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Belittling Horror Excessively: App06:14 AM -- Sat October 31, 2015

Well, this is it! 31 days, 31 movies. There were several other movies I watched, which I didn't review for various reasons (there was one I didn't even feel comfortable mentioning on this website! So I'm not going to now, sorry), including about 10 extras I watched before October started, just to warm up. Netflix is really chock-full of horror movies! Not necessarily good ones, but there sure are a lot of them. Without further ado, the Halloween finale!

App

My Review: This is what the title sounds like: the story of an evil smartphone app that collects all the information about you that it can, and uses it to ruin your life. It sends your private videos to everyone around, it magically infects other nearby phones or computers every time the phone it’s on is set near one, and spreads like that, causing people to kill themselves or hate other people, or whatever. In one case, it also uses some kind of totally-not-made-up electronic power system to turn on a boombox really loud so the boombox bounces itself until it falls off the scaffolding it’s on, and into a swimming pool to electrocute someone. I was going to mock this as silly, but decided to google it first, and it turns out you actually can die from that much electricity in a swimming pool! It’s not likely or common, but it can happen. That’s actually scary when you think about the electric lights in pools and how often they have their wiring checked, if ever. Anyway, the bouncing radio is still silly.

But wait, that’s not all there is to it! The reason I decided I just had to watch this movie was that I checked it out on IMDB first and discovered that it has an actual app that goes with it! You install the app, turn on the movie, and the app listens to the movie through your microphone, popping up little video clips and things at appropriate times during the movie. That was fun! It was really underutilized - probably 95% of the movie, it just sat there showing its idle image and made me wonder if it was listening at all (I hope it didn’t miss some cues? My sound system is pretty weak, and my iPad is in a thick case...). And a lot of what it did was pointless, but there was some fun to be had. One of my favorites was absolutely pointless, but did add to the feel of the movie: the main character heard her phone buzz, and rolled over in bed to pick it up and see what it was doing. At the same time, on my iPad, the camera of her phone was displayed, so it rolled around and showed her face as she picked it up and held it overhead. It was just a cool connection, and made me wish that the entire movie I could look over and see the phone’s POV on my device (most of the time, the inside of a pocket).

Other things it did included showing a newspaper article about a death that had just occurred, continuing the outdoor shot as someone drove into a parking garage, to show you the building she was going into, and showing you what was happening in a room she just left. Then there was one fairly pivotal use: there are two characters in the movie that aren’t overtly shown as evil for a long time, but before it’s revealed in the actual movie, the app shows texts going between them to reveal it. That’s a pretty interesting element, although the content of the texts was silly and terrible dialogue, not at all something a real human would’ve said.

So the app stuff was a fun idea and I’m glad I checked it out, but I don’t think it’ll catch on or ever be a good idea. Mainly all it did was totally distract me from the movie. Even though it was almost never showing something, I was constantly glancing at it because when it did show something, there was no noise or advance warning (it was intended for use in theaters, so of course it didn't use sound), and it would be over in 5 seconds, so I really had to pay attention to catch it. It was pretty good symbolism for the so-into-texting-that-you-ignore-reality message of the movie, since it actually forced me to be a distracted person, constantly glancing at my device instead of paying attention to the movie (which was subtitled, so this was extra problematic).

Oh, and back to the actual movie: it was okay. As usual, the technology didn’t make any sense, though it’s suggested at the end of the movie (not really a spoiler) that the app is ‘haunted’, which means they can get away with whatever they want. Still, the plot itself didn’t make sense, as the app seems to have been created for two different purposes which don’t match up, and... it’s just weird. It’s almost like two movies crashed into each other and spilled out onto my iPad.

P.S. I watched Kung Fury immediately before watching this (I give Kung Fury 5/5 Viking Chainguns, by the way! Catch it now!), and you know the scene where Hitler shoots people through the telephone? That pretty much happens at one point in this movie too! I liked the connection.

My Rating: 2/5 AI Spines.

My Movie Idea: I’d love to come up with something for the “app with a movie” concept, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea to begin with. How about instead, something you can’t actually play in a normal theater or video player: a choose-your-own-adventure movie? But something well-written. Like it’s this big crime drama with supernatural elements (or not, depending on how it goes...) and based on the decisions you make, it could end up with lots of different twist endings: they all did it, one of them is an undercover cop, something about time travel, etc. etc. Every 10 minutes or so of movie, it’d ask you to make one of four choices. Not about what happens, but rather there are 4 main characters, and you’re asked which one you want to follow with the camera. You’d have about 10 seconds to decide, and then majority rules.

So what happens is that whichever character you follow has the most interesting life of the 4 for that segment, since otherwise it’d be a boring movie, so that dictates the plot. You follow Bob and he ends up in a high speed car chase, but if you didn’t follow him, his drive to wherever was just uneventful, and so that means there isn’t a shadowy government agency following him. You follow Janet instead, and her meeting with the guys who kidnapped her son turns into a tense Mexican standoff. If you hadn’t, she’d just appear on a phone call to Bob during his crazy drive saying “yep, I got the kid, everything went smooth!”

I suspect this movie would require an awful lot of film! Not to mention custom technology to play it. Seems fun to me, but then I like video games.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Blood Glacier07:41 AM -- Fri October 30, 2015

Blood Glacier

My Review: So some climate scientists studying a glacier discover it’s run through with red stuff (see how the title works?). They investigate and find that it’s some kind of fungus or bacteria or some such. I’ll just tell you how it works because they reveal this early on: it’s some kind of organism that randomly combines the DNA of the creatures it comes into contact with, and grows a new hybrid creature inside the host body. Since insects are everywhere, it always involves insect DNA, which according to this movie means it grows gigantic in a day (you know, how insects are always so gigantic? Yeah), and also means it’s creepy and black and spiny and armored. So it’s sort of like a zombie movie, where every zombie is some random weird thing instead of a dead person. And it’s fun in that nobody turns into a monster, they just sort of give birth to one.

The monsters in this movie are pretty crazy. They’re all puppets, which range from pretty good to hilarious Birdemic quality creatures (well, okay, not Birdemic... but I was reminded of that movie by a couple scenes), and they’re all sort of like “what would this mammal or bird look like if it were crossed with a bug?” so they’re pretty twisted. The movie is not afraid to show you the monsters a lot, which means it’s not really scary, but it is pretty gross.

There are obvious parallels to John Carpenter’s The Thing in this movie, though this is not a paranoid tale of wondering who is the monster (I do love those...), it’s more like a zombie movie where the monsters are all around and you need to hide out. But it does have the creepy paranoid element because anybody who’s been bitten by a monster has another monster (mixed with human DNA!) brewing inside their body somewhere. So they are hiding out, but all their injured people are bug-monster timebombs. That leads to several interesting surprises during the course of this movie, all the more so because there are tons of characters (12+? Too many to keep track of for me). It’s a strangely large cast, but they start getting whittled down pretty quick.

I definitely had fun with this movie, waiting to see what hybrid was coming up next. And there’s a final twist to it all which is just... just nuts. Actually, this whole movie is nuts, but the final twist is truly odd. This is one of those movies, sort of like The Evil Dead, where part of the fun is seeing how far (and in what directions) the creators are willing to go with their oddball ideas. Is it a good movie? That’s a tough question, but I’d have to say probably not. But it is entertaining, and that’s why I watch movies.

My Rating: 3/5 Fox-Beetle-Woodlice.

My Movie Idea: I thought of an interesting twist on a zombie movie. There’s the plague as always, but the only symptom of this virus is a specific sort of paranoia. You don’t become a raging zombie trying to eat brains. Rather, you become afraid that everyone else is a raging zombie trying to eat brains. So yeah, lots of people end up dead, but not eaten by zombies - they get killed by people who have the virus who think they are zombies! I’m not sure how that would all play out, but it would certainly be violent. And it turns the typical scene on its head - instead of the one sick guy in the room turning into a zombie, one guy in the room suddenly starts seeing everyone else as a zombie. He still goes nuts attacking them, of course, but he could also run away, which is not something zombies tend to do.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Let Us Prey11:39 AM -- Thu October 29, 2015

Let Us Prey

My Review: Wow, this is a remake of the movie I watched earlier this month, The Traveler! Now, I don’t think it is supposed to be a remake, but it’s so incredibly similar that I have trouble believing it wasn’t at least based on that movie. It even has the same kind of super-retro synth soundtrack that sounds like John Carpenter made it.

This is once again the story of a very empty police station, into which a guy shows up who doesn’t talk a lot, and who they throw in jail. This time he doesn’t confess crimes though, he just kind of sits around fiddling with a box of matches and causing people to die magically. Oh, and at a couple points he whistles a short tune which I am pretty sure is the same one the guy in The Traveler whistled. Anyway, as before, it turns out that the cops in the station are all evil for various reasons (as are the people locked up in the jail cells), and we learn about their crimes and they get punished for them by dying horribly. There’s even a situation like The Traveler, in which two of the cops conspired to beat a suspect to death previously (hey, at least it wasn’t all of them this time).

There is one cop who is new to the area and just started there today though, and she is not evil. Or at least, she isn’t until the very end when things get downright strange and she makes a choice that I truly can’t connect to her character at all. If you have seen this movie, please answer me this: “Whaa!?!?!?!” That’s my question about the very last scene.

Everything gets explained pretty clearly in this movie, it’s not left vague and mysterious, but there is that decision she makes that just doesn’t even begin to make sense to me. Maybe I missed some key subtext in there? I just don’t know. But overall, this is a far far better movie than The Traveler. It is, like Proxy, chock full of crazy people (at least two of the seemingly-normal people in this movie turn out to be serial killers in their spare time! And those are just the people with the highest body counts, everybody else is pretty far off the rails too). Oh, and speaking of odd decisions, I still don’t understand what made the captain return to the station to do what he did. I mean, yeah, there were some weird hallucinations and he was into Bible stuff and killin’, but none of that adequately explains him flipping around into a complete nutjob. So that’s weird. I guess you could say on the whole, I didn’t understand the characters’ motivations in this movie. Even the villain, who turns out to be a pretty widely known mythological figure - his entire scheme of making these people die doesn’t really fit anything I’ve ever heard about what he does. It just seems random.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Val Kilmerlessnesses.

My Movie Idea: I feel like this practically was my movie idea for The Traveler! Not quite how I described, but it was certainly that movie done better. I didn’t have any particularly grand notions while watching this in truth. The only thing that sprang to mind mid-movie (this is a bit of a spoiler for this movie, and it’s not super interesting so feel free to skip it) was how they often have something like this: a demon or perhaps the devil driving people to die in some way. They do it because it’s visceral and a clear threat. Nobody wants to die, so an entity causing death is a good threat for a movie. But it’s not really what the devil would want. He doesn’t want people to die, who cares whether you get their soul now or in 50 years, when you live forever? What he should be trying to do is corrupt nice people to make them evil so he gets their souls later on down the line. That I think could be more interesting. Instead of making the bad people kill themselves, make the good people get confused and twisted up into being evil - perhaps by making them kill bad people! Then he gets the bad soul right now, and the good soul has gone bad, so he’ll get it later! Or he can arrange one of the other good people to kill them. Or even forget magically making them do things they wouldn’t, just talk to them and make them see things in such a way that they actually decide immoral stuff is moral, something like that. That’s what the devil should be about - twisting you around so you think you’re doing good when you’re really not. More psychological, less ramming-your-head-into-metal-bars.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Summer12:51 PM -- Wed October 28, 2015

Dark Summer

My Review: This is the story of a kid who’s under house arrest for cyberstalking a girl. He’s not allowed any computers and all that, of course, but his friends sneak one in and through Magic Hollywood Hacking, he sets up a connection and gets back to the internet. The bad news is, the girl he was stalking sends him a video chat request, and when he opens it, she just says some creepy stuff and then shoots herself right on camera. It’s pretty traumatic, but not as bad as all the weird haunting stuff that ensues for the rest of the movie as her ghost torments him in various ways.

Like the previous movie, this one starts off incredibly slow. Ridiculously slow. There’s a minute-long scene of the main character staring at a streetlamp, no fooling. But when it finally starts to pick up, it gets really interesting. There is a whole series of twists, so that what you thought was what is not what and it all turns around on itself. Even the “shocking final moment” that is required of all horror movies is a pretty good surprise. More than anything else, this feels like an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, except none of the characters are full of witty quips. Which is why I wish this was an episode of Buffy, because the plot was fun, it just needed to be less slow and more funny.

There’s really not much wrong with this movie other than the very slow first half. It’s entertaining!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Ankle Monitors.

My Movie Idea: Well, why haven’t we actually gotten a Buffy movie? I mean besides the very very different one with Pee Wee Herman as a vampire. I enjoyed that movie too, but I want a true Joss Whedon Buffy movie. It’s hard to imagine what the plot could be to make it more epic than the season finales from the series, but I know Joss could come up with something. Let’s get a Buffy movie!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Proxy07:07 AM -- Tue October 27, 2015

Proxy

My Review: I kind of doubt this movie really counts as horror at all. It’s definitely full of seriously nutso people though. The horror is that everybody might be as crazy as every character in this movie is.

The movie begins with a woman getting a sonogram near the very end of her pregnancy. Shortly after, she’s mugged and beaten, and loses the baby. When she goes to support group meetings for the trauma afterwards, she meets up with another woman who has lost her own son and husband. Then later she catches that same woman in a shopping mall screaming that her son is missing, and follows her to find that she had her son in her car, which she brings in to show the guard like “oh okay, I found him outside”. So she does have a son, and she likes to pretend she has one issue or another to get attention.

From there, things continue to spiral further out of control in crazy crazy ways. She looks into this woman, finds out she has a husband too, she gets obsessed with the woman, and... well, I feel like I wouldn’t want to spoil any of it, which is probably a good sign for the movie. But it’s not really that great of a movie, it’s just such a nutty plot that my jaw was just dropped the whole thing going “is this what is really going on here?” There are lots of twists and surprises, but I’m not sure any of them qualify as clever, just more out of left field than anything. All in all, the story ties up neatly with a lot of coincidence. It doesn’t make any sense, but not because of broken logic, just because there’s no way that many totally insane people could be living seemingly normal lives and come across each other.

The worst thing about the movie is the extreme slowness of the beginning half. I mean that in two ways: the traditional “long slow shots and not much movement in the plot” sense, but also holy burritos is there slow motion in this movie. At one point, the woman is in a bathtub being morose (which kind of shows you how the plot is slow, huh?), and we watch one of those 1000fps shots like on Mythbusters, of a drip coming from the faucet and falling down and splashing on the water. It’s cool to see in the Mythbusters sense, but I’m trying to watch a movie. This does not add to the plot. Then later, the pivotal scene in the movie where everything goes off the rails (a shotgun is involved) is entirely in slow motion. It’s probably 3 minutes long of slowly cocking the shotgun, firing a blast, guts flying everywhere, people screaming, water splashing, and wait we’re not done, more screaming, actual words being shouted in slow motion, cock the gun again, carefully position it, consider what you’re doing, and then another blast, more guts flying... it’s so brutally ludicrous that it looks like something from a parody movie. It was almost funny, but just whoa.

So yeah, it’s all very overly-affected, melodramatic and super-depressing. But wow, it was interesting too. It’s akin to a lot of 90’s movies, like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, movies where there are a bunch of characters whose lives intersect in overly-coincidental ways and it all leads to a big mess.

My Rating: 3/5 Hoodies.

My Movie Idea: Watching this movie actually made me think of an old idea I had. This is a truly horrible concept, so maybe turn away now. Anyway, my movie is the story of a woman who gets pregnant as often as she can, has the baby, and then moves to a new town where nobody knows her and starts again. Where does the child go? Well, that’s the horrible part. The woman is a very unique sort of cannibal - she has children in order to eat them. Obviously that’s not all she eats or she’d die, but that’s her disgusting obsession. As to what the plot is for this movie, I couldn’t tell you, but it would obviously involve somebody discovering what she’s up to and trying to get evidence and save her latest child before it’s too late. Hard to rescue a baby that’s inside someone though, so it all hinges on a climactic sequence right after she gives birth. Probably like Proxy, it would rely on a lot of coincidence, like this is a person who also moved to the same new town from the woman’s old town, so they recognize her and wonder what’s going on.

I apologize.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Lazarus Effect08:43 AM -- Mon October 26, 2015

The Lazarus Effect

My Review: It’s a Frankenstein movie! But not a very good one. There’s more than a little hint of Lucy in this movie (the movie where Scarlett Johanssen gradually gets an increasing percentage of her brain activated and gains psychic powers), including the same silly “we use 10% of our brains” premise.

Oh, so the plot: these scientists are working on a drug that you can inject (along with a jolt of electricity, of course) to reanimate a corpse. They say it’s to give doctors more time to work on somebody before it’s too late, but for some reason they are testing it with days-dead animals instead of killing something and using it immediately, which makes so much more sense, both in general and for the purpose they claim. So of course they manage to bring a dog back to life, and it acts weird and vicious. Then they end up in a situation where one of them dies while they’re in the lab, so they bring her back. She becomes very evil, and starts killing them all with psychic powers, without the slightest indication of what her goal is in doing so, it’s just to be evil.

The ending of this movie (semi-spoilerish?) is an extreme letdown. It’s almost like the story had just barely gotten started. We’ve seen one little encounter with the main characters, but it’s left completely wide open as to what will happen from there. And worse than the open-ended nature of it is the fact that it’s preceded by a climax in which we have a hero figuring stuff out and defeating the evil, and that just gets undone instantly, so it just feels like we completely wasted our time watching it. It’s equivalent to “it was all a dream” which is never fair to the audience. It was really the ending that tanked this movie for me, although at no point was it ever really a good movie. Pretty lame all around. They had some ideas that could’ve gone somewhere, but they did absolutely nothing with them. And didn’t explain anything. At all. It’s truly like it was all just for the action and shock value, there was no story being told to us at all.

My Rating: 1/5 Electronic Cigarettes.

My Movie Idea: Man, I totally had an idea while watching this and forgot it since then. I wish I had written it down. Well, you could do this movie in a non-terrible way: Start with the same situation, inventing the drug, testing it on an animal, then being forced into using it to resurrect a person because it’s not like it can make them any worse. But from there, we slow things waaay down. Instead of her going on a rampage immediately, she gets checked out, she gets to go home, the whole lab is under all kinds of investigation and they are working very hard to hide the fact that they raised her, as she begins to experience weird symptoms. Mental lapses, tremors. She can’t get any treatment due to the secret cause of the illness.

Then she starts discovering bad things happening during blackouts. She is in her kitchen, chopping some onions, she blinks, and then the wall has words carved into it with the knife stabbed into the end (I don’t know what words, they’d be important though). Also her fridge is open and all the contents have been thrown on the floor. She has knowledge she shouldn’t have, but she can’t remember it, it’s only there during her lapses.

In the end, there’s so many ways this could go. She could be the goodguy or the badguy, there could be entities from “the other side” that only she can see and fight, she could be totally innocent but a psychotic murderer during blackouts, we could run scenes out of sequence or flashback to find that she has actually already killed somebody and didn’t know it until much later, so many possibilities (so many other things we could discover much too late for big twists!). Yeah, if I actually spent some time thinking this out it could be a good movie. Too bad I’m not going to!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Inner Demons02:03 PM -- Sun October 25, 2015

Inner Demons

My Review: There’s a girl who is suffering from an addiction problem, and her family is very concerned. They get hooked up with a reality-TV show that is going to document the intervention. Thus we have found footage!

So they have an intervention, she agrees to go to rehab, and they continue to cover her recovery (or lack of one) there. It turns out her problem isn’t actually addiction. She’s addicted to the drugs because they keep the demon that’s possessing her under control. So as the drugs get out of her system in rehab, weird things start happening, including a lot of fairly silly jump scares (like she’s looking in a mirror, and the face in the mirror contorts and screams at us while she stays normal). There’s one guy in the rehab crew who believes in the truth of her problem and tries to help her and gets fired for it. Then of course in the end, there’s a big showdown and exorcism, and things happen. There’s some twists to how it all comes out, though probably nothing you haven’t seen before.

I felt like the ‘scary’ side of this movie was kind of a flop. It didn’t stress me out to watch this. But as an interesting story, it was alright. Not too bad. To be honest, I’m very sick of “if only you guys would have believed the insane supernatural story you were told, you could’ve saved her!” because in real life that is literally never the right answer. When someone tells you an insane supernatural explanation for what’s wrong with them, they’re wrong, and they probably need even more help than you thought they did. It’s funny how it’s backwards in movies - you get mad at the characters who won’t listen, but in real life, you’d think the people who do listen are gullible idiots. That’s because in the ‘reality’ of almost every movie, the magic stuff is real, and it’s often pretty obvious that it is, which makes ‘skepticism’ a truly unskeptical position - you’re ignoring the evidence. So you have to work with that, I guess. I suppose without that, you’d have a more boring movie, though I know there have been some movies where it all turned out to be fake and they can still be interesting. But as a standard thing, I think we’re better off with what we have now - magic is more often interesting than reality, so keep the magic in the movies!

My Rating: 3/5 Codex Daemonicas.

My Movie Idea: Like zombies, exorcism is really played out. So hmm, what’s left to exorcise? As I mentioned above, it’s fun and different when things turn out to be fake, but The Last Exorcism did that (well.... not really). One thing you don’t see often, though it is out there, is the flip of an exorcism movie: the parents believe their child is possessed and have exorcisms, lock the kid away, abuse them in various ways, but there’s nothing to it - the horror is the fact that parents can be so evil. I’m pretty sure this scenario has happened in real life too. It’s awful. How about this...

The dad is a meek little guy who begrudgingly goes along with what his domineering scary wife says. The kid is normal, but one day the dad comes home to find the kid is locked up and the wife has a bandage on her arm. She says he bit her and she had to put him away to protect herself. His wife says the kid is possessed and keeps him locked up, feeding him gruel through a slot in the door and stuff like that (some business about purifying his insides with plain food). The dad goes along with it but behind her back he helps the kid some, letting him out for a short time when he can, sneaking him snacks, talking to him. Always very careful not to get caught, as the wife is a cruel taskmaster. When he tries to question it and says the kid seems as normal as someone could be while locked up, she slaps him down hard.

Eventually they have an argument with the dad saying they should just get an exorcism and solve this, starving and torturing the kid isn’t a solution even if he is possessed. The wife is aghast at the notion and fighting it every step. The dad finds her almost-frightened reluctance to be odd (not to mention her change in personality in the last year, she wasn’t so bad before), and eventually consults with some kind of paranormal people who check out the house and are like “yeah, this place has mega bad vibes” and especially in the room where the child is locked up. So when the wife’s not home he arranges an exorcism after all, or maybe some kind of ‘cleansing’ to get the badness out. It doesn’t seem to fix anything, but they pronounce the bad vibes gone. The wife comes home and burns her hand on the door to the kid’s room or something, or just complains of a massive migraine going near there or whatever...

Anyway, it all comes down to him realizing that not only is his wife possessed, but she was infusing evil energy into that room to do something bad to the kid (not possess him, that’s too simple... maybe eat his soul to open a portal or something, I dunno), and there’s a big showdown where she brings out all the usual stuff like throwing people across the room, and for an added dose of fun, the kid ends up beating her with a touch to the forehead and forgiveness for the abuse, because the reason the demons wanted to evil-energy-box him was that he’s actually some kind of holy person (oh maybe he IS possessed, but by an angel? That’s interesting!). Something like that. Details shmetails.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mr. Jones10:02 AM -- Sat October 24, 2015

Mr. Jones

My Review: Whoa man. Whoa. Okay, to start with, we have a couple heading out to a cabin in the woods (you’ve never heard this premise before, right?), to film a nature documentary - which of course means this movie is found footage. What it’s about is totally unclear. I think they’re just kind of going to film anything they think looks interesting and figure out what to do with it later. But as they’re filming stuff, they stumble across these creepy weird totems made of sticks and animal bones and mason jars all strung up together, and eventually encounter the creepy-looking guy who made them. For some reason, after stumbling across his house, they decide to sneak inside and check it out (it’s full of more totems, pretty much), and barely escape without getting caught by him as he comes home. They realize that he is the pop-culture icon “Mr. Jones”. That’s a guy who mails these totem things to random people.

So the man goes home, leaving the woman there to continue checking out the totems. He films a bunch of documentary interviews with various people about the Mr. Jones phenomenon, and that’s how we get the backstory. Mr. Jones is a weird guy, and some people believe he protects our world from the dream world with his totems. Some weird stuff like that. The man goes back, he and the woman invade Mr. Jones’ personal space some more, and then everything gets insanely weird. The end.

The last half-hour or so of this movie is entirely trippy. You have no idea what’s really happening, because it’s all basically a dream. One really interesting part is that the found-footage format sort of breaks down. You get shots the characters can’t possibly be filming, but it’s still hand-held - it turns out its being filmed by other copies of the man, who end up chasing them around (hey, it’s a dream). It’s very weird, like I said. What actually happens during this part doesn’t really add up, but it’s not really supposed to because it’s a dream. It goes on for too long, as a result - since none of it really makes sense, it’s really just giving you a style, not any substance, so you really only need a taste of it to get the idea: it’s a weird dream, anything can happen. It does wrap up in a way that works out relatively well, and has a twist to it. At least, if I understood it properly it does.

The characters are kind of annoying as usual, and make weird choices. There’s a lot of times they don’t seem to be anywhere near concerned enough about what’s happening, but that may be something of a dream thing. It’s hard to say. There are also a couple other obnoxious things in this movie. One is many many minutes of the man running through tunnels underground. It’s just rock walls and darkness, totally pointless to watch. Another is at the beginning of the movie, there are several minutes of just voice-over questions... “What if you went into the woods to film a documentary? What if you saw things that were really beautiful? How about if it was windy out? Would your relationship withstand all this hanging out?” It just goes on and on. I imagine there’s some artistic point to it, but it is so annoying. That entire sequence could be cut from the film without losing a single thing.

But in the end, I enjoyed the sum total of it. Not a ton, but I was caught up in the concept, and the way it came together was good. There was a lot of fluff to sit through, but it all felt like something powerful was lurking underneath. It leaves a lot of questions, but it resolved enough of it for me anyway.

My Rating: 3/5 Mason Jars.

My Movie Idea: Dreams. That’s a thing for movies, for sure. But it’s also something you really have to be careful with or you are making something dumb. There’s “it was all a dream, phew!” which is a total cop-out. There’s “I thought I woke up, but it was just another dream! (and another, and another...)” which is another cop-out. There’s “anything can happen because it’s a dream” which isn’t really a cop-out, it just leads to pointlessness. Who cares what happens if anything can happen?

There’s a scene in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, where Ramona off-handedly mentions that she takes a shortcut through Scott’s dreams to deliver packages, which is why he sees her in his dreams. That is an amazing concept, just throwing dreams and reality together like that - why not just take a shortcut through a dream? So I think my movie idea relies on this.

It’s about somebody going into dreams, not to do something to the dreaming person, but just because the dream is a way to get somewhere else. Perhaps there is an ultimate-security room. There is no way to get into this room at all, except to use some kind of funky technology that powers this door that goes into a dream of someone sleeping in an adjacent room, and you have to get them to dream about a door, which you open to enter the room. Obviously, whatever is in there is really really valuable. Also here are a few exciting moments in this movie: when the person going through the dream ends up damaging the psychological state of the dreaming person, when somebody ends up trapped in the room because the dreamer wakes up, when somebody ends up trapped in the dream itself when the door gets shut and the dreamer isn’t dreaming of a door, the dramatic countdown regarding the fact that if the person wakes up when you are in the dream, you cease to exist completely.

Other than that, I don’t know what happens in the movie, but it seems like it could be an interesting Charlie Kaufman kind of crazy thing, where nothing in the movie makes any sense in reality, but it’s all a metaphor for some other stuff. Too smart for me to actually write!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Tremors 5: Bloodlines07:51 AM -- Fri October 23, 2015

Tremors 5: Bloodlines

My Review: It’s Tremors! I’m a Tremors fan, but I just mean the original movie. I’m pretty sure I saw one of the other sequels once, but it left little to no impression. All I really recall is that it had two guys who were fulfilling the role of the two heroes of Tremors - not playing the same characters, but obviously rehashing the same thing. Pretty disappointing. But I was sad when I got into this movie and realized how much mythology I had missed.

The original Tremors is a great movie, highly recommended. Horror comedy about giant worms tunneling underground and sucking people under. But I discovered by watching this movie, that since the first film, we have learned much more about the graboids’ life cycle, and it turns out there are other variations on them. There are flying creatures and walking creatures too. Seems like that’d make those intervening movies interesting, but I strongly suspect they were actually direct-to-video garbage nonetheless.

So to this film: This is the story of Burt Gummer, who was a survivalist nut in the first movie, but has now become a famous reality show star, having cameras follow his graboid-hunting exploits. He is called away to Africa this time due to reports of graboids there, which he believes to be impossible. Then for the rest of the movie they run around trying to kill them, and (spoilers? Nah) finish off the last one with a completely impossible death-trap. There’s some interpersonal junk too.

This movie falls flat. It’s supposed to be funny, but it isn’t really. The biggest problem I think is the character of Burt Gummer. He’s just not very interesting to build a movie around. He gets wacky at one point when he’s trapped in the burning sun for hours, but even wacky, he’s just not interestingly wacky. It may just be nostalgia (I haven’t seen the first movie in at least 10 years), but I think the same character was much more fun in the first movie. Maybe it’s just the fact that somebody like this doesn’t fit as a main character. He’s just too unlikeable.

Aside from that, there’s no particularly exciting monster chases. There’s a scene where his cameraman (the other main character) is walking through a pitch-black cave that he knows is the nest of the graboids, and his only source of light is flares, which only give him short periods of light. This could’ve been unbelievably nerve-wracking, but it’s just not presented in a scary way at all. He kind of fumbles along, comes across a single monster at one point and manages to avoid it easily, and that’s that.

There’s also hacky writing, like incredibly obvious foreshadowing (for example, this girl who for some reason uses a car battery to electrocute the ground to make worms surface for fishing bait... hmm, wonder if that will have any relation to the giant killer worms at any point???), and really cardboard characters and relationships doing everything exactly how you would expect. And broken physics - a car that’s lit on fire will somehow explode if a flaming arrow hits it. It’s the arrow that pushes it over the top into explosion territory. Just not good.

My Rating: 2/5 Graboid Eggs.

My Movie Idea: This is a vague one, but this movie got me thinking about the idea of humankind’s place in the world. The Earth is a safe place for us. I mean, we have completely mastered it, we are the deadliest thing here by a mile, and as a society, nothing here poses any threat to us (except us...). So what if that changed? Aliens are boring, so the best I can think of is just digging a hole that breaks into an underworld that we never knew existed, and all these subterranean creatures come storming up onto the surface. Not smart ones, just wild animals, but animals so dangerous that life on Earth completely changes. How different would the world be if you spent every day fighting for survival rather than punching buttons for a paycheck?

In the end, the philosophical idea is interesting, but the reality of it as a movie is nothing new at all: it’s every zombie movie, every alien invasion, all kinds of other things. I just had fun thinking about it, though I don’t know how to make it a special and different movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mercy07:18 AM -- Thu October 22, 2015

Mercy

My Review: This movie is based on the Stephen King short story “Gramma”. Very loosely. What they really do is have a totally different story, which ends in the short story’s plot. The last quarter of this movie is the short story, but expanded with some other weird stuff.

So what that means for those who haven’t read the story is that this is the story of a pre-teen boy who liked hanging out with his Grandma. She was clearly a witch in some way, definitely some weird stuff going on there (which later gets explained in detail), but she was pretty much a mother to him, even though he had an actual mother. Later on, you realize their whole family is really messed up due to a lot of ancient history, which is really Grandma’s fault (and of course the demon she made a pact with, as usual), so that explains why his actual mother wasn’t a really good mother. Anyway, a year or two later, Grandma has gotten strangely and nastily senile, and the family takes her home from the care facility she’s been in, because it’s a really bad place. Eventually she dies, after a lot of inter-family drama, and sadly for the boy, he’s the only one home when she dies. And then things get weird, because she’s not acting the way dead people normally do, what with all the running around and trying to kill him.

You know, I’m not sure what I think about this movie. It’s definitely not really bad, but it also definitely has flaws. It’s interesting to dig into the family drama and how it all got this way, but in the end when all the supernatural stuff is flying, there aren’t any real rules to what’s happening. It’s one of those things where what happens is convenient for the plot instead of what would really happen - with the insane superpowers exhibited, Grandma would not have had any problem accomplishing her goal. There’s a bit of a final twist, which I should have guessed, which is kind of nice. There’s also sufficient lore in there to make everything make sense, and it all just kind of works. It’s not amazing, but there’s nothing truly broken there.

My Rating: 3/5 Wood Chippers.

My Movie Idea: I like the core concept here. In my movie, a big family all comes together because a very old member is on their deathbed. Everybody knows it will only be a few days, and it’s important for them all to be there for various reasons (maybe for some, it’s just because the old codger is crafty and mean and has a lawyer nearby - if they don’t show up, they can be sliced out of the will really fast). But of course, the family has a lot of ugly secrets and interpersonal problems. Couples that refuse to talk to others, old resentments hidden underneath that aren’t talked about, and all of that. All of these bad things come bubbling up when everybody’s not only stuck in very close proximity (it’s too small of a house for so many people, so there’s not a lot of escape and privacy), but also under a lot of emotional strain just waiting for this old man to die.

That’s actually all the plot I have, and it is indeed the plot to a heavy drama rather than any kind of horror movie, but first off, I never said my ideas were always horror, and secondly, I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. It depends on how far things go, right? How about a kind of old-school style movie: one of the people ends up murdering the dying old man who would’ve died within days anyway. So we have a whole murder mystery going on, and several other people end up dead, a cop shows up and gets much too involved (and has his own connections to the family). I can’t actually think of the motive for that murder right now, but you figure it out. It gets convoluted, people get dead, and a lot of people get really paranoid. And of course, nobody is allowed to leave, since everybody is a suspect. Yeah, it’s nothing original and I don’t have a big twist, but it sure could be interesting to watch it all unravel.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Frozen10:11 AM -- Wed October 21, 2015

The Frozen

My Review: Ugh this movie... okay, it starts with a whiny entitled girl and a whiny know-it-all boy going out into the frozen wasteland for a “fun trip” (according to the guy). Now I feel guilty mocking these people, because I’m no better than them. Just like them, I would die in 2 seconds in the cold, and I would be totally incapable of putting up a tent, or fixing a snowmobile, or doing anything. But the difference is, I’m not in a movie. You don’t have to watch me be whiny. Oh wait, you’re reading me doing it. Oops, sorry.

So they go on their trip, and it’s really cold and snowy, and they stay in a tent, and ride around on a snowmobile. Eventually they crash the snowmobile and can’t fix it, so they’re stuck ten miles from the road with no way back and no way to communicate. This is followed by hours and hours of the exact same thing over and over: it’s daytime so they try walking somewhere and give up and go back to the tent. It’s nighttime and they try to sleep, but hear a noise outside so they look back and forth with a flashlight. Now the big twist is that sometimes they see nothing, and sometimes they see something. But even if they see something (a person), it goes away in a few seconds and it comes out the same as if they saw nothing: they go back in the tent all nervous, and go to sleep anyway.

All that stuff is interspersed with occasional nightmares. That’s it. That’s what you get out of this movie until about the last 10 minutes. It’s so monotonous and just exhausting, because each time they look for something, there’s always that hope that this time it will lead to something new, but it never does, so you wait some more. Then in the end of the movie, one of the people they kept seeing actually decides to stick around, and kind of chases the girl around, until eventually there is a confrontation and I won’t spoil the big, massively over-expositiony finish.

Sure, there’s a twist. What was happening was not what you thought, but that doesn’t explain why we had to sit through endless night after night of the same thing every time. It was just pure padding. The script for this movie must have just been xeroxed pages throughout the middle. They were like “well, we’ve got 30 minutes of movie... let’s just photocopy the middle five pages about 20 times to pad it out.” And that is what they had - about 30 minutes of legitimate movie. That 30 minutes would’ve been an okay short story, if very derivative (you’ve seen this twist a lot), although the ending was just so over-explained that even that wasn’t good.

My Rating: 1/5 Wet Socks.

My Movie Idea: The frozen woods make for a nice film setting. There’s a lot you can do (Insomnia, Fargo, Devil’s Pass which I watched last year for Halloween). So hmm, what would I do... my brain was numbed during this movie, so I didn’t think of anything while watching. Something based around the fact that it’s so silent in the woods, but there’s always the occasional cracking of a branch or slump of snow.

So maybe we have stealthy near-invisible monsters (just being white would work for that!), stalking campers trapped up in the mountains, and a lot of the movie is these very tense scenes, kind of the negative version of a normal horror movie: protagonists standing in bright white light, but still totally unable to see what’s coming for them, and they are constantly turning their head, trying to catch the soft crunch of snow underneath a claw. To make it a true negative image, the monsters could sleep during the night and only be dangerous in daylight.

The monsters are drawn to heat, as you could imagine, which adds some other scenarios like burying yourself in snow to hide your heat, and tense moments as they walk directly overhead, and of course the balance between not freezing to death, but not giving them heat to track (you know at some point the heroes do the opposite - light a bunch of fires to distract and confuse the monsters. Maybe the climax involves a forest fire). I don’t have any interesting twists in mind, I just think that would be a fun basic premise to then build a good story around. You go do the hard part, I’ve suffered enough sitting through The Frozen.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Burying The Ex05:20 AM -- Tue October 20, 2015

Burying The Ex

My Review: Hmm. Well, this is a romantic comedy, where a guy is struggling to break up with his girlfriend, but can’t get up the nerve to do it right. Eventually he does, but she gets hit by a bus right before he can actually dump her. “Lucky” for him and her, there was a Satan Genie statuette in front of which they had previously promised to be together forever. Through its evil magic, the girlfriend is brought back as a zombie, just as the guy is trying to get involved with someone new. The zombie ex remains clingy, and thinks a great plan would be for her to zombify him too, so they can be together forever as advertised. Three’s Company-style antics ensue as the guy tries to keep the two girls from knowing about each other (one so she won’t eat his face in rage, and the other so she... well, I mean, I guess it’s just weird to tell people there’s a zombie around). Like most such situations, it could’ve been resolved by just being honest all around in the first place, although there is the risk that his ex would just kill all the humans, so maybe not.

At times, this movie felt like not just a sitcom, but the kind of sitcom they have on the Disney Channel. Really low-brow ultra-simple humor with super cheery people who have no clue what’s happening around them. Not all of it was that bad, but it just has this bubble-gum flavor to it which is not great, and is pretty badly at odds with some rather gruesome scenes. Not many, but it’s just weird to combine that at all. I’m not sure who the audience is here, because it’s too gooshy for horror fans, and it’s too gooshy for romance fans.

I’ve seen horror comedy before, and it has been good. Shaun of the Dead is definitely good. This is not Shaun of the Dead. It actually wasn’t terrible, but it definitely wasn’t worth watching.

My Rating: 2/5 Runners.

My Movie Idea: I don’t know, I got nothing for real.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead09:28 AM -- Mon October 19, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead

My Review: I knew things were looking up already at the 2nd line of dialogue in this movie, because they immediately referred to the walking dead as “zombies”. Yes, a movie that actually admits that’s what they are! I’m so tired of hearing about “Zeds” and “Walkers” and “Infected”. If this stuff happened for real, “Zombie” is the only word we’d use.

But that isn’t the only good thing about this movie! It’s the story of a few people surviving in the first days of a zombie outbreak. I don’t need to go into detail, that pretty much covers it, but they have some fun original elements (this stuff constitutes mild spoilers, so hang on to your hat): the zombies breathe a flammable gas and change their behavior from day to night, there’s a mysterious military conspiracy (okay, that’s definitely been done), and there’s a character who develops the ability to mind-control zombies. Now there’s the big game-changer! This movie looked and felt like a comic book all over, with no worries about reality, just all kinds of campy over-the-top action and insanity, and you just have to be along for the ride. There is one plot element that seems completely gratuitous and invented solely for the purpose of giving them a reason to capture zombies: without explanation, gasoline (and similar substances) have stopped being flammable. They don’t know why, and we never find out. Good thing the zombies breathe flammable gas so they can rig up their Mad Max truck to run on zombies! That felt really contrived if you ask me, but it was fun.

The whole situation with the zombie mind control added a big layer to what would otherwise be just standard zombie-splattering mayhem. Without that, I probably wouldn’t recommend this movie, but that took it over the top for sure. Like so many of the movies this month, the movie ends right in the middle of the story. It’s basically an origin story for The Zombie Queen superhero, as it ends with the team set up to do battle with the mysterious government, and with us lacking explanations for anything. Actually, I would say more than anything that this felt like the pilot to a TV series. And it would be a great TV series, I have to say. Way more fun than The Walking Dead. This is not a story of mopey people at each other’s throats, it’s a bunch of nutjobs going crazy and having a blast as they blast zombies. Which is pretty disturbing, but that’s the kind of movie it is.

I also happen to be right in the middle of an obsession with playing Dead Island, and this movie just fit right in with that. Good choice, me.

My Rating: 4/5 Air Harpoons.

My Movie Idea: I think zombies are pretty played out (maybe?! They’ve only been the focus of 80% of pop culture for 5 years), but I thought this might be an interesting twist on them: there’s a tiny invasive vine that infects people and gets under their skin and begins to take them over. But the victim doesn’t become a zombie, they just sorta get sick and eventually comatose. This kills you after a while, as your organs just shut down. The vine grows chloroplasts in your skin, and draws energy from the sun that way. If it manages to suck up enough solar energy, it can reanimate your corpse in a very slow and clumsy way, sort of the classic zombie that lumbers along slowly and is easy to evade. But if that zombie somehow manages to catch a victim, and eats enough meat, it evolves further, with the strength and energy and improved brain function to be one of those “rage zombies” from more recent zombie moves - fast runner, jumper, desperate to eat people (or animals, whatever). This zombie in turn is trying to eat brains specifically (still eating meat for energy, but it wants brains), and if it can eat some brains, it gets smarter...

And this process continues on and on, with smarter, faster, crazier zombies (flying, why not? Acid spit, super-jumping, using weapons and tools, whatever!). So the structure of the movie is kind of in chapters - they’re dealing with the current kind of zombies, and then they see something worse plowing through the crowd toward them, and we get a big title card “Phase III”, and they start having to deal with those. So the situation just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Something like this would probably end with a weird twist where the ultimate zombie form is smarter than we are, and it’s trying to build human farms, keeping us alive as a food source. I’m not sure how the humans win in this scenario, seems hopeless to me, but in Hollywood it’s usually something like this: the zombies evolve into a hivemind, and they kill the leader-brain which kills them all. Seems like a weakness to me, not a very good evolution at all. But hey, here’s a fun bit of backstory: at some point they discover that this is an alien invasion. It’s cheaper and easier than intergalactic war to just send the plant seeds to our planet to start taking us over and turn us into them (and maybe eventually receive signals beamed from space to actually put their consciousness in our bodies without them having to travel at all? Could be).
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Terminal Invasion06:13 AM -- Sun October 18, 2015

It's a two-fer, since I had no time to turn on my computer yesterday, and thus no BHE review! I was at a TEDx conference. Pretty cool.

Terminal Invasion

My Review: Okay, so I have actually seen this before. But it’s Bruce Campbell! I wasn’t sure I had seen the whole thing (not a good sign?), so I watched it. It’s definitely not his best work, or even good work in any way, although he is the best thing in the movie by a mile. He isn’t doing his usual wisecracking, he’s basically just a tough-guy criminal, but he actually plays it realistically and well, unlike every other person in the movie. Let’s be clear: this is a SyFy Original Movie, made for TV, and it looks the part. So cheap, so crappy, no money wasted on actors. It looks like an episode of Wings gone horribly wrong.

The plot is that there’s a big blizzard so everybody at this little airport is stuck there for the night. Bruce is a convict who was being transported by car nearby, and their car failed, so they had to walk him to the airport. He goes to the bathroom along with the cops guarding him, and an alien disguised as a priest tries to kill them all. He does kill the cops, but of course you can’t stop Bruce Campbell, who smashes the alien to death. The rest of the movie consists of him sort-of holding the other airport denizens hostage (but most of the time he gives them the guns, so I’m not sure why they are still kowtowing to him), while all of them wonder who among them is secretly an alien. One by one they ferret out the aliens, or in some cases the aliens just decide to transform into big rubbery creatures right in front of them, and they kill the aliens.

It’s so hard to discuss what is good or bad about this movie. It’s a terrible movie, of course. And the writing especially is awful, but what’s strange about that is that there are a lot of good ideas in there. The overall premise is certainly good - there’s a lot of tension in knowing some of them are aliens (and the priest-alien explicitly declared in a fit of masterful writing “We don’t like you”, so you know they’re not aliens that like us!), and the paranoia that causes. There are also some clever scenes, most notably that they decide to use the baggage X-ray to scan each other and see if they can see who’s an alien, which leads to another clever idea: a fight inside the x-ray where all you can see are the snapshots it takes every couple of seconds, eventually seeing somebody get dismembered. And that further makes one more clever idea, which is that that ends up breaking the machine, so while they found one alien that way, and cleared two or three normal people of aliendom, the rest of the people are still unclear.

That one scene is just all kinds of clever (except for the very odd decision to make the X-ray start beeping and freaking out when an alien went through it - the fact that the body contained green goo instead of a skeleton was sufficient for me), and there’s also a good little twist involving the children which is well-written and comes as a surprise, but you could’ve figured it out yourself. It just makes solid sense. But the rest of the movie is full of utterly brain-dead characters doing stupid things. It’s hard to watch a movie where every character is so phenomenally dumb. It really makes you wonder about the intelligence of the writer. Like if he thinks these are the kind of choices a normal person would make, does that mean he’s that dumb and they’re the choices he would make? Or perhaps he’s not that dumb, and he just thinks he’s better than everyone else, so he assumes other people are. Either way, it’s not good.

My Rating: 1/5 Chins.

My Movie Idea: Well, let’s give Bruce Campbell a role he belongs in! How about he’s the captain of a spaceship. It’s an ark ship, filled with people in stasis (including him - it’s a thousand-year journey, so everybody’s sleeping), and the crew is unfrozen mid-flight when the computer detects a problem. There’s something attached to the hull, and after some suiting up and spacewalking, and the death of whoever does the spacewalk, they discover that it’s some kind of alien blob with tendrils injecting into the hull, cracking things open and getting inside. They come up with some radical plan to burn it off with the engines or something, which succeeds, and it’s gone. So good.

They set about trying to fix the hull damage it caused, only to find that there are bits of it still burrowing through the hull (somebody else dies finding this out, sure!). Eventually we discover that the burrowing tentacles are getting into the stasis pods and turning the people inside into freaky twisted zombies who smash out of the pod and run around the spaceship, crawling on the ceilings and contracting their bodies to squeeze through small vents and other weird inhuman things. Bruce and his remaining crew set about blasting the aliens with high-tech guns and being stalked in dark corridors and all the good stuff that happens in Aliens movies. And lots of one-liners. Probably culminating in Bruce alone getting away in an escape pod while the entire ship is destroyed. I don’t know though, that’s pretty bleak if you had a thousand people on board.

Okay, it’s not the most original, but it could be done well, and it gives Bruce his chance to shine where he deserves it - in a high-budget, really scary but really funny, action-horror thriller.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Traveler06:08 AM -- Sun October 18, 2015

The Traveler

My Review: This is a straight-up 80’s movie that came out 30 years too late. Val Kilmer walks into a police station on Christmas Eve with just a few cops in it, and says he wants to confess to murder. They lock him up and interrogate him. As he confesses to murder, it turns out he’s actually describing what’s happening exactly at that moment, in another part of the building, as one of the cops is mysteriously killed by ghostly forces. There’s mayhem and freakouts, and 5 more confessions as one by one, he confesses the cops to death.

I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to tell you what the movie reveals in the first 20 minutes, so it turns out that he is the ghost of a man that these six cops beat up to try to force a confession from, leaving him in a coma and eventually to die. So it’s like revenge. There’s a twist, of course, which is kind of silly and breaks the logic a little, but is not too crazy.

I was really interested at first in this movie. The premise is intriguing, and you are getting an interesting mystery at first as this very strange, very silent guy shows up, but the big problem is, they reveal everything about him in that first 20 minutes. After that, there’s no more mystery, just waiting for him to kill everybody. There’s nothing they can do about it, since what he does is plainly magic. Things just happen. And it’s sad, because this could have been a truly great movie. If Bryan Singer had directed it, and somebody good had written it, it would’ve been some kind of supernatural Usual Suspects. Keep those revelations in check, let the audience figure things out bit by bit. Get a real twist! Make the characters have some depth!

But instead, it’s a very strange movie, that feels completely out of the 80’s. The run-down police station, the non-cell-phone, the random usage of heavy metal which seemed totally out of place every time, the crazy gore with chunks of guts flying around - every bit of it just looked and sounded pure 80’s. There was another weird and annoying thing about it - dozens of times they show something in slow motion about 4 or 5 times in a row. Not something especially exciting, like the cop is trying to shoot out a windshield, and it just repeatedly shows him pull the trigger and the muzzle flash. It was like they were trying to impart this huge importance, but for no reason at all. And it happens many times. It’s a terrible effect.

My Rating: 2/5 Best Daddy In The World Pens.

My Movie Idea: I pretty much said it above - let’s do this basic idea and do it well. A guy walks into a police station and wants to confess to murder. Now let’s put the rest of it into the realm of mystery - make it possible that he has accomplices, make his confessions vague and not blatantly describing exactly what is happening, reveal tidbits of the backstory for why he is there instead of dumping the entire thing at once in one big flashback (which by the way is repeated 3 or 4 times, almost in its entirety. I got so sick of it). Make it so only one of the cops is actually responsible for this and deserves to die, and so if he would’ve just come clean early on, the other people would’ve survived, just to turn the guilt knobs up a little. Have some misdirects, like the first death looks like a suicide and there seems like a plausible reason for it. Leave the cops guessing before it turns into an all-out fleeing for your life. Just tone everything down so there’s lots of room for mystery, and some quiet somber moments instead of crazy bloody mayhem. Let’s get spooky, people!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: They05:44 AM -- Fri October 16, 2015

They

My Review: It’s at least the second “monsters under the bed and in the closet” movie of the month, although in this case, the children scared of the monsters grow up and the monsters do too, I guess, because once the kids are adults, the monsters start haunting pretty much any old place, as long as it’s dark. Apparently (according to a crazy guy who killed himself), there are these monsters that either are attracted to kids who have night terrors, or perhaps the kids don’t have night terrors, they’re just seeing these monsters. They mention it the first way, but since these are the only specific night terrors we see in the movie, I get the feeling the second way is more the case. Anyway, when they are children, the monsters take them into their world and mark them in some way, then when they are adults, they come back to apparently take them for good. For what purpose, we never learn. The monsters can’t go in the light, only in darkness, but that’s okay for them because they have the ability to make lights go out.

That’s the backstory you learn as it goes. This movie is the story of a woman whose childhood friend shows up out of the blue, is clearly crazy, puts all those ideas in her head before killing himself, and then she and two other friends of his spend the rest of the movie trying not to get taken by the monsters. It’s really kind of a straightforward thing, pretty much just a slasher movie - there is no real point to the movie other than watching the monsters come after them and seeing them narrowly escape in various ways until they don’t escape. But that didn’t make it uninteresting. I enjoyed it, mainly because the monsters were very creepy (as usual, moreso when we saw less of them) and we gradually figured out the backstory, although nothing really meaningful is ever learned. They’re just random monsters, who targeted random people, and took them to an unknown place for unknown reasons.

It is effectively creepy, and the device of trying to get to where there’s light while monsters come crawling (very rapidly) out of the darkness is good. Oh, there’s also the matter of the night terrors - the victims are in a semi-sleepwalking state, so they’ll lash out at friendly people, thinking they are the monsters trying to take them away. In fact, right up to the end, it’s ... well, almost possible that this whole thing is not real. Spoiler: it is real. But since it’s intertwined with nightmares and distorted reality, you can’t really be 100% sure until the end. There are some real Nightmare On Elm Street elements with the “is it a dream” parts of the film. It’s all relatively standard horror stuff, and there’s not much point to it other than the thrill of the chase, but the chase is pretty thrilling, so I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 4/5 Black Canvases.

My Movie Idea: At one point in this movie (during what is probably a dream), the heroine opens her medicine cabinet and finds an entire creepy nightmare world inside. It reminded me of this notion we’ve probably all experienced, of how you can look into a mirror and turn your head and see that there is clearly a world in there going on beyond the rectangle of the mirror (technically, it’s the same world as the one outside of there, but that’s beside the point). So for many years, I’ve had this image in my head of a character who could step inside the mirror, and behind it they’d find a vast empty void in which they can somehow float freely, with the backsides of all the mirrors in the world just floating in space, in their relative positions. Each one is like a window, through which you can watch what’s going on, and then step through if you want. You could use this power to effectively ‘teleport’ and do all kinds of mischief and steal unlimited amounts of wealth, and get out of almost any danger (even in prison, there are mirrors!).

You’d run into weird logistics of what exactly qualifies as a mirror, and what about car mirrors and pocket mirrors and shiny lake surfaces and all that, but for the sake of any story or movie we’d blow that off and stick with stationary, man-made mirrors that aren’t all scratched up and ruined. I guess there could be a stream of car mirrors zooming by in the void world, that’d be kinda cool, and potentially dangerous - would they slice you up if one went through your body? Probably! Imagine a meat chunk popping out of your rearview mirror! Okay, it’s better not to imagine that.

But the only actual story I ever came up with for the mirror man was less pleasant: he’s a teenage boy, just discovering this power, and he becomes obsessed with the neighbor girl, watching her through her mirror, trying to use the information he finds out to get her interested in him, failing miserably because it’s creepy when someone knows everything about you, trying harder with exotic presents stolen through other mirrors, failing more miserably because unwanted big gifts are even creepier, and finally feeling hurt and lashing out in very bad ways. By the end of the story, she’s seen him go through mirrors, is terrified of mirrors, and maybe eventually kills him by smashing a mirror he’s sticking halfway out of, trying to grab her.

So... that’s where my mind went with that idea!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Intruders08:09 AM -- Thu October 15, 2015

Intruders

My Review: This is two stories at once - a girl and a boy in different countries who are facing the same problem. A man with no face is trying to steal their face. We can all identify with this problem, I’m sure. It’s very strange because other than the victims, only the father of the one girl, and the mother of the one boy, ever see the faceless man/monster, so is it real? If it were imagined, wouldn’t only the kids see it? And why do they both have this same fear? I also thought it was interesting and telling that the monster appears differently to the two kids. These questions and more spin round and round as some interesting facts come to light with some big twists, and eventually it all resolves quite neatly.

I really enjoyed this actually. It was quite a mystery, and it made sense in the end mostly, though I can’t decide if there was really any supernatural stuff or not. I suspect not, but it seems open to interpretation. It was not my favorite movie ever, but it was really solid in every respect, and I can always get behind a convoluted mystery that actually comes together in the end. I really can’t think of any complaints here, or anything interesting to say. It’s a good movie, why don’t you go watch it?

My Rating: 4/5 Little Wooden Boxes.

My Movie Idea: My movie takes place in a children’s hospital (bringing to mind the “Der Kindestod” episode of Buffy, of course). There’s a really creepy ghost hanging around the cancer ward, like rags floating in the air above the bed with huge razor claws hanging down that slice kids to pieces. I didn’t put a ton of thought into this, so you fill in the blanks of how it all comes together, but the gist is that people see the ghost, try to stop it, kids end up dying, and the big twist is that eventually they discover that the only reason anybody is dying from this ghost is because they are chasing it away. What it’s actually doing is cutting kids open, extracting their tumors (it eats them I guess?), and then closing them back up in some magical way that leaves no trace. The hospital had a weird record of miraculous cancer cures they couldn’t explain, and it turns out this creature was actually why. At least until they started interfering so it ran off, leaving kids open and bleeding to death. In the end, you can either have a big happy ending where they make peace with the ghost and it keeps fixing people forever, or the painful irony of exorcising the ghost and feeling like a hero right before realizing it was providing an invaluable service.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Was The Night12:29 PM -- Wed October 14, 2015

Dark Was The Night

My Review: Well, that’s a silly title. Dark still is the night, by the way. So, these people live in a small town and suddenly all the animals are fleeing the surrounding woods, and cattle are disappearing and all that stuff, and strange hoof-prints are appearing all over town, so you know something bad is around. It’s not long before the sheriff figures out there’s some sort of big scary animal out there and he tries to protect the people and kinda-sorta hunt it. It really echoes Jaws in a lot of ways, probably intentionally, with this lurking beast out there out of sight and the mass panic and the sheriff who is on the case. But it’s also extremely grim and bleak throughout, for no real reason - everybody is super mopey and depressed, the whole movie is filtered in blues and greys, and it’s really a wonder they don’t just let the monster eat them to get life over with.

This is a very well-done movie, and for most of the duration, I was pretty hooked. It feels slow at times because of the super depressing tone, but that also lends it an air of dread as well. It’s not actually a great movie though. The plot does nothing spectacular, it’s all about what you’d expect, with a lot of very basic Hollywood cliches (the sheriff is distraught over having failed to save his son’s life in the past, so that drives his obsession with protecting the town now; the deputy is new to town and getting involved with some girl), but it’s all put together really well.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There is a final-final twist in the last fifteen seconds of the movie which is actually pretty shocking and unexpected. It’s the standard horror trope of “the monster is not gone!” only really amped up in a scary way. So that was enjoyable to see, but it again comes down to what I’ve harped on with a couple of the previous films: you can’t end the movie there. If the threat still exists (and hasn’t even left the area), and the characters are still alive, then the movie is not done. In this particular case, I can 100% guarantee that every character in the movie would be dead within the next half hour if the movie continued. So I guess in that sense, this is a valid ending, but “everybody dies” is also a pretty dumb ending, especially after working so hard to find redemption for the main character. They were just going for the shock, like so many horror movies do, and it worked well in that regard, but that little trick is really anti-storytelling. I understand the classic “hand pops up from the grave”, because that one just says that we’re going to have a sequel. Something like this (or what happened in The Guest or Haunt) really does leave the narrative hanging. It’s not a sequel, it’s this story that you forgot to finish.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Bridle #88s.

My Movie Idea: My movie idea is a similar premise to begin with: Cattle are turning up sliced apart, people are hearing noises at night, there are strange animal prints in the mud, all these clues that some kind of big bad monster is lurking outside of town. So the town gathers up a posse and they comb the woods, everybody doing their part to ferret out this monster (monster ferret?).

Twist time! There isn’t a monster. Someone faked the whole thing, and obviously it’s someone with serious issues since they cut up living cows to do it. He’s a member of the posse hunting the monster of course, and he’s set up traps in the woods to murder tons of townspeople. It’s an insidious thing where you still think there’s a monster at first as people get yanked into bushes and blood flies out (but it was really a rope trap of some kind). Then you learn that these are traps after a couple of them, but then you’re wondering “wow, super intelligent monster?” before you finally get to the revelation that it’s one of the people in the posse who arranged all this killing. And he finishes it all by ‘finding’ the monster’s lair in a cave (perhaps with some recorded monster noises coming out of it so they know they’ve got it trapped), getting lots of people to go in, and blowing up the cave. Truly, man is the worst monster of all.

You could also swap scenes back and forth with a hero who is working in the police lab trying to figure out what animal makes these wounds while everyone is out hunting, and they could save the day by realizing it’s a person, figuring out who it has to be, and showing up just in time to stop the cave-in explosion. Or better yet, they don’t figure out who it is, they show up just in time, but there are 3 or 4 people outside the cave who haven’t gone in... which one is it, and how can we stop him before he sets off the bomb? Actually, this movie sounds pretty cool. Get on that, Christopher Nolan.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Ouija Experiment05:31 AM -- Tue October 13, 2015

The Ouija Experiment

My Review: Oh my pickles. It has been a long time since I’ve truly seen a movie that was “so bad it’s good”. I mean, I like Sharknado movies, but they’re doing it on purpose. This is a terrible movie, that I really enjoyed. I engaged in actual real-life LOL behavior with this one, on at least two occasions. And just so we’re clear, it’s not supposed to be funny. Well, some parts are, but those parts were agonizing, not funny.

The plot goes like this: some college kids get together to use a ouija board. One of them is the official Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, although I’d say every one of the characters in this movie is about as annoying as the classic Super Annoying Guy With The Camera, so the fact that he’s even worse is pretty spectacular. It is found footage indeed, as we watch these kids misuse their ouija board, flip out due to interpersonal drama, make video skype calls and call that “using youtube”, reference popular youtube videos very LOUDLY, and eventually run from and get killed by some reasonably scary ghosts.

The acting is unbelievable. Easily the fakest found footage movie I’ve ever seen, by a mile. In fact, it could be that it’s the only thing wrong with the movie, but it’s so far beyond the pale, you can’t see anything else. It’s like a high school production, and not one that earned an A. I would say the writing was terrible too, but I suspect that’s just a matter of ad-libbing, since it was found footage. The overall gist of the story is actually entertaining (if a little flawed), although the specifics hinge on the horrible behavior of the characters. The special effects are pretty good... or rather, the CGI ghost stuff is. There are some hilarious other effects in the movie. There is a decapitation that was one of the times I laughed out loud, and then there’s a floating camera (held by a ghost) that is even worse. That was the moment that sold the movie for me. I will definitely be sharing that moment with anyone willing to suffer through it.

There is zero excuse for this movie being done in found-footage format. In fact, the plot would be twice as good, and probably the movie would be too, if the characters didn’t constantly interact with cameras and discuss how they were going to film themselves for the night, or specifically set cameras in just the right place before going across the room to confront a spooky sound they heard. It really was the worst of “convenient camera placement” I’ve ever seen. There’s actually a flashback that semi-inexplicably switches to normal cameras (which totally belies the point of found footage - if we are admitting this is a fictional movie, why do we have to view it through the characters’ cameras?). Just in case you’re wondering, it’s just as embarrassing as the other part.

Oh yeah, and: “the film you are about to see is based on true events - although there have been numerous documented cases in which users experienced unexplained occurrences and bizarre happenings while playing with a ouija board - scientists disregard them as ... coincidences” Stupid scientists, when will they ever learn!?

My Rating: 2/5 Cameras On A Fishing Line.

My Movie Idea: Uh oh, I was too distracted by the art on display to come up with ideas of my own. Umm, let’s see... how about a woman uses a ouija board to learn some stuff, and gradually what she learns makes her kill her husband (he’s cheating and probably all sorts of worse things too), as she gradually gets told true things and weird psychic stuff like “green falls” - what’s green falls? Huh? The next day somebody in a bright green rain slicker slips in a puddle right in front of her and falls down. She’s like “whoa!” and she trusts the information even more since it’s clearly magical knowledge. Of course, it turns out, the ouija board has magnets and such in it, and there are cameras in the room, and somebody set all this up to manipulate her into doing this. I don’t know why, but I bet it’s something good!

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The American Scream01:42 PM -- Mon October 12, 2015

The American Scream

My Review: Wait! This isn’t a horror movie at all! Nope, it’s a documentary, about “home haunters”. That means people who build their own haunted houses at home. I thought it would be fun, and I was right. I like documentaries. This one covers 3 guys, all in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, who build elaborate haunted houses every halloween. I have a real interest in this stuff. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I love all the decoration and trappings.

It’s pretty much all the things you’d expect: the guys are obsessed, their families are exasperated, they’re going broke, their home is buried in Halloween stuff, and come Halloween, it all turns into a hugely successful show. That’s pretty much the story of all three families, to varying degrees. But it’s always interesting to step into their lives and see the problems they face and the little triumphs of making these fun creations and seeing people enjoy them.

Towards the end, one of the guys makes a point that I had never thought about before: He says that Thanksgiving and Christmas are family holidays, but Halloween is the only real community holiday, where you don’t just come together with your family members, but with everybody around you, and you share fun with all these strangers and welcome them into your life in a way. I really like that. I’m even doing that in my own little antisocial way right here with these movie reviews. I toil quietly in obscurity on my games all year long, but every October I put myself out there (to the degree I am comfortable with...) to share myself with you readers.

My Rating: 4/5 Tubing Aliens.

My Movie Idea: Not a movie this time! This is an idea I had a few months ago, I call it a Haunted Game. A normal haunted house is just a continuous line of people going in, seeing each scary thing, and coming out the other end (chased by a guy with a chainsaw, we presume). Well, a Haunted Game is a little less practical - you only let people in with their group of friends (maybe up to 6 or so people at a time), and everybody else waits outside, listening to the screams. Maybe you could entertain them with a traditional haunted house while they wait. Inside, you don’t have a linear ‘haunted house’, you have an actual house, though with more padding than a normal house for safety. The group of people are given extra-large plain white t-shirts to wear over their real shirts, and then they step inside the front door, it slams behind them, and they now have 5 minutes to escape from the house alive. Only a few rules: don’t break anything, don’t hurt anyone, and if your shirt gets bloody, you have to lay down and play dead until the end is called.

Of course, there’s a murderer in the house too. And a lot of secret passages. The murderer is armed with a plastic knife that retracts and splurts out fake blood, so he’s going around trying to murder you all, and he knows the house well, so it’s not easy to escape! There are several possible places you could escape from, but only one of them is unlocked on each run (in case you do it multiple times... keep it interesting!). If everybody dies, it’s over and you lose. If people get out, they win a prize (a discount on their next visit maybe? Definitely some candy). If the 5 minutes runs out, strobe lights come on all over and you are all dead from some ghost or something. So it’s just huge adrenaline-spiking fun, as you stumble over your friends’ dead bodies and try every window and door and listen for the murderer creeping around.

Oh, and there’d have to be lots of cameras set up so the operators would know if anybody got hurt and so they can tell when to call the game over. And maybe so they could guide the murderer to make it even less fair... but I kind of think that’s not needed. More fun to make it ‘real’! And ironically, this is a haunted house where you would be far better off splitting up than staying together. Hooray for horror tropes.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Beast of Xmoor07:34 AM -- Sun October 11, 2015

The Beast of Xmoor

My Review: No idea why this is the title. They’re actually referring to Exmoor, which is a real place. I guess they were making it hip and edgy. Anyway, this is the tale of two filmmakers who want to capture the legendary beast of Exmoor on film. It’s not that amazing of a beast, it could easily be real. It’s a panther that happens to live in Exmoor (which, if you didn’t catch on, is a moor), a place where a panther wouldn’t generally live, but I mean, there’s things to eat there. If you set a panther loose there, it’d be okay. So there could be one, and if you found it, it wouldn’t be like finding Bigfoot, it’d be like finding a lion that escaped the zoo. Not very magical, just sort of out of place.

But nonetheless, they want to film it! They hire a local hunter to help them find it, and hike into the moor after a couple of completely extraneous interludes with rapist hooligans and a crack addict (that was less extraneous - she claimed to have encountered the beast, so they interviewed her). Pretty quickly, they discover the body dump of a serial killer, just a big pile of dead bodies. It turns out the hunter knew about this, and was actually hoping to get to catch the serial killer. Why he needs the filmmakers, I don’t know.

So they stay the night, hoping to catch him coming back to visit his corpses, and he does show up (lucky catch!). A lot of silly things ensue. This movie is ridiculous. I don’t even entirely know how to describe what’s wrong with it. The major thing is that the things the characters do never make even a little bit of sense. Like loudly shouting while you’re hiding in a tent next to a serial killer’s body dump. Lots of screaming and shouting. At one point, the girl finds the car of the killer and gets inside to check it out. She hears something in the back, and instead of being very quiet and careful, she loudly says “Hello? Is anybody there?” She knows this car belongs to a serial killer!! If this was how human beings functioned, we would have died out long ago. It’s just so illogical, stacked on more illogical things, that it’s like...

Okay, here’s the thing. I’m a total social outcast and introvert. I don’t interact with people. But most of the time, I watch movies and I still totally understand every character. Their motivations make sense, I can guess what they’ll do (within reason), I can understand the choices they make. People are people, I can relate to them as anyone can. But every so often I see a movie and I just can’t click with it. I feel like I can’t understand anything that’s happening because the characters are just alien. That is the case with this movie, but whereas with other movies it seems like they’re just a different kind of person that I don’t relate to, with this movie I think it’s different. I think the writer of this movie does not understand how people act. I think he is completely clueless on basic human behavior. He’s the one with the social problems, not me! Not me I tell you!

P.S. The way the killer is beaten at the end is hilarious. It looks like a scene from Benny Hill. It’s not worth watching the movie for, I’m just pointing out how bad the movie is.

My Rating: 1/5 Torn Pants (if you do watch this, check out how her clothes are ripped up towards the end. It doesn’t make any sense and is not remotely similar to what would actually happen. It’s like an anime outfit).

My Movie Idea: I have to admit, I got stuck on my idea this time. All I know is this: there’s a documentary filmmaking crew, and they end up kidnapped by their subjects, who then turn the documentary cameras on the filmmakers. It’s kind of an interesting plot, but it’s also kind of the same as half the found-footage movies out there. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it, but I also couldn’t let go of the basic premise enough to get a different idea. The details shall be left as an exercise for the reader.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Haunt06:24 AM -- Sat October 10, 2015

Haunt

My Review: This is finally a classic ghost story! There is a very effective and creepy first scene that really got me into this movie, setting up the situation. There is a ghost that’s haunting this house, and it’s killed everybody but the mother. She of course moves out, as you do, and another family buys the house. The son of this new family, and the girl next door who becomes very attached to him amazingly fast, end up encountering this ghost some more, things go down, people die. That’s pretty much it.

But I was very engrossed. The story all checks out for once, the ghost’s motivations make sense, the backstory comes together bit by bit, the twists are there (no brain-ripping ones, but some good surprises nonetheless), fairly reasonable decisions by the characters, it’s all just solid. All but one thing: the ending is a major letdown. It actually feels very much like the setup for a climax to the movie. Kind of the second-to-last major event. Only in this movie, it’s the last event, so you’re sorta left hanging. Much like in The Guest previously, the movie ends in a state that is unresolved - the danger is still there, some of the victims are still present to face the danger, so why are we stopping now?

My Rating: 4/5 Otherworldly CB Radios.

My Movie Idea: Here’s a fun one! It’s an anthology movie, which I always love. You know how many movies feature an ancient book that is evil and should never be opened or read? You always end up coming across the notes of somebody who went mad studying it, and the current characters in the movie just read one passage and cause all kinds of havoc. But what about that guy who went mad? The wrap-around story in my movie is the story of that guy. He is the first to find this book, in some old tomb or whatever, and he’s going through it and cataloguing it, figuring out what it is and where it fits historically.

The movie then goes through a sequence for each chapter: the chapter begins with a brief story of how this particular dark magic was discovered, and we have a short tale of that (so some random guy in the middle ages bargaining with demons or something, and meeting a messy end after recording how the ritual works). Then back to the present with the book-studying guy trying out the spell and accomplishing something - so the wrap-around story is a real story, not just some excuse for the flashback stories. He has all sorts of problems like a bad boss and a cheating wife and whatever else, and he tries these spells to fix them. Each chapter goes through that sequence, where it’s a story from the past about that spell, and then a story from his life about it too. So you get the anthology fun, and the structure that you can get excited about - “this spell is dumb, I hope the next one is better” - but you also get a straightforward movie about him trying to use magic to solve his problems and learning why you shouldn’t do that.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Guest06:58 AM -- Fri October 9, 2015

The Guest

My Review: This is not necessarily a horror movie. It’s pretty iffy, but hey, it’s probably good that you can’t always nail movies into specific boxes. I declare the massive overabundance of jack-o-lanterns to justify it as a BHE review. Anyway, in this movie, a soldier shows up at a family’s house and says he was friends with their son, who was a soldier that died recently. They invite him in to get to know him and practically adopt him because they’re a little odd. Turns out, he’s evil.

Towards the end, the movie kind of transforms into a crazy military action showdown with all sorts of machine guns and walls getting blown apart, but with Jason/Michael Myers as one of the sides in the conflict, practically. It’s a little different. I thought this whole outcome was relatively disappointing (and the final twist even more disappointing - it was the kind of twist that really says “the movie shouldn’t end here, but hey, our run time is up!”), but it was still pretty fun. It seemed like the mystery of this clearly weird soldier who insinuated himself into their lives, and taught their kids some really dark lessons, should’ve come out to a more interesting resolution. But what they did works, it’s an okay story. It’s just not amazing, and definitely didn’t melt my brain with shock and surprise. Oh, and the soundtrack was straight out of an 80’s movie (it turns out the music was made with the same type of synthesizers as John Carpenter used for Halloween 3, so there you go!).

My Rating: 3/5 Butterfly Knives.

My Movie Idea: Okay, this is a very transgressive idea that would never be allowed by Hollywood, and probably will deeply offend half the people reading this. But I’m going to share it because it is actually the idea that came into my head while watching this movie. In my movie, there’s a kid in high school who is badly bullied and mistreated, and he’s all goth and sullen and withdrawn. And angry. The classic profile of a school shooter. Which is exactly what he intends to be. He is secretly obtaining an arsenal and making plans with a buddy or two who are similarly abused, preparing to shoot up the school and kill whoever they can before dying themselves. Yeah, it’s dark.

Anyway, before they get the chance to enact this plan, something big and bad goes down. There are a lot of things it could be, from a military invasion like Red Dawn to an alien invasion, but I think what I want it to be is that there are demons who are entering the world through a portal to witness the shooting to come (you can see a premise like this in Odd Thomas, by the way). Normally such demons are invisible and of no import, they just enjoy the killing and move on, but another goth kid at their school happens to be into witchcraft and fools around with the wrong spells, causing the demons this time to fully enter our reality, and they start going on a rampage of their own, murdering people and eating brains and whatever demons like to do. So guess what? Redemption, that’s what! The school shooter crew is very heavily armed and entirely prepared. They go in and wipe out the demons and in the process, they learn to care about other people, have self-esteem, and have empathy and become heroes as well. It’s a happy ending.

Oh and they get in huge trouble afterwards since all their guns and homemade bombs are highly illegal. Ooh, maybe the movie is framed with the homeland security interviews of them after the fact, and it goes back in flashbacks, so at first you think maybe they did shoot up a school.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Blood Lands09:40 AM -- Thu October 8, 2015

The Blood Lands

My Review: What an exciting title, right? Surely this is some epic adventure into a nightmare world. Well, SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT!, here is the entire plot of this movie in a single sentence leaving out not a single important detail: This British couple buys a house in Scotland, then a group of guys in pig masks show up during the night and chase them down, kidnap them, and dump them back in England somewhere. The end.

I think they were going for “ooh, what a twist, they aren’t trying to kill them at all!” But who cares? I’m not okay with people stalking me to violently kidnap me either. Those people aren’t going to get up and say “Oh, those crazy fellows! Gee whiz!” and let the pig-men keep their house! The unfilmed aftermath is pretty straightforward: Police will go to the house and arrest all the guys who are now squatting there, and the people get their house back (which they’ll quickly sell, seeing as how they know now it’s a pretty bad neighborhood). Nobody wins! Everybody is unhappy.

But regardless of what a crappy plan it was, it’s just a crappy movie. It was tense and suspenseful, in the sense that the people were trying to escape through the woods and the pig-men were looking for them, but not much point in suspense by itself. There has to be a plot, and they didn’t bother with that. It just seemed like half of a movie. It seemed well-crafted, but it’s like if somebody crafted a Teletubbies movie really well. I still wouldn’t watch it. I was extra-mad because of the title and because I had been expecting ghosts (just guessing from the brief plot description). Nope, just pig men.

My Rating: 1/5 Potato Sacks.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t really formulate any creative ideas while watching since this movie sapped all creativity from the room, but off the top of my head, if you’re gonna make “The Blood Lands”, how about some kind of epic adventure where a heavily armed ninja nun goes into a demonic underworld to recover her daughter’s soul that Satan has stolen? Also she has to battle demons (with machine guns and martial arts naturally) which we later discover are actually manifestations of her own true inner demons (she wasn’t always a nun, folks!), and in the end none of it is real, it’s just representative of the mental journey she’s going through in rehab as she gets clean to save her daughter from the abusive father who now has custody because she’s in rehab. And the very end of the movie is her in the real world doing nothing magical but standing up and being strong and getting him arrested and getting her daughter back. I mean come on, the three words of the title are the most creative thing in this movie.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Jug Face06:31 AM -- Wed October 7, 2015

Jug Face

My Review: This is the story of a really weird backwoods village somewhere in the South. The people there worship a pit - an actual pit. It’s a dirty hole in the ground with muddy water at the bottom. But apparently it has healing powers, provided they feed it a person’s blood every so often when it asks for some. How does it ask? Glad you asked! It sends a psychic vision to a guy in town who sculpts a jug with the face of a villager on it, and that villager is the one they have to sacrifice. That’s just the backstory though - the actual story is about a girl who finds a jug with her own face on it, and hides it so she doesn’t have to get killed. Things go badly.

This movie is really well done. It effortlessly creates this fantasy world and pulls you right in. It just all makes sense and builds together into a totally real world without holding your hand along the way and insulting your intelligence. You have to figure it out, but it’s easy to do. There are only two downsides that I see to an otherwise excellent cinematic experience: First, the shunned boy is initially very creepy, until he opens his mouth at which point he’s like Mr. Friendly Exposition Man. It’s downright odd, and I feel like they could’ve easily kept him far more cryptic rather than just blabbing out whatever the girl needs to know, in plain English. He even comes when called and answers questions directly. It’s so improper. That is not how ghostly messengers are allowed to work!

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! Secondly, and this is the big problem, the ending of the movie is garbage. All that great buildup, I just know it’s coming together into something amazing, and... nothing. If there is a moral to this story, it’s not a very good one (like “don’t buck the system” - not a good message!). It’s just weird. And dramatically, it’s just a flop. There needed to be some element of change at the end, something happening, not the equivalent of “this was just a rough patch, things are back to normal now.” That’s what makes a story!

So great movie, right up until the last two minutes! I say make up your own ending. I was having such a great time up until the end.

My Rating: 4/5 Jugs With Faces.

My Movie Idea: I couldn’t think of a movie while watching this one because I was too busy boggling at the fact that this movie is so similar to a story I already created! I wrote a short story a few years ago, and it was about an Inquisitor in a nazi-type world who goes to visit a remote village, where it’s his job to look for people who aren’t properly following the culture (in this world, culture is dictated by the totalitarian government - you WILL listen to Bieber!!). He ends up stumbling across, you guessed it, a big muddy pit in the woods behind the village, which the villagers worship because of the gifts it brings them. It’s almost an identical setup, right down to many of the specifics, though this movie is from a villager’s perspective while I brought in an outsider. And I had less jugs and more tentacles. I would share the story with you, but it’s much too long for here, and it was just a first draft so I assume it’s absolutely terrible and I’m not going to check for myself or I’ll even ruin my own memories of it. But anyway, what’s up with that? Brainjacked again.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Rigor Mortis06:27 AM -- Tue October 6, 2015

Rigor Mortis

My Review: First of all, let’s note that this movie is in Cantonese and is deeply steeped in Chinese culture, so I know that a lot of it was way over my head. But from what I did understand, it’s the story of a guy who moves into a really depressing apartment building and hangs himself within the first 5 minutes of his arrival (literally). He’s cut down before he dies by a very spry old man, and ghosts swirl around the two of them as mystical kung fu occurs. There’s a bunch of that in this movie, and when I say mystical kung fu, I don’t actually mean any kung fu at all, which was kind of surprising. In truth, the few fight scenes in this movie would’ve been cooler if they had actually done serious kung fu in them, but it was much more about the mystical - they threw a punch or two, but mostly they’d scrawl bloody symbols on their hands and touch the enemy, or tie them up with bloody string (blood was definitely a big factor). So don’t get me wrong, it’s not a kung fu movie, it’s more of a violent-exorcism movie.

Anyway, back to the plot: there’s an old guy who dies falling down the stairs, whose body is used as a vessel for the twin ghosts who almost possessed our hanged hero, and he becomes a vampire. And yes, this is China, so vampires hop! The few people who are still alive at the end (including a retired vampire hunter) have to battle the vampire with crazy mystical powers, and it’s quite a special effects extravaganza.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There’s a final ending tacked on after our hero sacrifices himself to beat the vampire, which possibly reveals that he did die when he hanged himself, and actually the rest of the events were more of a dying delusion than reality. The guy was a famous actor and he was sort of wanting his death to be the heroic stories he played in movies, rather than a mundane forgotten fade-away. At least that’s my interpretation. It definitely added a layer to the movie, though it also felt seriously tacked on, since it only occupied about one minute of running time.

Overall, it was pretty interesting, and the people on IMDB seem to think that if I understood Chinese culture and mythology, I would’ve gotten a lot more out of it. There were plenty of things I didn’t understand, that’s for sure, though for the most part the mythology was delivered in a pretty clear way, just as it would be in a movie that made up its fantasy for itself.

My Rating: 3/5 Coin Masks.

My Movie Idea: You know how in some movies, there’s a building that’s been around a hundred years and people check out the blueprints and realize that it was designed from the ground up to be some sort of demonic temple, or spiritual resonator, or other evil thing? Ghostbusters is one example. Those movies always take place years later, when the building is done. In my movie, we have the story of such a building being created, in the early 1900s. Maybe we flash-forward to after it’s built sometimes too, but the real story is about the creation. All the intrigue and backstabbing (and satanic rituals) as the crazed megalomaniac funding the creation keeps different teams working on different parts and never revealing the full picture to anyone, so they can’t piece together what is actually happening.

Our hero is one of the contractors working directly under the owner, and he figures things out gradually. In the dramatic finale, the building is finished, an apparent success, which is bad news for our world, as the madman summons a demon in the penthouse. He expects it to go flying off and kill stuff or whatever, but it turns around and eats him, as we cut to the contractor in a coffeehouse elsewhere (perhaps he was telling this story to a friend in voiceover the whole time?) who says “Yeah, I did my job alright. I mean, I cut a corner or two, I guess, but hey, what contractor doesn’t?” And we probably get a cutaway view into the floorboards where we see the steel pentagram under the floors is missing one piece, which is where the demon got out.

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Belittling Horror Excessively: Would You Rather?06:23 AM -- Mon October 5, 2015

Would You Rather?

My Review: This is an entry in one of my favorite genres: the rich guy who invites a bunch of people to participate in a “game” which actually entails very bad things for them. In this case, he offers them enough money to solve any problems they may have for life, if they can win an unspecified game against a bunch of other people who also need money. It turns out the game is “Would You Rather”, as in “Would you rather stab the person to your left in the thigh with an icepick, or whip this other guy 3 times with a whipping stick?”

Of course it gets very brutal and unpleasant, and also of course they shoot anybody who won’t decide or tries to leave. There’s only one part I couldn’t watch though, when someone is forced to cut their own eye with a razor blade. No eye stuff for me. No way. So it was actually pretty entertaining all around, wondering what would come next or how they would get out of this. And it has a pretty standard twist for an ending, but it was still fun. I enjoy these kind of movies as long as they focus more on the psychology and less on watching people be tortured. That is not my interest.

My Rating: 3/5 Water Barrels.

My Movie Idea: You’d think I would want to make an entry in this genre myself, and there are many such I would love to do, but in this case, something else came to mind in the early scenes of this movie. In my movie, there’s a megabillionaire philanthropist. Somebody like Bill Gates who is so rich that he makes millions (billions?) just from the interest on his money sitting in the bank. He doesn’t have to do anything, all his time is free, and he has limitless funds. So he is a truly amazing human being - he spends all of his time on charity work, and donates billions of dollars to every worthy cause. Every step of the way, you see that this is all completely sincere and real - he absolutely is giving all of his time and money to help others. He is a fantastic person, who is directly responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives with his charity work.

Ah, but there’s the twist. Since he has saved so many lives, in the after hours, he truly and honestly (and just as sincerely!) believes he can kill people if he wants. It’s not even balancing the scales, it’s just a tiny drop on the bad side compared to an ocean on the good side! He’s kind of like Batman, except instead of fighting crime at night, he stalks and murders people, maybe torturing them even. Maybe they’re people he thinks deserve it - others from his social circle, super rich people who don’t help others with their money. Or maybe not, maybe they’re just homeless people who won’t be missed, but that seems counter to his helping-people thoughts. Either way, he is totally above suspicion as how could this guy possibly ever commit a crime?

Maybe the story is about one cop who is onto him and pursues him relentlessly and gets no support because of how loved the guy is. Something like that. It’s something of a character study, of a really twisted character who truly believes that he is just having one tiny little vice on top of all the great stuff he does. And probably there’s a bit in there about “okay, maybe he does kill somebody once a week, but if we lock him up, he won’t be helping thousands every week. Is it really better for the world?” And in the end, the cop probably has to shoot him to save someone. So he saved one life, but now the whole charity train is dead (maybe his will gives all his money to his good-for-nothing nephew instead of to charity as you might expect for a guy like this) and on balance, a lot more people will suffer than be helped. Weird and scary.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Monster Squad04:42 PM -- Sun October 4, 2015

The Monster Squad

My Review: This is a movie from the 80’s and it shows! It’s a classic like Goonies I suppose, only without all the quality. Dracula, Frankenstein, a swamp monster, and a mummy all show up in this town (and some guy in the town becomes a werewolf - it’s not clear how he gets that way, he seems to be a normal guy who ends up wolfified, but I assume Dracula must have caused it, as he is the mastermind of this whole invasion). But there’s a group of kids who hang out in a treehouse and call themselves the Monster Squad because they’re way into monster movies, and know all the stuff about garlic and crosses and silver bullets that everybody knows (maybe in the 80’s not everybody did?). Said group of kids then proceeds to defeat Dracula at his sinister game.

What’s so annoying and dumb about this is the reason they succeed: all the badguys are unbelievably slow and impotent. There’s a scene where 3 vampire women are walking towards a kid with a bow and arrow (he has stakes tied to the arrows, I think?). They are first spotted about 100 feet away, and over the next two minutes of movie, they slowly inch forward as he first manages to shoot one with a stake, and then sits there fumbling for another arrow for the entire rest of the two minutes until he can just barely stab the next one with a stake at point-blank range. It’s so pathetic on both his part and the vampires, it’s just cringe-inducing.

In another scene, the wolfman is threatening two boys and he literally stands between them, snarling and hopping back and forth to face them alternately for about 30 seconds as they have a conversation over whether it’s possible to kick a wolfman in the genitals. They discover it is possible, by kicking him and running away. I mean really, this is the level of threat they face, seriously??

Oh yeah, and also, the coolest and toughest kid in school is for some reason desperate to join this group of geeky losers. I didn't get that at all. Maybe he knew there would be monsters and they'd end up heroes.

My Rating: 2/5 Stephen King T-Shirts.

My Movie Idea: Okay, this time there’s only one movie I could do: do this movie right. It’s a great idea for a movie, it’s just so badly done! In my remake, the monsters would be very dangerous. Fast moving, superpowers, a werewolf that can run you down and cut you in half in 5 seconds flat. All that stuff. But the kids will win in the end because (as silly as it is) they’re the only people in the movie who believe these are monsters and know all the legends and are willing to try them. They keep the vampire away with a cross and garlic, wolfsbane for the werewolf, whatever. And then they go all Home Alone on this stuff and do that movie thing where kids are smarter than adults and beat everybody with improvised traps and witty cleverness. That’s fun stuff! To be honest, every time I picture this, all I can see is The Lost Boys, which is basically what I would do, only with non-vampire enemies. That’s a good movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Abandoned Mine (or “The Mine”)07:34 AM -- Sat October 3, 2015

Abandoned Mine (or “The Mine”)

My Review: This movie is in IMDB as The Mine, though even there, the poster art clearly says “Abandoned Mine”. Whatever. This is a weird movie. It looks and sounds like an ABC Family after-school special, all bubbly and light and colorful. And it is almost that. It’s kind of a Goosebumps movie, like horror for kids. It’s a little too intense for young kids, but I’d definitely say it’s horror for pre-teens. It’s so lightweight and harmless, it’s really weird actually. I mean, that’s a reasonable niche for a movie to fill, but I just didn’t expect it and I’ve never seen it before.

Anyway, it’s almost a found-footage movie (mixes shakycam and regular camera), about a group of kids who go into an abandoned mine together, all wearing video-camera helmets. They’re led by one kid who gave them all the helmets and wants to arrange this get-together as kind of one last hurrah before they all are going to different places, for college or not-college as the case may be.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH if you care! For most of the movie, the “ghosts” are actually that kid messing with the others, in a ridiculously elaborate and really uncool way that would make me glad I was moving away, personally. At the end there are real ghosts, in a vague minimal way.

My Rating: 2/5 Cardboard Masks.

My Movie Idea: You know how in every found-footage movie, there’s one character who is really obnoxious and continues filming all the time when everyone else is yelling to just put the camera away? My movie is a found-footage movie, and that guy is in it, as the one with the camera of course (in this movie, he’s the only one filming). He’s as annoying as always, and just won’t seem to put the camera away no matter how crazy things get. Isn’t that always so weird, like why are you still holding a camera (and pointing it the right way) as your friend is bleeding out on the floor, right?

Weeeellll... in this movie, you find out why: the guy with the camera is the killer. He’s arranged all these elaborate traps and he’s getting sadistic pleasure from leading all his ‘friends’ to their deaths (maybe he’s a social outcast who’s paying them all back for some slight he percieves in the past). This is not made clear for most of the movie, but it becomes more obvious as things go on, until eventually the second-to-last victim he actually kills directly, stabbing them on camera. Unfortunately for him, the last victim walks in on this, realizes what’s up, and overpowers him and beats him unconscious with his own camera. The very end of the movie could be shown from police cameras, or maybe footage from the interrogation of the killer, something like that. A nice little dark coda.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Exeter08:26 AM -- Fri October 2, 2015

Exeter

My Review: This movie really surprised me. It’s presented like it’s going to be a found-footage “bunch of kids go into an old asylum to party and ghosts get them” thing. It is not that. What it turns out to be is very nearly an Evil Dead movie, with cackling demons, ridiculous gore, and campy insanity. I’m not saying it’s Evil Dead quality, but it’s definitely inspired by it. Probably not really worth watching, but kind of a fun ride anyway.

My Rating: 3/5 Baby Bracelets.

My Movie Idea: So there’s this party at somebody’s house, the usual kind movie-teenagers (played by 20-somethings, of course) throw when their parents are out of town, where hundreds of people they apparently know all come pouring in and there’s kegs of beer and so on. You’ve seen it in a hundred movies. But on the way to the party, one group of guys had some beers early, and ended up hitting someone in their car. You don’t see who it is they hit, and neither do they, because they freak out and drive off, standard hit-and-run scenario. Then later at the party, I’m not quite sure how this gets introduced, but you realize eventually that one of the partygoers is the person they hit - and they’re dead. It’s a ghost (which in this movie can be solid), who is acting like a normal partygoer in order to stalk and kill the guys from that car, one by one.

After the first kill, the party’s kind of over, with everybody running around and trying to hide and figure out where the serial killer in the house might be, and of course a bunch of people are all hiding in one room together, some of which are the hit-and-run guys, and one of which is the ghost. But you still don’t know which one! The tension! The drama! Everybody thinks they’re all in danger, but after the second kill, the remaining hit-and-run guys figure out that they are the targets, but to cement their villainous nature, they make sure to convince everybody that they’re all in danger, so the other people can be human shields for them. And of course, the rest of the movie is them getting caught alone one way or another and murdered, and an eventual reveal of who the ghost is.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Woman In Black 209:40 AM -- Thu October 1, 2015

Welcome to another fine year of me watching a horror movie every night of October and attempting to justify it with a flimsy premise and sharing the experience with you! So, to date, we’ve done video reviews, written reviews, and even drawings based on the movies. So what is it this year? Well, I figure, why not jump into my own personality and share something inside me that just happens automatically when I watch a movie: For each movie we watch this month, I’m going to share the (usually totally different) movie that it inspires me to wish I had the skills/money/equipment/friends to make! In other words, every movie I watch makes me think of a different movie I would make if I could, so I will share a brief description of that movie with you, in addition to a little review of the movie I watched. Got it? Good luck figuring out the connection between the two!

The Woman In Black 2

My Review: Let’s start by pointing out I never saw The Woman In Black, so I lack the backstory here. Also, let’s add that I really didn’t pay enough attention while this was on, which definitely hampered the experience. So given all that, I have to tell you, I found this movie to be dull as dishwater. So boring, so slow, and though there was a mystery behind the ghost that tied into the characters (which is what I am after in a ghost movie!), it just was not exciting at all.

It also suffers from the very classic problem of 80% of ghost movies - the ghost has no specific set of powers, so it can kind of do anything, only it chooses not to do the worst things it could (like simply dropping a piano on you, or making the room you’re in have no exits at all and leave you there for eternity, or anything else, since it can do anything), just to keep the movie going. I would rather there were some logical consistency to what exactly the ghost was capable of, and it worked within that framework. I’m sure people would argue that the unknown is the scary thing, but I’m not even saying I need to know the set of powers the ghost has, it just needs to have one, and if this ghost could do the things it did at the end of the movie at the beginning, it could’ve accomplished its goals instantly without puttering about for 2 hours.

My Rating: 2/5 Cardboard Airplanes.

My Movie Idea: It’s a hundred years in the future, and we have cures for all forms of cancer, all major diseases, and even broken the code to make cells continue regenerating forever instead of shutting down (i.e. the end of aging). We all live forever, barring extreme physical harm (most of which can still be fixed with regrowing organs, etc). All very plausible future tech. Here’s the problem though (not overpopulation, that’s some other movie): with hardly anybody dying ever, Death is getting really bored and angry. He’s bored out of his mind, and given his line of work you can imagine he has a bit of a dark side, so he comes to earth and starts evening the scales, mano a mano with his big scythe.

Basically, it’s a Godzilla movie, but instead of a 4 story lizard, it’s a man-sized skeleton in a robe with a scythe plowing through downtown, knocking down buildings and cutting people in half. It’s maybe a black comedy since it’s a pretty darn silly premise. All the usual Godzilla stuff happens - national guard comes in to fire missiles at him to no avail (obviously, you can’t kill death), scientists try to figure it out (not much hope, Death personified is not very scientific), and... hmm.

The only real ending I could come up with is that once he’s killed enough people he walks away, deciding things are fair for now, but he’s gonna be back next year for more. That’s a pretty anti-climactic ending though, but I can’t really think of a reasonable way to defeat him. Maybe discover an alien civilization he can go manage death for, and leave us alone. Or here’s a bit of a twist: in a last-ditch effort, they nuke him. Obviously that has no effect, but since it kills hundreds of thousands of people who couldn’t get out of the city in time, he’s satisfied and leaves.
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