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“It’s destroying everything.”
“It’s not destroying. It’s making something new.”

It’s not an easy thing for a movie to get under my skin. As someone who cut his teeth on horror and sci-fi movies and general weird fiction at a young age, I might be what you would consider a bit jaded when it comes to these kind of movies. So, when something comes along that can really get under my skin while at the same time gets my brain going, we’ve got something special, I would say.

I was looking forward to watching Annihilation since reading the premise on Den Of Geek last year. Apparently, this was a movie that was in danger of being dumbed down by executive suits. But the director and the producer stuck to their guns, and Annihilation was released as it was…to theaters in the US and China, and Netflix everywhere else. Which seems like an insult, like the studio was trying to make the movie fail. Regardless, as an Americanite, I saw Annihilation on the big screen. And I assure you, this is worthy of the big screen, not shuffled off onto Netflix.

Spoilers ahead, everyone. Really, stop reading this and watch the movie and come back. You won’t regret it.

Still here? Well, you’ve been duly noted, then…

So, a meteorite hits a lighthouse on the Florida coast, and immediately a translucent alien soap bubble begins to slowly grow and engulf the surrounding area. Being dubbed the “shimmer”, the military and scientists send in a variety of things to study it…only whatever — and whoever — they send in never comes back. Except for one guy, who had been missing for a year. His wife, a biologist and ex-military herself, is still holding on to hope that he comes back…and he does! With no memory of where he was, or how he got back to their house, while acting strangely detached and odd. Soon after he arrives, he and the wife are taken by the military to the base set up at the outside perimeter of the slowly advancing shimmer. With her husband in a coma, the wife volunteers to join a team to go into the Shimmer and try to get to the lighthouse at the center and figure out not only what’s going on inside the Shimmer, but what may have happened to the previous team that never came back. Mostly. Anyway, as soon as they all go in, the weirdness happens, as they immediately lose three days they can’t remember. They notice the fauna and the wildlife seem to be mutating, as the Shimmer works more like a prism, refracting not only light, but also the basic DNA structure of everything within the expanding structure. Which makes for not only unique beauty, but also some very disturbing nightmare fuel. Soon, the paranoia starts to take hold, and the team begin dying one by one, until the biologist wife and the psychiatrist leader of the team remain…maybe. Do they make it to the lighthouse? Well, yes…but that’s all I’m gonna say, because YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS MOVIE.

Seriously, Annihilation is a fantastic movie that needs to be watched. That description up there? No justice to what actually goes on in the flick. This is one of those rare instances where the mix of heady hard science fiction and Lovecraftian nightmare fuel works at a level that I haven’t experienced in a long while. It’s taken me this long to figure out just how I was going to write this review without not only spoiling things, but just keeping things from spiraling into a multi-page thesis type article. I’ve been chewing on this for just over a week since seeing this, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking about it long after I post this.

The disappointing thing is, I understand that Annihilation is probably going to not do as well as I want this to. Mainly because it’s not the entertaining comic book stuff that’s been the usual fare. It’s not Star Wars. It’s not a Marvel superhero movie. It’s a slow-burning, heady science fiction movie that’s more than the sum of its parts. If you love movies like Arrival, 2001: A Space Odessey, Event Horizon and Ex Machina, then do yourself a favor and go watch Annihilation while you can, in the theaters. Very much recommended.



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Movie Review ADDAMS FAMILY VALUESParamount Pictures

“You have enslaved him. You have placed Fester under some strange sexual spell. I respect that. But please, may we see him?”

Two years after the first live action Addams Family music delighted my sensibilities, here came a sequel that, somehow, turned out to be just as good as — if not better than — the first movie. The entire cast is back, and everything builds on the wackiness of the first.

We begin the movie immediately with the birth of the newest Addams addition — little Pubert. As such, Gomez and Morticia hire a nanny to take care of the baby. Uncle Fester finds himself smitten with her, while the other children — Wednesday and Pugsley — are less than thrilled with the new additions. Unbeknownst to everyone, the nanny is a serial killer named the Black Widow, whose MO is marrying wealthy bachelors and then killing them to get their fortune. And she has her eye on bagging Uncle Fester. To get the suspicious kids out of the way, she sends them to summer camp, where things go exactly as you would expect for them. Meanwhile, Uncle Fester and the Nanny get hitched, and she then tries to kill him, and things go exactly as you would expect with that. Pubert catches a nasty case of The Normals, and the newly minted Mrs. Addams takes the entire family hostage in frustration. Then things get weird.

Originally watching Addams Family Values in the theater back when this was first released was great. I immediately wanted to own it on video, despite it being a new release at the time. The movie somehow not only duplicated the extremely funny type of whimsical morbid humor that I loved about the first Addams Family movie, but upped it. I especially love the summer camp parts, with Wednesday’s interaction with the normal kids and counselors. To this day, I still sing the “Eat Me” song around Thanksgiving.

Overall, the entirety of Addams Family Values is great. Darkly funny, highly quotable, getting something new out of it every time I watch it…seriously, why am I still writing this review? I am going to watch this movie again. Highly recommended.

Movie Review: The APE

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ape, theMonogram Pictures

“I don’t like things I can’t understand.”

The Ape is one of those old-timey B-Movies that were included on the 50 Horror Movies pack I picked up a little over a decade ago, and am still working my way through. These were comprised mostly of Public Domain films, which I dig on, because of both my love of kitschy cheese movies from the past, and sometimes you stumble upon a charming classic in the process.

The Ape falls under the former category, here.

Released in 1940 and staring Boris Karloff as a kindly yet a bit excentric doctor of medicine, The Ape clocks in at just over an hour in length. Technically not movie length, but just right for what it is.

Anyway, The Ape tells the tale of a medical doctor who is working on a way to cure a local town lady’s polio and get her to walk again. The formula he’s working on calls for spinal fluid to work; of course, everyone in town thinks the doctor is strange and ostracizes him, so there aren’t any willing donors around to help. However, an ape escapes from the nearby circus, and begins a reign of terror in the town. Soon, the ape breaks into the doctor’s laboratory, and in the ensuing fight is killed by the doctor, who then decides to skin the ape and use it as a disguise to essentially murder townspeople to harvest their sweet, sweet spinal fluid to cure the young lady. It goes about as well as you would expect.

Accordingly, The Ape was loosely base on a play made in 1924, in that the only element kept from the play was the disguising as an ape part. Otherwise, the rest of the plot was a product of the writer’s imagination. As a movie in and of itself, really the only thing keeping me from regulating The Ape to a “pass on this” verdict is Boris Karloff, who was an actor who could lend gravitas to an Elementary School play. The drama behind the townsfolk not liking the doctor seems like a forced issue, as it’s never really established why he’s disliked to begin with, beyond the standard “small town yokel” stereotyping. Fortunately, it’s only an hour long, and not too much of a slog to sit through. Definitely watch this if you’re something of a Karloff enthusiast, otherwise this is more of something you’d find on an obscure cable channel some weekend afternoon after a nap.

Movie Review: SLITHER

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slitherUniversal Pictures

“Where is the Mr. Pibb? I told your secretary to pack Mr. Pibb. It’s the only Coke I like.”

Back in 2006, one of the greatest sci-fi horror comedy movies was released. That movie, in case you missed the titled heading, was Slither, the directorial debut of James Gunn, the man who would go on to make an obscure Marvel comic into the best movie of Marvel’s cinematic existence.

So then, one evening outside a small South Carolina town, a meteorite crashes. Inside this meteorite is a sentient extraterrestrial parasite that immediately makes the local used car dealer its new home. Soon, the car dealer starts to mutate, growing tentacles and getting all weird and gross. Basically, second puberty. Then the local pets start disappearing, and a local woman is then infected with hundreds of the parasite offspring. Soon, the entire town is being threatened with these creepy crawly spawn of Cthulhu, and it’s up to the town’s long-suffering Sheriff and a handful of survivors to defeat this intergalactic horror.

Apparently, there was some controversy when Slither was released due to an alleged similarity to the 1986 movie Night Of The Creeps. I haven’t seen that movie yet (it is in my Watch Cue, though, rest assured), so I’m not able to point out any similarities. But, if it’s as much fun as Slither was, I may be moving Night Of The Creeps up the cue.

What makes Slither one of my favorite B-Movie sci-fi horror flicks of the past couple of decades is the snappy script, and the performances from the actors, especially Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. Gads, I would watch anything either one of those two are in. Also, legendary voice actor Frank Welker handled the alien slug sounds. The effects are great, and you can tell that Gunn spent some time in the Troma camp of movie making, with the whole tongue-in-cheek humor mixed in with the horror. Say what you will, but I consider Slither to be one of the best not-really-guilty pleasure B-Movies out there. Check this one out some time.


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what we do in the shadowsParamount Pictures

“Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ooooh, those are some nice pants.”

So, there I was, in the hospital due to my knees getting rather messed up. I had my laptop there, and was contemplating taking in a streaming movie to help assuage my growing boredom in just sitting there healing up. I was perusing the Horror section on my Amazon account, and notice one of the titles available was, in fact, What We Do In The Shadows. Remembering friends aggressively recommending I watch this movie for a rather long time, I decided to finally give it a go. I mean, it was made by one of the Flight Of The Concords guys. And I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this mocumentary style comedy horror thing.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a mocumentary and a found footage movie. What We Do In The Shadows falls in the former category, and belongs in the kind of quality mocumentary comedies as This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil.

What’s that? Anvil: The Story Of Anvil wasn’t a mocumentary, but an actual documentary on the band? That’s depressing. Okay, so how about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping? Okay, we’re good then. Moving along…

So, What We Do In The Shadows follows the unlives of four vampire roommates sharing an old Victorian house, and opening up about their daily goings abouts and various other things that none of the normals of society know about. They’re all getting ready for the upcoming annual masquerade ball, a kind of gathering of supernatural and undead persons and creatures. Over the days, they try and debunk various myths and exaggerations about the vampire lifestyle, something that’s thrown a bit askew when the oldest of the four–a Nosferatu style elderly vampire that dwells in the basement inside a stone crypt most of the time–turns a Millennial, who turns out to be a brat that would make Lestat want to smack him for being so brazen.They also make friends with a human, who helps teach them to understand and embrace the 21st Century and its technology for their benefit; and get into some altercations with the local werewolf pack. Wackiness doth ensue, my children of the night.

What We Do In The Shadows is a fantastic movie. It not just settles as a comedy, content on merely playing around with several vampire tropes and cliche’s, but due to some very good writing, turned out to be more than that. There’s a very tangible sense of pathos and loneliness that the main vampire characters exude, along with their annoyance at the youngest baby bats to infiltrate the group. Even if you’re not a fan of the Vampire genre, I highly recommend acquiring this movie and watching it.

Movie Review: MAYHEM

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mayhemRLJE Films

Mayhem is the latest movie directed by one Joe Lynch, the guy behind Knights Of Badassdom, one of my favorite genre comedies going, I’m also told his directorial debut Wrong Turn 2 was pretty good as well, but I have yet to watch that series.

Mayhem is something like a mix of The Belko Experiment, 28 Days Later, and The Purge. This is the tale of a corporate suit who is having a rather bad day: He discovers he’s being framed for a bad deal, he’s been fired, his coffee mug has been stolen…oh, and the entire building has been put into lockdown due to everyone inside being infected by a virus that effectively blocks all inhibitions and makes the infected not able to control their emotional urges. It’s like the worst part of puberty, only amplified by a factor of 100. There’s also a loophole where those infected couldn’t be prosecuted for the violence they did due to not being able to control themselves. So, the corporate suit decides to use this opportunity to make his way upstairs to air his grievances to the Top Brass of the company–along with his client, a hammer and a nail gun. Bloody ultra-violence ensues.

Mayhem is basically your standard ultra-violent survival horror with a thick veneer of satire that works maybe 65-to-70% of the time. As a means of being a commentary on the soulless evil corporations, it’s pretty heavy handed. But, at least it’s somewhat entertaining, as the caricatures are rather over-the-top and exaggerated. Or, at least I can presume, as I’ve never really been ensconced in that kind of situation before. The two main characters are interesting enough; I especially glommed on Samara Weaving, as I recognized her as Bee from the way-better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be flick The Babysitter, and here she plays a take-no-crap-from-anyone homeowner trying to get help to keep her house, who also happens to be a Metalhead. It’s about time we got some positive female representation in movies. One of the best interchanges between her and the other main guy–played by Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, apparently…I really don’t watch the show, so I didn’t realize until I looked things up on IMDB–have a brief discussion about music tastes. Anyway, the editing is of the fast-paced kinetic style, which is befitting a survival horror comedy such as this.

Overall, I enjoyed Mayhem for what it is. I’m not generally a fan of the over-the-top violent movies like this, and if something like that makes you squeamish, I would definitely steer clear of this. For fans of movies like this, though, it’s not a bad rental to kill some time.

Movie Review: The BABYSITTER

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the babysitterNetflix

“Things get messy when you make a deal with the devil.”

Netflix has come a long way from its roots as a DVD mail rental site in 1997. Now it’s been featuring original content with series and movies, and proving these to be of a quality to rival standard television and movie sources. Case in point: The Babysitter.

So, here we have a movie that begins with the main character Cole, a 12-year-old riddled with phobias and bullied constantly by the neighborhood jerk-wad. His only friends seem to be his classmate Melanie and his babysitter Bee. One day, Cole’s parents take off for a weekend getaway, and Cole and Bee have a blast hanging out together, until Cole has to go to bed. Instead of going to sleep, though, he stays up to see what Bee gets up to after hours. Turns out, she and a bunch of her high school chums are engaged in a harmless hybrid game of Spin The Bottle / Truth Or Dare…until one of them is ritually sacrificed. Yeah, it turns out Bee and her friends are part of a Satanic cult, and Cole just witnessed everything. Of course, Bee and her friends try to convince Cole this was all just a science experiment, but he’s not having any of it. So now, what started as a great day, is now a matter of surviving against literal bloodthirsty Satan worshipers. Wackiness ensues.

Man, oh man, was The Babysitter a fun ride. The movie is a good blend of a John Hughes style coming of age teen comedy mixed with 80s style horror, and flavored with some great dark comedy. The script is great, the actors were fantastic, and there was a good balance between the horror and the comedy elements.

Overall, The Babysitter is a great fun movie that is a loving homage to the fun horror flicks from the 1980s. this movie makes a good cause for quality movies that are streaming service originals. Recommended for checking out.

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