Grouch’s Netflix Review – The Silence: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love A Quiet Place

Netflix released this movie and, appropriately, seemed to mostly keep quiet about it, because it is like getting stung by tiny, irritating things.

SUMMARY

Some scientists find a bunch of small winged creatures, referred to as “vesps” (Latin for Wasps) because the writers quit thinking after the first Google result for “Small flying things.” The creatures are attracted to sound, ravenous, and proportionally pretty strong.

TheSilence - 1Vesp
Editors note: In Florida, the mosquitoes remain a bigger threat. 

Ally (Kiernan Shipka) is a late-in-life deaf girl (having lost her hearing in a car accident) who never acts like she’s deaf. At all. Because of that, it will be brought up repeatedly to remind the audience that, yes, this character cannot hear. She lives with her parents, Hugh and Kelly (Stanley “Yes, I agreed to this” Tucci and Miranda “Whoa, I agreed to this?” Otto), her grandmother (Kate Trotter), her brother Jude (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf), and a dog who, because story demands it, barks at everything.

TheSilence - 2Cast
Patient Zero and then this, eh Stanley? YOU HAVE 3 EMMYS.

They are all in the city as the Vesps start to go through the US, killing anything that makes noise. The government tells everyone to stay indoors and quiet, but Ally says they should head for the countryside, which is quieter. Glenn (John Corbett), Hugh’s best friend who is randomly there, joins them. However, shortly after finding a massive traffic jam composed of all the other people who got the same idea, Glenn goes off-roading and crashes, attracting vesps. Glenn sacrifices himself to save the family who is being attacked because the dog won’t stop barking. They sacrifice the dog and make it to a house in the countryside. The owner conveniently dies because they didn’t hear the news. The family sneaks in through a storm drain, but Kelly gets bitten by vesps. Hugh kills them by turning on a woodchipper and leading them to fly into it, proving conclusively how dumb this movie is.

TheSilence - 3WoodChipper.png
41. This kills 41 of them as far as I can tell. WHY AREN’T YOU JUST RUNNING IT ALL THE TIME?

Ally contacts her new boyfriend, Rob (Dempsey Bryk), a guy who knows ASL, who reveals that his parents are dead. He also reveals that cults have started to spring up that involve cutting their own tongues out. I remind you that this is only a few days into the attacks. Kelly’s leg gets infected, so they have to rip-off The Day After Tomorrow and go on an antibiotic run. It’s revealed that Vesps lay eggs in corpses, something that sure seems inconvenient for a species that apparently didn’t have contact with anything else for at least hundreds of years. It’s also revealed that they’re weak to cold.

TheSilence - 4Music.png
Thank God you told me. I was thinking “Jubilant.”

A reverend (Billy MacLellan) and his cult who Ally had refused to join earlier show up at the house, interested in impregnating Ally, because bad guy is bad. Hugh shows them a gun, something that, when fired, would probably result in everyone’s death by Vesps, which leads the cult to leave. Rob reveals there’s a “refuge” to the North. The cult sends over a little girl strapped with phones in what is one of the only legitimately clever moments in the film, activating them to summon the Vesps. The cultists run in and abduct Ally, but Lynn kills several of them by tackling them and shouting to attract the Vesps, sacrificing herself, after which the family manages to kill almost all of the other cultists. They make their way north to the refuge where Ally finds Rob and they go Vesp hunting with bows and arrows, where Ally wonders if humans will get used to silence before the Vesps get used to cold.

TheSilence - 5CorpseBabies.png
This reproduction makes no sense. At all. 

END SUMMARY

A Quiet Place is a great movie. It’s one of the few films where sound really does have a massive effect both on the story and the audience. The sense of terror that occurs throughout the movie is basically its own tinnitus ringing. At the same time, we are watching a family go through an internal upheaval from the loss of a child that they are dealing with just as much as the external upheaval. It gives us a way to connect emotionally with the characters that makes everything they’re going through feel just real enough to make us want to suspend disbelief to the rest of the story, and some disbelief definitely has to be suspended. The monsters in A Quiet Place are terrifying not only because they’re fast, but because they are unstoppable. Despite that, at the end of the film, in order to give the characters an arc and some hope, they are revealed to have a weakness. Realistically, this opens up a lot of holes in the idea that they destroyed humanity’s resistance so easily, because that means that no one thought to use sound against the monsters who can only use sound to navigate. I mean, we have ultrasonic weapons already, so apparently every military and police force on the Earth is pretty dumb in that world. But, the movie is so good that you don’t think about stuff like that until you’ve left the theater and ruminated. A lot of movies have similar issues in retrospect, but if you aren’t noticing the flaws until you’re at home, the film’s experience was still effective, so that’s still a quality film.

This film drives home its flaws at almost every chance.

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The Narration is one of the biggest flaws, especially over this scene.

First, Kiernan Shipka. I know that the Joker loves her in the new Sabrina series (MJH forever!) and I loved her in Mad Men, but dear God do I never, ever, ever, at any f*cking point believe she’s a deaf person. At several points she seems to react to things that are happening behind her. I understand she’s not totally deaf, but even when stuff doesn’t seem loud enough to get to her, she still jumps and turns, unless the plot demands she doesn’t. Also, if she’s reacting to people reacting to the other thing, then she should be a half-second behind everyone else. Second, the monsters in this movie are crap. They’re tiny flying dinosaurs, something that SHOULD be cool, but there are so many massive flaws with them that the movie points out. Yes, there are a lot of them and they breed somewhat quickly, but they’re vulnerable to basically everything and they can’t get through most structures. You can kill them with a bow and arrow or block them with a suit of armor, let alone a tank, and you can force them to blindly fly into anything loud. If you just threw a ton of firecrackers onto a bonfire, they’d burn themselves to death trying to eat the fireworks. I can understand why it might take a few days to get things under control, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s really an “apocalypse” level threat.

TheSilence - 3WoodChipper
Forty. One. In like 15 seconds. 

Third, the cult subplot is just so damned nonsensical. We find out that these cults are popping up everywhere only a few days, maybe a few weeks, after the vesps appear. To give you an idea of where society is at that point, we still have the internet. It gets even worse when you consider that these people just cut their tongues out, but they still make noise. I mean, cool, you stopped yourself from being articulate, but the monsters still want to eat you. Hell, the Reverend growls at people.

TheSilence - 8Reverend.png
It’s SO HARD to find him threatening. Or even interesting.

This movie might have been in production before A Quiet Place came out, so maybe they didn’t start out with the goal of making a mediocre knock-off, but that’s damn well what happened. It’s not compelling enough to distract me from the logical flaws, and it’s not visually or aurally interesting. I mean, Stanley Tucci couldn’t make me like this film. What else is there to say?

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Also, who SPRAY PAINTS their message of nihilism about a sound-based plague?

JOKER’S REBUTTAL

I didn’t really care for the movie either, but a few points. One, Stanley Tucci is always amazing. Two, Kiernan Shipka actually learned ASL to do the movie and that’s dedication. Three, adding an element of societal collapse driving people crazy does at least flesh out the world a little bit.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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Aquaman – A Review in Rime

By The Grouch on the Couch

Well, the Grouch and I saw the film. While I was going to write a review, he felt particularly inspired and decided to go ahead and do the entire thing in a parody of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

My rebuttal shall be in the form of short limericks. I don’t promise that they’ll work.

 

There was an aquatic superhero

Long mocked for powers and logo.

Producers they decided,

To make him badass through Khal Drogo.

aquaman - 1arthur
Which… yeah, kinda works.

 

But fortune favors not the brave but wise,

And wisdom doth DC lack

For though his hot body might carry a film

This dialogue breaks his back.

 

I start with a story summary

As clear as a winter morning.

And so you assholes don’t complain,

HERE’S YOUR SPOILER WARNING.

aquaman - 2warning

Aquaman, or Arthur Curry,

was born from the strange love

Between a queen from Atlantis below,

And a lighthouse keeper from the world above.

aquaman - 3kidman
Batman Forever was the better superhero film for her. Think about that.

But happiness is forbidden,

When you tell a hero’s genesis,

So soon she was forced to return,

And bear Prince Orm, Arthur’s Nemesis

aquaman - 4orm
They have very different opinions on facial hair.

Following the Justice League’s

Victory in their movie,

Aquaman’s a public hero

That makes the fangirls, and guys, woozy.

 

The opening action sequence

Is actually quite glorious

A bulletproof man fighting normal people

And emerging, smiling and victorious.

aquaman - 5mana
The normal men who try to fight a demigod.

Arthur saves a submarine, the target which

Sea pirates would acquire.

He meets the leader, called Black Manta,

And earns his eternal ire.

 

When Arthur returns to the surface,

He finds Mera, Atlantean Queen

Who tells him his half-brother

Has grown up to be quite mean.

aquaman - 6amberheard

Orm wishes to destroy the surface,

Because the movie needs a plot,

And he needs the support of other sea-kings,

For reasons I forgot.

 

Arthur tries to beat him in a fight

Using their aquatic power

But Orm is slightly stronger

Cuz it’s only been an hour

aquaman - dolph
Dolph Lundgren is one of the other kings. As it should be.

So Mera stops Orm’s fratricide

And says Arthur needs to Quest

For the First Trident of Atlantis

While each ogles the other’s chest.

 

What follows is a fetch quest

That takes a f*cking hour,

And of course the twist is “talks to fish”

Ends up being the greatest power.

Aquaman - 7Atlan.jpg
He basically gets to summon Cthulhu.

We go through the Sahara,

Defeats Manta in Sicily

Swims below the Marianas Trench

And into an underground sea.

 

Arthur finds the trident

And kicks his brother’s ass

While wearing the green and gold outfit

Cuz royalty means class

aquaman - 8outfit

Here the film is ended,

But now let’s talk about

What things the editor should have left in

And what should have been cut out

 

The acting is pretty solid,

The cast all pretty, too,

From Jason Momoa to Amber Heard

And Patrick Wilson’s Orm, all woo

 

The effects are indeed special,

And, no, that’s not sarcasm

The glowing effects that define the sea,

From building to sargassum

 

The film creates an immersive world

And yes, that is a pun,

But the camera effects that seem like waves

Did make some scenes more fun

 

The direction isn’t terrible,

With some scenes even stirring

The cinematography was oft on point

While fight scenes were occurring.

 

But alas the dialogue is bad

Too bad for me to mention.

It repeated so often and was so dull

It was hard to pay attention.

 

You’d think that’s not enough

To drag a movie down

But really the lines were so damned bad I hoped

That everyone would drown.

 

The plot is so generic

That I swear they say “fetch quest.”

And these two awful elements

Wildly overshadow the rest.

 

So while there were some great scenes

Within this aquamovie

I could not recommend a watch

Even for Mamoa’s booty.

 

I hated this film, not just because

It had so much potential

But also because I fear the profit

Might make it influential.

 

And thus DC has let me down

For five out of six times

So here I end this film review

Cuz I’m now out of rhymes

 

JOKER’S RHYME-BUTTAL

I wish there was a scene in Natucket
So it’d be easier to tell this film s*ck it.
The plot was mundane
The dialogue insane
And I wish I’d just left and said “f*ck it”

If you say that this doesn’t rebut
Well, I’d try but it’s open and shut
This movie was lousy
I spent half the time drowsy
And wishing someone had yelled “cut”

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

 

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: A Criticism of Criticisms

by: The Grouch on the Couch

If you want a real review of the series, it’s here.

I’m gonna talk about some of the complaints that have been levied at this show (to the point that people have been harassing the crew) and say which ones are stupid and which ones actually have merit.

First, people have been complaining that the new She-Ra doesn’t look feminine enough. As to that, I just say: The 8-foot-tall superhuman woman does not necessarily need to be Wonder Woman’s level of curvaceous. Hate to break your mind, but not all women are super-buxom. It’s just that in fiction, they almost always are, since gravity-defying and somehow non-cumbersome big boobs are literally called the “most common super power.”

She-RaG - 1Comparison
HOW DID HER ORIGINAL TOP EVEN STAY ON????

However, as to the point that Adora’s outfit as She-Ra isn’t actually any more armored or battle-ready than the original She-Ra outfit, yeah, that’s true. I mean, since she’s nigh-invulnerable, armor might not make much of a difference, but that is technically true and the show could have actually given her a practical outfit if they were already going out of their way to subvert stereotypes.

Second, every comment involving “SJW” needs to be burned. Look, I’m not someone who’s super into shows that focus every episode on the characters learning a new lesson about tolerance, but that’s not what happens in this show. In fact, differences in appearance, culture, or sexuality mostly just get the response of “okay, now let’s do real stuff” if they’re commented on at all. Since this is a planet where people can be part-cat, part-scorpion, part-angel, or have magical sentient hair, it actually makes sense that being black or Inuit doesn’t particularly come off as “unusual.” The show isn’t trying to jam a message about tolerance down your throat, it just HAS characters who happen to be callipygian or LGTBQ+ or non-caucasian. Thinking that the mere existence of non-white, non-idealized, non-traditional characters automatically makes it SJW propaganda is just denying the fact that those people EXIST IN THE REAL WORLD. So, f*ck you.

She-RaG - 3NewCast.jpg
Also, they’re still mostly Caucasian, because TV show.

Also, complaining that they changed the race/gender/sexuality/appearance of a character is just not recognizing that the original show’s world was almost entirely white and was entirely hetero, because that was the only market that the creators believed mattered. Hell, the main character is still a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white girl. The only human character on the original who wasn’t caucasian was Netossa, so… congrats, there was a token minority in the original show, and maybe that’s something that needs to change. The show’s not spending forty minutes on “the plight of black people” or “the history of gay discrimination,” which sometimes CAN be seemingly self-congratulatory social-awareness, it’s just got characters who happen to be minorities. What does it say about you that you’re willing to accept a woman with tentacles coming out of her back but not a black guy?

She-RaG - 2Diversity.gif
The Diversity was based solely around Hair Color.

Third, a reboot/remake is not de-facto bad. You know what’s a reboot? The 1939 Wizard of Oz, the Charlton Heston Ben-Hur, Casino Royale, and The Dark Knight. And this attitude of automatically assuming they’re ruining your childhood is getting annoying. Do you remember how many people thought that Heath Ledger couldn’t play the Joker, or James Bond couldn’t be Blond, or that we didn’t need another Mad Max movie? If you can use the reboot to show the audience something they haven’t seen before, then the reboot has a purpose. In this case, the show is very different from the original, while still paying tribute to it. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it, but it’s not because it’s a reboot.

She-RaG - 4TTG.jpg
Hell, this PoS apparently produced a decent movie. Still not watching it, though.

Look, I’m not saying this show is perfect. Hell, I didn’t think it was more than slightly above average, and it has the benefit of following other kids’ shows that have been bold enough to have more-developed characters and diverse casts like Steven Universe. The plots aren’t great, a lot of the episodes feel formulaic, and some of the dialogue makes me want to stab my ears with the Sword of Omens (Yes, I know that’s Thundercats). But, some of the shots being leveled at it are completely inane, and that forces me into the position of defending something I don’t care that much about. So, f*cking stop it, so I can move on to better shows… like Ducktales.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Grouch on the Couch Review: Halloween (2018) – Decent Movie, Lousy Horror Film

So, a ton of people have been lauding this film. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe my expectations were too high. I was hoping to really see a solid follow-up to the original Halloween, a film that remains one of the scariest things I have ever watched. That’s not what I got. Look, I sat through the three “return of Michael Myers” Halloween films and Halloween H20. I watched Busta Rhymes kung-fu kick one of the greatest horror villains in film in Halloween Resurrection. I watched the good and the bad of the Rob Zombie remakes. I have paid my damn dues, I deserve another well-made Halloween film.

Halloween11 - 1PaulRudd.jpg
Paul Rudd wishes I didn’t know his dark secret, but I do. (Halloween 6)

I don’t want to hold back on this one, so *SPOILERS* on this review, because I’ve got some venting to do.

PLOT AND STUFF

This movie takes place 40 years to the day after the main events of the first Halloween movie. All of the sequels are ignored, including Halloween II, which means that Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is not, in fact, the sister of Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney), something that I definitely consider a good call.

Halloween11 - 2BustaRhymes
Also no Busta Rhymes kung-fu kicking. So, that’s a good call.

A pair of journalists (Rhian Rees and Jefferson Hall) who have a podcast go to interview Michael Myers at the asylum that he has occupied since 1978. They bring his mask as an offer to get him to speak, but Michael doesn’t acknowledge their presence. Shortly after, while being transferred, Michael’s bus crashes, freeing him. His doctor, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), survives the crash, but is shot by a boy who comes upon the scene. Michael coincidentally finds the podcasters, kills a mechanic for his signature jumpsuit, then murders them both to reclaim his mask. He then drives back to Haddonfield, Illinois.

Halloween11 - 3Michael
Michael is canonically 61 years old in this movie, but arthritis doesn’t effect pure evil.

Over the last 40 years Laurie Strode has pretty much been suffering constant PTSD about the night that she was attacked. She has a daughter, Karen (Judy “Wait, Judy Greer?” Greer), who thinks she’s insane after raising her to be able to fight Michael, and a granddaughter, Allyson (Andi “No, wait, go back, Judy Greer is the daughter?” Matichak), who Laurie secretly speaks to. However, when she finds that he has escaped, she’s almost excited at the prospect of being able to kill him.

Halloween11 - 4Laurie.jpg
She certainly looks completely sane.

Michael goes on a killing spree that alternates between awesome and almost comically cliché before Dr. Sartain, who has gone insane with his desire to see his prized subject reunited with Laurie. They reach Laurie’s house before Michael kills Sartain, resulting in Michael approaching the house to kill Laurie, Karen, Allyson, and Karen’s husband Ray (Toby “Judy Greer was a weird casting choice” Huss). Ultimately, Karen, Laurie, and Allyson manage to trap Michael in the basement and set the entire house ablaze. However, the last shot of the basement shows it to be empty, implying that Michael escaped.

END PLOT AND STUFF

The original Halloween wasn’t the first of the slasher genre or even the holiday-themed slasher genre (Black Christmas and Silent Night, Bloody Night were earlier), but Halloween took everything that had previously been done in the genre and tweaked it a bit. Michael Myers didn’t wait for people to show up to his hunting grounds like Norman Bates or Leatherface, he came to them. He didn’t have a disturbing backstory or a love of taunting young women like the killers in the Christmas-themed slasher films, he just simply was evil. He wasn’t punishing the wicked or impure (although people have said he was, both of his creators have denied this), he just liked killing. He wasn’t supernaturally enhanced like Jason Vorhees or Freddy Krueger, he was just a normal human (in the first movie, he is briefly unmasked and is just an average person).

AND THAT’S WHY HE’S SO FRIGHTENING.

Halloween11 - 5MichaelHiding.jpg
Here he is, waiting for you on a sidewalk in the middle of the f*cking day.

He’s literally just a crazy guy who comes into your house and murders you. He doesn’t have anything against you, there’s nothing you did to cause it, and it’s a completely random death. This movie tried to maintain that aspect and, in fairness, it mostly succeeded on that front. They make a point to comment on the fact that, in the original movie, Michael Myers only killed five people, something that we now see happen in real life on a regular basis by a crazy asshole with a gun. In other words, we’ve now allowed almost any random crazy person to be Michael Myers. However, in response to pointing that out, they make sure to drive home that Michael is, in fact, his own special brand of evil, because he’s not going to stop. Mass shooters almost inevitably die in the process; Michael won’t.

However, while they do a good job with that, the actual horror environment of the film is, for lack of a better word, crap. Part of that is that much of the movie is a tribute to the original film, including a lot of scenes that are either straight replications of older scenes (so we know how they’re going to go) or they’re subversions of the older scenes (so we know how they’re going to be subverted). Normally, alternating between these would work to keep the audience on their toes, but this movie makes a mistake that, honestly, they should have avoided just by watching the original Halloween: They take too long on scenes.

Halloween11 - 6MichaelCloset.jpg
I was in the bathroom for this one, but even the trailer is too damn slow on it.

Michael Myers is at his best when the set-up is long, but it’s in the background. Some of the best parts of the 1978 version are seeing Michael lurking, unfocused, in the background of shots, something that Rob Zombie did wonderfully when he released his remake. This movie made him too focal, which, unfortunately, doesn’t make him scarier unless it’s done perfectly. Many of the set-ups were so elaborate that they felt more like a joke and a punchline than a murder. I genuinely was laughing at some of the kills.

That’s another problem: This movie has too many examples of the modern horror post-Scream semi-satirical scenes, without really adapting Michael to it. Scream was a reaction to the decline of the slasher genre, where people were bored of characters who were genre-blind or fit neatly into weird archetypes, so Wes Craven infused humor and self-awareness into horror. Now, even people who knew the rules of slasher films were going to be victims, making the audience feel vulnerable again. But, over time, directors upped the comedy, so it’s now commonplace to have humorous interludes in horror films. This film was partially written by comedian Danny McBride, so the funny scenes are really funny, to the point that it undercuts all the tension that is usually inherent with Michael Myers’ presence.

Halloween11 - 7PumpkinSkull
And the trailers spoiled 2 of the best kills in the movie at the same time.

There are still a few saving graces for the film. First, Jamie Lee Curtis nails playing a crazed, obsessed Laurie Strode. She’s like Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, except that she’s been waiting 30 years longer and time has started to really take its toll. Her dedication to training for this movie is admirable, although she does kind of embody Mike Tyson’s line “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Second, the kills are pretty great throughout the movie, some of them being among my favorite in the franchise. Third, while I don’t exactly like Judy Greer in most of the film (the character, not her), she also possibly has the best scene in the movie and one of the most “F*CK YES” moments in the Halloween franchise.

Halloween11 - 8Antman.png
Oh my god. They’ve both survived Michael Myers. That’s why they were married in Ant-Man!

Actually, there is something in the movie that I think isn’t really called out, but that I think make it slightly more interesting: Everyone assumes Laurie Strode is important to Michael. Sure, he stalks her, among other people, in the original, but in this one everyone assumes that he is breaking out to hunt her down. However, if you watch the movie, he really doesn’t give any indication that he cares about her at all this time. He doesn’t look for her, doesn’t go back to the house from the original films, and doesn’t stalk her family until her granddaughter hears one of Michael’s victims screaming, apparently by random chance. Even after seeing Laurie (and getting shot by her), Michael doesn’t make any attempt to follow her. In short:

SHE’S NOT IMPORTANT.

Unlike what’s implied in all the sequels prior to now, this means that she was just a random victim in the original. So, she’s spent her entire life training for the day he would hunt her down, but, really, the only reason they meet is A) she actually hunts HIM down and B) other characters bring them together. It’s kind of devastating, therefore, to think that Laurie Strode has spent her whole life recalling one terrible night and never being able to get over it due to the trauma, while the guy who did it apparently doesn’t think about her at all. I’m sure there is never any comparable situation to this.

Halloween11 - 9Metaphors.jpg

Overall, this movie didn’t scare me much. Other people might be scared by it, but I thought that they removed a lot of the dread that makes the genre work. However, the thing is that I did enjoy this as kind of a study of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. Michael represents evil, trauma, destruction, mass murder, what have you. You don’t necessarily deserve him, but he shows up anyway and your life is either ended or wrecked. Laurie is someone who has dealt with that kind of trauma and evil, has been scarred by it horribly to the point of being a force of violence herself, and has tried to impute some meaning into the meaningless. She even does some shot-for-shot sequences where she copies Michael’s mannerisms and movements. She’s a great representation of the Nietzsche quote:

Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Like I said, I may not have been scared by it, which makes it kind of crap as a horror film, but as a character study, it does a great job. I recommend seeing it, but maybe wait until video.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Grouch Netflix Mini-Review – The Great British Baking Show

The Fifth Season of this show is coming out on Friday on Netflix, so I feel I should state the following:

This show is the pinnacle of television.

It’s got drama. It’s got tension. It’s got personalities. It’s got frosting. It’s got accents and funny clothes.

GreatBritBakeOff-2Competitors.jpg
IT’S GOT APRONS!

I’m not the biggest fan of reality television or cooking shows, but I cannot stop watching this series. It’s like they’re beaming delicious cupcakes through the television into my eyemouths and I just want to consume more and more of them. Sorry for that image, but this show is an Eldritch abomination that just happens to be made of sweetness and light.

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At the Muffins of Madness?

What’s amazing is how the show feels simultaneously like a competition, an educational program, a human drama, a comedy, and a showcase of deliciousness. A lot of credit has to go to Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, who present the show so well with just a touch of sophistication, and Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the judges, who come off as just the right blend of helpful and devastating. Sadly, everyone but Paul left after Season 7 (which is 4 on Netflix). The main thing that makes this more enjoyable for me is that it doesn’t have as many of those long, pregnant advertisement-centric pauses that most cooking competitions do. They still do the suspense parts, but they’re shorter and that means there’s more of the rest of the show. The amount of stuff they cram into an hour is impressive.

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Honestly, I’m not a fan of these kinds of shows, but damn this one is fun to watch and, since it’s British, you feel like you’re better than everyone else while watching it, even if you’re drinking beer on the couch in your underwear.

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Whatever. Just watch the damn thing.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Video on Demand Review – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Holy. Hell. This movie.

Maybe I should be ashamed to say this, but I have seen every Puppet Master movie, including the crossover with Demonic Toys. They’re corny, they have such bad continuity errors that they literally made a film that is mostly archive footage just to address them, they’re usually cheaply made, and they hardly ever have scary moments at all, tending to be more horror-comedies. But, they’re also just fun to watch. For people who like horror kills, this series at least tends to make them unique, since, well, puppets and the puppets are interesting in design and as characters, having been both villains and heroes.

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And they’re just the right balance of funny and creepy.

In the most recent movies before this one, they even have been fighting evil Nazi puppets back in WWII. In fact, of the eleven movies, five of them involve killing Nazis, which is something everyone can enjoy.

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A Google search told me I’m not the first to say “Nazi Puppets, Nazi Puppets, F*CK OFF.” Damn, I felt so clever.

When I heard there was a new higher-budget film coming out produced by Fangoria and starring comedians Thomas Lennon and Charlyne Yi and legendary German character actor Udo Kier, I was on-board immediately. But I’ll be damned if I saw this film coming.

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Admittedly, they’re a varied lot.

SYNOPSIS (Spoilers for the first 10 minutes of the film)

Get ready for something different.

The movie literally has that line said right before the title drops and that’s about as unsubtle of a hint as you’re going to get, because in case you didn’t get what they were saying, the opening credits depict the history of the puppets in this world and make it clear that you are no longer in the same continuity as the previous films. In fact, you get some horrifying images of the puppets exterminating Jewish families during the Holocaust, followed by images of Andre Toulon (Udo Kier) fleeing Germany for America. In the late 80s, Toulon uses his puppets to kill people he disapproves of (he’s a Nazi, that’s almost everyone).

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There was a loud “Holy shit” screamed during this. Maybe by me.

Yes, that’s right, in this film, the puppets are the Nazis. 8 minutes into the film, they have not only changed the backstory, but they have just made it much, much, scarier. Before, even when the puppets were the bad guys, it was usually because they were being forced to act against their original purpose. Now, their original purpose is about as evil as it gets.

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Just in case you forgot that they were creepy.

The movie then flashes forward to the present day, where comic book proprietor Edgar (Thomas Lennon) has just moved back in with his parents, following his divorce, and finds an inanimate Blade in his dead brother’s room. He decides to sell the doll at a convention for the “Toulon Murders” and heads there with his friend Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and his childhood friend/crush Ashley (Jenny Pellicer). Unfortunately, once they get Blade there, all the other dolls start coming to life and going tiny-Nazi on the convention goers and the staff.

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Evil Nazi puppet sale? What could go wrong?

END SYNOPSIS

This is actually an example of how to do a reboot well. Reboots only work if they give you something A) different or B) better than the original. This movie picked A. There’s just enough elements of the original to remind us that they watched it, but the rest of it is different enough that we don’t feel like they’re just rehashing old stuff.

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Sometimes, you just give us the same thing, but… less personality.

Part of it is that, aside from the cold open, the puppets aren’t animated in the first 1/3 of the movie. Instead, that time is spent building up the new backstory of Andre Toulon, making him not just a Nazi, but a particularly horrifying Nazi. That build-up makes the first wave of kills feel even more brutal because now the puppets are intentionally targeting minorities in accordance with their Nazi ideals.

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A puppet with a flamethrower arm? What could go wrong?

Some of the puppets, too, have been given some redesigns that make them somehow even creepier, because now their weapons are concealed, making them look harmless when they aren’t about to kill people. Also, there are multiple versions of some of the puppets, which allow different appearances throughout the film. There are also way more of them, despite not having that many different core models to base it on, with many coming from previous films. The new ones, however, are pretty crazy. I’m not including them just to avoid spoilers.

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Classic Blade, Skull Blade, New Concealed Blade, Battle Damage Blade. Collect them all!

The kills themselves range from semi-comical to disturbing, with one or two making me legitimately uncomfortable. I’m not a huge gore-horror fan, but it usually doesn’t bother me much, yet a few of these creeped me the hell out. They also had a “nobody is safe” rule established pretty early on. Honestly, this might be the most legitimate horror film in the franchise, because you never know when or where the next kill will come from. It does maintain the horror traditions of “random nudity” and “some characters are blatant stereotypes,” but also updates parts for the modern audience that wants to see tropes subverted.

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Guess what happens in the next 2 seconds? Hint: Not a soliloquy on female empowerment.

The cast, for the most part, is pretty solid for a horror film, even the nameless victims that exist solely to be torn apart. A few notables include Charlyne Yi, Barbara Crampton (from the original Puppet Master), long-time horror veteran Michael Paré, and Skeeta Jenkins as the ultra-lovable Cuddly Bear.

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You will love this man. You will love him so hard.

There are some downsides, though. Udo Kier is barely in it, despite being the perfect casting for the role. Some of the redesigns aren’t super great. But, the biggest one is that the puppets don’t actually have the personality that they’ve had previously in the franchise. In this, the puppets are just tools of Toulon and his version of the Final Solution. They’re also not really much of a team of individuals, but more like a group of faceless automatons, which… well, they are. The ending, too, while logical within the framework of the movie, will probably leave some people pissed and wanting more, which it also promises to give them. It also leaves us with a pretty grim message about the nature of reality versus fiction, even if it’s only a short one.

It’s not quite what I would usually look for from a Puppet Master film, but, if you put that aside, it’s still a solid horror monster movie. I don’t know that it fills any particular niche like the rest of the series, but I would be surprised if this wasn’t the most mainstream acceptable film in the franchise and I’d be happy if it got the sequel it advertised. Oh, and watch for the after-credit scene. You can rent it on Amazon video or a ton of other video-on-demand places, or you can see it in some theaters.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.