Lisa’s Week In Review: 7/2/18 — 7/8/18

I always have such mixed feelings about July.  I hate the heat but I enjoy writing about Big Brother for the Big Brother Blog.  I also love celebrating the 4th of July and this year, there was actually a nice breeze blowing on the 4th.  The 4th brought together two things that I love: family and illegal fireworks.

Here’s what little I got accomplished this week:

Movies I Watched:

  1. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  2. The Godfather (1972)
  3. The Howling (2018)
  4. Jaws 3 (1983)
  5. Love, Simon (2018)
  6. Octopussy (1983)
  7. Robot Monster (1953)
  8. Room For Murder (2018)

Television Show I Watched:

  1. Antiques Roadshow
  2. The Bachelorette
  3. Big Brother 20
  4. Big Brother After Dark
  5. Community
  6. Degrassi
  7. Fear Thy Neighbor
  8. Ghost Whisperer
  9. Intervention
  10. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
  11. King of the Hill
  12. Married With Secrets
  13. The Proposal
  14. Sharp Objects
  15. Young Sheldon

Books I Read

  1. The Infernal Library: On Dictators, The Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literature (2018) by Daniel Kalder
  2. Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him To The Presidency (2018) by Dan Abrams and David Fisher
  3. The Price of Greatness: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and the Creation of American Oligarchy (2018) by Jay Cost

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Avicii
  2. Big Data
  3. Charli XCX
  4. Chelsea Bain
  5. The Chemical Brothers
  6. Coldplay
  7. Craig Morgan
  8. The Crystal Method
  9. Dillon Francis
  10. DJ Judaa
  11. Eliad
  12. The Grandells
  13. Icona Pop
  14. Iggy Azalea
  15. Jakalope
  16. Jay Hardway
  17. Kaskade
  18. Kedr Levanskiy
  19. Lynard Skynard
  20. Martin Garrix
  21. Moby
  22. Muse
  23. Nechi Nech
  24. No Doubt
  25. Phantogram
  26. Rebecca & Fiona
  27. The Richardson Symphony Orchestra
  28. Robert DeLong
  29. Sleigh Bells
  30. Sneaky Sound System
  31. Strong Black Coffee
  32. Taylor Swift
  33. Tiesto
  34. twenty one pilots
  35. Victoria Justice
  36. Yahel

Links From Last Week

  1. On her photography site, Erin shared a picture of White Rock Lake in December.
  2. At Days Without Incident, Leonard wished everyone a Happy Independence Day!
  3. The Onion, Clickhole, A.V. Club brace for lay-offs.
  4. From the New York Times (which, admittedly, is not a news source that we typically have much use for in my part of the world):  HBO Must Get Bigger and Broader, Says Its New Overseer
  5. Derrrick Ferguson reviewed Ant-Man and The Wasp!
  6. Sean E. Ali doubles down on VEGAS HEIST!
  7. Tater shares his “month or so in book, movies, and television!”
  8. And finally, here’s some flash fiction from Ted Strutz!

Links From The Site

  1. Erin has a busy week!  She profiled Paul Stahr and Carol M. Highsmith.  She shared a collection of patriotic super heroes and also showcased “American” pulp.  Finally, with the help of John Wayne, she wished America a happy birthday!
  2. Gary also has a busy week.  He wished Olivia De Havilland a happy birthday!  He helped me celebrate American Redneck Day!  He celebrated Independence Day with the help of Ray Charles!  He took a look at Tomahawk’s fight for independence!  He reviewed The Sea Hawk, Dressed to Kill, and Dial M For Murder!  He took a look at Safety Dance!  And finally, he paid tribute to Steve Ditko!
  3. Jeff reviewed Baby Blue Marine and Americathon!  He also shared a music video from Elvis Costello and paid tribute to Steve Ditko!  He also gave us our weekly trailer round-up!
  4. Ryan reviewed the Book of Daze and paid tribute to Steve Ditko!  He also shared his weekly reading round-up!
  5. I celebrated Canada Day and American Redneck Day!  And, of course, I gave everyone some unsolicited advice for the 4th!

(Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!)

Have a great week everyone!

Film Review: The Howling (dir by Steven M. Smith)

Horror is all about atmosphere.

It doesn’t matter how bloody or gory a film is.  It doesn’t matter how creative the filmmakers gets when it comes to creating their monster or plotting out their haunting.  It doesn’t matter how meta the dialogue is or how many references are tossed in to other horror movies.  It all starts with atmosphere.

The right atmosphere keeps us, the viewers, off-balance throughout the entire film.  The right atmosphere leaves us wondering what’s lurking behind every corner and it makes us jump at every unexpected sound.  The right atmosphere tells us that something terrifying could happen at any minute.  The right atmosphere makes us feel as if we’re watching a filmed nightmare.  The right atmosphere keeps us watching even when we might want to look away.

The Howling is full of atmosphere.

Now, before anyone asks, this British film is not a remake of the classic American werewolf movie.  Instead, it deals with the legend of Dr. Rathbone (Jon-Paul Gates).  Rathbone, it’s said, was a scientist who lived in a mansion outside of a small English village.  Everyone suspected that, inside of his mansion, Rathbone was performing horrific experiments on both animals and humans.  When Rathbone mysteriously disappeared, no one regretted his absence.  In fact, many people suspected that perhaps Rathbone had been killed by one of his experiments and, if so, good riddance!  Of course, the only problem was that, with Rathbone gone, no one was quite what had actually happened to his experiments.  Were they now living in the woods or was the whole thing just an urban legend?

Dr. Rathbone, at work


As Halloween approaches, three teenagers — Jason (Erik Knutsvik), his girlfriend Kristy (Tiffany-Ellen Robinson), and their friend Sophia (Maria Austin) — camp in the woods, hoping to discover the truth.  After all, there’s a lot of online clicks and youtube views to be captured by hunting the paranormal.  One need only watch Mystery, Uncovered with Ben Tramer (Matthew Fitzthomas Rogers) to understand that!

(I assume that Ben Tramer was named after Laurie’s unfortunate crush in the first two Halloween films.)

When it starts storming and their car disappears, Jason, Kristy, and Sophia are forced to seek refuge in what appears to be some sort of decrepit asylum.  They’re met by the caretaker, Shelley (Hans Hernke), who says he works for the Master and who, when an inmate suddenly makes an appearance, says, “Don’t mind him, he’s harmless.”

Of course, no one that they’ll meet that night is harmless…

The Howling plays out like a filmed dream, full of strange characters and nicely surreal images.  The film starts with a series of overhead shots, all of which suggest that not only the main characters but the entire world is being watched and stalked by some ominous and unknown force.  With the exception of a few key scenes, the majority of the film is in black-and-white and some of the images captures, especially in the doctor’s lab, are striking in their starkness.  (There are also a few brief scenes where the asylum is so dark that it’s hard to visually make out what’s happening.  Instead, we only hear voices in the blackness, an effective reminder of why so many people sleep with at least one light on.)  The few times when color does intrude on the film, like when Shelley lights a candle or when we see an episode of Mystery, Uncovered, the effect is a disquieting one.  In perhaps the film’s strongest sequence, several of Rathbone’s “patients’ suddenly appear in full, vibrant color, a nightmarish montage that seems to literally explode from the film.  There’s also a nicely down black-and-white scene involving a rather haunting dance.

Lest I give you the wrong idea, The Howling definitely has a sense of humor about itself.  In many ways it’s an homage to the gloriously over-the-top horror films of the past.  It’s a film that obviously was made for horror fans by horror fans and, as a result, the 83 minute running time is full of references to other classic horror films.  Shelley, for instance, will be a familiar character to anyone who has ever seen a haunted house film from the 40s or 50s.  There’s always a mysterious caretaker.  As for the Asylum itself, it feels like it could have been transported in from the twisted, psychological landscape of German Expressionism.

I liked The Howling.  It’s a low-budget horror film that makes pays homage to some of my favorite horror films and makes good use of a dream-like atmosphere.  And, as I said before, atmosphere is everything….



Weekly Trailer Round-Up: El Angel, UFO, Breaking and Exiting, The School, Running For Grace, The Immortal, White Fang

Here are some of the trailers that dropped last week.

First up, we have El Angel.  This fact-based Argentine film is about Carlos Robledo Puch, a youthful criminal whose crime spree both stunned Argentina and turned him into a celebrity in 1971.  El Angel premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and does not yet have an American release date.

Gilliam Anderson may be leaving The X-Files but, judging from this trailer for UFO, she’s not leaving the world of extraterrestrial conspiracy theories.  UFO was filmed in Cincinnati last December and is scheduled to be released sometime this year.

Breaking and Exiting is a comedy about a thief (Milo Gibson) who breaks into the home of a suicidal woman (Jordan Hinson) and who, according to the film’s imdb page, “decides to save her from herself.  Breaking and Exiting will be released on August 17th.

Am I the only one who can’t watch the trailer for The School without thinking of Silent Hill?  The School will be released, in Australia, on July 27th.

Co-starring Ryan Potter, Matt Dillon, and Jim Caviezel, Running For Grace is set in Hawaii in the 1920s and is about a forbidden love affair between a mixed race orphan and the daughter of a plantation owner.  Running For Grace will be released on August 1st.

As far as what’s happening in this trailer for The Immortal, your guess is as good as mine.  This is a Vietnamese film that does not appear to have a release date yet,

Finally, we have the latest version of Jack London’s classic novel, White Fang.  This animated adaptation is now streaming on Netflix.

Weekly Reading Round-Up : 07/01/2018 – 07/07/2018

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Still reeling from the shock of losing Steve Ditko here, but nevertheless, the show must go on, even if it feels like it shouldn’t. Is there any time afforded us, in this modern world, to slow down, catch a breath, and take stock of where we are — not just individually, but as a people? Funny you should ask —

Tom Kaczynski has clearly been giving this very subject a great deal of thought, and in Cartoon Dialectics #3, the latest in an occasional series published by his own Uncivilized Books (pride of the Minneapolis indie cartooning scene, I assure you), he reflects on the siren-call power, and dangerous trappings, of nostalgia, and examines how yearning for an entirely mythologized past led us to where we are today — which means, of course, how it managed to get us stuck with Trump. Danish cartoonist Clara Jetsmark is his writing collaborator…

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