Film Review: The Curse of La Llorona (dir by Michael Chaves)

The Curse of La Llorona is a boring film about a scary legend.

The legend of La Llorona is a well-known one in Mexico and the southwestern half of the United States.  It’s a story that I was told by both my mom and my aunts and, as a result, I never went off with a stranger while I was growing up.  Of course, I also had some pretty intense nightmares but that’s kind of the point.  If someone tells you the story of La Llorona and you don’t end up having a nightmare about being drowned by a weeping woman, they didn’t tell the story correctly.

La Llorona was originally named Maria.  She lived, in a rural village, with her family and she was famous for both her beauty and her virtue.  When a wealthy nobleman saw her and immediately proposed to her, Maria accepted.  However, the nobleman’s father was upset that his son was marrying into a poor family and he refused to accept Maria as his daughter-in-law.  Maria and her husband ended up having two sons and living in a house by the river.  Maria’s husband doted on their sons but he ignored her and eventually, Maria learned that he was having an affair.

In a fit of blind rage, Maria drowned her children in the river.  After realizing what she had done, Maria died of grief.  However, when she arrived at the gates of Heaven, she was asked why her children were not with her.  When Maria explained that she had lost them, she was told that she would not be allowed to enter Heaven until she found them.  Now, known as La Llorona (or “the weeping woman”), she wanders the Earth, crying and looking for her children.

Where does one find La Llorona?  It depends on who is telling the story.  Some stories say that you’ll only see her near a body of water.  My mom used to tell me that La Llorona could be anywhere, including under my bed or in the bedroom closet.  Regardless of where you might find her, La Llorona is always wearing her wedding dress and she’s always sobbing.  Approach her and she’ll grab you and either kidnap you or drown you, all the while begging for forgiveness.  Many have seen La Llorona but few have survived to tell the story.

“And that is why we do not talk to strangers,” my mother would say while I looked out the bedroom window, searching for the sight of La Llorona walking through the Texas night….

Unfortunately, The Curse of La Llorona never comes close to being as scary as the stories that I used to hear when I was growing up.  Instead, the film is a standard Conjuring-Insidious-Paranormal Activity type of film, with La Llorona continually popping up out of the shadows to frighten a social worker and widow named Anna Tate-Garcia (Linda Cardellini), and her two children.  The film has a few jump scenes but it never creates enough atmosphere to be consistently scary and, even worse, it reduces La Llorona to just being a typically malevolent spirit in a wedding dress.  In the end, the film itself doesn’t seem to really understand what La Llorona wants nor does it have a clear idea of what she can or cannot do.  As such, the whole movie has a slapdash feel to it that makes it difficult to really maintain any suspense.

Technically, The Curse of La Llorona is a part of the Conjuring Universe.  Not only does the film take place in the 70s (which was apparently the decade when all the ghosts and spirits went crazy) but there’s also very brief flashback featuring that ugly Annabelle doll.  However, neither Patrick Wilson nor Vera Farmiga puts in an appearance, which is a shame because The Conjuring films really only work because of their chemistry.  Instead, Raymond Cruz shows up as an exorcist named Rafael.  Cruz gives a likable performance but, again, one gets the feeling that the film wasn’t sure what exactly it wanted to do with him.

Anyway, The Curse of La Llorona is a disappointment.  Fortunately, there’s a lot of good and genuinely frightening Mexican horror films about La Llorona.  I recommend checking out 2006’s Kilometer 31.

The Weeping Woman (1937, Pablo Picasso)

Film Review: Avengers: Endgame (dir by the Russo Brothers)

(Minor Spoilers Below!  Read at your own risk.)

So, how long does the no spoiler rule for Avengers: Endgame apply?  There’s so much that I want to say about this film but I know that I shouldn’t because, even though it had a monstrous opening weekend, there are still people out there who have not had a chance to see the film.  And while this review will have minor spoilers because, otherwise, it would be impossible to write, I’m not going to share any of the major twists or turns.

I will say this.  I saw Avengers: Endgame last night and it left me exhausted, angry, sad, exhilarated, and entertained.  It’s a gigantic film, with a plot that’s as messy and incident-filled as the cinematic universe in which it takes place.  More than just being a sequel or just the latest installment in one of the biggest franchises in cinematic history, Avengers: Endgame is a monument to the limitless depths of the human imagination.  It’s a pop cultural masterpiece, one that will make you laugh and make you cheer and, in the end, make you cry.  It’s a comic book film with unexpected emotional depth and an ending that will bring a tear to the eye of even the toughest cynic.  By all logic, Avengers: Endgame is the type of film that should collapse under its own weight but instead, it’s a film that thrives on its own epic scope.  It’s a three-hour film that’s never less than enthralling.  Even more importantly, it’s a gift to all of us who have spent the last ten years exploring the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The film itself starts almost immediately after the “Snap” that ended Avengers: Infinity War and we watch as Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, returning to the franchise after being absent in the previous film) finds himself powerless to keep his family from disintegrating.  After often being dismissed as the Avengers’s weak link, both Clint Barton and Jeremy Renner come into their own in the film.  As one of two members of the Avengers who does not have super powers, Clint serves as a everyperson character.  He’s a reminder that there’s more at stake in Endgame than just the wounded pride of a few super heroes.  When Thanos wiped out half the universe, he didn’t just wipe out Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Groot.  He also left very real wounds that will never be healed.

When the film jumps forward by five yeas, we discover that the world is now a much darker place.  When we see New York, the once vibrant city is now gray and deserted.  Our surviving heroes have all dealt with the Snap in their own way.  Clint is now a vigilante, killing anyone who he feels should have been wiped out by Thanos but wasn’t.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) drinks and eats and feels sorry for himself.  Captain America (Chris Evans) attends support groups and, in one nicely done scene, listens as a man talks about his fear of entering into his first real relationship in the years since “the Snap.”  Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is living as a recluse and is still blaming himself.  Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is now an avuncular, huge, and very green scientist.  Only Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) remains convinced that the Snap can somehow be undone.  She’s right, of course.  But doing so will involve some unexpected sacrifices and a lot of time travel….

And that’s as much as I can tell you, other than to say that the film takes full advantage of both the time travel aspects (yes, there are plenty of Back to the Future jokes) and its high-powered cast.  With our heroes — which, along with the usual Avengers, also include Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) — hopping through time and space, we get a chance to revisit several of the films that led up to Endgame and it’s a thousand times more effective than it has any right to be.  Yes, one could argue that the cameos from Robert Redford, Tom Hiddleston, Hayley Atwell, and others were essentially fan service but so what?  The fans have certainly earned it and the MCU has earned the chance to take a look back at what it once was and what it has since become.

Indeed, Avengers: Endgame would not work as well as it does if it hadn’t been preceded by 21 entertaining and memorable movies.  It’s not just that the MCU feels like a universe that it as alive as our own, one that is full of wonder, mystery, sadness, and love.  It’s also that we’ve spent ten years getting to know these characters and, as a result, many of them are much more than just “super heroes” to us.  When Tony Stark and Captain America argue over whether it’s even worth trying to undo the Snap, it’s an effective scene because we know the long and complicated history of their relationship.  When the Avengers mourn, we mourn with them because we know their pain.  We’ve shared their triumphs and their failures.  Tony Stark may be a guy in an iron suit but he’s also a man struggling with his own demons and guilt.  Steve Rogers may be a nearly 100 year-old super solider but he’s also every single person who has struggled to make the world a better place.  As strange as it may be to say about characters known as Iron Man, Captain America, and the Black Widow, we feel like we know each and every one of them.  We care about them.

Needless to say, the cast is huge and one of the great things about the film is that previously underused or underestimated performers — like Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, and Karen Gillan — all finally get a chance to shine.  As always, the heart of the film belongs to Chris Evans while Robert Downey, Jr. provides just enough cynicism to keep things from getting to superficially idealistic.  Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo get most of the film’s big laughs, each playing their borderline ludicrous characters with just the right combination of sincerity and humor.  Of course, Josh Brolin is back as well and he’s still perfectly evil and arrogant as Thanos.  But whereas Thanos was the focus of Infinity War, Endgame focuses on the heroes.  If Infinity War acknowledged that evil can triumph, Endgame celebrates the fact that good never surrenders.

As Endgame came to an end, I did find myself wondering what the future is going to hold for the MCU.  A part of me wonders how they’re going to top the past ten years or if it’s even possible to do so.  Several mainstays of the MCU say goodbye during Endgame and it’s hard to imagine the future films without their presence.  It’s been hinted that Captain Marvel is going to be one of the characters holding the next phase of the  MCU together and, fortunately, Brie Larson is a quite a bit better in Endgame than she was in her previous MCU film.  Hopefully, regardless of what happens in the future, Marvel and Disney will continue to entrust their characters to good directors, like the Russo Brothers, James Gunn, and Taika Waititi.  (Wisely, Disney reversed themselves and rehired James Gunn for the next Guardians of the Galaxy film.  Of course, Gunn never should have been fired in the first place….)

And that’s really all I can say about Avengers: Endgame right now, other than to recommend that you see it.  In fact, everyone in the world needs to hurry up and see it so we can finally start talking about the film without having to post spoiler warnings!

For now, I’ll just say that Avengers: Endgame is a powerful, emotional, and entertaining conclusion to one of the greatest cinematic sagas ever.

Redemption Song: John Wayne in ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (Republic 1947)

cracked rear viewer

John Wayne  starred in some of the screen’s most iconic Westerns, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for ANGEL AND THE BADMAN. Perhaps it’s because the film fell into Public Domain in the mid-70’s, and I’ve had the opportunity to view it so many times. Yet I wouldn’t keep coming back to it if it weren’t a really good movie. It’s Wayne’s first film as producer, and though it has plenty of that trademark John Wayne action and humor, it’s a bit different from your typical ‘Big Duke’ film.

Wayne plays Quirt Evans, an outlaw on the run. The wounded Quirt encounters a Quaker family, the Worths, who take him to file a land claim before the big guy finally passes out. They bring him back to their family farm to nurse him back to health, and pretty daughter Penny, unschooled in the ways of the…

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Music Video of the Day: Stranger Danger by The Coathangers (2019, dir by Matt Odom)

This video is kind of weird and disturbing, which is why I liked it.  I think if you’re going to do a music video, you have to do one of two things.  You either have to make the viewer feel good or you have to give the viewer nightmares.  If you can do both, then you will have truly succeeded.


The Covers of Two-Fisted Detective Stories

Two-Fisted Detective Stories was a “true crime” magazine that was published for only two years, from 1959 to 1960.  There were a total of ten issues, which all featured the usual violent and sex-filled material that these magazines were famous for.  Though Two-Fisted Detective may not have lasted long, it is still remembered for its memorably lurid covers.  As you can see below, almost all of these covers had a few elements — cleavage, betrayal, money, and weapons — in common.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover any of the artists who did these covers.  Maybe someone who can answer that question will come across this post.

Here are eight covers from Two-Fisted Detective Stories:

July 1959

January 1960

June 1960

August 1960

September 1960

October 1960

November 1960

December 1960

My personal favorites are the girl power covers of July 1959, June 1960, September 1960, and November 1960.

Music Video of the Day: Take It Back by Marshmello (2017, dir by Daniel Burke)

Awwwwwwww!  What an incredibly sweet video!  Not only do we get to meet Marshmello’s family but we also see what a happy and friendly family that he comes from.  There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than meeting your significant other’s family for the first time.  When they welcome you with open arms and let you know that they accept you and that you belong, it’s such a great feeling.

As Marshmello put it:  “This video is a reminder that no matter where you’re from, there is always room for acceptance. ❤”

That’s a good message, don’t you think?  If nothing else, it’s good to see that humans and marshmallows can treat each other as equals.  This, despite the long and sordid history of humans burning them over camp fires.  I mean, if that can be forgiven then it seems like anything’s possible.

For those curious, in the real world, Marshmello is not actually a marshmallow.  Instead, he’s a DJ named Chris.  His distinctive look was inspired by Deadmau5.  As well, if you’re really into Marshmello, you can go on YouTube and watch Cooking with Marshmello.

For instance, here Marshemllo shows us how to make Friend cookies:

And here, you can watch Marshmello play Fortnite blindfolded:


Lisa’s Week In Review: 4/22/19 — 4/28/19

I seriously need a “I Survived The Battle Of Winterfell” t-shirt.  As I sit here typing this, I just finished watching Game of Thrones and I am mentally and physically exhausted.  Seriously, I thought sitting through five presidential town halls in a row was difficult but watching Klobuchar, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg, and Warren is nothing when compared to visiting Westeros in winter.

Tomorrow, I’ll continue to be traumatized by pop culture by seeing Avengers: Endgame.  Here’s what else I watched, read, and listened to last week:

Movies I Watched:

  1. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
  2. Apostle Peter and the Last Supper (2012)
  3. The Avengers (2012)
  4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1974)
  5. The Curse of La Llorona (2019)
  6. A Dog’s Way Home (2019)
  7. Hulk (2003)
  8. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  9. Iron Man (2008)
  10. The Legend of Cocaine Island (2019)
  11. Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leutcher, Jr. (1999)
  12. Space Mutiny (1988)
  13. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. 9-1-1
  2. The Amazing Race 31
  3. American Idol
  4. Barry
  5. CNN Presidential Town Hall with Amy Klobuchar
  6. CNN Presidential Town Hall with Bernie Sanders
  7. CNN Presidential Town Hall with Elizabeth Warren
  8. CNN Presidential Town Hall with Kamala Harris
  9. CNN Presidential Town Hall with Pete Buttigieg
  10. Doctor Phil
  11. Face the Truth
  12. Game of Thrones
  13. Fosse/Verdon
  14. Friends
  15. King of the Hill
  16. Night Gallery
  17. Project Runway
  18. Seinfeld
  19. Shipping Wars
  20. Survivor 38
  21. Veep
  22. The Voice
  23. World of Dance

Books I Read:

  1. Misadventures with My Ex (2019) by Shayla Black
  2. Sherwood (2019) by Meagan Spooner

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Above & Beyond
  2. Aoki
  3. Armin van Buuren
  4. Avicii
  5. Big Data
  6. The Chainsmokers
  7. The Chemical Brothers
  8. Daft Punk
  9. Deadmau5
  10. Icona Pop
  11. The Magician
  12. Martin Garrix
  13. M4SONIC
  14. Miami Horror
  15. Morgan Page
  16. Radiohead
  17. Rebecca & Fiona
  18. Taylor Swift
  19. Tiesto
  20. UPSAHL
  21. Viktoria Liv
  22. Yaeger

Links from Last Week:

  1. For Reality TV Chat, I reviewed the latest episodes of Survivor and The Amazing Race!
  2. On her photography site, Erin shared Center, Fiesta, Leaves, Shoes On A Wire, Pool in Black and White, Cameras, and The Hotel Lawrence.
  3. On my music site, I sahred music from Martin Garrix, Radiohead, Tiesto, Above & Beyond, M4SONIC, The Magician, and Miami Horror.
  4. Mad About Bari Weiss
  5. A Republic Too Fractured to Be Funny: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner suggests that stand-up joke telling is an art form whose moment has passed.
  6. ‘CBS Has a White Problem’: Executive Blasts Toxic Culture at Network in Explosive Letter
  7. How Tina Fey’s 30 Rock Predicted The Rise of Trump
  8. Jussie Smollett has been suffering violent “night terrors” since his fake hate crime, brother says

Links From the Site:

  1. I shared music videos from Steve Aoki, Viktoria Liv, Icona Pop, Yaeger, Rebecca & Fiona, Morgan Page, and The Chainsmokers.  I also reviewed Mr. Death and shared the trailers for See You Yesterday, Gemini Man, and 21 Bridges.
  2. Case reviewed the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina!
  3. Erin shared the following artwork: The Earthbreakers, Love Me and Die, The Blue Atom, Dime Detective Magazine, Detective Fiction Weekly, The Cosmic Puppets, and Shameless Play-girl.
  4. Gary cleaned out his DVR, wrote about Andy and Edie, and shared an editorial about classic Hollywood and the historical perspective.
  5. Ryan reviewed Avengers: Endgame, Doom Patrol, and Urscape, along with sharing his weekly reading round-up.

Click here to check out last week!

Weekly Reading Round-Up : 04/21/2019 – 04/27/2019, Chris Cilla And Ted May

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Killer stuff from Revival House Press is our focus this week! None of it “brand new,” but so what? All of it is still readily available from

The entire breadth and scope of existence is traversed by means of the shortest distance possible — that being from a “greasy spoon” diner to a mini-golf and video game “emporium” — in the pages of Chris Cilla’s 2014 flip-book Labyrinthectomy/Luncheonette, a kind of throwback to the days of Doug Allen and Gary Leib’s Idiotland in terms of tone, temperament, and style, but with some sort of hidden-in-plain-sight philosophical intent tying both halves together until they meet/mash up in the middle. Characters talk at, rather than to, each other in amusingly impenetrable non-sequitors, seemingly-incongruous actions flow one into the next with no regard to reason or even time, and robots, people, mutants, and anthropomorphic animals all happily (I guess)…

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