Coming the November, I guess.
Apparently, it’s all about Jonathan Rhys Myers trying to find his brother to make amends for how his brother was mistreated whe they were younger. It turns out that, sometimes, it’s better to not make amends.
Coming the November, I guess.
Apparently, it’s all about Jonathan Rhys Myers trying to find his brother to make amends for how his brother was mistreated whe they were younger. It turns out that, sometimes, it’s better to not make amends.
An odd little film, 1989’s Parents is.
It takes place in the 50s of the pop cultural imagination, with neatly laid out suburban neighborhoods and perfectly mowed lawns and big cars driving down the street. Nick (Randy Quaid) and Lily (Mary Beth Hurt) seem like the perfect couple. Lily stays at home and spends a lot of time in the kitchen. Nick is an engineer who works for a company called Toxico and who is helping to develop what will become known, during the Vietnam War, as Agent Orange. Nick and Lily are friendly, well-mannered, and they love to eat meat. Lily explains, at one point, that she didn’t really love to eat meat until she married Nick and he showed her how wonderful it could be.
Their son, ten year-old Michael (Bryan Madorsky), is a bit less conventional. He’s a quiet boy who never smiles and who, when asked to draw a picture of his family, freaks out his school’s guidance counselor (played by Sandy Dennis). Michael has frequent nightmares. Michael doesn’t like to eat meat and, in fact, it’s hard to think of a single scene in the movie where Michael is seen eating anything. Michael is haunted by the sight of his parents making love in the living room. He’s also haunted by a growing suspicion that his parents are cannibals.
Are they? Perhaps. It’s hard to say. The first time you watch the movie, it seems deceptively obvious that Nick and Lily are exactly what Michael says they are. The second time, you start to notice a few odd things. For one thing, we never see Michael actually going from one location to another. Instead, he just seems to magically show up wherever he needs to be to hear something that will confirm his suspicions. When his teacher and his guidance counselor discuss his home life, Michael just happens to be in a nearby closet. When his mother is preparing something that looks like it might be a human organ, Michael just happens to be standing in the pantry. Are we seeing reality or are we just seeing what Michael thinks is reality? When Nick starts to threaten Michael and later claims that there’s no way Michael is his son, is he really saying that or is Michael just imagining his fatherr confirming all of Michael’s insecurities? How much of the film is real and how much of it is in Michael’s head?
It’s an odd film, Parents. It’s also the directorial debut of character actor Bob Balaban. Balaban has spent the majority of his career playing shy, slightly repressed characters. Parents, with the withdrawn Michael as the main character, is a film that feels autobiographical. That’s not to say that Balaban’s parents were cannibals but the scenes where Nick goes from being a loving father to an abusive monster are too intense and suffused with too much pain for them to be anything other than personal. Balaban’s direction is heavily stylized. At times, it’s a bit too stylized but ultimately, it works. The final 30 minutes of the film feel like a nightmare that has somehow been filmed.
A satire of conformity and suburbia, Parents is also a portrait of an alienated child struggling to figure out where he fits into his family. He’s given the choice of either indulging in his family’s sins or living life alone. Except, of course, it really isn’t a choice. Nick expects Michael to do what he’s been told, no matter what. Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt are both terrifying as the parents but, at the same time, Balaban makes good use of the fact that both of those performers — at least at the time this movie was made — were naturally likable. You want Nick to be the perfect father that he pretends to be and you share Michael’s anger and disillusionment when he turns out to be something very different.
Parents may be a strange film but it’s not one that you’re going to forget.
Here’s a few thoughts on what I watched this week!
(How’s that for a detailed intro?)
Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)
This week, yet another attempt to smuggle the British airmen out of France failed. As usual, the plan was too complicated to succeed and the British airmen themselves remained cheerfully oblivious to the danger that they’re putting everyone else into. (“I say,” one of them said after missing his chance to get smuggled out on a fish truck, “When’s the next fish truck?”) This episode’s highlight was Crabtree getting to speak perfect English to all of the British airmen who had gathered in Rene’s Cafe before then switching back to his usual mangled French to speak with Rene. Episodes of Allo Allo are not particularly easy to describe but they almost always make me laugh.
The Bachelorette (Tuesday Night, ABC)
I don’t know. Going straight from one season of the Bachelorette to Bachelor in Paradise to another season of the Bachelorette is a little bit too much. It works better when there’s some downtime between the seasons. I have to admit that I was pretty bored with the premiere of the new season. I mean, the first episode wasn’t even over and already, I was having to listen to all of that crap about whether or not the men were there for “the right reasons.” The whole thing with Ryan getting kicked off the show felt very staged and pre-planned and Michelle seems like she’ll be canceling a lot of cocktail parties to get right to kicking people off the show. I think I’ve just been oversturated with this dumb show for the past few months.
Baywatch (Friday Afternoon, H&I)
H&I has changed up their schedule. Instead of daily showing of Baywatch, they now air a five-hour block on Fridays. I watched two episodes. They were both from the 2nd season and I remembered them both from when I binged the show a few months ago. The first episode featured Eddie trying to clear his name after being accused of assaulting a teenager. The 2nd was yet another episode where a mysterious woman stayed with Mitch while someone with a gun hunted for her. This seemed to happen quite frequently to Mitch but he never commented on either the strangeness or the familiarity of it all.
The Brady Bunch (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)
I watched three episodes on Sunday while working on my Cry Macho review. The Brady kids were so self-centered that Alice quit. Greg conspired to make Marcia the head cheerleader. Marcia fell in love with a much older dentist and decided she was too mature to go on a date with a classmate. The Bradys were the worst.
Court Cam (Wednesday Evening, A&E)
I watched two episodes when I got home from work on Wednesday. One episode featured a loser who was arrested several times for pretending to be a traffic cop. Maybe he wanted to get on Parking Wars. Regardless of his motivation, everyone he stopped could tell he wasn’t a cop and no one treated him with the respect that he very loudly demanded. That was kind of fun to watch.
Day of the Dead (Friday Night, SyFy)
I finally watched last week’s premiere on Thursday and I reviewed it for the site.
Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)
Friday the 13th: The Series (YouTube)
Once Horrorthon is over and I have the time, I’m going to go back and binge this entire series.
Hunter (Weekday Mornings, ZLiving)
I watched two episodes of this surprisingly violent 80s cop show on Friday. I was also working at the time so the show mostly served as background noise. (I find having the TV on helps me to focus, oddly enough.) From what I did see, it seemed like an awful lot of people ended up getting shot. In fact, Hunter’s main personality trait appears to be that he’ll shoot anyone. (The second episode featured Hunter blowing away a psycho motorcyclist played by Don Swayze.) One thing I will say about the show, though, is that I love the propulsive music that plays over the opening credits.
King of the Hill (Weekday Afternoons, FXX)
I watched two episodes of Tuesday. In the first one, Bobby became a peer counselor and quickly started to abuse his position. This is actually one of my favorite episodes, even though Bobby definitely owed Stacy an apology. The highlight of the episode was Stacy singing, “I’m your Stacy in a bottle.” The second episode featured Hank visiting the Platter Ranch in Montana and discovering that Henry Winkler was refusing to allow the ranchers to herd their cattle across his land. Yes, that Henry Winkler.
The Office (Saturday afternoon, Comedy Central)
I watched some classic episodes from season 5. Dwight and Michael conducted corporate espionage against Prince Family Paper. Pam and Michael hit the lecture circuit. Stanley had a heart attack. Michael’s golden ticket promotion blew up in his face. I always say that this show started to go downhill after the third season but Season 5 was actually pretty good.
Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)
This week’s episode was actually kind of charming, as it featured Granville dancing in the rain while holding a mop. For a second, it seemed like Granville might be something other than incredibly depressed. It didn’t last long but it was still good to see him vaguely smile. Of course, once the rain stopped, it was time to go back to plotting Arkwright’s death.
Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)
I watched two episodes on Sunday morning. The first one featured Zack launching a hostile takeover of the student store and then secretly photographing all of the girls for a calendar. That was kind of icky but at least Kelly got a modeling career out of it. She even went to Paris, something that was never mentioned in subsequent episodes. This was followed by the infamous Running Zack episode, in which Zack learned he was Native American and Jessie demanded that Lisa forgive her for being from a family of slave traders. The important thing is that Zack was able to compete at the track meet. So cringey!
Silk Stalkings (Weekday Afternoons, ZLiving)
Agck! Where are Chris and Rita!? It’s been over a month since I last caught any episodes of this 90s cop show. I watched two episodes on Friday and Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture were gone! Apparently, they left the show and were replaced by two other cops who had the exact same backstory as Chris and Rita. What a coincidence! Anyway, the show still featured the same mix of murder, sex, and attractive people getting undressed but these new detectives just didn’t have the same chemistry.
That said, both of Friday’s episodes were enjoyably sordid, featuring a lot of sem-clad, attractive rich people doing a lot of very bad things. It was fun! I may have to start binging this show.
Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)
Talking Dead (Sunday Night, AMC)
This week’s episode was a bit by-the-numbers. Even Chris Hardwick seemed to be struggling to pretend to be interested in either Fear the Walking Dead or Walking Dead: World Beyond, which was odd since both of those shows were fairly good this week.
Walking Dead: The World Beyond (Sunday Night, AMC)
This week’s episode was actually pretty good. It still feels like Christopher Pike’s The Walking Dead (or maybe Saved By The Dead) but this week’s episode actually did a good job of capturing the contrast between wanting to be a teenager while, at the same time, having to survive in a world that leaves you with little time to actually grow up.
Tonight, for our horror on the lens, we have the fourteenth episode of the 2nd season of Friday the 13th: The Series!
In this episode is a sequel to the Vanity’s Mirror episode from season 1. The gold compact is back and this time, an aging model is using its power to maintain her youth. Unfortunately, there’s a price for looking young and that price is …. can you guess it? ….. murder!
This episode originally aired on February 11th, 1989.
Chris Cornyn (Peter Graves) and his wife, Linda (Andrea King) are two scientists who have spent the years since World War II listening to transmissions from Mars. The technology that they use was developed by a scientist who may have been a Nazi but the Cornyns feels that the greater good of learning about Mars outweighs the problematic background of their equipment.
One day, the transmitters pick up a message from Mars, announcing that Mars is a Socialist paradise where there is no fear of nuclear war. The Soviets are gleeful because they think the Martian messages will lead to the collapse of NATO. But then the Martians start sending out religious messages, which lead to riots in the USSR and Eastern Europe.
Are the Martians really contacting Earth? Is God really transmitting a message from Mars? Or is a more sinister figure responsible?
Red Planet Mars is one of those films that only could have been made at the height of the Cold War. Despite the title, the film is decidedly Earth-bound and full of stock footage of the nations of the world reacting to the Martians. The main theme is that, Martians or not, nothing is more important than protecting the American way of life. even if that means sacrificing your own life and misleading the world. Even if it is now impossible to listen to his dialogue without thinking about the “Do you like movies about gladiators?” conversations from Airplane!, Peter Graves was the perfect, no-nonsense messenger. An artifact of a different time, the movie’s greatest strength is that it takes its ridiculous story seriously and even today, it leaves you wonder how we would react to messages from Mars. Hopefully, we would today be more skeptical. People in 1953 would believe anything.
Taste of Fingers is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition. Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.
You are in a city that you do not know, a stranger in a strange land. You are hiding behind the counter of a small cafe while, outside, the world comes to an end. Whether it’s due to a plague or just people finally being driven mad by the stress of every day life, going outside is not recommended. The cafe is your only sanctuary. Behind the counter, you experience memories of the way the world was in the days leading up to whatever has happened. When an intruder enters the cafe, it is time for action!
Like a lot of Twine games, Taste of Fingers is more of a short story with choices than an actual game. You really don’t have much control over how the game progresses or how it ends. The main choice you get to make is which memories to explore while you hid behind the counter. It’s not possible to explore every memory over the course of just one play through, which does give this game a high replay value. The descriptions of the cafe and the memories are vivid enough that you’ll want to explore them, even if it would have been nice to have had more options. Realistically, though, there aren’t that many options available when the world is ending around you. Taste of Fingers captures the feel of a world spinning out of control. It’s not a happy game but it does what it does well.
Maybe I’m getting cantankerous, but my tolerance for incompetence is at a nadir. Not to say that these were the worst stories I’ve seen, but they were up there. Maybe making a horror series is a way to pass the time? The budgets must be REALLY small. For example, look at this guy’s truly FAKE beard:
It looks like if Party City fell on hard times or Santa Claus became a Ginger Pederast. That is a CREEPY beard and that’s not what they were going for, but it’s what they got.
The B-Story didn’t even have live action! It was just animated!
Not to say that big budget studios don’t cut corners. Netflix can’t afford lights. I’m assuming that’s the case because every show looks like it was filmed with a Key Chain Maglite. EG:
The above is from a Netflix show called Midnight Mass and I guess that they heard Chairman Mao’s saying, “It’s always darkest, just before it goes completely black” and just leaned in. I can’t tell what’s going on here. I guess these….Three?? guys are in a canoe or maybe that’s just a really big raccoon in flannel on the end there. Who knows? It could be a raccoon; I’ve seen raccoons in Texas as big as Labrador Retrievers and they’re really organized too! I saw one raccoon with a hat and clipboard directing 8 enormous raccoons and these were just ordinary suburban raccoons! Could imagine what these mutant raccoons could do with some funding?!
Anywho, back to this aggressively mediocre program – Creepshow. It’s created by Greg Nicotero who also created The Walking Dead, which was just ok on it’s best day! I’m glad to see that Greg is consistent. Don’t let success go to your head- aim low. Greg, thanks for delivering another Center of Mass performance review! As Casey Kasem’s mediocre brother – Chad Kasem would say, “Keep reaching for the remote, but keep your ass on the couch.”
These two episodes were both varying degrees of stupid. The first episode was about Tim and his magical armoire. Really. Instead of the wardrobe showing where the wild things were, it was more of a desk that caused time to do stupid things. He would go into the magical closet and time would zoom by for him, but slow down for everyone on the outside of the closet. This is general relativity in reverse because the writer fell asleep in basic physics. If Tim did go into a black hole or whatever, time would slow down for him, but not for the folks outside of the closet. Tim should’ve returned and everyone would be way older, but nope. He never seemed to grasp that he was aging A LOT every time he went into the closet. Shocker, he dies- *eyeroll* I cared not!
The second story was like if an 8th grader got a very small budget to make an 18 minute scary cartoon. The town of Oakwood is about to celebrate is bi-centennial and they decide to open a really scary looking box to celebrate. It looked haunted and gross. This is the box that everyone thought it would be great to open:
I won’t write that everyone dies….most do though. If you’re bored and really want to watch something that’s the equivalent of a day old room temperature Chick-Fil-A sandwich, this is for you!
Over the course of his long career, Christopher Lee often cited his performance as the charismatic but ultimately sinister Lord Summerisle in 1973’s The Wicker Man as one of his personal favorites. It’s easy to see why. The role not only showcased Lee’s ability to be menacing but it was also one of the few films that allowed him to be witty as well. Lord Summerisle may be a pagan who maintains his power by sacrificing virgins but he’s still quite charming. With his longish hair, sideburns, and turtleneck, Lord Summerisle is the perfectly aristocratic 70s rogue.
Today’s scene that I love comes from the original The Wicker Man. (Sorry, the Nicole Cage “bees” scene from the remake will have to wait for next year’s horrorthon.) In this scene, Lord Summerisle expalins the ways of the island to a skeptical police detective. Little does the detective know that he’s already been selected to be the next sacrifice. Lee’s avuncular performance holds up wonderully.
First published in 1990, Christopher Pike’s extremely weird YA novel Witch tells the story of Julia Florence and her friend Amy.
Basically, Julia is the latest in a long line of witches. She has the power to see the future and to heal people, with the only problem being that, when she heals them, she takes their illnesses and injuries into her own body. So, if she heals someone who is on the verge of death, that means that she’ll be the one who dies. That’s what happened to Julia’s mother and Julia’s determined not to let the same thing happen to her. It seems like the simple solution would be to just not heal anyone.
But then her friend Scott gets shot during a convenience store robbery. Scott is in a coma and is going to die unless he gets some supernatural healing. Julia can either heal him or she can buy a gun (?), use her abilities to see the future, and go all vigilante in an attempt to take out the robber who shot Scott. Julia goes for the latter but then Amy discovers that the robber has a weird, kind of out-of-nowhere connection to a girl who was previously healed by Julia’s mother. And, she also discovers that there’s a coven of witches searching for Julia because …. well, who knows?
Anyway, it all comes down to whether or not Julia will risk her life to save Scott. Scott is an aspiring director and kind of an annoying guy, to be honest. But everyone is charmed by how annoying he is and he has a great future ahead of him, unless he dies.
Whatever will Julia do!?
This is a weird one. Between the witchcraft, the healing, the psychic visions, the high school drama, and the vigilante action scenes, one gets the feeling that Pike just threw random darts at a bunch of story points that he had taped to the wall and he pretty much just went wherever the darts led him. And don’t get me wrong. It is a little fun to see just how many different genres and plot elements that Pike could stuff into one book but the story itself is still a bit of a mess. There’s a lot in here and not all of it really comes together.
Plus, this is yet another Pike novel to end on a downbeat note. R.L. Stine wrote some pretty morbid books but he always ended with a joke. Pike’s books, on the other hand, always seem to end with the message that there is no such thing as a completely happy ending. Normally, I’m all for a book that ends on a down note but this time, after all the messiness that came before the ending, I really could have used a Stine-style one liner. Sometimes, the best way to deal with an existential crisis is to laugh your way through it.
This is a fun book that I came across at Half-Price Books two Decembers ago. It went right on my Christmas list and, ever since then, it’s a book that I’ve found useful many times.
As you can probably tell, it’s an encyclopedia, one that is devoted to detectives. You can’t have a good mystery without a good detective and this book proves that, with entries for fictional detectives, their creators, and the TV shows, movies, and books in which they appeared. It’s all written in a concise and lively manner, which is another way of saying that it’s a fun read. That’s especially true if you’re a fan of mysteries, as I am.
Now, I should mention that this book was originally published in 1994. Another edition came out in 1997. As far as I can tell, that was it. As such, a lot of the information in the book is a bit of out-of-date. Authors who have passed or who have retired are still listed as being very much alive and active. More recent detectives are not mentioned. (Sorry, Mr. Monk.) The original Magnum P.I. and Hawaii 5-0 get entries but not the reboots. There’s no mention of CSI and Thomas Harris’s entry is rather small, with no mention of the post-Silence of the Lamb Lecter films, largely because they hadn’t been made yet. You get the idea. But, even with that in mind, this book is still full of useful information, especially if you’re into the older, classic detectives or if you’re a history nerd like I am. (Trust me, if you have to choose between Wikipedia and reading a book that was actually written during the period in which you’re interested, go with the book every time.) What it doesn’t contain about recent detectives, it makes up for with information on Poirot, Holmes. Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, Sam Spade, and many others.
If nothing else, Encyclopedia Mysteriosa is a good starting point for those looking for a good mystery! And, if you’re looking for a little inspiration to maybe write a mystery of your own, this book may provie you with exactly the inspiration you need. There are several copies for sale on Amazon, all reasonably priced.