It’s Me, Billy: Traditional Sequel or Postmodern Masterpiece?

Reviewed by Armen Steckler-Briggs for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Armen Steckler-Briggs is unaware of the 1974 film Black Christmas. He has also recently been institutionalized for excessive glue sniffing. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

Well … here’s something new. Just when I thought I’d seen it all, here comes It’s Me, Billy, one of the strangest sequels (or films) I’ve ever seen–and maybe one of the most brilliant.

Written and directed by Bruce Dale and Dave McRae, It’s Me, Billy serves as both a fantastically realized slasher film and (get this) as a sequel to the 1979 family classic Black Beauty. I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I felt the same way at first, but, as crazy as this premise sounds, it works … somehow.

In this iteration, Black Beauty (the equine hero from the original film) has gone all Travis Bickle after years of being forced into servitude as a racehorse. That’s right, this beauty is pissed and it’s time for someone to pay. Victoria Mero stars as the granddaughter of Alec Ramsey, the man who initially befriended Black Beauty before ultimately betraying their friendship and exploiting the majestic creature for financial gain.

Here’s the story: After learning that Alec Ramsey has passed away, Black Beauty devises a plan to do away with as many surviving Ramseys as possible. He begins by inviting Ramsey’s granddaughter (Mero, in a devastating, gritty performance) and two of her besties to Ramsey’s house for some good old-fashioned Christmas spirit. This is when the film takes a turn away from the spirited family friendly adventure of the original in favor of a dark examination of why good horses go bad. And believe me, this horsey has indeed gone bad. Now referring to himself as “Billy,” Black Beauty embarks on a murder spree, picking off his victims one at a time until his blood lust is satiated.

This is where It’s Me, Billy mutates into a postmodern masterpiece. The film forces the viewer to ask some pretty tough questions like: Is “Billy” a character Black Beauty plays in order to psychologically distance himself from the violence he is about to commit? Or is “Billy” a more permanent manifestation of Black Beauty’s fractured psyche? Has “Billy” completely taken over Black Beauty so completely that Black Beauty no longer exists at all? Or does “Black Beauty” now exist in the mind of a fully realized Billy? The answer really doesn’t matter because you get to see a horse kill people.

Honestly, after watching this film, I have to put Billy up there with the greatest screen killers of all time. After all, Norman Bates is scary, but he isn’t a freakin’ horse. I mean, imagine you’re in a big scary house at night, settling in, getting ready for bed … And then, out of the shadows comes a knife-wielding horse. Let’s be honest, the heart attack will get you long before the serial-killing horse.

Dale and McRae do a good job of keeping Billy/Beauty in the shadows, never allowing too much to be seen. We don’t hear any neighing or the clippity-clop of hooves hitting hardwood. That would be too obvious. (For the record, we also never see any big, steamy horse poopies, either. That would have been gratuitous and silly.) No, instead we are treated to a subtle, terrifying film that works as both an experiment in pure terror as well as a treatise on equine mental health issues.

I give It’s Me, Billy a perfect five stars out of a possible five.

(It’s Me, Billy is rated NC-17 for graphic violence, profanity, nightmare imagery, drug abuse, and one brief shot of horse schlong.)

Revisiting Halloween II (1981)

Reviewed by Marc Hopspring for

(Editor's note: Film critic Marc Hopspring reviewed this film after watching it via a malfunctioning cable box that, unbeknownst to him, randomly switched back and forth between Halloween II and True Lies. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.) 

It had been at least a decade since I'd seen Halloween II, and boy oh boy is it different from the film I remember. For starters, I had no recollection of James Cameron directing this film. And now that I know, I have to rank this as one of Cameron's worst efforts. And that's just the first of many surprises.

Halloween II is by far one of the strangest sequels ever produced. I'm not really sure how this thing is even related to the first Halloween. Despite the uncountable number of temporal and logical gaps, I have to assume this hodgepodge of narrative spaghetti was created on purpose. After all, Halloween creator John Carpenter wrote the script, which is supposedly based on a French film or something. Anyway, here's the plot: After surviving being shot six times on Halloween night 1978, Michael Myers is now--somehow!--the leader of a terrorist organization called the Crimson Jihad, and it's up to husband-and-wife team Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Dr. Sam Loomis (now played by Arnold Schwarzenegger--that's right, Ahhhh-nold) to stop Myers from sneaking a nuke into Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. This is where the film starts to lose me. I mean, why would any terrorist group want to take out a small town hospital, especially with a weapon that could destroy an entire city? Where's the logic in that? And when the hell did Laurie Strode marry Dr. Loomis?

Even worse than the nonsensical storyline is the film's schizophrenic editing style. In one scene an unmasked Myers (who is now Middle Eastern for some reason) engages in a brilliantly choreographed gun battle in a public restroom, and then in the next scene he's drowning a naked nurse in a hot tub--and the mask is back. In another confusing sequence, Laurie does a sexy striptease for Loomis (again, he's now her husband!), then out of nowhere, she's posing as a hospital patient (in a bad wig) who is forced to fight off the advances of a horny ambulance driver, only to find herself, mere moments later, fighting off the advances of Bill Paxton. And then, for reason I will never EVER understand, Arnold disguises himself as Donald Pleasance and faces off with Myers in the film's climax--a climax in which they are both blown up. Don't get me wrong, it's a find ending, but by the time the film finally got to it I was just too confused to care anymore.

When I say the film is confusing, I have never been more serious in my life. Once scene begins with an intricate chase in which Loomis, on horseback, pursues Myers, on a motorcycle, through a crowded shopping mall. Exciting, right? So then why does the scene end with a horny ambulance driver singing an X-rated version of "Amazing Grace"? The film just leaves me with too many questions. Why, for example, does Jamie Lee Curtis's makeup keep aging and de-aging her? Is this supposed to be an example of spycraft? If so, is this really supposed to confuse Myers? And why the hell is Tom Arnold in a Halloween film? When the hell did Loomis learn to fly a Harrier jet? And for what possible reason did the Crimson Jihad feel it necessary to Kill Ben Tramer? It's all so bizarre. And I haven't even mentioned the ski slope shootout that culminates with a child in a pirate costume getting gashed by a razor blade hidden in an apple. Why are trained spies hunting trick-or-treaters? One minute we're watching a bridge blow up and the next we're watching an idiot knock himself stupid after slipping in a puddle of blood. Aw ... forget it! To hell with this mess of a movie.

Halloween II is a flawed horror sequel for sure. If you're in the mood for something that makes you question your sanity, this flick's for you. Otherwise, stay far, far, away from this celluloid turd. Although, to be fair, Halloween II makes more sense than the movie I watched right after it. In that stinker, a gremlin steals a DeLorean and time-travels back to 1955 to make sure nobody gets wet or eats after midnight. Talk about nonsense.

I give Halloween II one star out of a possible five stars and all the bile my liver can produce.

(Halloween II is rated R for profanity, violence, nudity, aggressive stupidity and the graphic depiction of Tom Arnold.)



Avengers: Endgame: Fine Entertainment for Humans … Like Me


Avengers: Endgame: Fine Entertainment for Humans … Like Me

Reviewed by Graktar the Terrible Max Human for

(Editor’s note: The following review contains content the author attempted to redact by using his Word program’s strikethrough function.)

The new filmed entertainment Avengers: Endgame is a sequel to a film about a giant purple space monster who wipes out half of all life on Earth with a snap of his fingers—and yet it isn’t as funny as it sounds. In fact, many of the Earthlings seated in close proximity to me were actually excreting ocular fluid from their cranial orbs in spasmodic flailings of emotion. The estrogen sack (or female) reclining next me was even blubbering. Go figure. You’d never see Queck the Conqueror, Primary Overlord of Invasion my friend Dave acting like that in a public place. Strangely, I must confess that listening to the grinding sounds made by this woman’s obstructed sinuses in concert with the occasional bout of intestinal distress brought on by her overconsumption of nachos did soothe my dorsal mantle cavity nerves, which as you know, decelerates production in my venom glands is good. And that warm feeling always reminds me of my youth, playing in the Zircon fields on Kakadonia 12 baseball.

Anyhoo, this filmed entertainment stars the Second Robert Downey as a man who has engineered some sort of intelligent armor that gives him command over an arsenal of advanced weaponry as well as the power of flight, giving him a tactical advantage in almost any combat situation. He’s also dating a hottie. Large Blond Man plays Thor, some sort of God. From the context provided by the film, I assume he is the God of Hammers. There’s a man who turns into a green monster when he’s annoyed. There’s a black-leather-clad female assassin. And then there’s—oh, I don’t know, something like 60 other “heroes” or something. It’s almost impossible to keep track of all these characters. After all, my training focused mainly on World Conquering and Obliterating Inferior Life Forms math, not cinema. So cut me some slack, okay.

I suppose, as an overall entertainment experience, Avengers: Endgame isn’t terrible. It’s certainly better than having your tentacle pustules lanced by a smoldering plutonium-charged blade Alf. Although I have to admit that the three-hour runtime placed nearly unbearable stresses on at least three of my bladders, not the mention the damage I could’ve done to my acidic bile ejector. But then again, it’s probably my fault for buying the big Pepsi.

All in all, the film works as a fun, escapist thrill ride. The actors do a fine job of pretending. However, the so-called “action” scenes are laughably naïve. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything important, but let’s just say, if these heroes and this technology is the best Earth has to offer as resistance to a full-scale invasion … well, then, I suggest you go out and see this film before your world is reduced to towering piles smoldering ash and every Earthling’s physical vessel is rendered a quivering goo puddle. Also, the effects are neat.

All hail Queen Xlylonia! So go see it and have a ball.

(Avengers: Endgame is rated PG-13 for the incessant whining of fleshy humans, a few profane utterances, laughably simple scenarios of destruction, and adult situations.)

End communication. Thanks for reading.



Shazam! is Amazeballs!

Shazam! is Amazeballs!

Reviewed by Ozzy the Easily Amazed Critic for 

Shazam! is the perfect title for this thrill ride of movie, and not just because it’s the name of the film’s hero. First of all, you just gotta love titles that end with an exclamation point. How cool is that? You almost never see that. And then there’s the word itself: Shazam. I mean, even without the exclamation point, that is one hell of a title. And then there’s the font they chose for the title. I don’t know what that font is officially called, but it’s like—BAM! That font just screams “Hey, man, check me out. I’m a seriously cool title.” And that’s just how the movie starts.

This sucker starts to rev its engine as soon as it begins. The story is so faced paced; it’s like—POW! The story rocks so hard it melted my face within two or three minutes, and then I was, like, whoa … cool. As for the special effects. Well, it should come as no surprise that the effects were like—KAPOW! It’s like, you’ve seen other movies before, and you think you’ve seen really good effects, but then you see this, and it’s like—WHOOOOOP! There’s was one action scene where I was like, “no way!” but the film was all like, “uh-huh, dawg. Just breathe, bro. We’ll get through this together.” Thank God for Mountain Dew Code Red, ’cuz, trust me, bro, after a few of these action sequences, you’re gonna need a drink, and probably a quick nosh. Too bad movie theaters don’t make tater tots. Ah, man, this movie with tots would be like—PLADOW!

Even the acting in this movie was hella tight, dawg. It stars that dude that was Chuck on that show with the hot chick. The kid actors were also stylin’, which came as shock, bro, cuz usually dem young’uns suck it hard. There’s this one kid who’s all banged up and needs crutches and whatnot, but that kid is funny AF; there were even a few times where I was laughin’ so hard I almost squirted Mountain Dew Code Red out of my nose, bro. I laughed so hard, it was all like—BANGOW! At one point the dude sittin’ next to me was like—WHAAAAT! He turned to me, all surprised and whatnot, and I was like, “I know, right?” and then he was like, “Right?”

Basically, you can’t go wrong with this movie. The music was like—GAZANG! The girlies was poppin’. A few of dem hotties was like—KAZOW! The action was all—FLOMP! The story was like—TANG! The cinematography was downright—CARAAACK! And the production design was full-on—WHAZOW!

This movie punched me in my nuts, then mellowed me out like a breezy day on the beach with my best girl, my tunes, and some ice-cold Mountain Dew Code Red. So throw your money at the chick who works at the box office, like—Fladow! and demand your ticket to Shazam! Sure, the film may be thematically reductive, creatively bankrupt, uninspired philosophically, derivative of much more important films, lacking in voice and vision, and created solely to benefit from the ongoing popularity of superhero cinema that is completely devoid of artistic integrity in order to serve a faceless corporate master whose sinister intentions include, but are not limited to, world domination through the dumbing-down of the population through the propagation of numerous commercial entertainment properties—but it sure goes down easy with some nachos and a nice, tall Mountain Dew Code Red.

I give Shazam! a righteous fist bump, a bro hug, and 10 stars out of a possible ten.

(Shazam! is PG-13 for comic book violence, adult themes, some gun scenes where there’s lots of like—BLAM! and a few emotional scenes that make even grown men feel like—DAMN!)


Five More Misleading Movie Titles That Will Ruin Movie Night

Five More Misleading Movie Titles That Will Ruin Movie Night

By Frank Wellspring for

In the spirit of honesty, I will begin this article by admitting that I sometimes make the mistake of taking movie titles a bit too literally. However, that does not excuse studios and filmmakers from doing a poor job of naming their films. Ambiguity is the enemy when selecting a movie title. I mean, consider a title like Slumber Party Massacre—nothing ambiguous about that. And guess what features prominently in films like The Mist, The Fog, and The Stuff. Luckily, you don’t have to guess. Do you think a movie called Gremlins might be a creature feature? If you do, you’d be right. The Birds is actually about killer birds; Peeping Tom tells the tale of a psychotic voyeur; and Silent Night, Deadly Night is precisely what you think it would be. So why in the name of all that’s holy and pure do so many movies have titles that seem to exist only to baffle, confuse, or mislead? It just makes no sense, but people continue to do it; therefore, people like me will continue to call them out when they do it. So, here are five more movies (shout-out to fellow critic Clark Savage, who penned the initial list of five) with titles so misleading they’re bound to ruin Movie Night.

(1) Monster-in-Law (2005): As a lover of horror films, particularly creature features, this movie ranks among the most disappointing ever, based on the title alone, anyway. The story of a possessive mother trying to sabotage her son’s burgeoning relationship could’ve provided a fantastic springboard to cinematic thrills and chills. Unfortunately, Monster-in-Law isn’t scary at all—not even accidentally. Sure, the make-up effects are terrifying. Jennifer Lopez’s turn as a soulless, demonic, life-sucking she-creature is the stuff of nightmares. And Jane Fonda will make your skin crawl as an ancient bony-faced hag whose stare rivals Medusa’s in its power to turn those who gaze upon it to stone. But the presence of two scary monster-women ultimately isn’t enough to generate the requisite terror to give modern horror fans the heebie-jeebies.

(2) Saturday Night Fever (1977): This is a confusing film, thanks in no small part to its unfortunate title. The film focuses on the outbreak of a deadly virus—a virus that inevitably leads the poor souls who become infected to suffer from a condition known as Saturday night fever. According to the film, the virus spreads almost exclusively among young people. The most obvious symptoms of Saturday night fever are: the inability to speak in grammatically correct sentences and rhythmic spasmodic flailing of the limbs whenever an infected person is exposed to disco music. It is also arguable that Saturday night fever impacts the region of the brain responsible for fashion choices. Do not watch this film if you are expecting an engrossing medical thriller concerning the outbreak of an infectious disease thrust upon an unknowing population. The basic suspense/thriller plot points are all present, but the film’s execution is woefully inept, leaving the viewer with too many questions for the film to succeed at creating a significant measure of suspense. For example, the narrative never even bothers to explain the source of the virus, the Patient Zero, if you will. Although, to be fair, there are noticeable hints sprinkled throughout the film that subtly suggest this particular virus began with The Bee Gees.

(3) Juice (1992): This film is a bit of a mixed bag. Mostly, the film succeeds as an urban crime drama depicting the harsh realities of life for a group of young men growing up in a tough neighborhood, where life and death decisions are made on a daily basis, and the specter of Death is ever present. But then again, the film completely fails as a biography of O.J. Simpson, which is what the title would have you believe is the film’s true subject. Is it possible that this title was chosen to purposely trick Simpson’s fans into theaters? Possibly. It certainly isn’t beneath the Hollywood marketing machine to intentionally deceive the public. I mean, what’s next? Am I going to find out that the TV series Chuck isn’t about legendary rocker Chuck Berry?

(4) Rain Man (1988): I take no pleasure in saying this, but Rain Man is, without hesitation or hyperbole, the worst superhero film ever made. Dustin Hoffman stars as Raymond Babbitt, a man whose alter ego, Rain Man, does not—I repeat does NOT—have the ability to make it rain whenever he wants. But that’s just the beginning. Other than the ability to instantly count matchsticks that have fallen to the floor and to cheat at blackjack, there really isn’t anything all that impressive about this guy. And get this: There isn’t a villain anywhere to be seen in the entire movie. Rain Man just goes about his life, without any supervillains threatening to reveal his true identity or anything. Not one car chase. Not one explosion. Not one gun fight. What the hell, man?

(5) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958): This is an emotionally effective film that, in my opinion, eventually buckles under the weight of too much metaphor. Based on the title, you’d expect the film to work as a treatise on the mistreatment of animals, and that’s exactly what it is; however, this message is buried beneath layers and layers of muddled symbolism. While on the surface the story appears to be about alcoholism, a marriage under strain, and generations of family pride and secrets bubbling to the surface with disastrous results, in reality this is all just a thinly veiled metaphor about how leaving a kitty on a tin roof in extreme heat could be bad for the kitty’s little paws. Sure, the film can be heavy-handed at times, but that doesn’t make the message any less important. Cats really shouldn’t be left on hot tin roofs for any reason whatsoever. And yet, I just wonder if we really needed to go to such dramatic lengths to make such an obvious point.


Kingsman: The Golden Circle: The End is Nigh

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: The End is Nigh

Reviewed by Mick Gastineau for     

(Editor’s note: Film critic Mick Gastineau is known to lapse into prolonged periods of extreme despair and anxiety. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

Well … it was bound to happen eventually. Director Matthew Vaughn has screwed us again.

Remember back in 2014, when the obnoxiously loud, aggressively stupid bloodbath known as Kingsman: The Secret Service was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public? I know I can’t forget it. Remember the clichéd characters, the preposterous-yet-predictable story, and the relentlessly superfluous violence? I’ve tried everything from hypnotherapy to smacking myself in the head with a ball peen hammer to forget. Remember the cheap anal sex jokes and the objectification of women for even cheaper laughs? I’m sure my sisters do. Remember the incessant product placement and how insulted you were by it? Like, for example, the dinner scene in which Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth have McDonald’s food served to them on a gleaming platter, and then the different sandwiches are actually pointed out and named on camera. (I was surprised that Ronald McDonald himself didn’t have a cameo in this scene.) Remember that crap? Huh? Do ya? Well, unfortunately, those were the good old days, because, believe it or not, Vaughn and company are back with a sequel that manages to sink to even greater levels of crapitude.

This time the Kingsman spread their particular brand of idiocy in America, because, you see, in a narrative innovation worthy of Joyce or Thackeray, the Kingsman’s base of operations is blasted to bits by a criminal organization called—you guessed it—The Golden Circle. Once in the Land of Liberty, this band of morons with big guns joins forces with the American version of the Kingsman, an organization called—get ready—the Statesman. Isn’t that clever? But wait, that’s nothing. Check this out: the Americans have amazingly clever names. Halle Berry plays a character called Ginger Ale, Channing Tatum is Tequila, and Jeff Bridges is Champagne. I’m not kidding. Be on the lookout for Elijah Wood as Sex on the Beach, John Goodman as Bud Weiser, and Charlie Hunnam as Jack Daniels With a Splash of Coke and a Wedge of Lime in the upcoming product placement bonanza/sequel Kingsman 3: The Golden Arches.

After sitting through this marathon of good-looking people in expensive clothing slaughtering hordes of other people in a CG orgy of balletic stunt work featuring buckets and buckets of gore and copious amounts of product placement less subtle than a Super Bowl commercial, I wasn’t sure how exactly to go on with my life. I mean, what’s the point? If Kingsman: The Golden Circle exists, then surely God does not. Why did I bother going to college or exercising regularly or watching what I eat if, at any time, I could end up in a movie theater watching something like this? Is this some kind of punishment? Did I die in my sleep and this movie is now my personal hell? Was I Hitler in a previous life or something? I just don’t get it. After watching this movie, the only thought I have is: Why? Why is this happening to me? To movie audiences? To the world? What have we done to deserve this? And what in the name of all that’s Holy and Good can we do to stop this from ever happening again?

The terrifying truth is … I don’t know. But I do know this: This movie broke me. I haven’t eaten in three days. I’m wearing adult diapers—or diaper, I haven’t changed the first one yet. I can’t think of a reason why I should. To be clear, I’m not the only person who feels this way. The guy sitting next to me pulled out almost all of his hair. The woman sitting directly behind me tried to slit her wrists with her movie ticket and cried herself to sleep when she failed. I overheard another woman say, “How do I explain this to my children?” Sadly, her question went unanswered. The Catholic church down the block from the theater was deluged with scared, confused visitors from my screening within minutes of the film’s end. As for me, for the first time since I was a child, I wept. I wept openly in public until my ribcage ached and my eyes turned as red as Satan’s sack.

And now, somehow, I must find the strength to go on.

I’ve decided to move to Montana. Maybe I’ll find a little cabin somewhere quiet and remote, somewhere where Matthew Vaughn can never hurt me again, somewhere where clunky expositional dialogue and lazy product placement doesn’t exist. Ah, heck, maybe I won’t find what I’m looking for, but, dammit, you can’t hit homeruns if you never swing for the fences. I’ll spend my days in quiet solitude, just me and Mother Nature and my new dog, Old Blue. It’ll be tough for a while. But nothing worth doin’ isn’t tough at the outset. As for the rest of you … well … I wish I had something more positive to pass along to ya’. Guess you’re all just gonna have to get up each morning, put one foot in front of the other, and do your best to forget and to move forward. Always remember that Matthew Vaughn only has power over you if you let him have it. So don’t let him. You hear me! Don’t You Dare Let Him!

I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle a dejected shake of the head, and I mourn the death of the world I knew before this abomination let loose its wrath.

(Kingsman: The Golden Circle is rated R for adult language, sexual situations, graphic violence, and for making me try to kill myself by shoving popcorn up my nose while questioning the necessity of my existence.)

It (2017): A Review or Whatever

It (2017): A Review or Whatever

Reviewed by Janelle Palmer for

(Editor’s note: Janelle Palmer, a 17-year-old high school senior, is filling in for her mother, Janette, one of our resident film critics, who is currently recovering from a mild case of amoebic dysentery.)

Okay … so … anyway … I got stuck reviewing this movie because my mother’s sick or whatever, so just, ya’ know, bear with me and whatnot, ’cuz I haven’t reviewed a movie since I did The Shallows, like ten million years ago, so try not to be dicks about this, okay?

So, anyway … About five days ago my mother tells me that I have to review this clown movie or something called It. So I say fine, whatevs. But get this: my mother suggests that I read the novel they based the movie on before I see the movie, as, like, preparation or something. But the book is, like, a gazillion pages or something, so I was like, “No, thank you,” and my mom was all, “That’s not very professional” or something, and so I was like, “I’m not a professional, you are,” and then she was all, “I give up” and then she walked off in a huff. So I didn’t read that stupid book, which was written by that old guy who wrote that thing about the ugly chick with spooky powers who totally trashed the prom. I looked him up online. That dude’s written, like, a thousand books or something, including that one where there’s a creepy cemetery where, like, the animals bury their owners and whatnot … and the other one where the hotel makes people hit stuff with axes or something. Anyway, he writes a lot, so … Nerd Alert! Am I right?

So, anyway … It is about this evil clown thingy with gross hair that, like, totally hates kids and is super hungry and decides to, like, kill two birds with one stone and eat the kids that he hates so much. The clown thingy, btdubs, is called Pennywise, and for some reason he digs hangin’ out in the disgusting sewer. It turns out that Pennywise is an alien from some other country or something. I guess that’s really important. I mean, I think the whole “alien” thing is meant to be, like, some kind of metaphor about immigration or something. (See—I can think of cool, critic-y things to write, too, so suck it!)

The rest of the movie is about Pennywise totes screwing with this group of kids who refer to themselves as The Losers Club—which is the perfect name for this collection of kids, btdubs. I mean, they’re not very cool, they have zero—and I mean zero—fashion sense, and they ride around on bikes—bikes! I mean, why not just draw a big nerd target on your back already? I mean, ever hear of Uber or Lyft? How losery are the parents that brought these sad sacks into the world? I saw this movie with my friend Taylor, and she said that these kids are so uncool that she could actually feel herself getting less cool the longer she had to watch them. Preach on, sister. I can’t speak for most people, but I was totes rooting for Pennywise to eat these A-hole kids already so I could get over to Pinkberry for a smoothie before they closed—I know, I know, smoothies have, like, a ton of sugar in them and stuff, but it was my cheat day, so I’m allowed to have a G-D smoothie! Get off my back, already!

I’ve been told not to, like, give away the ending or reveal any spoilers or anything like that, so I won’t. But I will say that everybody dies—just kidding. I honestly don’t even know how the movie ends ’cuz I started talking with this lady who was sitting next to me who was wearing, like, the cutest top I’ve ever seen. Her name is Deandra, so … shout out to Deandra! She’s super cool. Love her. You should see her nails—per-fec-tion.

Okay, back to the movie. All in all, I guess I would say this movie gargles balls. I suppose if you like the idea of an ugly sewer clown terrorizing weird, bike-riding kids in the stupid ’80s, then It is gonna totes light your fire. But, if you don’t completely suck as a human being, you’ll find this movie as turdish as I do. So, in conclusion, clowns suck, kids are A-holes, sewers are gross, bikes are uncool, and Pinkberry rocks.

There … Happy now, Mom?

I give It one star out of a possible of, like, a gazillion stars. And the one star is for Deandra with the cute top, not for the stupid movie. Even the title of this movie blows serious chunks. How lame is It for a movie title? Why not call this movie The or An or To? Here’s the title I would’ve chosen: Why?

(It is rated R for, like, super-gross clown violence and bad language and stuff. The clown drool is gross enough to get an R all by itself. I mean, what’s the deal with the drooling? Ever hear of a bib? Or how about just closing your mouth, moron. You’re supposed to be this all-powerful being from another dimension and you can’t even go, like, five seconds without drooling all over the place. Pa-the-tic.)

Five Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know About Alien (1979)

Five Things You Couldn’t Possibly Know About Alien (1979)

By Henry Bernice for

(Editor’s note: Film critic/historian Henry Bernice has been struck by lightning seven times. Keep this in mind when reading the following article.)

In the almost four decades since its release, Ridley Scott’s Alien has become an indispensable classic for movie lovers around the globe. The film’s seamless melding of classic science fiction and horror narratives set a new standard for genre filmmaking and made virtually every monster movie that existed before it look silly by comparison. But, of course, film fans already know that. So, here are five things even the most ardent cineaste couldn’t possibly know about Alien.

(1) Though the role of Dallas, captain of the Nostromo, would eventually be played to perfection by Tom Skerritt, the part was initially offered to (and accepted by) legendary character actor William Bookshank. In fact, Bookshank worked for approximately six weeks on the film before his untimely death sent the production into a tailspin. Director Ridley Scott was so desperate to stay on schedule that he initially decided not to recast the role and continued on with Bookshank’s corpse. “For the first day or so, it actually seemed to be working,” Scott said in a 1980 interview for FilmMag. “Even in death, Bookshank brought a certain gravitas to the role that most living actors couldn’t accomplish on their best day.” Scott soldiered on with Bookshank’s rapidly deteriorating corpse for the next six weeks. “But eventually,” Scott said, “the dialogue scenes proved to be a bit too much of a challenge, even for the corpse of a great actor.” The production shut down for a week while casting sessions resumed. Soon Skerritt was brought on board and Bookshank’s scenes were reshot. (For the record, the cause of Bookshank’s demise was officially documented as an “accidental death by falling anvil,” but years of rumors suggesting that Bookshank had hidden a bizarre, possibly even sexual affinity for anvils has created serious doubt as to just how accidental this accident really was.)

(2) In the original script, the now-iconic “chestburster” scene, in which the alien (or Xenomorph) tears through John Hurt’s torso and emerges amid a tangle of bloody T-shirt and torn flesh before dashing away to the darkest corners of the Nostromo, was significantly different. As strange as it may seem now, the story initially called for the alien to be an executive officer on the Nostromo crew, and for John Hurt’s Kane character to burst out of the alien creature’s chest. Years later in an interview for Good Morning, Galveston, Sigourney Weaver would say: “We shot the scene several times with Kane bursting out of the alien’s chest and then running out of sight, screaming. But it just wasn’t working. It just wasn’t scary. We could all feel that something was just off.” After sharing her concerns with an equally troubled Scott, the film was promptly rewritten, allowing for Hurt and the alien to switch roles. “Thank God we made those changes,” said Scott. “I just don’t think the film would’ve been as scary had we stayed with the idea of John Hurt stalking and killing the Nostromo crew. Don’t get me wrong, John’s a great actor, but … come on!”

(3) Jerry Goldsmith’s haunting score was initially recorded by an orchestra consisting almost entirely of kazoos and slide whistles. “I felt the tone of the film should reflect a carnival-style atmosphere,” Goldsmith said at a Knights of Columbus Wacky Waffle Wednesday in 1982. “That’s why I decided to load the orchestra with 135 kazoo players, 21 slide whistle players, and a single tambourine. The sole tambourine was meant to represent the loneliness one experiences in the vastness of space, and the kazoos and slide whistles were meant to conjure images of circus clowns and shit. I’m really proud of that version of the score, but the so-called ‘producers’ didn’t appreciate what I was going for and decided to play it safe.” Oddly, Ridley Scott agreed completely with Goldsmith’s concept. “I totally dug the whole carnival theme,” Scott said in a Pork Futures Today article. “Carnivals remind me of clowns, and clowns are scary as balls.” Scott recently announced plans to release a new blu-ray version of Alien with the original carnival-themed score. “I think the hardcore fans will buy just about anything we slap together at this point, so why not make some more money on this bee-otch,” he said.

(4) Mercifully, a terribly ill-conceived product placement sequence was cut from the final edit of the film. “We shot a scene where the characters take a lunch break at McDonald’s after stumbling upon the space jockey,” Scott told a Furniture Times reporter. “We thought it might make a nice commentary on the long-reaching tentacles of commercialism to suggest that even on the remote planetoid of LV-426 you couldn’t escape the golden arches of McDonald’s. What the hell—it was the age of movie marketing run amok. Just look at the way Star Wars was selling merch, like action figures and all that crap. They had ties to McDonald’s, too, ya’ know. So don’t look at me like I just pooped in your ice cream. The idea wasn’t that crazy.”

(5) An early test screening of the film proved disastrous for the PR department of 20th Century Fox when a sizable collection of Xenomorphic Americans picketed outside the theater. “They were a real pain in the butt,” said Sigourney Weaver after six Michelob Ultras at a tractor pull outside of Waco, Texas in 1981. “I explained to them that the film wasn’t trying to suggest that all Xenomorphs are psychotic killers, just this one particular Xenomorph. But the protest leader just wasn’t willing to hear our side of the story. I know that things got ugly after I walked the red carpet. A few people were cocooned, a few more were forcibly implanted by facehuggers … but, hey, nothing ever goes as smoothly as you’d like. And nothing happened to anyone inside the theater that night, thank God. So, you know, overall it was mostly good stuff.”

So, there you have it, Alien fans. I hope you all learned something. See ya’ next time.

Annabelle: Creation is Really … um … Good?

Annabelle: Creation is Really … um … Good?

Reviewed by Adam Trolley Bing for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Adam Trolley Bing has admitted to not actually seeing Annabelle: Creation before posting the following review.)

Annabelle: Creation … Wow. I mean, where do I even begin? This is one of those movies where I really don’t want to say too much and give away anything important. That would be irresponsible criticism.

I will say that this movie is nothing if not professionally made. For example, the cinematography is extraordinary. The film was obviously shot with professional-grade cameras, the kind only true pros would bother to use. And boy does it pay off, because the movie is almost always in focus and every frame makes visual sense. Like, when the camera is pointing at a person or something really scary or a piece of furniture or something, you totally believe what you’re seeing on the screen. You just don’t see that kind of technical wizardry every day in Hollywood films.

And don’t even get me started on the sound design. This film is just jam-packed with all sorts of sounds. I consider myself a bit of a “sound aficionado,” so believe me when I say that the scope, diversity, and quality of sounds in this movie is absolutely mind blowing. Trust me, you’ll be black and blue from pinching yourself in disbelief at how realistic some of these sounds are. I can’t even remember how many times I said to myself “Oh yeah, I recognize that sound.” And if it’s realism you crave, wait until you see the costume design.

The women’s costumes in the film are astounding. They really look like the kind of stuff these particular characters would have in their closets. The same can pretty much be said for all the male characters as well. There is one male character in particular whose choice of pants really speaks volumes about who he is as a person, where he’s been, and where he wants to go. All of his hopes and dreams are right there on display in the face of his belt buckle, and the way in which the fabric fades a little near his pockets suggests an unfulfilled longing that hits me right in my gut even now, long after seeing the film. But let’s not forget that these amazing costumes are just empty vessels without talented actors to inhabit them and allow them to realize their full potential.

Luckily, this movie is defined by great performances. According to Wikipedia—I mean according to the credits, which I sat and watched in their entirety, the movie stars Stephanie Sigman as Sister Charlotte. And, oh, man, does she ever give a whopper of a performance. I’m sure nuns are going to see this and say “She totally nailed us.” And then there’s Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto as a married couple. Let me tell ya’, there isn’t one second of film where you don’t believe that these two are married. They play a married couple so well that I’d be shocked if their real-life spouses didn’t crap their pants out of sheer jealousy. Years from now, people will look back on these performances in history classes to study the way married people used to behave.

So … is Annabelle: Creation scary? I would have to say … uh … yeah, pretty much, sure. I mean, if you like atmospheric ghost stories with great acting, professional camera work, seamless editing, a believable sound design, and character-defining costumes, all set to a score that just really utilizes the perfect number of musical instruments, then Annabelle: Creation is probably for you. But what’s really fun about a movie like this is the debate that I’m sure people will be having in the days and weeks to come over the film’s various uses of all kinds of really interesting themes, motifs, and metaphors and whatnot.

For the record, I hope my analysis hasn’t gone too deep, and that I haven’t ruined the film for anyone. Any spoilers present in this review are completely accidental, I promise.

I give Annabelle: Creation 5 question marks (?????) out of a possible 5.

(Annabelle: Creation is rated R for any number of vague, adult-type things and situations that are not easily described but that people under 17 really shouldn’t see. I mean, the MPAA has a tough job, so who am I to question their criteria for rating a movie like this. Now, I can’t say for sure that I would have given this film an R, but my opinion doesn’t matter. Although, now that I think about it, I probably wouldn’t take my children to see this film. Of course, I don’t have children, but that’s hardly the fault of Annabelle: Creation or the MPAA.)

The Emoji Movie: Animated Poop Gets the Star Treatment–Finally!

The Emoji Movie: Animated Poop Gets the Star Treatment—Finally!

Reviewed by Thurston Chatwell for

(Editor’s note: Film critic Thurston Chatwell is a self-proclaimed pop culture expert concerning farts and poop. Keep this in mind when reading the following review.)

As a connoisseur of cinematic gastrointestinal distress, I can’t help but view Hollywood as a bit of a tease. Sure, there was that great campfire scene in Blazing Saddles in which a congregation of hirsute cowpokes, windblown and trail-worn from a long day on the range, relieve their bean-heavy bellies in a blistering symphony of shaky-legged bliss, as a sky of brilliant prairie stars twinkles above and a crackling campfire illuminates these pioneers of cinema in all their twisty-faced glory. Blazing Saddles set a pretty high bar, and let’s face it, the overwhelming majority of attempts by film and TV producers to recreate the magic of Mel Brooks’s legendary campfire crop dusting sequence have failed miserably. Memo to Hollywood Fat Cats: flatulent cowboys don’t happen every day.

Clearly the industry has underestimated the difficulty in bringing realistic flatulence and poopy to the screen. They seem to have no understanding of how delicate the process of depicting characters expelling carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane from their butts really is. Capturing the perfect facial expressions in the play of light and shadow as an actor recreates the farting experience is every cinematographer’s worst nightmare. And it’s also really, really difficult to perform. It’s common knowledge in Hollywood circles that many of the legends of acting have been known to avoid this particular challenge. There’s a reason why you’ve never seen Meryl Streep hunched over, sweating profusely, white-knuckling the back of a sofa, moaning in sweet agony to Jesus above as she spasmodically power blasts the poor lunchtime decisions she made at Taco Bell out of her backside while her skirt flaps violently in the chili-scented breeze. I mean, come on. She may be good, but she’s not that good.

At least Hollywood hasn’t completely given up. There’s that explosive-diarrhea-in-the-trashcan scene in Van Wilder, and, yeah, okay, there’s that pretty-girls-destroy-the-restroom scene in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Oh, and let’s not forget the lightning-quick glimpse we get in Sin City of that bowling-pin shaped floater in the toilet (the same toilet that Clive Owen’s Dwight character uses to give Benicio del Toro’s Jackie Boy character what is arguably the gnarliest swirlie in movie history). But these examples, like most modern fart/poop scenes, are really more gross than great. We haven’t really seen anything noteworthy since South Park treated us a few heapin’ helpins of Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo. But other than the rare Mr. Hankey appearance, the world of screen farts/poops has become a putrid, stinking, peanut -and corn-infused shell of its former self. I mean, where’s the passion? The artistry? The humanity?

Believe it or not, the answer lies in The Emoji Movie.

The film propounds to be a metaphor for being yourself and following your own path, regardless of what the world thinks about blah, blah, blah … None of that garbage really plays very well, and nobody cares to see a cinematic lecture about the importance of individuality in a time when critical thought is under attack. Come on, Hollywood. Get real. Movie tickets cost money. Let’s get to the poop, already.

The Poop emoji in The Emoji Movie is voiced by—get this—Sir Patrick Stewart, who is the perfect actor with the perfect voice to bring dignity and class back to the world of movie poopy. For true connoisseurs like yours truly, Stewart represents hope—that’s right HOPE. Casting this icon of the stage and screen to play Poop signifies with absolute clarity that the Powers That Be in Hollywood are taking poopy seriously, and that from this day forward the voice of the great Sir Patrick will reign supreme over all of Poopydom. Trust me, this performance is one for the ages. Sir Patrick achieves the seemingly impossible, as his voice imbues Poop with a sense of regality and majesty while simultaneously (and magically) keeping Poop grounded in the real world. Poop’s story is the human story. Poop seeks love and wants to be loved in return. Poop makes mistakes (God knows Poop can make a mess), but Poop also has the capacity to learn from his mistakes. His triumphs are our triumphs; his failures are our failures. Simply put, Poop IS all of us. And we humans are most assuredly Poop. Especially the people who made this movie.

I give The Emoji Movie two pizza slices, four winky faces, a few of those cupcakes with eyes and stuff.

(The Emoji Movie is rated PG for undermining thousands of years of human communication through the popularization of simplistic cartoon iconography that will likely stunt the intellectual growth of generations to come, creating an unbridgeable void between humans and their humanity that will slowly erode the fabric of decent society, turning people into drooling savages who engage in terrible acts of violence for sport, rendering the planet an uninhabitable hellscape and damning us all to an unknowable, terrifying future that can only end in the obliteration of our species. There are also a few fart jokes stuff like that.)