The Final Trailer for IT: Chapter Two


With the 50th Annual San Diego Comic Con in full swing, Warner Bros. is wasting no time in showcasing their wares. Here we have the final trailer for Andy Muschietti’s IT: Chapter Two. The more I see of this, the more I’m amazed by the casting choices. James Ransome (Eddie) and Bill Hader (Richie) really feel like the perfect matches for their roles so far. Granted, the trailer is just a taste of what we’ll see later on, but I’m hopeful.

IT: Chapter Two finds the members of the Loser’s Club returning to Derry, 27 years after their first encounter with Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgard). Will they be able to get past their fears? Can they recreate the magic they had? Will they avoid the deadlights?

It: Chapter Two, also starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Andy Bean, and Isaiah Mustafa, opens in theatres on September 6th.

Enjoy!

Stranger Things, S3, Ep 5,6,7,8, Spoiler Review by Case Wright


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I am reviewing these four episodes as a block because only 25 minutes mattered combined.  In fact, the show rapidly devolved into gross out scenes, cartoonish hijinks, cartoonish Russians, and a terrible song and dance number duo….really.  The only way this season could get rave reviews is if the reviewer binged the show and was too tired to analyze it.  I get it- you’re around your friend(s), your girlfriend is virtual, and you can barely afford your Brooklyn apartment on your blogger salary; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be critical of a show that really should just go away.

I’m adding on to my review here to discuss what makes Stranger Things so terrible now.  This series was heavily influenced by Stephen King and likely Salem’s Lot because of the repeated Vampire monsters.  More importantly, season 1 was great for the same reason that Stephen King’s stories are great- It’s not about the monster in the house; it’s about how the people are living in house with a monster.  These are your neighbors and now have to deal with something beyond reality and that was exactly what Stranger Things Season 1 was about.  There is one other theme that make Stephen King’s stories terrifying: it’s not Randall Flagg, the Werewolves, The Clowns; it’s about people who are supposed to be caring for you, but in fact do not.  This theme is in nearly every Stephen King book and it was present in Stranger Things Season 1.  El called Evil Modine “Papa” even though he was an abusive kidnapper who didn’t think anything more about El than a piece of lab equipment.  The series now has left all those themes behind to become a husk.

The last four episodes broke discretely into three distinct and equally boring and poorly executed quests: 1) Joyce, Hop, Alexi, and Weirdo try to destroy the machine opening the gate. 2) Dustin, Erica, Steve, and Robin try to escape the bunker and annoy everyone. 3) The original gang drag El around so she can get her ass beat.

Episodes 4 – 7:  Joyce and Hop go through town looking for answers and end up kidnapping a Russian engineer – Alexi.  They take him to the creepy weird guy from last season and without any story arc Alexi is all in to help.  He gives them schematics to infiltrate the Starcourt Mall underground bunker and how to destroy the machine.  Why does Alexi do all this? Who knows?  It’s a good thing Alexi is so detailed because he dies later and it doesn’t matter.  But, we do get A LOT of corny banter and goofy car scenes:

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Hop steals this car in the most corny and unrealistic way possible.  It’s corny, but it makes up for it by being cartoonish and boring.  There are A LOT of scenes where they are driving around and mostly Joyce yells a lot at Hop and Hop yells at Joyce for roughly 38 times.  It’s really dull.  They manage to infiltrate the base eventually try to destroy the machine.  Do they make it?  We have to get through many many pratfalls to find out .. wakka wakka wakka.

Dustin, Erica, Steve, and Robin infiltrate the base…..and Steve and Robin get caught right away.  This could have been a great suspenseful plot point, but instead we get hijinks!!! A goofy Russian General who makes this face a lot:

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This “torture” sequence goes on for a long long long while and really goes nowhere, which is especially disappointing because there were a couple of episodes that had real suspense.  Instead now, we get this comic book torture guy:

It’s really goofy.  It’s like the Duffer Brothers couldn’t figure out if this show was horror, comedy, or just paint by numbers garbage.  Dustin manages to bust Robin and Steve out because that’s super believable after making Dustin the LEAST physical of the bunch for 2.8 seasons.

El and the gang start to battle with the least effective monster ever.  For a Big Bad Vampire monster, it can’t see very well, it has a vague agenda, and it’s unclear what can actually kill it until the penultimate episode, which sets up Hop’s likely death.  Yes, it looks gross:

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BUT it’s REALLY REALLY bad at finding and killing things that matter.

They, of course, manage to kill off the big bad, but that was never really in doubt.  What was amazing is how the writers derailed the story in favor of WACKINESS!

The “scary” general goofs around A LOT:

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So funny how it derails the suspense. Sigh.

There is car driving wackiness: Screenshot (54).png

Above: a not funny joke was made. They laughed for a very long time.  The person on the right is Alexis.  He dies and it doesn’t matter.

The big fight with the big bad where Hop gets sacrificed: the show ruined itself.  It didn’t just go for wackiness; it stalled the epic last monster fight scene where everyone is about to die for a no kidding Song and Dance sequence- REALLY!

I remember when this song sequence started because I was young man with two newborns.  When it ended, I was sending my girls off to college.  The third picture? Yep, that’s a split screen singing moment.  It …. just….kept… going.  I was really rooting for the Monster.

Did the first four episodes give me hope? Yes, but that hope and good will was squandered by plain old corny scenes and cartoonish sequences.  Maybe, we all entered  the upside down because there is no way a third season like this should have made it to daylight without all laws of physics and reason being reversed.

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Stranger Things, S03,Ep4, Review By Case Wright


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Episode 4 had a lot going on.  It’s like the show doesn’t know how to maintain suspense from one episode to the next.  The previous episode had nothin goin on and this one was like 10 pound sausage in a 5 pound bag.  This is actually a pretty good season and the creators know that they peaked in the first season because of the incessant flashback clips to season 1.

We open with Heather and Mullet-Renfield setting up her parents to be disgustingly consumed/converted by the Monster Vampire- It’s Gross!  Of course, after following the NXIVM case, maybe we should let the Vampire Monster win?  Are we really that great that ya know we DESERVE to live.

This season is all about breaking up, reuniting, and moving on.  Dustin is breaking away and making older friends.  I’m pretty sure that Will is about to come out- Good for Him and good for the show!

Speaking of Dustin, he, Robin, and Steve are trying really hard to infiltrate the Russian mall area and they recruit Erica (Sister of Lucas) to do it.  I gotta write that she was a scene stealer.  It’s clear to me that she could be a huge star.  Erica fits through the air vents, which are actually normal sized- Good work set department.  When they enter the secret room, they hit a BAD button and they accidentally go DEEP underground.

Hop and Joyce are on the hunt for information and they get it by beating the snot out of a very smarmy Mayor (Carey Elwes) we learn that he was on the take with the Russians, the Russians own the mall, and they are buying up most of the town.  Evil Mall, Evil Russians, Evil Food Court!

The kids get back together to do battle with Mullet-Renfield.  They surmise that because the creature likes cold, they will lock Mullet-Renfield in the pool sauna.  And…. it kinda works?  They manage to activate Mullet-Guy into a vampire drone, but El, unlike previous seasons, gets her ass beat.  It’s brutal.  She does throw Mullet-guy through a wall, but why do this anyway?  Did they really need to prove his guilt?  They could’ve just followed him back to his evil lair and he wouldn’t have known they were on them.  The problem they all took their stupid pills off camera. Kids yesterday?

It would seem that we have reached a major Arc Spin-around.  It would make sense for all the heroes to lose a lot soon.  Hop will probably lose his job, Mullet-Renfield has amassed an army for the Sticky Vampire Monster, The Russians are evilling, and Dustin, Robin, Erica and Steve are going down a mineshaft.

Side plot: Creeper and Nancy get fired from the paper by the converted Editor, but she will keep pursuing the story …. for some reason.  Nancy, why not just go to community college? What are wasting your time for?  Is this Barb guilt?

It’s looking grim, BUT this is a good thing.  This season is actually keeping my interest and has real suspense even if the episodes themselves are uneven.  I’m not sure the series deserves another season yet; so, I’m hoping they give some closure this season.

 

Stranger Things S3 Ep2, The Mall Rats, Review by Case Wright


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I was right again!!! Stranger Things is a VAMPIRE show!!! No one else got that! Season 1- I proved that the show was a Vampire show. This season continues that theme with a Renfield! See my old review HERE!!!

Vampires especially Dracula uses a Renfield as a familiar.  These are people who are quasi-vampires who do the bidding of the Vampire and bring them victims and assist them in their lives.  This is seen in Dracula, Salem’s Lot, What We Do in The Shadows, and Stranger Things Season 3.

This episode is all about change and entropy.  In the previous episode, Mullet-Guy was pulled down into the steel mill.  In this episode, we learn that this was to make Mullet-guy into a familiar to the New Nosferatu!

If you’re not convinced that the new big bad is a Vampire:

  1. Lives in a dark crypt. ✔
  2. Kills small animals to live. ✔
  3. Takes a familiar. ✔
  4. Has familiar bring it a pretty victim. ✔
  5. Familiar is hypnotized. ✔
  6. Vampire moves from small animals to human victims. ✔

What we got here is a case of a Sci-Fi Nosferatu!!!

The big bad is feeding on rats and later has Mullet-Guy bring him a pretty victim to feed upon and likely enslave just like Lucy was enslaved by Dracula in Bram Stokers.  The vampire story also explains the Winona Ryder casting because she was in the Bram Stoker Dracula film. Also, Mullet-guy is now dizzy and sick when he’s exposed to sunlight! HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!!! *Spikes Ball* *Touchdown Dance*

Mike takes Hops lecture seriously and he starts lying to El.  Then, El and Mike break up.  Big Whoop.  Don’t Care.  Lucas and his girlfriend are much more interesting characters anyway.  They have wit and drama.  Mike and El’s relationship is basically a one-note in dullsville.

Steve, Robin, and Dustin have decoded the Russian message sort of.  I’m actually coming to the belief that neck breaking Russian guy is in the upside down and they are trying to get back to the real world.  Also, that the melted Russians from the first episode are actually the Big Bad from Season 2 and Season 3.  The experiment fused them and now they are a combined angry monster vampire.

The episode ends as said before with Mullet-Renfield bringing the Monster a pretty victim. Just like in Dracula!

 

Stranger Things, S3, Ep1, Suzie, Do you copy?, Review By Case Wright, (Dir. Matt and Ross Duffer)


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And…..We’re Back!

This series is special to me. It’s the first I ever reviewed for this site.  It was awesome- Read Here

I have watched every episode of this series.  The first season was epic and even engendered a ride at Universal Studios.  Season 2 was a show that was aired on Netflix with Sean Astin.  This season has a new big bad who looks a lot like last years big bad. So….I hope it’s better than last year’s terribleness.  This episode opened with a bit of meh, but better than Season Two’s sophomore slump.  I’m guessing that it will be kinda of fun to watch.  In any case, I write for an entertainment blog, so this is happening!

Cold Open: The Russians are trying to open the gate and they are EVIL!  One guy goes full on Ivan Drago (Rocky IV) and lifts a guy by the neck and chokes hims to death! Their experiment apparently releases the smoke monster again and he’s pissed at Hawkins!

Our older heroes are really not doing well.  Nancy is a gopher at a sexist newspaper.  Jake Busey is one of the reporters.  I’m not sure if Jake knew this was a role or if he thought, “I’ve always wanted to work at a newspaper in a dying town!” and just ran with it.  Creeper has found his niche working as a creepy photographer for a creepy newspaper.  We’re better off without elitist journalists anyway.  All Hail The Bloggers!!!!

Steve is working at the mall at a terrible ice cream shop and striking out with every girl in Indiana.  I suppose this is possible.  He wears a dorky outfit, but he’s still Steve.  I kinda doubted this whole constant rejection he’s getting.  I think it’s the writers were  thinking that the moment good looking people leave high school, they are nobody.  This doesn’t make sense because IRL beautiful people make tons of money as actors and generally do pretty well getting dates.  It takes me out of it a little.

The gang is all about their hormones.  Mike and El are constantly making out and disrespecting Hop, which I really can’t stand.  Hop is troubled by and turns to his unrequited love Joyce who tells him to get to get all kumbaya and I just can’t watch.  This comes to a head at the end of the episode where Hop loses it and I’m hoping he smacks Mike around- in a nice way.

Dustin returned from science camp and he built a Radio Tower to speak with his girlfriend in Utah.  Everyone keeps acting totally shocked that Dustin could have a girlfriend.  This came across as mean and dickish to me.  I mean Dustin isn’t Brad Pitt, but he’s smart and nice.  Anywho, they erect the radio tower and Dustin can’t reach her, giving his girlfriend claim a “My girlfriend is in Canada” feel to it. To my Canadian readers, we down south have been claiming that you were our girlfriends for generations.  I know this sounds weird, but here we are.   He does pick up a signal from the Russians and they are trying to open their own gate to evil town.

Ok, Cara Buono is at the pool as is Mullet-guy.  Mullet-guy is now the lifeguard and they going to have an affair.  This all seems to be ready to go, but the smoke monster is taking up space in the abandoned Steel Mill and eats him or something.  Why a Steel Mill?  Well, the Smoke Monster is really into depressed real estate and factories can be converted into lofts for the hipster set.  It’s really forward thinking on Smokey’s part.

I would say this episode is a bit clunky, but good.  Is it the thrill ride of the first season? NO NO NO, but honestly what is?!  Stranger Things season 1 was a television event up there with The Stand, Shogun, or It.  In fact, it was never meant to be a recurring series until the last minute, but hey it’s better than watching re-runs of Parks and Rec.

See you soon for ep 2!!!

 

 

 

Horror Film Review: It (dir by Andy Muschietti)


Here’s something that Leonard Wilson and I have often pondered here at the TSL offices:

Why is it sometimes easier to write about a film that you hate than a film that you love?

Seriously, whenever I watch a film that I hate, the review is practically written in my head before the end credits have even finished.  Take Wolves At The Door, for instance.  It took me 15 minutes to write that review, largely because I hated the movie and I knew exactly why.  Perhaps it’s because the films that we hate are usually films that have absolutely nothing going on beneath the surface.  It’s a lot easier to write a review when you don’t have to consider things like nuance or subtext.

But, whenever I see a film that I absolutely love, it always takes me longer to write the review.  It’s intimidating to try to explain why you loved a film.  After all, if you loved it then you want everyone else to love it too.  And you want to be able to explain yourself with something more than just: “This was a really good movie.”

Take It, for instance.  It opened last month.  I saw it on opening weekend.  I thought it was a great movie, one that worked in almost every way possible.  I thought it was well-acted.  I thought Andy Muschietti did an excellent job directing it.  I thought that the film’s screenwriters did a wonderful job adapting a challenging novel.  When It was scary, it made me scream.  When It was funny, it made me laugh.  Most importantly, when It was dramatic, it brought tears to my eyes.  It was not just a brilliant horror movie but it was a brilliant movie period, one of the best of the year so far.

And yet, it’s taken me a month to write the 300 words that you just read.  Fortunately, back in September, Ryan C. posted a review of his own.

I assume that most of our readers have already seen It or, at the very least, they’re familiar with what the film is generally about.  It’s based on the famous novel by Stephen King, a work that many feel is King’s best.  It follows a group of 12 year-old outcasts, the so-called Losers Club, as they spend the summer of 1989 trying to avoid both local bullies and Pennywise the Dancing Clown (played by Bill Skarsgard), the cannibalistic demon who lives in the sewers and who awakens every 27 years so that it can feed.  Pennywise has already killed George, the younger brother of Bill Denborough (Jaeden Leiberher), the unofficial leader of the Losers Club.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Pennywise is terrifying.  If horror films actually get Oscar nominations, Bill Skarsgard would, at the very least, be in the running for best supporting actor.  But what’s interesting is that Pennywise is not necessarily the scariest thing about the film.  As both outcasts and children, the members of the Losers Club are in the unique position to be able to understand that, despite its placid surface, Derry would be a scary place even without a killer clown.  Much like the town of Twin Peaks, there is much going on underneath the surface.

Overweight Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor) is attacked by bully Henry Bowers (a terrifying Nicholas Hamilton), who proceeds to try to carve his name into Ben’s stomach.

Hypochondriac Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Glazer) is literally held prisoner by his domineering mother.

African-American Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) and Jewish Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff) spend their days being targeted over their skin color and religion.

Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) lives in poverty with her sexually abusive father.

Ever since the disappearance of George, Bill Denborough has watched his family fall apart.

Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) tells jokes because making people laugh is the only way he can convince them not to beat him up.

Even the fearsome Henry Bowers lives with an abusive father who has obviously passed down his twisted worldview to his son.

And yet, despite all of that, It is not a relentlessly grim movie.  In some ways, it’s one of the most hopeful horror films that I’ve ever seen.  This may be a horror film but it’s also a celebration of friendship.  The members of the Losers Club may be outcasts but at least they have each other.  It may be a horror film but it’s also a coming-of-age story, an adventure of growing up that the members of the Losers Club will never forget.  (Except, of course, they will…but not until the sequel…)  All of the child actors are natural and believable in their roles.  Since he gets the funniest lines, Finn Wolfhard is an obvious audience favorite but really, the entire ensemble does a good job.

Between Get Out at the start of the year and It in September, this has been a very good year for horror.  It is one of the best films of 2017 so see it.

Stranger Things: Season 1, Episode 8: The Upside Down, ALT Title: Hop’s Redemption


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Cold Open:  Evil Modine’s Government Facility:  Joyce is screaming and Evil Modine enters.  He conveys with cold calm that six people were taken this week and tries to bully Joyce like he did Karen.  Joyce isn’t having it.  Henchwoman is having people taser Hop … A LOT!  He tells them that he knows everything about they did.  They propose to have him overdose.  He counters that they arm him and let him and Joyce go.  How does Hop fit into his pants with balls that big?!

High school:  The boys are at the school and restless.  They realize that Nancy and Creeper are gone.

Joyce’s House: They set up several booby traps and the xmas lights, which sets up an inconsistency in the storytelling.

Evil Modine comes to Hop.  Hop convinces Evil Modine to to arm him, release him AND Joyce, and allow him to pursue the monster.  He offers to forget about him and their project and he’ll tell him where El is, if he agrees to his terms.

Hop and Joyce get spacesuited up and enter into the belching gate to the Upside Down.

ROLL CREDITS:

The Upside Down: Hop and Joyce are looking for Will.  The respirator noise causes Hop to Flash to happier times.

Hop is in the past… clean-shaven, with his wife and daughter, and happy.  His daughter starts to wheeze.

The Upside Down:  Nancy and Creeper cut themselves to draw out the Postmodern Vampire.  She wonders how she will know when the monster will be coming, which brings us to the story hole: Why would she be screwing the lights back in before if she didn’t know that they had a purpose? Steve bangs at the door and forces himself into the house. They both try to get him to leave and Nancy even pulls a gun on him, but then the lights flicker, the monster appears, and Steve’s brain breaks a little.  They run to Will’s room.

The Upside Down:  Hop sees the destroyed Castle Byers and a teddy bear causes him to FLASH.

Hospital Room:  He is reading to his daughter who is bald from cancer.  When he’s done reading, he goes into the hospital stairwell and sobs.  Poor Hop.

Joyce’s House: Steve freaks out and runs to his car, but he sees the lights flickering and decides to become a hero.  The monster appears behind Nancy and Creeper.  Steve jumps in and starts hitting the monster with an upgraded baseball bat.  The monster gets trapped in the bear trap.  They set the monster on fire and it disappears.  There is smoldering monster blood in the trap.  My best guess of what smoldering Vampire Monster smells like is anything on the Arby’s menu.  

The Upside Down:  Hop and Joyce are in her home and they see the blood from the monster.  The lights start turning on in Joyce’s house.

High School: Dustin finds pudding. We get it; he’s the fat kid!  Mike talks to El about how his family will quasi-adopt her. Jibber Jabber Jibber Jabber, they kiss.  Then, Evil Modine and his Goons arrive to retrieve El.  The boys and El run.   They make it into a hallway and are cutoff with ….Goons to the Left and Goons to the Right and she’s the only El in town! [Sung]

El uses her mojo and melts/explodes the brains and eyes of the Henchwoman and several goons.  This brings us to bad ideas: New Coke, The Edsel, Qwikster, The Zune, Grease 2, and cornering a pissed off teenager with lethal mental Superpowers.  Hop and Joyce pursue the monster and follow its bloodtrail to the library where Hop has looked for love.

High school: The boys get grabbed by goons and El is passed out from mental exertion. Evil Modine hugs her and promises to make everything better to make her better.   The lights flash.  Mike sees the blood, the monster breaks through the wall, and envelops Evil Modine.  Once again, it’s a monster, who hunts at night, and searches for blood.   NOSFERATU!!!!!

The Library:  Joyce and Hop are in the public library.  They see skulls everywhere and viney gooeyness.  Lastly, they see Will with a monster snake attached to his mouth.

Flash to Hop’s daughter’s Hospital Room:  We see his daughter intubated and dying.  She flatlines.  The scene is intercut with Hop watching his daughter dying and him removing Will’s monster snake from him.

High school:  The goons are fighting the monster and losing.  The monster enters the room where the boys are hiding and Lucas tries to kill the monster with the slingshot for some reason.  The monster is flung and pinned against the wall.  El is awake with red eyes and is really pissed.  She looks back at the one boy she ever loved, says good bye, and then using her mind – she creates a bright LIGHT ….AHEM … A Bright Light like the Sun and destroys the monster by disintegrating both herself and it.

Hop and Joyce:  Hop is doing CPR on Will with Joyce’s help to revive Will.  In saving Will, he will have also released himself from the prison of his grief. We flash to the Hop’s dying daughter with doctors failing to save her and we see the beginning of his beard.  However, in the Upside Down, Hop is able to save Will and, in doing so, himself as well.

High school: Karen arrives and hugs her son.

The Hospital:  Will awakens to his family.

The Waiting Room:  Everyone is waiting for Will to wake up in the hospital.  The tragedy has brought them together as one community, one tribe.  When the boys hear that Will is awake, they run in and jibber jabber a bit.  Hop goes outside and is picked up by goons, but in a friendly way.

ONE MONTH LATER:

Snow has begun.  The boys are playing D&D again.  Creeper picks up Will and gets a present from Nancy, but we rapidly see that she isn’t his girlfriend.  It’s a camera. HMMMMM, not sure if that will improve Creeper’s prospects of staying out of handcuffs. 

Hop Goes to the station and gets some food and makes some wise cracks.  He drops off some eggos in a dead drop, which is presumably for El.

Joyce’s House: It’s all fixed up because the town must have pitched in together.  Will heads to the bathroom and barfs up a slug monster, flashes into the Upside Down, and doesn’t tell anyone because I guess mash potatoes were all he could think about at that time.

ROLL CREDITS

This has been so much fun!  Demand more with all your might!!!