Mandy: Nicolas Cage’s Awesomely Nicolas-Cage-iest Movie

Leaving Las Vegas. Raising Arizona. Con Air. National Treasure. The Wicker Man. The Weather Man. Lord of War. Adaptation. Face/Off. Gone in 60 Seconds (and a cameo in its porn version: Bone in 69 Sexconds). Vampire’s Kiss. The Rock. Next. Knowing. Bangkok Dangerous. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Kick-Ass. Peggy Sue Got Married. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Ghost Rider. Mom and Dad. Looking Glass. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.

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Those were just the ones I could name in 30 seconds.


Nicolas Cage has done some stuff. Some of it has been amazing, like Leaving Las Vegas and Raising Arizona. Some of it has been terrible, like USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage and Windtalkers. But a lot of it has just been Nicolas Cage-y, which is to say so insane and entertaining that things like “good” and “bad” seem to be irrelevant. Con Air might make movie critics vomit with rage, but I’ll yell at random strangers to “Put the Bunny Back in the Box.” Vampire’s Kiss is literally an internet meme now, but there’s no one who can tell me that they have watched it and thought that any other actor could do that movie. Cage has been great, he’s been terrible, but mostly he’s just been Cage.

 

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Yes, I do say.

With that in mind, I can say the following: This is the most Cage that he has ever been, but this movie was clearly written to bring out as much Cage as he could bring. AND IT IS AMAZING. This isn’t a “So bad it’s good” movie or a “So insane I can’t look away” movie. This is a great movie that has all the trappings of a bad movie done in such a beautiful and insane way that can only be captured by the crazy talented mind that is Nicolas Cage.

Mini-Summary (for the impatient)

Red Miller’s girlfriend Mandy gets abducted by a cult. He goes on a roaring rampage of revenge with an axe, a crossbow, and a chainsaw.

SUMMARY

It’s the 80s, because everything was more fun back then. Red Miller (Cage) lives with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) in the Shadow Mountains in Eastern California. Red works as a logger while Mandy is an artist that does elaborate fantasy pieces (Think stuff that would be awesome airbrushed on a van). While they don’t say anything directly, both of them show signs of having trauma in their pasts that have led them to having a stronger bond to help each other.

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They’re adorable.

Mandy is on her way to her day job at a gas station when she walks past a van carrying cult members of the Children of the New Dawn. The leader of the cult, Jeremiah Sand (Linus “You know who I am, but probably wouldn’t recognize me here” Roache), immediately becomes obsessed with Mandy. He orders his lieutenant, Brother Swan (Ned Dennehy), to kidnap her. Swan enlists the help of the Black Skulls, a possibly-semi-magical demon-themed biker gang who are also LSD-tripping cannibals. The Skulls require a sacrifice for their help, resulting in Swan giving them one of the low-ranking cult members.

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Arguably the least-insane of the biker outfits.

 

The bikers break into Red and Mandy’s home and capture the two. Two of the cult members, Mother Marlene and Sister Lucy (Olwen Fouéré and Line Pillet), drug Mandy with some liquid LSD and the venom of a specially bred wasp. At this point, the movie becomes significantly trippier, something that, admittedly, is tough to accomplish when you’ve already had demon bikers and a hippie cult.

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And yet, it somehow will…

Sand attempts to seduce Mandy with his music (having been a failed musician), claiming that he has divine providence and right over all things. Mandy responds by laughing at his small penis and generally pathetic nature. This causes Sand to consider for a moment that he is not, in fact, divine or special, so he becomes angry and orders Red to be tied up with barbed wire and stabbed. He then forces Red to watch as he sets Mandy on fire, burning her to ashes before leaving. Red frees himself, then passes out from blood-loss and shock. When he awakens, he drinks an entire bottle of vodka (his character is implied to be recovering alcoholic) and then gives one of the best performances on film.

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Admittedly, this part is great too.

I’m not kidding. I’ll go into it more down there, but Cage, in one unbroken take, goes from confused to sad to angry to accepting to vengeful. It’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen, and it stems entirely from the fact that Nicolas Cage, when given the right script, is one hell of a performer.

After swearing vengeance, Red goes to his old friend (and probably former comrade in arms) Caruthers (Bill “I was in Commando and Predator” F*cking Duke). Caruthers gives Red a run-down on the Black Skulls and gives him “the Reaper,” Red’s old crossbow. Red forges a battle-axe and proceeds to get captured by the Skulls. However, he escapes and goes on a rampage, killing all of the bikers and taking a bunch of cocaine and LSD that make the movie, again, TRIPPY AS F*CK.

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“As long as Arnold isn’t here, I’ll survive.”

Red heads to where he thinks the Cult is, only to find the Chemist (Richard Brake), a drug manufacturer who tells Red where the cult actually is. Red proceeds to the cult’s church and kills several members of the cult with an axe before getting in a CHAINSAW DUEL, BECAUSE WHY THE HELL NOT???? He eventually kills all the members before finding Sand, who is now openly a pathetic waste of a man. Sand begs for mercy, but Red opts to crush his skull with his bare hands instead. He burns the church down, gets in his car, and hallucinates that Mandy is with him again and that he’s driving away from an otherworldly landscape that resembles her paintings.

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I’m weeping with joy at this.

END SUMMARY

First off, this movie trips so much balls that the doses of LSD that the characters take pretty much are superfluous but, when they do take drugs, the film style starts to shift accordingly so that things are blurry or focused almost at random while the sound gets distorted and echo-y. The colors and style throughout the film, as well as the strange lingering cinematography, really do make this feel like what I imagine a good acid trip would be. Musically, this movie is fantastic. It’s very 80s with an appropriate amount of Synth, but also manages to keep everything feeling just a hair off at even the most normal times, then turns the crazy up to eleven when called upon.

Second, the film starts slow and peacefully, focused mostly on Red and Mandy, but manages to avoid actually being too expository, something that I WILL ALWAYS LAUD. If you can convey a character’s backstory without it feeling contrived, I think that’s amazing. This film does it with both of the leads, and later with the antagonist, and never does it feel like it’s just awkward, unnatural exposition.

Third, HOLY HELL IS NICOLAS CAGE AMAZING. Seriously, this is the best performance he’s given in years. I think that aside from Leaving Las Vegas and Raising Arizona, this is not just the best film he’s done, this is the best he’s ever been in a film. There’s one particular scene that I have to comment on. When Cage starts drinking again after seeing Mandy burned alive, it is one single, unbroken take in which Cage clearly improvises a ton, and all of it works. In this sequence, Cage perfectly embodies someone who has just experienced the kind of thing he has. For no reason whatsoever, he just had his best friend and lover abducted, tortured, and murdered while he was helpless to do anything. He nails it. I just regret that I can’t find it online to show you.

The only thing in the movie that’s better than that scene is the CHEDDAR GOBLIN. Yes, the Cheddar Goblin is a fake commercial which immediately precedes the above scene and was done by the crew that made the famous “Too Many Cooks” short for Adult Swim. It’s just as insane as the movie, but in a more grounded way, if you can understand. If you can’t, here’s the ad.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you can stand gore (because the third act is damned gory, although in a cartoonish way), you should watch this film. It’s the kind of movie that almost escapes definition, except that it’s what you would find on an 80s Heavy Metal album cover. If you ever wanted to see one of those come to life, then you need to see this movie. If you love Nicolas Cage, then you need to see this movie. If you have a lot of pot on hand, then you need to smoke it and see this movie.

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

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Doctor Who Season 11 – Ep. 1 “The Woman Who Fell To Earth”

I love Doctor Who. I’ve loved it since I first saw it on PBS as a child, not realizing that the episodes I was watching were more than 20 years old at that point. When it came back, I was elated. I’ve enjoyed the majority of the episodes since the revival, putting two among the best episodes not only of the series, but of television in general. It’s truly a magical show for me and I was completely thrilled that someone requested that I review this season for the blog. I will try to have these up ASAP after airing, but life will get in the way sometimes, so Tuesday at the latest.

So, Allons-y! (if any of you are named Alonzo, then I am so f*cking happy right now)

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Where we last saw our hero….

SUMMARY (SPOILERS – In River Song’s voice)

Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), a young adult with developmental coordination disorder (your body doesn’t send the right nerve signals strongly enough), finds a set of strange glowing symbols floating in the air in the woods and, after touching them, a blue pod appears. Ryan calls the police and PC Yaz Khan (Mandip Gill), a former classmate, arrives to investigate. However, the pair get distracted by a call from a train containing Ryan’s grandmother Grace (Sharon D. Clarke) and her husband, Graham (Bradley Walsh). The train gets attacked by a creature made up of writhing tentacles and electricity which moves towards Grace, Graham, and another passenger named Karl (Johnny Dixon). They’re saved by a woman who falls through the roof of the train. Who is this mysterious woman. Yes, there’s supposed to be a period there because I love bad jokes and it’s the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker).

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Thirty minutes into not being Scottish.

The creature tags the passengers and the doctor with sparks before leaving. The Doctor reveals that these sparks have implanted DNA Bombs, a dangerous and mostly banned weapon. They try to track down the pod that Ryan found, only to find another alien creature has emerged from it. That alien disappears, apparently sensing the first one, after killing a man and taking his tooth. The Doctor rebuilds her sonic screwdriver and takes the group in pursuit of the tentacle monster, revealed to be a bio-data-gathering device called Gathering Coils. They are confronted by the second alien, revealed to be Tzim-Sha of the Stenza (Samuel Oatley) who is basically Predator if he collected teeth instead of skulls.

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… Arnold Schwarzenegger would kill him without trying. 

The Doctor’s group confront Tzim-Sha and the Coils at the site of his hunt. The Doctor manages to trick Tzim-Sha into taking back all of his own DNA bombs and saves the target, but Grace dies trying to stop the Coils. Ryan tries to learn how to ride a bike in tribute to her, but never succeeds due to his condition. After Grace’s funeral, the Doctor tells them she has to find the TARDIS which is supposed to be in space above Earth. She builds a teleporter to go to it, but accidentally teleports herself, Ryan, Graham, and Yaz into the vacuum of space where no TARDIS appears to be.

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And debuts her new outfit.

END SUMMARY

Well, let’s get it out of the way, the Doctor now has 27 X Chromosomes, whereas she previously had 17. Not my fault you didn’t take Time Lord anatomy if you don’t understand this joke, but you really should have at least taken Nth-Dimensional Sex Education so that you’d know about the Birds and the Branes.

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Yeah, but my name’s on the site, so… bite me.

Yes, the Doctor is now equipped with a vagina and, honestly, it didn’t impact the episode much. That was probably a solid move on the writer’s part not to go too heavy into pointing out the differences between her and previous incarnations. That made it seem less like Jodie Whittaker was playing a Female Doctor and was just playing The Doctor… WHICH SHE F*CKING NAILED. Seriously, this might be my favorite Doctor debut, right up there with “The Christmas Invasion” and “The Eleventh Hour.” Whittaker debuts by falling into the path of a monster and briefly incapacitating it, which is one of the most Doctor-y ways to be introduced.

The main thing is that Whittaker quickly embodied the Doctor, filled with all of the pain, curiosity, and excitement that usually define the character. I think one of the best moments is when she is forging a new sonic screwdriver and gazes at a spoon so enthusiastically, realizing that it’ll be one of the perfect components to the device, and you really feel almost drawn to her because of the sincerity she gives off.

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It’s the little things.

Her new companions are going to be more of a team than the usual one or two people who follow the Doctor at a time. I like most of their dynamics, although they seem to shift back and forth during the episode. Still, I think that they’ll serve a much different role than previous companions, if only because of the number.

As for the episode itself, it’s fine. The Coils are visually interesting. The jokes that the Doctor makes about Tzim-Sha’s name (mostly just calling him “Tim Shaw”) are pretty good. The main thing that shocked me was that they killed off a character that we were definitely starting to like… and one that was central to two of her companions’ stories. That’s kind of crazy for a show like this.

Overall, I liked this episode. I’d say that in Doctor Who terms, this was probably about a B+.

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

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Netflix Review – The Good Cop: Season 1

Tony Danza is a very endearing guy when he’s performing. From Taxi to Who’s the Boss? to The Tony Danza Show, he’s always at least somewhat charming.

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Josh Groban has the voice of an angel and the appearance of a cast member from Revenge of the Nerds.

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But with far fewer felonies in his film

Netflix decided they should be on a father-son Odd-Couple-esque buddy-cop cop-and-convict whodunit-mystery show. Coincidentally, the price of cocaine has been increasing due to over-consumption.

SUMMARY

Tony Caruso, Sr. (Tony Danza) was formerly a hero cop who, it turns out, was massively corrupt and engaged in a series of widely-publicized scandals that sent him to prison. His son, Tony, Jr. or “TJ” (Josh Groban) is now a police officer renowned for his dedication to the rules, even going to comically enormous lengths to avoid small infractions. As a condition of Tony, Sr.’s recent parole, he is required to live with his son. Naturally, in the pilot, they fight constantly until Big Tony goes back to prison to try to cover for TJ, proving that he really does love him, so they can stay together, yadda yadda yadda.

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One’s in a suit, one lost his pants in a bet. How funny!

As the season goes by Tony Sr. keeps doing crazy semi-legal schemes and TJ gets caught up in them while they solve mysteries together. The supporting cast is: Cora Vasquez (Monica Barbaro), who was Tony Sr.’s parole officer who later becomes a detective under TJ, as well as his love interest; Burl Loomis (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), an older detective who was a friend of Tony Sr. who is renowned for his policy of “never running”; and Ryan (Bill Rottkamp), an ultra-nerd Tech Crime Analyst for the NYPD whose character was written when we thought Hackers was accurate.

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END SUMMARY

So, the show was created by the guy who made Monk, Andy Breckman, and it shows. The characters are all quirky as hell, there’s a loose story arc involving Tony Sr.’s dead wife that might get resolved in 9 years, and the mysteries are usually pretty creative. Honestly, the crime-centric episodes were the best, because they were actually decent puzzles and distracted me from how uninteresting the characters are despite the set-up giving so many potentially interesting conflicts. Breckman said, “Many cop shows feature dark and provocative material: psycho-sexual killers, twisted, grim, flawed detectives. Many address the most controversial issues of the day. I watch a lot of them. God bless ’em all. But the show I want to produce is playful, family-friendly, and a celebration of old-fashioned puzzle-solving.” So… mission accomplished?

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Though some of the Hi-Jinks are pretty funny.

It almost bothers me that I actually like this show, because it is bland as hell. Tony Danza and Josh Groban are both likeable and inoffensive (despite the fact that Danza’s character is supposed to be a convicted corrupt cop). Isiah Whitlock and Monica Barbaro are always entertaining when they’re on screen. Nothing about the show ever really gets me upset and it mostly keeps my attention. But it’s just… mediocre. It’s just like many of the seasons of Monk, but without Tony Shalhoub to give an amazing performance. I like it, but I don’t love it. It’s just that everyone involved in it is so loveable I can’t really dislike it either. It’s fun and not challenging to watch, which means that a lot of people will probably love it and I can’t blame them. It’s like a graham cracker – it’s not the most sophisticated snack, but I will eat the entire box and then cry about how I shouldn’t have done that.

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I will say that some of the episodes had some neat gimmicks, like having a talk-show host who toys with the officers or having the suspect be TJ’s crush, but ultimately it’s pretty middle-of-the-road. I really hope they give the characters some more depth in the future, because I can’t look Josh Groban in the eye and say “I don’t want to watch your show.” It would break his little heart and it’s not his fault.

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I can’t break that heart. It would hurt me “Evermore.”

I do have to add that at the end of the episode, the title card for the next episode plays and it’s spaced so that you can read it before Netflix automatically starts the next episode, which is a great idea and should be duplicated by other series. Good job, whoever did that.

Seriously, though, please add either more comedy or more darkness, because right now it’s just TVpH 7.

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

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Futurama Fridays – S1 E12 “When Aliens Attack”

An episode of television about people being obsessed with episodes of television. How meta.

SUMMARY

Back in the 90s (I was in a very famous TV show… wait, different series), Fry (Billy West) delivered a pizza to a Fox Network affiliate but spilled beer over the controls, disrupting Fox’s broadcast of Single Female Lawyer. One thousand-ish years later on the planet Omicron Persei 8, the Ruler of the planet, Lrr (Maurice LaMarche), is watching the broadcast when it gets interrupted, enraging him. He proceeds to bring a fleet of flying saucers to destroy many of Earth’s monuments (which are conveniently now located on a beach in New New York, courtesy of a supervillain Governor).

When he demands “McNeal,” the lead character from Single Female Lawyer, Earth President McNeal (West) misunderstands and believes they want him. As such, he orders an army to be drafted into the Earth defense force led by Zapp Brannigan (West). Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and a forcibly-reprogrammed Bender (John DiMaggio) all join the defense force; unfortunately, they are immediately overwhelmed (after they waste their efforts destroying the Hubble telescope). After Zapp kidnaps and delivers President McNeal, Lrr reveals that he means the TV character and threatens to destroy the Earth.

It’s revealed that there are no surviving copies of the series. Fry, being the only person who knows anything about the show, tries to create an ending to the episode he destroyed, using the Planet Express crew as the cast. Unfortunately, Fry only wrote two pages, forcing Leela to improvise by proposing marriage to the “Judge” Professor Farnsworth (West), something that angers Lrrr. Fry correctly tells her that TV audiences just want the same crap they’ve seen a thousand times before, resulting in her finishing the episode with a contrived monologue that puts the series back at its status quo. Lrrr agrees not to destroy the Earth and Fry tells everyone that the key to television is that the show always ends with everything back to normal. The show then pans out to show global destruction… which will be undone before the next episode.

END SUMMARY

Futurama decided to spend an episode mocking people who make and watch formulaic and unchallenging television, like a certain show that was on Fox for 5 years and managed to win 2 Golden Globes and an Emmy for best series. Not that I have anything against formulaic television (I liked House), but Ally McBeal had a lot of problems without even getting into the part where the lead character was an attorney who was terrible at lawyering. Still, it got awards and had a solid audience share, even if a lot of the viewers didn’t seem to remember much about the show but “short skirts” and “Robert Downey, Jr. getting arrested.”

I have to admit I think it’s pretty ballsy for the show to take shots at other shows for being repetitive and unchallenging this early in the run but, for the most part, I think Futurama did at least try not to be overly formulaic or predictable, even if a lot of their material came from loosely parodying other properties.

Lrrr and his wife, Nd-Nd (Tress MacNeille), are among the most frequently recurring aliens, usually representing a stereotypical dysfunctional sitcom marriage combined with the traditional alien invaders. It’s a weird combination that somehow always seems to work, since Lrrr being an overaggressive and insensitive husband always makes it seem more natural that he’s also the kind of being whose first response to a problem is to invade the planet.

Overall, I like this episode okay, even if it didn’t age super well after nearly 20 years of Ally McBeal being off the air. While it’s more common nowadays to lampoon sitcom structure (BoJack Horseman literally runs on it), this episode was a little bit ahead of that particular trend, so… bonus points of that.

FAVORITE JOKE

There aren’t any jokes in this episode that really stand out, although I do like the end of the fake episode of Single Female Lawyer. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) is playing the foreman of the jury in Jenny McNeal’s trial for jury tampering by having an affair with the judge and previous jury. As a cap for the episode, he gives the verdict:

We find the Defendant… vulnerable yet spunky!

That’s probably exactly what the producers wrote as character motivation for Callista Flockheart at the beginning of every episode of Ally McBeal. Because characterization was not a strength on that show.

Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 11: Mars University

NEXT – Episode 13: Fry and the Slurm Factory

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

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Netflix Review – Let’s Be Evil: Kids are Creepy (version 1129)

Children can be creepy. I think we all know that by now. There’s something unnerving about the human brain when it’s still rapidly developing, particularly when they first hit the age at which they’re capable of deception and intelligence, but adults don’t suspect them of it. You can see it played out in The Bad Seed, The Brood, These are the Damned, The Children of the Corn, The Good Son, etc. Movies love to mine this trope over and over again and this movie is just another load coming up from that pit, with enough decoration to make you think it’s original (although they proudly state this movie was based on an “original idea” like 3 times in the credits).

SUMMARY

It’s the near-future again and massive debt is still a thing. Jenny (Elizabeth Morris), a woman saddled with a ton of medical debt from her mom, finds a job as a chaperone at a school for gifted youngsters, but sadly not the one run by Charles Xavier. She meets her co-workers Tiggs (Kara Tointon) and Darby (Elliot James Langridge), whose total character descriptions are “feisty” and “douchenozzle.” The school is run by an AI named “ARIAL” but constantly spelled as Ariel (Jamie Bernadette), even though it’s an acronym for a word that begins with f*cking A. The school is actually in a series of underground rooms which are mostly not lit. In order to see, you have to wear a set of augmented reality glasses.

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Google Glass did better in this universe.

The children don’t speak, for the most part, instead choosing to communicate through ARIAL translating their typed messages. The “school” itself is actually just a series of augmented reality classes that the children experience which, while not original (hell, the Batman: Arkham games had it), is still always a pretty cool idea. However, as time goes by, strange things begin happening, with Jenny seeing or hearing things which appear to be illusions that are dismissed as her “breaking down.” This is despite the fact that ARIAL records stuff that Jenny sees and therefore could play it back and prove it to the others. This is overlooked in favor of being arbitrarily stupid.

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But the facility looks so harmless…

Eventually, it’s revealed that the children, except for one child named Cassandra (Isabelle Allen), have decided to kill the adults and take over the facility. Being that they’re all super-geniuses, they’ve taken over ARIAL and have gained the ability to hack the chaperones’ VR glasses, which, admittedly, makes for a great set-up for a horror movie. Sadly, it just doesn’t take full advantage of it from there. Kids chase adults, adults get chased, someone wins, roll curtain.

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This should have been so much creepier.

END SUMMARY

There are a lot of elements that should work for this movie. For one, the kids aren’t driven by any particular motive except that they don’t seem to have any kind of emotional empathy (something enhanced by their “school”). The idea that the kids really are just doing this because they can makes everything so much worse and almost gives a moral to the story about raising children in a digital environment in which they are trained to view other people as information or resources rather than sources for emotional connection.

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They even have talking heads debate it.

The AR glasses, too, could give you a lot to work with. The kids control what the adults (and the viewers) see and hear, something that has been used to terrifying effect in other films. The fact that the adults are given the options of either A) wear the glasses or B) not be able to see at all means they’re pretty much stuck dealing with it. There are a number of decent visuals involving AR within the movie. Perhaps the best one is the way that ARIAL is represented as a shimmering, ephemeral figure (much like her namesake from The Tempest).

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The real problem isn’t the AR or the kids. It’s that even with those things, the movie just isn’t that scary. The kids aren’t messing with them enough for it to be a true psychological horror (and the ending that almost implies it doesn’t really give any satisfaction), they aren’t killing them in violent enough ways for it to be super gory or intense, and the film’s big twist is… well, stupid. It’s predictable and stupid. It’s so stupidly predictable that the only reason Jenny doesn’t predict it is that apparently she’s never seen any movie or read any book.

Overall, there’s a lot of great stuff that this movie could have done, and I’m just really sad that it didn’t do any of it.

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

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Rick and Mondays – S1 E10 “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”

If one Rick and Morty is good, then an entire planet filled with Ricks and Mortys should be great, right?

SUMMARY

The Smith-Sanchez family is having breakfast when a portal opens and a Rick (Justin Roiland) appears, kills Rick, and steals Morty (Roiland). It then shows breakfast the next day featuring another Rick and Morty, revealing that the previous scenario happened in another dimension. Another portal opens and several Ricks enter, this time in uniforms. They freeze Jerry (Chris Parnell), but Rick and Morty (of C-137) agree to go with them.

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He’s evil because he wears black and has a scar.

They are transported to the CITADEL OF RICKS, a trans-dimensional organization of Ricks which has created a form of government overseeing Rick behavior across the multiverse. They bring in Rick C-137 to accuse him of murdering other Ricks across the multiverse, as he is one of the only Ricks who isn’t part of the Citadel. He denies it, but his portal gun is traced to all the murders. Rick and Morty escape the Citadel troops while Rick manages to identify the real murderous Rick. They follow his signature to a building composed of hundreds of Mortys that are being tortured, which apparently shields Evil Rick from detection. Meanwhile, a group of Ricks stays at the Smith house while searching for Rick C-137, including Doofus Rick, who bonds with Jerry.

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Cronenberg Rick and Morty are still kickin’ it.

Rick and Morty get captured by Evil Rick and his Morty. Rick finds out that Evil Rick plans to steal his memories and then kill him. Morty is taken to a room filled with Mortys who worship the coming of the “One True Morty,” which apparently will free them from their bonds. Morty leads them into an uprising to escape and rescue Rick, resulting in Evil Rick being killed by a mob of Mortys.

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Never underestimate the power of a mob of stupid, angry people.

Back on the Citadel, Rick C-137, now exonerated, is given an apology and a coupon for a free Morty. Morty, who has been angry at Rick for the entire episode after Rick told him that Ricks keep Mortys around because Mortys are so stupid they act as psychic barriers, tries to get Rick to show some emotional growth, but Rick refuses. However, he immediately manages to get some in by pointing out that he’s the Rickest Rick, therefore Morty is the Mortyest Morty. It’s then revealed to the audience, but not Rick and Morty C-137, that Evil Rick was actually being controlled by another source… EVIL MORTY!!!

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Dun dun duuuuuuuun. But seriously, this was a great twist.

END SUMMARY

We already knew from “Rick Potion #9” that there were parallel Ricks and Mortys but this episode really drives that idea home. The Citadel of Ricks and the Council of Ricks appears to be derived from the “Council of Reeds” from the Fantastic Four comics, where Mr. Fantastic finds out that there are a ton of versions of him that work together and are mostly evil. Well, not so much evil as just dicks, which I guess makes the parallel a little closer. However, while the Council of Reeds works to, ostensibly, make the multiverse a better place, the Citadel of Ricks appears to just be a place where Ricks are thrown back into mediocrity and ruled over by a group of Ricks that are likely no more qualified to rule than they are. But, we’ll get into that more in Season 3.

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Clearly, position is assigned based on hair.

The multiverse, too, is more thoroughly explored in this episode by showing the viewers, in a very short montage, a man ordering pizza using a phone while sitting on a chair, then essentially every version of that same situation with the nouns swapped, culminating in a chair ordering phones using a pizza while sitting on a man. It drives home the fact that, in a truly infinite multiverse, anything is possible.

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But lamps are always lamps.

The relationship between Rick and Morty is given some more significance as we’re told that Rick actually uses Morty to prevent himself from being found by some of the more threatening intergalactic authorities. Whether these are present in every dimension isn’t mentioned, but apparently the Galactic Federation exists in multiple dimensions, given that their agent Tammy was found in both the original dimension of the show (where she got Cronenberged) and also the new one featured in this episode. They also are revealed to have some level of interdimensional capabilities in the pilot, explaining why Rick can’t just go to another dimension to escape them. So, every Rick needs a Morty to give them peace, even the Rickest Rick.

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The audience wins with three pairs. GET IT? *Applause*

So, why is our Rick the Rickest? Well, he tells us himself: he’s the only one who is completely unafraid to risk himself to maintain his individuality. Or, at least he is now that the Artist Formerly Known as Rick is dead (and, let’s be honest, the Prince version of Rick probably gave zero f*cks). Granted, in the future, this will become obviously untrue, since there are at least one or two other Ricks who also don’t seem to belong to the Citadel (as far as we know). Still, the point is that C-137 Rick’s enough of a rebel to rebel against the rebellion. Most “nonconformists” just buy a Che Guevara shirt and ignore the irony that counterculture tends to directly resemble culture; Rick Sanchez burns down the Hot Topic and the Gap at the same time and makes his own clothes out of the ashes. How does he make clothing from ashes? He’s Rick f*cking Sanchez.

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Granted, he is also the Rickest by virtue of killing the most Ricks.

I also have to give credit to this episode for having three of my favorite pop-culture references in the show so far: “The Machine of Unspeakable Doom” is a reference to the Asimov story “The Weapon Too Dreadful to Use” but with the very Rick and Morty addition that the machine stabs your balls, the comic promoting Mortyism called “The Good Morty” is a reference to Jack Chick’s famously zealous Chick Tracts, and, my favorite, where a pen, notebook, and coffee cup fly through a portal, having come from a completely different show, Gravity Falls. The latter three objects get lost through an interdimensional portal by “Grunkle” Stan Pines in the Gravity Falls episode “Society of the Blind Eye.”

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The mug even has the Mystery Shack question mark on it!

Doofus Rick and Jerry is also a great B-plot, because Doofus Rick is the only Rick who can empathize with Jerry’s constant feelings of being put down, unimportant, and incompetent. Of course, Doofus Rick is only those things in comparison with other Ricks, whereas Jerry is… well, Jerry. However, Doofus Rick seems to compensate by being nicer to people, while Jerry is usually just kind of a jerk. Regular Rick later says that “being nice is something stupid people do to hedge their bets,” which suggests that maybe that’s why Doofus Rick does it, realizing that even if he is picked on, by being nice to people he sometimes gets positive connections, like with Jerry. Perhaps the most notable example is when Doofus Rick is shown Jerry’s coin collection and tells him that what matters is that the coins have value to him. Jerry is used to having people crap on all of his stupid ideas, so being told that his actions can be valid just because they made him feel better is a positive reinforcement that Jerry clearly doesn’t get much, and which Doofus Rick probably craves for similar reasons.

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But he can make brownies, so he probably has friends.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, people had a lot of theories on this episode. Since Evil Morty later comes back, several of them are still very much up in the air. A big one is that Evil Morty is actually Rick C-137’s original Morty, explaining why he wanted to absorb Rick’s memories rather than just killing him like the other Ricks. Rick’s statement about a Morty getting too smart for their own good also indicates that he has dealt with a “smart Morty” before. Also, Rick has been gone for a decade, has only just been back for one year, but apparently needed a Morty to help cloak him during the time which is unaccounted, suggesting he had one previously. But, if you wanted those theories you could just read another Rick and Morty blog. Instead, here’s one of mine on “The Morty Shield.”

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This dome of pain.

The reason why the “Morty Shield” that Evil Morty was using to hide from the Council of Ricks is so poorly constructed is not because Evil Morty couldn’t have come up with Rick’s idea for producing the same effect with five Mortys and a car battery. In fact, the Morty Shield wasn’t actually used for creating a cloaking effect at all (you can’t track Evil Rick’s brainwaves since he was already braindead), but was instead a ruse to get the Council of Ricks to ignore the question of why a Rick would stockpile so many Mortys. If “Evil Rick” had just been capturing a ton of Mortys for no discernable reason, then the Council might have investigated before re-integrating all of those Mortys, which might have exposed Evil Morty. As it happened, Evil Morty was able to blend in and, as we now know, create a massive Morty surplus that caused dissent within the Citadel, allowing him to seize power. I think he originally was planning on doing it through rebellion and sedition, but Rick’s actions in the beginning of Season 3 gave him an easier path through election.

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Instead of drawing attention, he just becomes a face in a crowd.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Yet another great episode in a row. This part of the season is really a hell of a high point.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 9: Something Rick-ed This Way Comes

NEXT – 11: Ricksy Business

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.

Netflix Review – 31 Halloween Films

Originally, I planned on reviewing 31 horror films for the month of October. I then realized that I didn’t start early enough. Also, I’m moving. So, instead, here are 31 films on Netflix. Not all of them are horror movies, but since I think horror movies are inherently in the spirit of Halloween (with exceptions), most of them are. I tried to make them at least somewhat different, so hopefully you get a decent tour of all the types of scares. I’m sure there are some I missed, so leave your favorites in the comments. Also, apologies if some get pulled. I dunno how Netflix decides.

Update: OKAY, SO APPARENTLY NETFLIX IS PULLING A BUNCH OF THESE ON OCTOBER 1. F*CK THEM. WATCH THE LOST BOYS THIS WEEKEND.

  1. Terrifier

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It’s a clown. It’s a serial killing clown. It’s a serial killing clown who is smart enough to carry a gun as a backup weapon. It’s literally everything I fear.

*Warning* This movie is pure gore fest and it is genuinely disturbing. It’s not clever, it’s not even particularly scary, but it does have a creepy clown who kills people in horrible ways. This is the most skippable of the movies on the list.

  1. Se7en

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On the other end of the spectrum from Terrifier is a movie that should unnerve you deeply but has a notably low body count. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are hunting down a serial killer who is obsessed with the Seven Deadly Sins. If you have never seen it, now is the time.

  1. The Babadook

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The best monster movies use the monster as an allegory for something. This one uses it as a representation for grief and loss. Denying it just makes it stronger and it can drive you crazy. It’s one of the better horror films of the last decade.

  1. Scream 2/Scream 4

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I dislike the fact that the only Scream movies on Netflix are 2 and 4, which are neither the best nor the worst entries in the franchise. Still, they’re solid slashers that have an added commentary, with the former mocking sequels and the latter mocking revived series.

  1. Before I Wake

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Kids with superpowers can be creepy. Kids with superpowers they can’t control are even creepier. This movie features a child who can’t stop bringing his dreams, and nightmares, to life, including the “Canker Man,” a recurring nightmarish figure bent on consuming everything.

  1. Children of the Corn

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Based on the Stephen King story, this film depicts a town in which the children, motivated by religious zealotry, got rid of all of the adults. It’s corny (f*ck you, I stand by the pun), but it’s also got a great performance by John Franklin as Isaac.

  1. Cargo

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In one of the better recent interpretations of a zombie movie, this depicts a family trying to survive in the remains of the world, focusing on them trying to get their baby to a safe place after they’re infected but before they’re turned. It’s powerful and emotional, something you don’t usually get from zombies.

  1. Clown

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In a great subversion of the killer clown genre, this movie doesn’t make the clown the bad guy, instead it makes the clown outfit itself evil. It’s not the greatest horror movie in many respects, but the concept is played so well that it still should be seen.

  1. Train to Busan

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I’m obligated to put this on any list of horror films. This is a Korean zombie film and it is one of the best in the genre. It has as much social commentary as old-school Romero, the action sequences of 28 Days Later, and the character-building of Shaun of the Dead. Truly a great addition to horror.

  1. Curse of Chucky/ Cult of Chucky

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Child’s Play was a franchise featuring a killer doll that gradually went from kind of clever to terrible to self-parody-level bad. Then, these two movies were released which actually moved the franchise back to fairly clever and somewhat scary. They’re both on, and you should watch them together.

  1. The Babysitter

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One of the better horror-comedies of the last few years, and a Netflix original, this film features a group of teenagers who would usually be the victims in a horror film instead being the villains. They’re opposed by a 12-year-old who finds out their secret and a wonderful comedy of errors ensues.

  1. The Descent

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Darkness is scary. Being enclosed is scary. So, taking both of those elements and making a movie about women crawling through small caves in darkness while being hunted by creatures was always going to be pretty damn scary.

  1. Hush (2016)

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In a great take on the slasher genre, this film depicts a killer stalking his victim. The catch is that his victim is actually deaf. To balance out this disadvantage, the film allows her a rare advantage in horror protagonists: She isn’t a complete idiot. This element ends up making it a pretty solid movie.

  1. Let Me In

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This movie has a lot to unpack. It’s a movie about the friendship and budding romance between two kids, one of whom is actually a vampire, but unlike many films that try something like this, this movie doesn’t shy away from the reality that vampires mercilessly murder people as a matter of survival. It’s touching, messed up, and has some amazing performances.

  1. Holidays

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An anthology of horror shorts, each one based on a different holiday. Admittedly, I think “Halloween” is not the best one, but it was directed by Kevin Smith and features an interesting take on horror clichés, particularly how women are viewed.

  1. The Endless

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A sequel to the movie Resolution, which, sadly, is not on Netflix, this film can still stand on its own. It features two brothers who survived a suicide cult returning to the location of the cult, only to find that an entity there is trying to manipulate time to cause the apocalypse. It’s a thinker, but it pays off.

  1. Oculus

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A movie that manages to screw with the audience almost as well as it screws with its characters, this story about two siblings and an evil mirror is all about perception. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites give two great performances and the film is creepy and twisted from start to finish.

  1. Hellraiser/Hellraiser 2

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These movies brought Clive Barker’s demonic Cenobites, particularly the lead Cenobite nicknamed “Pinhead,” into the mainstream. They’re basically creatures so removed from human concepts that they view pain and pleasure as the same thing and want everyone to feel both with them.

  1. The Void

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It’s a 1980s horror film combined with H.P. Lovecraft. It’s got cultists, mad scientists, tentacle monsters, evil babies, and, of course, the couple that has recently broken up that might get back together if they are confronted with the apocalypse.

  1. The Witch

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There are a lot of good elements to this film, but the main one is the atmosphere. This film takes place during the 1600s and features a puritan family as they struggle to get by after being exiled. It’s got religious commentary, great aesthetics, and the entire film just reeks of supernatural threats looming just past the edge of the woods.

  1. (Alternate) The Real Ghostbusters – “When Halloween was Forever (Season 1)” “Halloween II ½ (Season 2)” “The Halloween Door (Season 4)

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Fine, this was originally the movie Ghostbusters, but apparently that’s not on Netflix right now. So, instead, here are the three Halloween episodes of the cartoon. Much like the Halloween movies (which they reference), the first two feature the Halloween villain Samhain (who is the best recurring villain in the series), while the third is completely independent. I’d recommend at least watching the first two.

  1. Extraordinary Tales

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This is a collection of five Edgar Allan Poe stories, each narrated by a different person (Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Julian Sands, Guillermo Del Toro, and Roger Corman) and animated in a different style. They’re not all winners, but overall, they still capture the Gothic eeriness of Poe.

  1. Haunters: The Art of the Scare

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This is actually a documentary about the modern Halloween haunted houses, haunted mazes, and full-contact terror simulations. It shows you how much effort some of these companies put into these attractions and how crazy some of the people asking to be scared can be.

  1. Raw

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This is the best kind of gratuitous. When a vegetarian is forced to eat raw meat, she develops a craving for flesh that starts to grow out of control. As I said in The Babadook, the best monster films make the monster an allegory, but this film goes ahead and makes the monster the urges that the main characters are dealing with. See if you can figure out what it’s a metaphor for (it’s not subtle).

  1. Coco

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Not at all a horror film, this still should become a Halloween film if only because a movie this wonderful needs to become a recurring thing. Taking place on Dia De Los Muertos and in the land of the dead, this film reminds us that death isn’t to be feared as long as we have people who love us, something most children’s films would never even consider addressing. It also makes me cry every single time I watch it.

  1. Murder Party

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I already did a full review of this one, but it’s a great Halloween film. It depicts a lonely man who happens to attend the wrong costume party and ends up being the target of five inept murderers. It’s hilarious.

  1. It Follows

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I don’t actually like this movie that much, because I constantly point out how easy it would be to confound the monster in the film, but as an allegory, the monster is pretty solid. Death is always following you. You won’t outrun it forever. But you can delay the realization of that fact through connections with others (mostly their genitals, according to the movie).

  1. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

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This movie has Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. Everyone should love it for that alone. However, it also is the funniest inversion of the “killer redneck” genre, with the main characters being lovable hicks and the college kids automatically assuming they’re monsters. It also has some of the best horror slapstick I’ve ever seen.

  1. Tales of Halloween

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An anthology film that isn’t quite as good as Trick ‘r Treat, this movie still features almost every aspect of Halloween, from the costumes to the decorations to the pranks to the candy to the pumpkins, as the focus of at least one vignette. The best one is probably “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” because it has Barry Bostwick being hilarious as the Devil, but they’re all pretty enjoyable.

  1. Boys in the Trees

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This movie was mostly overlooked, but it still is a solid Halloween flick, depicting all kinds of horror monsters. It basically starts off as a group of juvenile delinquents telling stories and pulling pranks, then having to live through their stories in an anthology. It’s basically a combination of The Halloween Tree and another great movie which is right below this.

  1. The Lost Boys

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One of the better horror-comedies of the 1980s, this vampire film stars both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim (R.I.P.) and features some of the best kid-on-monster fights until it was completely decimated by the glory of The Monster Squad. It also features one of the best ending sequences in film. Just look at that poster, it’s so damned 80s.

I hope you guys watch a few of these. Let me know what you think!

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.