October Positivity: Time Changer (dir by Rich Christiano)

The 2002 movie, Time Changer, tells the story of Russell Carlisle (D. David Morin).  Russell is a bible professor who has written a book called The Changing Times.  The Changing Times encourages everyone to live a good, moral life but it doesn’t specifically state that they should live a good, moral life because Jesus says so.  Dr. Norris Anderson (Gavin MacLeod) argues that the book will actually not lead people to become better but will instead lead them away from Christianity by convincing them that all they have to do is be nice.  Carlisle disagrees.

Luckily, Anderson just happens to have a time machine in his basement!  When Russell comes over to discuss the book, Anderson suggests that Russell go into the future and see just how changed the world has become.  Mostly to humor Anderson, Russell agrees and steps into the machine.

And suddenly, Russell Calirlise is in the year 2002!

What does Russell discover?  He learns that even movies about good people still feature things that he finds objectionable.  He discovers that even people who go to church don’t always live a perfect life.  In 1890, Russell was shocked to learn that the divorce rate was 5% so you can only imagine how he reacts when he goes to 2002 and continually runs into people who talk about their ex-wives.  Russell also gets upset when he hears some teenage girls talking about sneaking out of the house and going on an unchaperoned date.  The horrors!

To be honest, there’s been a lot of movies that have told similar stories to Time Changer.  Someone from the past comes to the “present,” and is shocked to discover how much the world has changed.  Time Changer is unique that it’s totally on Russell’s side and essentially argues that we would all be better off if we still embraced the culture of the 1890s.  If that sounds a bit preachy, that’s because it is a bit preachy.  Interestingly enough, the film has no trouble having Russell explain how he, as someone from 1890, feels about dating, entertainment, and honesty but it leaves out how an 1890 man like Russell would have viewed women or people of color.  Russell is shocked by the casual use of bad language but, conveniently for the film’s efforts to make him a sympathetic character, he doesn’t raise an eyebrow at suddenly finding himself in a multiracial society.  It’s easy to argue for a return to 1890 morality when you ignore everything that was bad about the 1890s.

That said, the film has a few intentionally amusing moments, even if they’re exactly the type of moments that you would expect to see in a film about time travel.  (For example, Russell finds himself fascinated by a light switch.)  D. David Morin gives a likable performance Russell and the scene where Anderson hurriedly explains how time travel works as a nice little satire of the genre.  It’s far too preachy to really be effective but Time Changer is not a total waste of time.  That said, I would far rather live in 2022 than 1890.

Congrats To The Braves and The Padres On Tying Up Their Series

Congrats to the Braves and the Padres, who both won Game 2 of their Divisional Playoffs today and who tied everything up.  The Padres beat the Dodgers 5-3.  The Braves beat The Phillies 3-0.  That means there will at least be a Game 4 for each of these teams.

I was so caught up in all the excitement around the Phillies making the postseason for the first time in 11 seasons, that I think I may have forgotten that they still have to beat two other teams if they’re going to make it to the World Series.  Today, the Braves reminded me to not take anything for granted.

For tomorrow, Go Astros!

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.12 “Creature of the Canyon” (dir by Walter Doniger)

On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, Angie Dickinson plays a widow who is haunted by the ghost of her late husband’s Doberman.  Agck!  I’m scared enough of real Dobermans without having to deal with one that is undead!

This episode originally aired on December 15th, 1972.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Revealer (dir by Luke Boyce)

Taking place in 1980s Chicago, Revealer tells the story of two seemingly different women.

Angie (Caito Aase) is a stripper who spend most of her day in an incredibly sleazy peep show booth.  The men that she dances for are a collection of grotesque pervs.  (Keep an eye out and you’ll notice a sign warning that “wet dollar bills” will not be accepted.  Ewww!)  Angie is under no illusions about where she’s working or who is paying to watch her but she needs the money.  She’s putting up with a lot of crap in order to giver her nephew the type of stable life that she’s never had and, understandably, she doesn’t have much patience for anyone who would judge her for it.

Sally (Shaina Schrooten) is someone who spends almost all of her time judging.  For weeks, she has been leading protests in front of Angie’s place of employment.  As soon as Angie shows up for an extra shift, she is confronted by Sally.  Sally claims that Angie is “a harlot” who is leading people down the path of sin and damnation.  Angie says that Sally is just jealous because she’s never truly live her life.

Together …. they solve crimes!

No, actually, they don’t.  Instead, they find themselves forced to deal with some theological issues when a horned demon unleashes an army of snakes on the world.  Angie is trapped in her peep show booth, with no way to get out.  Sally, fleeing from the demons, ends up outside the same booth.  Sally is convinced that the apocalypse has begun.  Angie just wants to get back to her nephew.  Despite their differing views and their initially antagonistic relationship, Angie and Sally are going to have to work together in order to survive.  Along the way, hidden truths are revealed.  Angie and Sally learn that they’re not so different and they even start to become friends.  But does that matter, considering that the world apparently ended in 1987?

I had a mixed reaction to Revealer.  On the one hand, there’s something wonderfully subversive about setting a film about the end of the world in the distant past.  If nothing else, it keeps the viewer off-balance.  (I was reminded a bit of how 2001’s Donnie Darko predicted that the world would end in 1988.)  As well, the two leads both did a good job with their characters, adding depth and nuance to two roles that could have easily become clichés.  In the role of Sally, Shaina Schrooten gave an especially good performance.  I wasn’t particularly shocked when Sally revealed her big secret but Schrooten’s performance still made the scene effective.

On the negative side, the snakes were frightening but the demon who controlled them obviously fell prey to the film’s low budget and looked a bit less impressive.  As well, the script itself was often overwritten.  Sally and Angie’s constant debate over religion felt more than a little heavy-handed.  (I mean, it’s easy to win an argument when the screenwriter is on your side.)  Even more importantly, they tended to disrupt the flow of the film.  Too many scenes stopped dead in their tracks so that Sally could quote the Bible and Angie could get upset about it.  Since neither had anything to say about their beliefs that hadn’t already been said in a hundred other movies, their arguments were occasionally a bit dull, despite the best efforts of Caito Aase and Shaina Schrooten.

Revealer was uneven, though the ending was certainly effective and both of the lead actresses did a good job bringing their characters to life.  Watching the film, I wondered if maybe the world did end in 1987 and the rest of us just haven’t noticed yet.

Smiling Woman 2, Review by Case Wright

Well Alex, here we are…again. I guess the demon-lady’s still smiling and will break dance her way into another murder-hug. Why can’t she visit me prior to watching this short? Come and get me!!!

We open with a parking garage and a business woman walking alone. Note: I can’t know this for sure without looking her up on imdb, but the actress seems really short. In fact, she doesn’t look much taller than the wastebasket next to the pillar in the parking garage.

Help me….*she squeaked*

I don’t know why Alex had the wastebasket in the shot; it gave her scale and made her so tiny. I will give Alex credit that he cast Ariel Fullinwider again, but now in the role of the smiling woman because it gives us the lifecycle of the creature. It goes around trying on flesh like “rent a runway”; so, it’s like a “rent a skin suit” *working corporate name*.

This whole skin suit thing doesn’t work for me in terms of Conservation of Mass, NO. Matter can neither be created or destroyed and this victim is really short; so, I don’t think the skin suit will work. Mathematically, it’s proven from this straight forward differential equation:

row= density, t= time, delta = divergence, and V= fluid velocity.

Basically, you can’t put a normal sized lady into smaller lady without it looking like a Michelin Man.


Alex could’ve called and we could’ve worked through these partial derivatives together. Listen, I know what some of you are saying:

Case, you could’ve just shown me a straight-forward integral:

The change in Mass (M) of the monster about absorb short-lady would have to expand in mass and it wouldn’t matter how long you took. Monster Smiling Lady + Short Lady = Bigger Monster Lady because the total mass can’t change. Maybe she pooped the little lady out? No, I tell you, NO because she’s going from big to small; there is NO WAY that little lady could poo that much skin suit wearing monster. It fails in so many ways.

Furthermore, the whole “Breakin 2” monster moves is weird and the second lady gets absorbed with a smile-face with no mathematical proof to undue my clear and exciting explanation above. Alex does not get to break a fundamental law of physics because he’s not good at things. I get it the monster’s gotta eat or whatever, but there’d still be leftovers- an “Ariel Fullinwider To Go bag” if you will. Alex- you’re on notice!


The Fear (1995, directed by Vincent Robert)

Psychology student Richard (Eddie Bowz) wants to conduct a study.  After getting permission from the head of his department, Dr. Arnold (Wes Craven!), Richard gathers together a group of students and takes them to his family’s cottage.  He introduces the group to “Morty,” a life-sized wooden dummy who Richard has had ever since he was a child.  Morty, Richard explains, was carved by a Native American shaman and was then stolen by Richard’s grandfather.  Each member of the group is told to confess their greatest fear to “Morty.”  Even Richard takes part, confessing that he was scared of Morty when he was growing up.

File this one under “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” because the weekend quickly heads south.  Richard’s uncle (Vince Edwards) shows up unannounced with his new girlfriend, Tanya (Anna Karin).  Members of the group start to disappear and one of them is assaulted at a Christmas carnival, leading the group to suspect that one of them might be the rapist who has been attacking women on campus.  Morty starts to show up in an unexpected rooms in cottage and it appears that everyone’s fears are starting to come true!

The Fear is one of those films that used to show up on late Cinemax but I mostly remember it because it was one of those movies that always seemed to be on display at our local Blockbuster.  The VHS cover featured Morty giving someone the side-eye and looking dangerous.  Morty is the best thing about the movie.  Just looking at him is unsettling.  Why would Richard be stupid enough to tell people to confess their fears to Morty?

Morty is creepy but the movie doesn’t seem to know what to do with him.  Sometimes, Morty is evil and can move on his own and even seems to be capable of possessing someone.  Other times, the movie seems to suggests that everything that’s happening is just in Richard’s head and Morty is just a wooden dummy.  The story becomes impossible to follow as every member of the group is revealed to have a secret and Richard is finally forced to admit that there is something that he’s even more scared of than Morty.  (If, as the film suggests, Morty is mostly after Richard, why does Morty first waste so much time on the other members of the group?)  The Fear is not without ambition.  It takes the therapy scenes seriously and Eddie Bowz does seem like he’s trying to give a believable performance as Richard.  It seems like the people involved wanted to make a good movie.  But once everyone’s fears start to come true and the movie moves into a ridiculous subplot about Richard and his stepsister, the movie is too disjointed to work.  It doesn’t help that most of the fears are too mundane to really translate into an imaginative death scene.  By the end of it all, not even Morty’s that scary anymore.

Game Review: Chase The Sun (2022, Frankie Kavakich)

Something has gone wrong with the world.  For six days straight, the sun has not set and there are reports of a storm circling the globe and flooding everywhere that it hits.  Europe and Asia are gone.  You are driving down a road in Pennsylvania.  You’ve been driving for three days and, during the entire time, the sun has been right ahead of you.

Your choices are simple.  Do you keep chasing the sun?  Do you listen to the radio?  Do you think about your family and the situation that you fled when it became obvious that something had gone wrong with the world?  Do you stop for gas or do you ignore the warning light?  Simple the choices may be but they will determine how you spend your last few days on Earth.

Chase The Sun is one of the many recent games to deal with the end of the world.  One thing that almost all of these games have in common is a fatalistic view of the end.  In almost all of them, the end is inevitable and it’s just a question of whether you can go out on your own terms or not.  Chase the Sun is no different but what sets this game apart from so many other games is that your choices actually do make a difference.  This is not one of those games where all of your choices all circle back until each game reaches the same conclusion.  Instead, there are multiple endings, depending on what you choose to focus on.  You have the chance to find some happiness before the world ends but it’s going to require making some smart decisions.  Make the wrong decision and your ending will be far less pleasant.  

The game’s descriptions are vivid and, most importantly, it’s not a game that wastes any time.  It’s a game that can be played and finished within 15 minutes but, because it has so many possible endings and branching storylines, it’s also a game that reward replaying.

Play Chase The Sun.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.6 “The Joker Is Mild / Take My Granddaughter, Please / First Time Out”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

Come aboard, we’re expecting you….

The Love Boat 1.5 “The Joker Is Mild / Take My Granddaughter, Please / First Time Out”

(Dir by Richard Kinon and Alan Rafkin, originally aired on October 29th, 1977)

This week’s cruise is all about remaining true to yourself!

For instance, Julie makes what appears to be a big mistake when she agrees to let a washed-up comic named Barry Keys (Phil Foster) do a show in the ship’s lounge.  Throughout the cruise, Barry gets on everyone’s nerves with his old-fashioned jokes and his vaudeville stylings.  Captain Stubing gives Julie an annoyed look whenever Barry starts to speak.  Julie knows that her career is on the line but she made a promise.  And Barry, it turns out, know what he’s doing.  When it comes time for his performance, he asks for a stool so that he can sit in the middle of the stage and talk about the generation gap.  (“Let’s rap, as the kids say,” Barry says.)  Hooray!  Barry has revived his career and Julie still has a job.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Warner (Ruth Gordon) is determined to find a husband for her granddaughter, Shirley (Patty Duke, who spends the entire episode looking as if she’s wondering how she could go from winning an Oscar to this).  Shirley would like to hook up with the pleasantly bland Dave King (played by Tab Hunter).  Mrs. Warner wants her to go out with Dr. Bricker!  In the end, Shirley stands up for herself, as any single 30 year-old should.  (To be honest, I thought Patty Duke’s character was closer to 40 but that’s mostly the fault of whoever in the costume department decided to make her wear some of the least flattering outfits available.)  It’s all for the best.  Dave is a nice guy and Doc has an exam room full of pornographic magazines to take care of.

Finally, a group of college students board the ship with one mission in mind.  They want their friend Dan (Robert Hegyes, who has a truly impressive head of hair) to lose his virginity.  Dan, it turns out, is not only shy but he also has no idea how to talk to women.  Fortunately, her runs into Marcia Brady (Maureen McCormick) and it turns out that Marica likes shy, socially awkward guys with a lot of hair.  Okay, technically Maureen is playing Barbara Holmes but seriously, we all know that Barbara was actually Marcia.

This was a majorly uneven episode.  Barry’s revised act didn’t seem any funnier than his old stuff and it was kind of hard to sympathize with Shirley and her inability to make her own decisions.  That said, Maureen McCormick and Robert Hegyes made for a cute couple and their storyline was the most satisfying of the episode.  Personally, I think this episode would have worked better if Ruth Gordon had played Maureen McCormick’s grandmother as opposed to Patty Duke’s.  McCormick was young enough that it would have been a bit less pathetic for her to be bossed around by her grandmother and one can imagine how Ruth Gordon would have reacted to McCormick picking hairy Dan over a doctor.

Oh well!  The important thing is that everything worked out in the end and love won’t hurt anymore.

Horror Scenes I Love: The End of The Original Dawn of the Dead

The original Dawn of the Dead, which was released in 1978 and directed by George Romero, is not only one of the most influential horror films of all time.  (Even more so than Night of the Living Dead, Dawn was responsible for inspiring the Italian zombie boom.)  It’s also a rather dark satire of humanity and commercialism.  With the world ending, both humans and zombies head to the mall.  Briefly, the humans manage to form their own peaceful society but, inevitably, they end up screwing it all up.  The Dead may be slow and not particularly intelligent but, as poor old Steve discovered in that elevator, they’re absolutely determined to get what they want.

Dawn of the Dead ends with an apocalytpic combination of bikers, zombies, and one helicopter that has next to no fuel.  Our two remaining survivors head off in search of some place safe but we all know that helicopter isn’t going to stay in the sky for long.  In its way, the ending of Dawn of the Dead is even more bleak than the end of Night of the Living Dead.  The characters in Night of the Living Dead were dealing with a menace no one understood and their inability to work together was largely the result of shock and panic.  In Dawn of the Dead, everyone knows that the Dead are returning to life and everyone knows how to stop them but people still cannot set aside their differences long enough to do so.  Even with the world ending, Peter gets some joy out of shooting one of the (living) bikers.  His smirk suggests that one doesn’t need to be a zombie in order to sacrifice their humanity.

With the end of this film, Romero’s message is clear.  Society gets what it deserves.


Book Review: The Sleepwalker by R.L. Stine

With the last R.L. Stine book that I read, I was really upset when a cat was killed in the service of the plot.  In fact, I was so turned off that I pretty much just skimmed the book after the death of Mr. Jinx.

So, when I started reading 1991’s The Sleepwalker, I was understandably concerned with a black cat named Hazel made an appearance and started hissing at the main character.  “Oh no,” I said, “not again!”  Fortunately, Hazel not only survived the entire book but turned out to be a total badass!  Hazel is exactly the type of cat that you want on your side.  Not only will Hazel hiss at anyone who tries to go through your stuff but Hazel is also willing to use her claws if anyone gets out of line.  Go, Hazel, go!

As for the rest of the story, Mayra is a teenager who is totally in love with Walker, who is this weird kid who is into magic.  Unfortunately, Marya has a creepy ex-boyfriend named Link, who is also totally into magic.  (Link, I should mention, has a sister named Stephanie who is — get this — totally into magic!)  With Walker on vacation and Link acting all whiny, Marya gets a job working as a homecare assistant to old Mrs. Cottler.  Mayra’s mom once worked for Mrs. Cottler and apparently, it’s good to keep these jobs in the family.

Mayra, however, soon comes to suspect that Mrs. Cottler is a witch!  Afterall, Mrs. Cottler has a lot of strange occult-themed books and she also owns a black cat.  (Yay, Hazel!)  After one of Mrs. Cottler’s neighbors complains about her peach tree encroaching on his property, he suffers a broken hip.  Soon, Mayra is having dreams about walking into the middle of a lake and, when she wakes up, she discovers that she has been sleepwalking!  Could it be because Mrs. Cottler put a spell on her and is now trying to destroy her for some weird reason?

(Actually, considering that Mayra has dated two guys who are both into magic tricks and also how quickly Mayra jumps to the  conclusion that Mrs. Cottler must be a witch, I think it’s far more probable that Mayra herself is using her interest in the paranormal as a way to deal with past trauma.  I mean, it’s kind of remarkable that it never seems to occur to her that there might be a non-magic answer to all of her problems.  I get the feeling that her belief in magic is her way of avoiding having to confront anything.  That’s just my theory.  For the record, I don’t believe in magic but I do enjoy reading about it.)

Anyway, even by Stine standards, this is a silly story.  No one turns out to be who we originally believed them to be and it all links up to a mysterious death that occurred years before.  This is one of those things where almost every issue in the book could have been resolved by people just not being stupid.  But, and this is the most important thing …. HAZEL SURVIVES!