Children of the Corn (1984)

 

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Yes, yes…I KNOW they remade Children of the Corn several years ago…but WHY would I watch THAT when I can torture my kids with the original?

The kids and I had a lively discussion as to whether Isaac or Malachi was creepier. I was steadfastly on team Isaac, because he talked like a Televangelist and clearly had the face of an old man (duh, the actor was a very short adult), but the kids said Malachi, mostly because of the ginger mullet. Even my husband piped up for team Malachi, claiming that Malachi was the origin of claim that gingers have no soul. Isaac wore that scary ass hat, like the preacher in Poltergeist 2…Isaac also rose from the dead after his ride on the rocket powered corn crucifix.

I forgot about the rocket powered corn crucifix…that is my favorite part!

My least favorite part? I was super scared by the tunneling under the dirt when I was a kid…that scared the bejeesus out of me and it STILL raises goosebumps when I see it.

Not only does Amazon Prime Movies have the original to watch, but ALL of the sequels…I don’t think I can handle all that corn.

Midsommar

 

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Of all the casualties of COVID-19, one of the most painful losses has been my desire to write…at the very moment I’ve been watching more films than any point in at least the past decade, I lost all desire to write about them. Part of the issue was that I haven’t been watching much of substance…but Midsommar changed all of that.

There is SO MUCH to unpack in Midsommar. It’s not your average “scary movie” – in fact, it’s not scary at all. It’s more like a trip to IKEA on mushrooms….if you’re not in the right state of mind when you start, you’re gonna have a bad time. (The same is true about shrooms and IKEA each on their own, I guess?) “Suspenseful” is a better description, because with every Swedish atrocity performed, you are incredulous and wondering how far they will go. There’s definitely some gore, but the gore isn’t what will shock you. For example, my kids were far more grossed out by the pube pot pie, than by the blood eagle.

I will point out that every time I said that “Christian is a shitty boyfriend,” my husband responded that all the characters are shitty and unlikeable. That may be true…but Christian is extra shitty.

By the end…I was straight up cackling (just like you, Andrew Delaney). Maybe it’s my dark sense of humor…or maybe it’s that I’m about 1/4 Swedish? Or maybe it’s because I understood Dani’s struggle? It’s hard to be surrounded with people who don’t “hold” you. I feel like my college relationship was a lot like Dani’s…too bad we went to Amsterdam instead of Harga.

So…this is obviously not a very long or a very complete review…baby steps.

The kids really liked it, I think. My daughter kept saying, “This movie is weird,” but she didn’t give up on watching. They are demanding Hereditary next…I cannot say no to sampling more Ari Aster. Also, a shout-out to Eli Roth’s History of Horror – his show has given the kids a horror watch list a mile long. I started them on Cabin Fever and they were laughing and screaming. My son is wanting to go straight to the hard stuff – Audition, etc…but again, baby steps…

Red State

I finally watched a good horror movie! One that wasn’t on SyFy! Aren’t you proud of me?

As big of a Kevin Smith fan as I am, I can’t believe that it took me so long to get around to watching it. That leaves me with just Jersey Girl (not likely) and Cop Out (which I watched half of and forgot to finish) to watch. Since I’ve had kids, it’s like I have a 2-3 year delay on most movies I want to watch, unless either the kids or my husband REALLY want to see it. Even though my BFF had already watched Red State without me, she was happy to watch it again to humor me…

Smith took a page from the Tarantino playbook – there are absolutely no redeeming characters in the entire film. Of course you’re rooting against the Coopers, but not because you’re rooting FOR the kids or ATF Agents. You’re rooting against the Coopers because their values are fucked up, but the kids and the ATF Agents are fucked up, too – just not as fucked up as the Coopers. That’s where the real horror lies…not in dumb kids getting into a deadly situation because of their dicks, or not even in a wicked sort of Christian evangelicism in which luring and murdering “sinners” is seen as “God’s work”, but in all of them (and us, by extension) living under a government with a “leave no witnesses” ethos. That, my friends, is the world we are living in NOW and it’s not a result of 9/11. Remember Waco?

Michael Parks KILLED it as Fred Phelps-like Pastor Abin Cooper. Michael Parks has been around a long time, but has gained a following in the past few decades as Tarantino and Rodriguez have added him to their stable of regulars. I knew him as Jean Renault in Twin Peaks, but also from his records. My dad had a Michael Parks record – Closing the Gap. I guess he was a fan of Along Came Bronson? Michael Parks actually put out a record of the songs he sang in Red State. I’m a soundtrack girl, but that is not going on my wish list anytime soon.

Kevin Smith plays by his own rules. Finally disenchanted with the mechanics of Hollywood distribution, Smith bypassed them all and distributed the film himself….and it worked. He made a fine film that his patrons, the Weinsteins, passed on – and got it directly into the homes of his fans via the internet and On Demand. And now he’s gonna make Clerks III. Not that it won’t be funny as fuck, but I’d rather see more of his horror at my house, than Jay and Silent Bob in the theater. Just sayin’.

Camp Hell

WARNING – teenagers dry humping in the forest can summon demons.

That’s right…those poor teenagers didn’t even get to have sex. They barely got to second base and things went to shit.

What the pastor (Bruce Davison sure is busy these days!) in the film calls “demonic oppression” seems to be the symptoms of being a teenager. As far as I can tell, ALL teenagers are suffering from “demonic oppression.” As a matter of fact, I’m a grown ass woman and I might be suffering from “demonic oppression.” I guess dry humping my husband in the woods wouldn’t work, since we’re married and all. Fuck…how can I go about stirring up some demons in the wooded area behind my house? Maybe if I play some devil music really, really loud…

If I was Jesse Eisenberg, I would be pissed off about being used to market this movie, too. He was in only in the film for a grand total of 2 minutes. Those 2 minutes did not make any sense, either.

Wanna hear the kicker? As the film ends, the audience is informed that this film was “Based on True Events.” After a gigglesnort, I did some googling and found that the director based it on the fucked up super-Catholic summer camp he was forced to attend as a child. I gigglesnort no more. I initially had no idea if the maker of the film was serious or not when he made this film, but after reading that, I can see that he was as serious as a fucking heart attack. I have no doubt that fucked up things happened at that summer camp. I only went to church camp once, but since I was raised Episcopal, it was pretty mild. The most torturous thing that I remember was being made to watch The Hiding Place without a potty break. Oh, and this kid named Bill trying to get us to smoke pine needles. I consider myself pretty lucky that lip-syncing to Tiffany was the most horrifying thing that I remember about church camp. Reading that interview makes me understand the film a bit more, but unfortunately, it doesn’t make the film any less boring either.

 

Black Death

As far as movies featuring giant underarm pustules go, this one is pretty good. I can’t recommend watching while eating lunch, or anywhere near your next planned meal. Nor would I say go out and rent this one for your next romantic evening. However, if you’re in the mood for some good ole hack-n-slash bathed in the light of Dark Age Christianity, well then, you’re in luck.

The year is 1348 and the first wave of the Black Death, AKA the Bubonic Plague, has swept across the Western world. Rome’s majesty is a distant memory and the Renaissance is centuries away. In their place is a dreary, disease-filled world where normal folks burn witches, iron-maiden necromancers, and — when things are slower — look for a convenient toe to pinch off with a pair of crude pliers.

Sean Bean stars in the same role he’s been perfecting since he tried to take the One Ring from Frodo. This time he’s got Jesus on his side. Not baby Jesus, or your grandmother’s Jesus, but the gaunt and bloody Jesus hanging from a Roman cross. The Jesus that doesn’t believe in the Easter Bunny, and thinks Santa is a fat man with frost-bite. But the Beanster loves Him, and wants nothing more in life than to stick a sword in someone and call it holy.

The old-school battles in this film are on the small scale, a couple dozen guys duking it out in the woods. As opposed to say, the opening battle in Gladiator, or the same Romans vs. Celts in Centurion. But where they lack in numbers, the battles make up for in realistic –sort of– gore. The Black Death is all about Englishman on Englishman violence, or Englishman on Englishwoman violence. There’s no sex to speak of, but plenty of wading through swamps, and tying chicks to bonfire kindling, which seems to be about as good as a burly man of God could expect back then.

There are hints of magic, but more of the herb and poultice variety. All the talk of demons and necromancers is really more of an allusion to the ignorance and fear of the day. This is a good thing though, as the mood and the grit of plague stricken England is plenty to carry the film.

Eddie Redmayne also stars as a Name of the Rose style monk, hopelessly sinning every chance he can get with some strumpet from the Monastery. At least this is what we assume, on camera we see a few hugs, but none of the good stuff that must be going on sometime between vespers and lauds (you know, at night). But all that’s left to our imagination. We do get to see him stick her with something, but it’s not what you think.

The rest of the witch-hunters are a well-chosen bunch of charismatic English-looking dudes. John Lynch, whom you’ll remember from — uh never mind, you won’t remember him from anything — convincingly sports a Prince Valiant do, and steals most shots he’s in – his sad puppy dog eyes helping considerably. He’s also our film’s narrator, which I didn’t figure out till the end. David Warner plays the Abbot, whom I prefer to remember as Satan from Time Bandits. Carice van Houten, a German actress, performs well as the godless villainess. Performances and production values are high throughout, and Dark Age England is convincingly portrayed by the German countryside where it was filmed.

I found the film perversely cheerful in light of our current political turmoil in Washington. Because hey, Grandma might not get her social security check on time, but at least she’s not covered in giant bleeding pustules.

So yeah, Black Death is a solid 3 Bobber, with the caveat that you might not like it if you’re a pussy, or if you have one.

 

The Golden Compass

You’d think I would be standing in line to see a movie that supposedly promotes atheism in children and is condemned by the Catholic Church.

The problem with the Golden Compass is that it tries so hard to not piss anyone off and be a family film that it totally misses the point of the material. To be fair, I’ve never read the source materials – His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (it’s on my To Do List). But it’s still pretty obvious that the film is watered down. The allegory is so vague that I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why the Catholic Church would even care – until I started doing some research on the press surrounding the film’s release. It turns out that the film was boycotted not because of its actual content, but because it might lead children to read the strongly atheistic series of books. That’s fucking retarded. That’s like saying that kids reading the Harry Potter books are at danger of becoming wizards – oh wait, they DO say that. Why can’t they come out against that Twilight bullshit?

Take away the supposed controversy and hidden meanings in the material, and you’re left with a surprisingly violent, surprisingly boring family film. Outside of Nicole Kidman’s casting as the most evil nemesis since the Wicked Witch of the West, the rest of the cast was nothing to write home about. Casting Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee in every fantasy film that comes down the pipe is getting old and tired. The action scenes were a snooze…except for the FUCKING POLAR BEAR FIGHT. It was so fucked up that I had to rewind it and watch the end again. “Did that polar bear just do what I think he did?” I’ll never be able to drink Coca-Cola again.

  

Constantine

Ted’s Bogus Journey, Part Deux.

When the world needs saving – who else are you gonna call, but Keanu Reeves? I’ve lost count of all the different ways that he’s saved the world, but in Constantine, he saves the world from the son of Satan. At least that’s what I think happened – I kept finding myself confused by all the religious mumbo jumbo and visits to Hell. Having never read the Hellblazer comics, my only experience with John Constantine was via the Sandman comics – and that was so long ago that I can’t even remember what he did in them. I think he was some kind of supernatural private investigator?

As I was watching Constantine, I found myself mulling over the details that my ex would have squealed over. It’s gotta be because – as a citizen of the Sandman universe – Constantine is indelibly linked to that rat bastard. Oh, I’ve watched plenty of movies over the last 7 years that he would have liked or loved and I don’t recall ever thinking of him while watching a new movie – I was almost disconcerted by the fact that my brain was picking out details he would have liked or hated. Or was I disconcerted by the fact that I wasn’t coupling my thoughts of him with the usual extreme bitterness? All I felt was curiousity about whether he liked the movie or not (probably not)…but I’m also comfortable with the fact that I’ll never have to know.

Sometimes, I get hypnotized by Rachel Weisz’s eyebrows. They’re big and asymmetrical. From the corner of my eye, I get the distinct feeling that they’re looking at ME. Then I train my eyes on them and stare…and…nothing. I have decided that I like Rachel Weisz, solely based on her decision to keep her eyebrows and not bow to Hollywood pressures to mutilate them. Don’t these hungry little movie stars realize that facial features help you act? Every shot of botox, every strip of hot wax, every layer of skin bleached and every sandwich they don’t strips the humanity out of their faces until all that’s left is a close approximation of their wax museum counterparts. So yeah, as long as Rachel Weisz continues looking like a human being, I’ll be on her side…but if she gets too crazy with the tweezers or the botox, I’ll kick her to the curb.

As a remarkably un-religious and not-spiritual person, I think it surprises people when they find my home full of Ho Tei Statues and my jewelry box full of crosses. (My husband won’t let me hang up my Piss Christ.) Likewise, it’s probably surprising that I enjoy pseudo-religious movies like Constantine, Stigmata,Dogma, Carrie, Hellboy – or is it not surprising at all? I think I’m somewhat drawn to movies depicting the dark, sinister side of Christianity – especially the sinister side of God and/or Angels. The idea that Angels are jealous of human beings intrigues me. Normally, I hate the idea of Angels – wings, harps and halos are just too fey – but bad angels are kind of cool.

Constantine ended on a pretty open ended note – it was hard to tell if they were angling for a sequel. I hope they don’t waste their time – what fun is a non-smoking, Salvation-bound Constantine?

 

Bruce Almighty

Oh, Jim Carrey, why do you vex me so?

Jim Carrey still irritates me. Oh, there was a time when Jim Carrey was alright by me: Once Bitten, Earth Girls are Easy, In Living Color. I was even okay with Ace Ventura and The Mask. But soon after that, he went from being Jim Carrey to being JIM!CARREY! He stopped acting and just became the pure embodiment of JIM!CARREY!ness. It became totally impossible to separate JIM!CARREY! from the characters he played. While it doesn’t mean he can’t be entertaining, it sure doesn’t make him a good actor – in fact, I would hesitate to call him an actor at all. He’s more of a brand name…

As much as I wanted to hate Bruce Almighty, I couldn’t hate it. It had all the elements that I try to avoid in films: heavy-handed religious parables, a Friends cast member, Jim Carrey. I just couldn’t stop laughing though. The anal dwelling butt monkey. The dog. The homeless man. Jennifer Aniston’s increasing bustline. Steve Carrell speaking in tongues.

Steve Carrell better not leave The Daily Show. But I know he will…he’s just been cast as the seedy boss in the upcoming US version of The Office. He’s the one thing that might keep the show from bombing.

Here’s to hoping that JIM!CARREY! chills the fuck out and becomes Jim Carrey the actor someday.

 

Signs

God and aliens do not mix.

They don’t. If God exists as Christians perceive him, the existence of aliens is impossible within that paradigm. The creation of any other non-earthbound creature is not even hinted at in the bible, except for of course, angels – and I doubt anyone would make the case for angels being extraterrestrials. If aliens exist, it is would stand to reason that God lied to us, or to the prophets at least – and God doesn’t lie, does he? Okay, maybe he didn’t lie, but he definitely left it out, didn’t he? Of course, according to worst film EVER made, John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, Jesus was an alien and Satan lived in a jar in the bottom of Parker Stevenson’s church, so anything is possible, right?

Even with these obvious flaws, at least to my own personal logic, this was still a fairly entertaining film. There were several moments of pure Hitchcockian suspense. I even caught myself holding my breath on several occasions.

I am not a big Mel Gibson fan, but he wasn’t half bad. The role could have been much less sympathetic in the hands of a lesser talent, say Kevin Costner or George Clooney.

I would swear that the music from the opening sequence was from Twilight Zone – The Movie.

Shyamalan’s true talent lies in the performances that he is able to elicit from his young stars. Rory Culkin’s performance was outstanding, to say the least. If I was him, I would change my name. Being associated with that bastard Macaulay is the last thing he needs.

All in all, I give it barely three stars. It was definitely worth me skipping out of work to see it, but not quite Friday night material.

 

Dogma

Do you wanna know the best part of the film? The best part was found at the very end of the credits…”Jay and Silent Bob will return in Clerks 2: Hardly Clerkin’.” Now that is something to get excited about!

Dogma was exactly what I expected. Not better, not worse but exactly, on the nose what I was expecting. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I guess I am so used to the “askew-niverse,” that it would take an awful lot to throw me off. As usual, Jay and Silent Bob stole the show. Filthy mouthed, sex obsessed potheads – that’s my bag, baby! And believe it or not, I was not TOO annoyed by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. As much as I loathe Matt Damon, he worked as Loki. I can’t even remember why it is I don’t like him, it may be because he is short. I’ve always like Ben Affleck, but whenever he is around Matt Damon, I get this mental image of them fucking and it just messes me up. Turns me on a little bit, but mostly just pisses me off.

The one part that really disturbed me was on the bus, when Loki shot the adultering couple. That really shook me up for some reason. It’s not that I believe that God is going to smite me for going to the prom with a married guy or any of the other fucked up relationship things I have done – that’s just silly. I think it has more to do with the possibility of people knowing what’s in your heart just by looking at you without you even saying a word. Kind of like how, in Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper knew immediately about Sherriff Truman and Josie, then again about Ed and Norma…the idea that someone could detect intimacy between two people that are having an illicit relationship is terrifying – but thankfully, that only happens in movies. Real people are dumb.

Linda Fiorentino was pretty good, I haven’t really seen any of her other films though. Of course, Chris Rock was funny as hell. I am not sure I wanted to see him naked though. Alan Rickman was cool – he reminded me of a character in the book Good Omens (have you read it? no? you should!). Did anyone else notice how the angels all had hoods? Loki and Bartleby did and so did Alan Rickman. Weird. I was so happy with this film, that by the end of it, I didn’t even mind Alanis Morissette. Of course, it helped that she never opened her mouth.

So…I don’t know what all the fuss was about – this was not an anti-faith film – it was an anti-blind faith film. I think the Catholic League of Decency should go attack something else – like POKEMON! Now there is evil straight from HELL! So instead of bringing your brats to see the next big satanic Japanese marketing blitz, bring ’em to Dogma instead – your bank account will thank you!