall, I'm going to give these 8/10 Yums and I hope you find some of your own. By the way, you can buy these on Amazon.com, pretty much all of the available kits, and they're only around $5-10 shipped. That's a whole lot of money for the food you get, but not too bad for the entertainment. Oh, also expect to wait at least 2 weeks for them to arrive - they ship from Japan.
And that's it for the Candy Fest! Hope you enjoyed this tour through odd candy. Now let us continue on with October movie funtimes.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: From Within02:45 PM -- Fri October 4, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A boy commits suicide, and then it seems to be catching... whoever was the first person to come near the last dead body then kills themselves shortly after too, and the first person to come near their body, and so on. C-C-C-Combos ensue!

Scariness Type: General dread and the occasional sort of jump scare.

Rating: 3/5 Necronomicons. I think. The movie is no longer on Netflix so I can't check my rating and it's been almost a week since I saw it.

Body Count: 9 in the movie, and 6 more in the credits! Those are some unhealthy credits.

Fun Fact: This movie also has teenagers who irrationally hate a fellow teenager who lost a parent through no fault of their own. Why is that a thing? In this movie it makes more sense though, it's a religious thing.

Best Moment: It's never super clear how the people are being killed, except in a couple of scenes. The one that stands out a bit is when the main character's mom is slain by the evil force, and I kind of liked how that worked. It didn't make a lot of sense (and did nothing to explain the guy who hanged himself earlier...), but it hinted at some kind of mental trickery going on and that she thought what she was drinking was a nice healthy beverage.

Worst Moment: Maybe not a moment, but I felt like the cousin who just shows up and acts surly was a needless addition. Maybe that's why the Hebrew Hammer set her on fire. Spoiler! She did have some significance, but anything she had to say could've been said by the guy whose cousin she was, who was actually an important character. And she was surly.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Nothing really took me out of the movie here that I can remember. There was one very low-speed car crash that set the car on fire, but there was ghostly intervention involved, it's not like they were actually suggesting that car crashes do that by default.

Horror Tropes: It's good to be the hero... this evil force that wiped out everybody else it was attacking in 2 seconds flat spends the last 15 minutes of the movie slowly pursuing the hero. Not because she had any sort of special skill or anything, it just came after her much more slowly out of respect for her star status.

My Take: There's a twist at the end of this movie, as there should be in any movie according to me, but especially horror movies. But the twist here (I'm not doing a very good job spoiling these movies, am I? I only spoil when it's necessary!) is of the lesser variety. Twists come in 2 flavors - ones that send you back through the whole movie, re-evaluating everything you've seen in one amazing revelation (always kind of lame when they flashback to do all the mental work for you, though); and ones that don't change your view of the previous events, they just make the rest of the movie take a new direction. This is the latter kind, and since it comes about 30 seconds before the movie ends, it doesn't change much. It does make it a pretty depressing conclusion (and possibly the end of the entire human race, depending on exactly how magic works - spoiler!). But despite that, it's still something fun, because for a minute or so you think things are resolved in a nice way, then they go down hard. Anyway, overall this movie was okay. Didn't blow me away, but it all made sense and worked alright. I found the doppleganger monsters to be ineffective. They did the usual stretched face, black eye type of stuff you get in a lot of modern horror movies, but just didn't pull it off in a way that really creeped me out at all.

The Lesson: Stay away from books. They're evil.

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Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Yummy Pencils02:42 PM -- Fri October 4, 2013


Yummy Pencils
8/10 YUMS
You know, I was way into these at first... they're hard candies, so my "way into" can only go so far, but I was really liking them. Then I came across one of the odd flavors. There are, I think, 2 of the flavors in here (there are something like 8 flavors! Quite a variety) which contain some sort of weird cactus or flower flavor/smell in them in addition to the nice fruit flavor. It's very offputting to be enjoying this lovely fruit and suddenly almost feel like you're smelling perfume, or eating aloe vera. Not good.

But other than those oddities, these are great. They're very strongly fruity and sweet, and it's fun that they're shaped like pencils and have pictures of various pencils making faces on their packages, so even with the failure flavors, I rate the experience an 8/10.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The House At The End of the Street08:22 PM -- Thu October 3, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen and her mother move into a new house. Next door a high school boy lives alone, his parents having been murdered by his brain-damaged sister when he was younger. However, he doesn't actually live alone... his sister still lives there, locked in the basement! Teen angst ensues.

Scariness Type: Serial killer's got you trapped, and craziness is becoming apparent...

Rating: 3.5/5 iPhones (but I must note that I saw on IMDB that the iPhone in the movie is actually an iPod... no idea how the person could tell, and moreover, not a clue why they wouldn't just use an iPhone rather than making fake phone-call images on an iPod!)

Body Count: 6

Fun Fact: Elizabeth Banks, Elisabeth Shue, and Parker Posey are all remarkably similar looking.

Best Moment: The reveal of the twist is really the best part. I didn't see it coming, not exactly, and it was kind of a big surprise that was a lot of fun. I will say they kind of broke it later on though - the movie ends with a very brief scene that's supposed to cap it off with a final mini-twist, but what is revealed in that moment was really obvious to me, and had already been revealed if you were paying attention to the dialogue, so it felt almost insulting to have it spelled out there.

Worst Moment: I don't know if this is truly the worst moment, but I found it really ridiculous when the world's hottest lightbulb was touched to some cloth and skin and instantly smoke starts pouring out, and in less than a minute, the cloth was burned apart. It's a great argument against incandescent bulbs, you can really see the waste of energy.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: There were a few things that yanked me right out of the movie here. One was the way the kids in the school would become irrationally violent and set to murder the boy whose parents had been killed. For what? Having suffered a trauma? It just wasn't established in any clear way why they would hate him. Another is somebody's neck getting snapped completely on accident, just because somebody else was trying to hold her tightly and keep her from yelling. That is a very dainty lady. And lastly, there's this hidden trap door, and for plot reasons, Katniss runs down into the room with the trap door and after about 2 seconds of glancing around, not having any idea there would be a trap door, she spots the hinge sticking out from a carpet and goes right to it. Just way unlikely to me.

Horror Tropes: Ah, the classic flashlight failure. Nobody has good batteries in their flashlights in horror movies. Not even the cops apparently! Also, the whole thing wouldn't be complete if the corpse of the killer didn't suddenly reach up and grab you when you thought he was dead!

My Take: I kinda liked it. It was slow to get going, but the ending third or so kind of turned the first part on its head with fun revelations. That kind of stuff is one of my favorite things to get out of a movie. But aside from the twists, you have half a movie of kind of uninteresting teen drama, and another half of pretty ordinary hostage-battling-to-escape stuff.

Missed Opportunity: I liked the ideas and twists, I think the missed opportunity here is making the movie more interesting to support them.

The Lesson: Very simple - never make friends.

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Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Pureral Gummy06:22 PM -- Thu October 3, 2013


Pureral Gummy
6/10 YUMS
I'm not even sure what to call these. Here are some various names I can find in English on them: Pureral Gummy (pureral isn't a word, is it?), Soft Candy, Kabaya Pualalu, and Okinawa Passion Fruit & Citrus. That last one is probably your best bet - This is a package of two flavors of gummies - passion fruit and lime. They have a semi-liquid center, and the outside is a soft sort of gummy, about like konnyaku jelly if you've ever experienced that (I'm not a fan of those). The fruit flavor is strong as you'd expect from Japanese candy, the texture is a bit odd and off-putting, and it's all rather sweet.

That's about all there is to these! I'm not a gummy guy in general, and these are rather odd gummies. The flavor helps pull them through, but the texture is a little tough for me to get past, though it's not nearly as blurky as konnyaku jelly. I give them 6/10 Yums.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Scream 310:27 AM -- Wed October 2, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: Well, they're making the movie Stab 3, and cast members start to get murdered. So... well, that's really all. That keeps happening until a final confrontation. Exposition ensues.

Scariness Type: Many attempted jump scares, I guess. Not scary. Also not funny, interesting, exciting, or involving.

Rating: 1/5 Voice Changers.

Body Count: 8 or so

Fun Fact: They just keep making these stupid movies. I'm done watching them now though. This was the final straw. I saw Scream 4 a few months ago, and I know it was bad, but there is not a chance it was anywhere close to this bad.

Best Moment: The best is when Jay & Silent Bob show up for no reason! Which just kind of emphasizes how shlocky and hollywoody this whole thing is. It's a cartoon.

Worst Moment: All the moments that contained Parker Posey. I truly have no idea what she was doing in this movie, what kind of crazy instructions the director gave her, but I highly recommend you watch her in this movie, even though I can't recommend you watch the movie itself. My favorite is the scene where they meet Carrie Fisher and Parker Posey's just boggling and looking disgusted and horrified at everything around. Plus she begins that scene by doing a Scooby Doo wall-sneak. I kept wondering what weird dark secret she had that made her face do the totally crazed expression she made nonstop, until I finally realized she was just doing that. She was practically frothing at the mouth, and everybody else acts like she's being a normal human being. I think they were afraid.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: Pretty much every scene in this movie blows apart any suspension of disbelief you could have. There is no logic to anything that occurs, it's basically pure insanity on film. Ironically, it's not the unkillable killer stalking people that's so hard to believe (at least they offer a bulletproof vest as some kind of reasoning there, even though it's a magical super bulletproof vest), it's just the regular interactions. The thing I remember most is one scene where Dewey is walking through a house yelling peoples' names because they got separated (of course) and he's trying to find them. He literally yells at full volume, gets no response, takes two more steps, and the guy whose name he was yelling pops up behind him, scaring him, acting like he hadn't heard a single word. This same kind of non-comprehension of physics happens again and again in the movie, scenes where people clearly had to be standing just outside of the camera's view and they pop in not having heard a word that was going on on-camera. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Horror Tropes: All.

Missed Opportunity: They really missed out by not just turning the camera around and following Jay & Silent Bob for the rest of the movie once they were onscreen. It would have been a hundred times better.

My Take: This was so terrible. I was just shocked. As I mentioned above, I saw Scream 4 recently, and didn't like it, but this was so much worse. I really couldn't believe it. I don't think I've ever seen a movie which so completely disregarded reality. I shouldn't have to suspend my disbelief for scenes of normal human interaction, I think that ought to be reserved for the 'magical' parts. I can't remember ever actually liking Scream movies, but I thought there'd be some fun in the mystery and stuff. Not even the kills are interesting - stab stab stab. Nothing scary or surprising. And that mystery? Like in every Scream movie, the killer turns out to be someone you've met, but there's never been a clue that it was them and the reasons are stupid, and it's just more of a letdown than a revelation. Oh yeah, and the whole "plot" hinges around a totally ridiculous piece of impossible technology - a voice changer box that perfectly duplicates anybody's voice.

The Lesson: Stop watching Scream movies! What are you doing to yourself?!

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Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Look10:19 AM -- Wed October 2, 2013


Look
7/10 YUMS
This is another hard candy. These ones are quite different from anything I've had before. They are somewhat chocolate flavored, or maybe a bit caramel flavored, maybe even a little coffee. Whatever it is, it's different! They're not super hard, because after sucking on them for a fairly short while, the thin outer layer gives way to a softer center that kind of just falls apart. The center has a stronger flavor, maybe more coffee-ish? It's a hard one to describe, I'll tell you that.

So, I don't know quite what to tell you about these, but they are brown-flavored semi-hard candies, and I rate them 7/10 Yums. Kind of enjoyable, but kind of odd.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Bay06:10 PM -- Tue October 1, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Welcome back for another round of Belittling Horror Excessively! Thirty-one screamtastic tales of terror picked apart to death over the month of October. I wanted to do the Hamumu Halloween Home Horror Hoedown again, I do sort of enjoy it... but it's just so much work to film and edit the reviews each day, so I'm going back to the basic written reviews. Besides, I really miss saying that things ensue. The thing I'm doing differently this year is that I will spoil the movies for you! So don't read on if you plan to watch the movies I'm discussing. I'm tired of not being able to talk about the most important parts of the movie and just sounding dumb trying to be as vague as possible, so let's have a nice proper discussion of the movie as a whole!

Synopsis: The mayor of a small town on the Chesapeake Bay decides that all of the following are good ideas: dumping tons and tons of chicken manure into the bay, being near a nuclear power plant, holding a big summer celebration, setting up a desalinization plant to convert the bay into drinking water, and of course drinking that water. Excessive filming ensues.

Scariness Type: Hey, we're starting right off with a found-footage movie! This isn't just one lost tape from a kid in the woods though, it's actually a documentary put together from all the assorted possible sources in the town during this unfortunate incident, from traffic cameras to tourists' videos to security cameras to iPhone Facetime to videoconferencing to news reports and more. What all this conspires to do is create the "deadly outbreak" kind of scariness. Nothing much is going to jump out at you, you're just supposed to worry about the horribleness of the situation. Could it really happen (hint: no)? Are you sure you should be drinking that?

Rating: 2.5/5 Isopods.

Body Count: 700+. I think this movie might win the body count contest this month, kind of a letdown since it's the first one!

Fun Fact: Steroids can make you grow dozens of times faster than normal. That's why you see pro football players that are 25 feet tall. And chew on people.

Best Moment: I'm not sure... Honestly, nothing stands out and makes me cheer (hence the middling rating), the movie just kind of putters along.

Worst Moment: When the movie defies its own fiction. In a scene clearly built entirely for the trailer (well, that's my guess anyway, not having seen the trailer), one infected cop acts like a zombie and shoots his boss before shooting himself. It's so unrealistic and completely out of character for what is really happening that it just makes no sense. Nobody else in the entire movie has any kind of weird mental issue like that, and while I'm at it, what's up with shooting somebody else to save them from the infection you carry? Shoot yourself, be nice! Of course he does, but he shoots the other guy first. And again, why is that? For shock value. Not even close to something that would actually happen.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: This is the moment when the movie went too far for me to suspend my disbelief... When a pair of cops went to investigate somebody's house, one of them walked inside, then after a while a gunshot went off. The remaining cop went running in to see what was going on. A problem for a found-footage movie - there's no camera in that house. The only footage here is being shot from the dashboard camera of the cop car. So how does the movie choose to let us in on what happened in the house? By saying "We enhanced the audio so you can hear what was happening". So this little dashboard camera 20 feet in front of the house was recording people speaking at a low volume in a back room of this house, which they enhanced to perfect clarity. It's the "Zoom And Enhance" CSI moment of the movie.

Horror Tropes: Well, being a found-footage movie, this movie is full of people insisting on recording when they would never do so in real life. "Why are you filming? Stop that!", "Oh come on baby, we're gonna be glad we filmed every second of us walking down this empty street! I refuse to stop despite your reasonable request." But also, let's not forget the ultimate classic: the blood-dripping-on-you-from-above trope! We have a nice example in this movie. Ooh, what's this dripping on me? Is that blood?! I better slowly look upward without even moving out of the path of it.... AIYEEEE!!!!

My Take: Well, what you have here is a mockumentary about a massive disease outbreak, basically. It's not actually a disease (I told you there'd be spoilers! I told you in red!), it's isopods (basically tiny horseshoe crabs) in the water which for Movie Logic Reasons grow to several inches in size in just hours after you swallow them, eating their way through your body. But it might as well be a disease, same difference really. Definitely an eco-terror thing here, the usual "stop polluting or Godzilla will destroy you" message. What it really reminds me of is movies from the 50's, how they would end with a voiceover saying, "With all our fabulous technology, has mankind doomed himself to extinction? When you leave the theater, will YOU make giant mutant ants? The END!?!?!" or something. This doesn't end with that kind of thing, but it feels like it should. What I respect in this movie is how it feels quite different from your usual horror movie, because it really does feel like it's actually documenting a real-life outbreak, something that could really happen (even though it couldn't). And it even sensationalizes it like a documentary would. What I don't respect is that there are no real characters in the movie, no motivations or growth. Just people who muddle along and end up with ocean bugs popping out of their mouths. There's no "story" here at all, except in the sense of a news story.

Missed Opportunity: If you watch this movie, look behind the main character when she's doing her interview thing... there's something on the ceiling. It's probably a smoke detector or something, but it really looks a lot like an isopod, and once I noticed it, I spent the rest of the movie waiting for it to move and give us a nonsensical shock twist ending. Which by the way would've made some sense - this girl washed herself off in a fountain in the town at one point in the movie. Why is she alive?

The Lesson: And lastly, in case you don't watch the movie, I'm here to sum it up into one simple lesson you can carry with you for the rest of your life. If you get nothing else from this review, let it be the powerful and important lesson. The Bay has this lesson for you: Don't drink the water.

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Japanese Candy Fest 2013: Guimauve11:12 AM -- Tue October 1, 2013


Guimauve
9/10 YUMS
This is an altogether unique experience. Even the name is awfully unique. What you get here is a bunch of rather dense, firm marshmallows, in 2 colors. the peach-colored ones (or mango-colored ones) are mango flavored, and the green ones are kiwi flavored. The flavor is very strong, mainly because it comes straight from actual fruit juice. The texture is just dandy... they're not as airy and collapsible as normal marshmallows, yet not as dense and stale as Lucky Charms marshmallows. They're almost like much-less-dense taffy.

And it is an enjoyable experience to chew on them! I give them 9/10 Yums. They remind me a bit of Now & Laters (which are basically squares of fruit taffy), but they're so much softer and they don't get all up in your teeth like taffy does. Fruitastic!
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