Movie: Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4

Yep. Cried. The damn toy movie made me cry again, but like…. really deep dark, complex tears. 😂 If you haven’t seen it….. Spoilers ahoy.

So in three we have this stupid moment where the toys are about to die when they realize they aren’t going to make it, we have this devastating interaction where they accept their fate and hold hands ready to die. I can’t THINK of the scene without tearing up. They can’t escape fate, so they comfort each other as they go to the great beyond.

Obviously they don’t die. They are saved. But god, the emotion…..

In this one…. we have three moments that are equally as complex and devastating. Well…. at least close.

Basic story, Bonnies new toy is lost, Woody feels useless and is trying to find his purpose by protecting Bonnie. At the same time we have this Evil Doll who wants to cut out Woodys Voice Box so she can fix hers and find her way to her dream kid.

So the first moment is when The Evil Doll, kidnaps Forky, Bonnies new friend, and threatens to not give him back to Woody if Woody doesn’t give up his voice box. Woody tried to save Forky, and ultimately failed. Their is nothing he can do…. he’s completely lost and defeated. Instead of turning around…. instead of giving up, Woody steps up, again accepts his possible demise, and lets The Evil Doll, Gabby Gabby, RIP HIM OPEN AMD TEAR OUT HIS VOICE BOX!!!! Fucking hell was it a dark scene. Woody literally stepped up and said, “go ahead, kill me for my kid”.

Dude. That scene fucked me up.

The next scene that got me, was when, after mutilating Woody, Gabby Gabby presents herself to her dream kid….. and the kid spurns her, tossing her aside. You watch Gabby Gabby, laying alone in a bin, knowing she just lost her only shot at happiness, and is going to be alone forever…. and the full weight of what she did slowly dawns on her, just like Last House in the Left, we have this incredibly complex moment where Gabby Gabby realizes she’s the villain of the story…

and just when shes given up, woody forgives her. He passes up a chance to get back to Bonnie so that he can Help Gabby Gabby. Again, Woody sacrifices himself for someone else.

The “final” gut wrenching moment…. they’ve almost made it back to Bonnie, but Gabby Gabby sees a little lost girl standing alone by herself, lost and separated from her family. Gabby Gabby decides not to go to Bonnie, instead she redeems herself and helps this little list Girl…. and yet again Woods risks it all to help Gabby Gabby connect with this new little girl. This little girl though…. Pixar did an amazing job making this little girl look so scared and lost. I tested up just watching her.

Why are these movies so complex? Beyond the above mentioned points, the whole story was this complex journey through Woodys psyche as he comes to terms with his place in the universe and the fact that he’s nowhere near as important to Bonnie as he was to Andy.

Damn you Toy Story for making me feel….

D&D Campaign Opening.

This is the opening to the latest session of a D&D campaign I’m currently running. I thought it came out good enough to share. Enjoy
You aren’t quite sure when, but at some point during the night, maybe due to the stress of almost drowning or the exhaustion from the brutal battle with the basilisks, as you sit around the campfire working over the day and trying to decide who will take what watch, one by one your eyes grow heavy and the camp goes quiet as sleep gently over takes you.


You don’t think you’ve been asleep long when you hear it. Drip. Drip. Drip. Water dripping in the distance softly waking you like a mother’s hand on a child’s shoulder. You should be worried, but you aren’t…. Yet.
Right now you find the sound…. comforting. Inviting.
You smile as you sit, completely unphased by the change in your surroundings. Wary of the tower below, You decided to sleep at the top, under the stars, but now…. Now you’re in the dark. A deep dark cave illuminated by a dull blue glow that almost seems to come from the air itself.
Your body is exhausted, and fights back against you, but you manage to force your way to your feet. The warm glow of peace inside you begins to fade as you search your surroundings and realize you are alone. Your companions have disappeared in the night.
Like a hand urging you forward, a cold coppery breeze dances around you, and you involuntary start walking forward towards the dripping water in front of you.
Five steps? Ten steps? A hundred? A thousand? You don’t know. Time has lost all meaning. A dream. You realize you must be dreaming as the cave walls seem to melt into the darkness.
It’s the only explanation that makes sense to your exhausted mind.
As you continue forward, the floor becomes wet. Water is slowing rising around you. First a puddle. Then the water rises up over the sole of your boot. Soon it’s up to your knee, but you still keep moving.
You begin to panic slightly, but you have to keep going towards the drip. You need to see where it’s coming from. The water is now waste deep and reflects back up at you like a dark mirror. You can feel your heart pounding in your ears, a steady beat that begins to drown out your surroundings.
Finally you reach it. The steady drip falling from the darkness above. Sweat seeps from your forehead as you reach your hand out, your heart now pounding so hard it actually hurts. You want to run. Panic is over taking you, but still you reach your hand out into the drip…
And as you bring it back you realize it’s not water…you watch as little red droplets of blood continue to splatter across your hand. You reach down into the water beneath you and bring your hand out, the blood runs through you fingers, it’s not water at all. You are wading through a sea of blood.
Now more then ever you are convinces it’s a dream, but it feels so real. you start to screAm, but you can’t hear it. All you can hear is the drip… drip… drip… and the pounding of your own heart shaking your entire body.
Just as your about to turn and run, just as the pounding becomes to much, you see him. A shape floating just underneath the surface… watching you..
You start to run, but you can’t, the water, you refuse to accept that it’s anything but that, is so thick it’s holding you back. It’s suddenly like moving through molasses! More than that! It’s alive! The water…. blood….. the water has become alive! It’s teaching for you! Hands coming out of the darkness grabbing you! Pulling you under!
It seeks into your mouth, through your eyes! You taste it in your mouth. You feel it running up your nose. This is it. This is how you die. You want to scream but as you open your mouth more blood, as the darkness over takes you, as you sink into it’s death, the light fades and you are alone with the pounding of your own heart.
The pounding! The pounding….
Only… its not coming from you, you realize with a start as you sit up, covered in sweat, your body shacking. You are back at the tower, the others are rising up around you, all of them just as shaken and confused as you are. You exchange a worried, almost embarrassed glance.
It’s not your heart pounding, it’s drums. Drums pounding in the night. All Around you, the jungle is alive with torches. The bridges have been set on fire and are falling into the valley below. You realize you are trapped on the tower as you stand up and see a thousand small shapes moving on the ridge, watching you, hunting you.

Movie: Found Footage Friday?

Found footage Friday? Is that a thing or did I just make it up as I started trying? Either way decided to visit, or revisit some found footage today that isn’t the Blair Witch! So here you go, a small write up for two found footage films! One is a new watch the other is a revisit.

Movie: Lake Mungo

Image result for Lake Mungo movie poster

Started the day with a first time viewing of Lake Mungo. It was definitely slow burn.  The movie creeped along, but not in a bad way.

Lake Mungo is a mockumentary about a family dealing with the loss of their daughter Alice. A ghostly apparition resembling Alice starts to appear and the family has to track down the mystery of her life. It’s not a murder mystery, but it has Twinges of Twin Peaks to the daughters past.

It’s a creepy little movie. Don’t go into it expecting a big mystery or a scare a minute, instead it’s just a grieving family dealing with some weird stuff. The horror elements take a back seat to the family’s grief.

Overall I like it.

Movie: The Last Broadcast

Image result for The Last Broadcast movie poster

For my second found footage of the day, I’m revisiting The Last Broadcast. The message boards were crazy when Blair Witch came out. There were three camps, “Blair witch was scary”, “Blair Witch wasn’t scary” and “Blair Witch ripped off the Last Broadcast”. You couldn’t talk about The Blair Witch without someone showing up and yelling about the Last Broadcast. Blair Witch was everywhere and took its place in horror history while Last Broadcast was kind of forgotten.

I don’t know the details of it all. I know the Blair Witch people claim they didn’t rip off Last Broadcast, but who knows. What I do know is that in my opinion, Blair Witch was the better movie.

Last Broadcast has a lot of issues. Blair Witch just presents the footage, while Last Broadcast takes an active mockumentary approach. It’s not a bad approach, but the voice over is so low and plodding that it really slows down the movie in a bad way. Plus the actors here aren’t nearly as good as the ones in Blair Witch.

Now….. with how harsh i was on the movie, you’d thing that i would have given it a lower rating, the thing is though… I actually end up rather enjoying the Last Broadcast. It’s all in the ending. It ends in such a way that for me it really redeems the rest of the movie. The rough editing and the bad acting in the voice over actually makes sense when you see the ending.

So not a rough film with a great ending.

Movie: Carrie (1976)

Carrie (1979)

Image result for Carrie 1979"

I started to write a quick facebook post about Carrie, but so many thoughts and emotions started to bubble up through the cracks, that I wanted to sit down and write it all out. I know so much has been said about this movie, what more can be said. But just because it’s been said before, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said again, and besides, I haven’t blogged in so long, I really need to get back in the habit.

And who knows, maybe I’ll say something new that you haven’t heard before.

So here goes, my thoughts on the 1979 Brian De Palma Classic Carrie, based on the debut novel by Stephen King.

As I write this, one of the sweetest scenes in the entire movie is happening in front of me that leads to perhaps my favorite line in the movie. Tommy asks Carrie to dance, and she refuses. After a nice scene between Carrie and the Coach, Tommy finally gets her to relent and break out of her shell and get up and dance with him. A truly beautifully shot scene follows as the two of them dance toghter, talking the whole time. The camera spins around them, mimicking the thoughts and emotions swirling in Carries head.

Slowly he coaxes her forward, opening her up as he teaches her to dance. A sadness passes over Carrie as she asks the question, she’s been wanting to ask but dreads the answer to. In her heart, she still worries that her mother was right, and this was all a joke. “Why am I here?” She asks. Playfully he responds, and this time its her turn to coax him out of his shell. A playful exchange between the two of them, that ultimately leads the truth.

Tommy wasn’t 100% sure why he asked her either. Finally, though, he gives it some thought, and after a sigh he recalls an earlier scene in the film, in their high school English class, where we first establish that Tommy might not be the empty-headed jock you would expect him to be. He smiles and says one of my favorite lines in the movie, so simple and so sweet, and so honest.

“Because you liked my Poem”.

Image result for Carrie 1979"

The ending of Carrie over shadows the movie that came before it. When you talk about Carrie, most people jump to the bucket of blood, the infamous shower scene, or the Prom itself. A few lines come to mind, Dirty Pillows, “They’re all going to laugh at you”. Maybe the infamous jump scare at the end. For me, all of that, while good, is the least interesting part of Carrie. I can almost check out when we finally get to the bucket of blood.

Carrie is a movie about a lot of things and covers a lot of issues. Not the least of them being Bullying and what it’s like to be a teenage girl in the corpse grinder that is high school. Carrie is at heart, a tragedy about the relationship between Carrie and her Mother.

More so though, deeper than that, Carrie is a tragedy about Mental Illness and the dangers of when that illness goes untreated. Carrie is Carrie, and the movie ends the way it does, because Carries mom is sick and was never took the time to heal.

The movie begins with a horrifically famous scene that takes place in the High School Girls Locker Room Shower. I’m sure you know the scene. It’s horrific and heartbreaking. I cry every single time I watch that scene. The raw realism and venom in that scene is sickening. Before the blood begins to flow, it’s filmed so soft and lovingly, and then it changes to punctuate Carries horror.

The fall out to that scene though, the first scene with her mother. It’s so telling and sets up so much. Carrie doesn’t tell her mother what happened. She keeps it to herself. Her mother only knows because Carries Teacher calls and tell her. Carrie didn’t tell her, because she didn’t feel safe. The one person in the world she should be able to trust above everyone else, she doesn’t tell because she doesn’t trust how her response.

She knows how the conversation with her mother is going to go.

Image result for Carrie 1979 sissy spacek and piper laurie"

When her mother hangs up the phone, she proves her right, she proves that Carrie shouldn’t trust her. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are so amazing playing off each other. Both of them are excellent actors and are only made better by playing off of each other.

Carrie is in tears, on her knees begging her mother, pleading with her mother, at that moment Sissy doesn’t feel like an actress. You can feel her loss, and her sadness, radiating off her as she begs her mother to tell her why she didn’t warn her. Why she didn’t prepare her. Why the one person in the world that should, no matter what, be on her side, didn’t help her.

Instead of helping her, Mrs White, played so deftly by Piper, looks down on her with such disgust and literally locks her away in a closet with her “Sin” so she can “learn her lesson”. The scene is, and this is a word I’ll probably use a lot here, is heartbreaking. Carrie’s begging her mother for help, and her mother is instead quoting bible verses at her and locking her away.

Instead of love, her mother spat on her.

Image result for Carrie 1979 sissy spacek and piper laurie"

From moment one, you know that Margaret White is not in her right mind. Piper plays her with a tragic sadness that stems from an illness deep inside her. When you first see her at the Snell residence, trying to proselytize to Sue’s mom, you know this isn’t a woman who is dealing with a full deck. She’s a woman who was hurt so bad, that it broke her. She uses religion like a weapon to cut everyone who ever hurt her. To cut everyone she feels is beneath her.

I’m not blaming Mrs. White. She’s as much of a Victim as Carrie is. Something happened that broke her. Something happened in her life, that turned her into who she became. At some point some unnamed darkness creeped into her soul and stayed there, poisoning her.

Margaret White is a deeply troubled person. She’s suffering from obvious mental illness that she never got treated. That she never sought help for. So, as people in that situation do, she turned it on the only person she could. She turned it on her daughter Carrie. Her sickness turned Carrie into who she was. She created a tinder box that was set alight by the cruelty of the kids around her.

My absolute favorite scene between Carrie and her mother is when Carrie tells her mom that Tommy asked her to the prom. Unsurprisingly, Mrs. White doesn’t take it well. They have an argument, and in an effort to dismiss Carrie, Mrs. White gets up to close the window. Carrie uses her powers and slams all the windows in the closed.

It’s such a simple scene, but it shows so much, and it’s all done through Sissy Spaceks acting. The camera cuts to Carrie who is leaning on the counter, peering at her mother in the kitchen. There is a sadness on her face. At this moment, she pities her mother. She sees something in her mother that Mrs. White was never able to see on her own, she recognizes her mother’s sickness and her inability to change. But Carrie also shows that she has a strength that her mother didn’t. Carrie shows that if it wasn’t for the bully’s at school, she does have the power to get past her trauma.

At this moment you know that if it was for Chris and her Friends, Carrie would probably be okay. She’s strong, she makes friends at the Prom, she still shows her mother love. It won’t be an easy trek, but she’s on her way to being healthy, and she’s hopeful that she might be able to help her mom as well.

Image result for Carrie 1979 sissy spacek and piper laurie"

Sadly, again, this is a tragedy and it was not meant to be. Instead Chris and her friends step up and we get the famous pig bloods scene and the aftermath that follows. The real tragedy of this, is that her mother was right. Her abuser, who told her that she couldn’t’ make it, who told her she was alone, was right.

“they’re all going to laugh at you”, and they did.

They all laughed her, and she turns to the only person she can. Her Mother. Her abuser and pays the price. Instead of responding with love, Margaret White does the only think she knows how to do. She picks up religion and uses it as weapon driving all her pain and anguish into Carries back.

But was she right? No matter what their motivation, Carrie is not a movie without good guys. People are on Carries side. The coach, Sue, Tommy, she even makes friends at the dance who respond to her with more kindness than she probably saw in her entire high school career.

I don’t’ know if I would call Sue and the coach good guys though. I think a case can be made. I don’t think either of them are bad per say, I just don’t know if they are good. Neither one of them are really motivated by altruism. The bullying of Carrie is obviously nothing new. This is something that has been going on for years. Both Sue and Miss Collins are not reacting because they are “Good Guys” they are helping out of Guilt. Miss Collins flat out tells the principal that she wanted to hit Carrie to. She’s taking her anger out from Carrie and herself on Chris and the other girls.

Image result for Carrie 1979"

Sue is essentially doing the same thing. She’s reacting out of guilt. I think an argument could be made for Sue, that I started out as guilt, but her motivation became purer as the movie went on. Maybe the incident in the shower was eye opening and is really concerned about Carrie and her happiness. I don’t really know.

The true hero of the film, the “Greatest American Hero” of the film if you will, is actually William Katt as Tommy. Okay, so I absolutely love William Katt, so I may be biased, Greatest American Hero was a very important show for young me, but I truly think Tommy is a good guy. He’s reluctant at first when Sue asks him to take Carrie to Prom but ultimately, he goes with it, and why?

“Because you Liked my Poem.”

But, because this is a tragedy, and as happens in a tragedy, the good guy pays for being good a good guy and it all ends in tears.

Brian De Palma is an excellent director, Scarface, Untouchables, Phantom of the Paradise, but in my opinion, this is his masterpiece. Carrie is a brilliant film and wouldn’t’ be possible without Stephen King. I’m not going to do anything crazy and say this was his best book or anything but being his first book it’s such a raw and innocent story. He didn’t build a plot with Carrie instead he bled it onto the page, and I love every minute of it.

Image result for Carrie 1979 sissy spacek"

Film: Chopping Mall

Wow… It’s been a bit hasn’t it? I need to work on that don’t I! Work and life have been interfering with my ability to write as of late, and I’ve been forced to make a hard decision on my next book. As much as I like and want to finish the last story, I just don’t think I can. I haven’t been able to break it’s back. I already have my 20 story goal, and I’ve given each one the final edit. I just wanted to put that last feather in the books cap. But it isn’t going to happen. I need to accept that and put the book out as is. So that’s the plan. I’m going to start putting it together so I can hopefully get the book out by thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

For now though….

Chopping Mall (1986) Directed by Jim WynorskiMall 1.jpg

“Hey Babe, It is Babe isn’t it?”

Everybody has a happy place, where they go to when they need to feel good. Mine is all the way back in 1986 at the Chopping Mall. I don’t know what it is, but this movie is like comfort food for my soul. Nothing bad can happen to me while I’m watching Chopping Mall. All my negative thoughts just melt away and for about an hour and sixteen minutes, life feels pretty damn good. The name Jim Wynorski, and the word Quality don’t naturally go together, but damn does it work here. Perfect storm of location, effects, 80’s smut, and cast to create the perfect killer Robot movie. Seriously. Name a better one, I Dare you. You can’t. Terminator? Never heard of it.

Mall 4.jpg

“You smell like Peperoni…. I like… Peperoni”

I absolutely adore Barbara Crampton in everything she’s done, but I think this is my favorite part she’s played. She so cute and playful here. I don’t know for sure, but I always imagine that her personality before the shit hits the fan is probably closer to the real Barbara. (It’s my fantasy, don’t burst my bubble!) Plus, I love Kellie Maroney as well, and they play off each other so well. I wish they had worked together again. I would have loved to have watched a spin off movie of the two of them hanging out at the Pizza shop. The rest of the cast is pretty amazing as well. Some great Cameos. A fantastic Dick Miller appearance, Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel reprising their parts from Eating Raoul. Gerrit Graham! Who doesn’t love Gerrit Graham! I know I’m glossing over some fantastic cast here, but the film has so many winners and they all do a great job.Mall 3.1.jpg

The Mall itself is just as much of a character as any of the actors. The world Famous Sherman Oaks Galleria. Sherman Oaks Galleria was in so many 80’s movies, it’s the perfect 80’s mall. Valley Girl, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Night of the Comet, Commando, Phantom of the Mall: Erics Revenge! I could go on. It’s an iconic 80’s location. Too bad we’d need the time machine from Back to the Future 2 to visit it!

“Thank you, Have a Nice Day!”

Before I finish expressing my love of Chopping Mall, let me tell you a rare nice and family friendly Jim Wynorski story. Several years ago, when my youngest Emily was really young, she asked if I had any Killer Robot movies… Needless to say, I was very proud of my 4-6 year old that day. I immediately pulled out Chopping Mall and she loved it. She had a ton of fun with it. Flash forward a year or so and Jim was at Cinema Wasteland. I told him that story and he laughed, so when he signed my autograph he wrote at the bottom “and Emily too!”

Is Chopping Mall the best horror movie to come out in the 80’s? No. No it really isn’t. But since when has best and Favorite ever had to anything to do with each other?

My Perfect 80’s Happy Place Double Feature: Chopping Mall and Cheerleader Camp

Mall 2.jpg

Movie: Zombie High

I know I keep saying this, but I really am almost done with my second book. The stress of life is making it really super hard to write and my last story is fighting back and doesn’t want to get finished. But i’ll beat it into submission and finish the story. In the mean time, here is a quick write up on 1987’s Zombie High!

 

Zombie High.jpg

If I ever get the electric chair, and get one final request, it will be to watch Zombie High one last time before I die… That way my last hour and a half seems to last for FUCKING EVER. Supposedly this is a Horror Comedy. It has some funny lines, and some cute moments, but most of the film is boring. Multiple characters and storylines introduced with no pay off. Long stretches of nothing happening except flat dialogue scenes that lead nowhere. Rough movie. Maybe if I had a crowd? But I really don’t think so.

Plus… Not only does it not have any zombies, it doesn’t even take place in a high school! Virginia Madsen plays a college student who gets accepted to a very exclusive school college. One by one the students start disappearing and being replaced with Stepford Versions of themselves. Most of the disappearances happen off screen with no set up what so ever. The movie builds no tension what so ever.

At least we have Sherilynn Fenn. I can put up with just about anything if you give me some adorable Sherilynn Fenn Acting.

I try to only post positive talks, but I don’t know… This one felt like it was urging me to talk about it.