Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: April 1990

The “Ha!” comedy Channel on cable TV begins transmitting.  Wrestlemania VI, Ultimate Warrior fights Hulk Hogan.  World’s largest bunny hop at Radio City Music Hall (NYC).  Madonna starts her controversial Blond Ambition Tour in Tokyo, Japan.  Hubble space telescope is placed into orbit by shuttle Discovery.

 

Music

Honorable mention to the soundtracks that have their fans but that I can’t personally get into: The Lightning Seeds: Cloudcuckooland; Fleetwood Mac: Behind the Mask (I was never into this band, though it was difficult to get through the 90s without hearing them mentioned); Suzanne Vega: Days of Open Hand (won a Grammy); Lou Reed and Jon Cale: Songs for Drella; Barry Manilow: Live on Broadway (eventually reached Platinum status); A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm; The Dead Milkmen: Metaphysical Graffiti; Hunters & Collectors: Ghost Nation; The Afghan Whigs: Up in it.

En Vogue: Born to Sing

This is the type of music you would expect to hear in those gangsta teenage/adult flicks that have a romantic main plot or subplot to it.  Decent music to fit those type of films where they couldn’t think of something better to play over the opening or closing credits of a 90s film.  But in all seriousness, this did make Platinum, so it has to be up there for consideration.  It may not be my type of music, but this is some definitive 90s hip-hop, soul, and r&b.  “Strange” is the track that stood out for me.

 

Public Enemy: Fear of a Black Planet

Now while I usually don’t prefer giving significant mention to rap groups (because rap isn’t really my kind of music), when we’re dealing with Public Enemy, and with the album that released the track Fight the Power, I kind of have to make an exception.

 

Green Day: 39/Smooth

Yep.  The debut album from Green Day.  You know their name.  And as far as debut albums go, this is a pretty damn good one.  Top song pick: I Was There.

 

That Petrol Emotion: Chemicrazy

This was supposed to be the “make or break” album, their “do or die” attempt.  Some say it is the best stuff the band has ever put out, and is one of the best hidden gems of music out there.  Which pretty much says all you need to know as to whether or not the Irish alternative rock band made it.  They didn’t.  But there is this stuff to look back on and remember them by.  And I have to admit, this album isn’t half bad.

 

Death Angel: Act III

A band that attempted to be the next Metallica, and many would argue they succeeded when they released this album.  Considered their magnum opus.  Unfortunately, they would break up soon after this album’s release, but reunite during the next decade to release some more albums.  Personally, I think the album is just ok.  No single track is fantastic or terrible.  The whole thing is consistent, and decent.

 

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: The Good Son

Huh.  I’m honestly at a loss for words for this one.

 

Johnny Gill: Johnny Gill

So this isn’t an album I would listen to.  But, this is one of those albums whose style screams 90s.  Well ok, so it’s more like mid-80s to early 90s, which is basically when this style of music called New Jack Swing burst onto the scene, but it was definitely prevalent during much of the time period.  It had 4 hit singles: “Rub You the Right Way,” “My, My, My,” “Wrap My Body Tight,” and “Fairweather Friend.”  While I wouldn’t purchase the album to listen to, I would eat up these songs when they play in a movie or 90s tv show.

 

Warrior Soul: Last Decade Dead Century

Fairly good grunge rock album before Nirvana came along and popularized the genre.  A pity they ended up not catching on to popularity.

 

Consolidated: The Myth of Rock

This one is interesting.  That’s all I’ll say.  This is one of those strange hip-hop, hard-rock, and industrial mash-up styles.

 

Fugazi: Repeater

Interesting punk-rock style, which basically has some genre titled post-harcore.  Well whatever you want to call the style, the album itself, it’s not bad.

 

Beats International: Let Them Eat Bingo

Some damn infectious funky stuff.  If you should ever seek this album out, try to get the out of print Japanese 2-disc release.  Otherwise, it might either be missing a couple songs, or trimmed down a few.

But anyway, the album of the month for me would have to be, undoubtedly:

 

Bathory: Hammerheart

Now this is more like my kind of metal.  And not just metal, but Viking Metal!  In fact, one could argue they created the genre, starting in 1988 with their album Blood Fire Death; only to completely define the genre here with this album.  Just listen to this epic masterpiece (assuming it’s your kind of music, like it is for me).

 

Now for my highlights for films of the month.

Movies

Honorable mention to a film called Spaced Invaders.  Not because it’s good, but because it’s a notorious piece of shit.  And there’s this horror film called The Guardian which has a bit of a cult status, but I personally didn’t think much of it.  Some people who like Ernest will likely enjoy Ernest Goes to Jail, but I didn’t find that movie all that appealing; but it does highlight kiddie 90s humor at some of its most extreme.  With that out of the way…

Cry-Baby

The only real reason to mention this movie is because this was Johnny Depp’s performance that put him in the spotlight.  Otherwise, the film itself is a lesser version of Grease, and just meh overall.

 

Mister Johnson

While I don’t personally enjoy this movie myself, it has become revered as a classic that isn’t all that well known.  It’s about a black African who was more or less raised as a British person, and how both those cultures end up clashing with each other in the worst ways.  He embodies the best and worse traits of both, which inevitably leads to a tragic albeit fitting conclusion.  A film misunderstood back in the day, and deserves a chance.

 

Q&A

An interesting enough police procedural, with Nick Nolte giving a great performance.  That is all.

 

Miami Blues

Bit of a cult classic, with a role that Alec Baldwin is actually good in (because he plays an asshole).  Sort of like Payback in that you get ready to root for the bad guy.  And this film doesn’t beat around the bush with his character, he stays villainous, with only small slivers of good that temporarily peek though, until the very end.  And this film had the plot of a criminal stealing the identity of a police officer before that show Banshee did it decades later.

 

I Love You To Death

This is one of those movies I wouldn’t enjoy so much, if I didn’t know that it was based on a true story, and some of the most insane events that take place during the film’s second half actually happened.  Truth is stranger than fiction.  This would be the most criminally overlooked film of the month if not for…

 

Backtrack (aka Catchfire)

I reviewed this film.  A misunderstood masterpiece that has been crippled by a theatrical cut, only for the Director’s Cut (the way it is meant to be seen) to pass by largely unnoticed, only given a VHS release.

 

Now for my highlights for videogames of the month.

Games

There was sort of a sequel to Metal Gear called Snake’s Revenge that came out on the NES, but that’s one of those Metal Gear titles everyone would like to forget about.  There was also a Fist of the North Star release for Game Boy, the system’s first fighting game.  But it didn’t seem all that great, despite the existence of a few people who seem to enjoy it.

 

NAM-1975 (April 1990; Arcade, Neo Geo)

Gotta point out the first major Neo Geo game.
Galaxian 3 (April 1990; Arcade)

This wasn’t just an arcade game.  This was a motherfucking 90s event!
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road (April 1990; NES)

Oh yes.
Phantom Fighter (April 1990; NES)

Pinbot (April 1990; NES)

 

 

Tecmo World Wrestling (April 1990; NES)

Some call this the greatest wrestling game of all time.  Eh, I don’t know about that, but many loved it back then.
Super C (April 1990; NES)

The sequel to Contra.  And it was better.

 

 

WCW World Championship Wrestling (April 1990; NES)

Well, they weren’t going to let Tecmo have all the fun.  So here’s the other good NES wrestling game:

Wrath of the Black Manta (April 1990; NES)

Despite just about every video reviewer bitching about this game today, it holds a lot of nostalgia for many, who still proclaim this game to be good for a Shinobi knockoff.  It may be inferior to Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden, but it had its fans.

Xexyz (April 1990; NES)

Oh lord yeah!

Air Diver (April 1990; Sega Genesis)

Well, the Sega Genesis had to have at least one decent one.  The system was still just getting going.  It would get better titles and be more capable of competing with Nintendo down the road.  Until then, this was their Top Gun (more like Firefox, the Clint Eastwood film).

Nemesis (April 1990; Game Boy)

Basically an inferior port of Gradius.  But everything on the Game Boy was inferior, so…

 

 

Heiankyo Alien (April 1990; Game Boy)

This game is unique and weird, and that’s all I’ll say.

Flipull (April 1990; Game Boy)

Man, just when I thought the Game Boy had no more surprises in it, we get this unique little puzzler.  There’s a Famicom version with better graphics.

 

 

 

TV Shows

Afterdrive (April 1, 1990?; Ha!)

The Ha! channel before it became Comedy Central.  They had this little show with Dennis Leary and Billy Kimball.  Never saw it, but people seem to remember it for Dennis, the theme song, and a couple comedy sketch bits that they retained in their memories over the years.

 

Marshall Chronicles (April 4 1990; ABC)

Only ran for one season.  Many loved this show, but it never had enough viewers to keep it maintained.  The fans claimed it had a great combination of intellectual and slapstick comedy.

 

 

Shannon’s Deal (April 16, 1990 – May 21, 1991; NBC)

Shannon's Deal (1990)

Another short lived 2 season series that had its fans who wished the show ran longer, or at least got a legit video release.  About a lawyer/gambler.  I mean, seriously, there are fans of this show who legitimately love it and consider it one of the best ever.  And I never heard of it until doing research for this month.

 

 

Cartoon All Stars to the Rescue (April 21, 1990; 4 major TV networks)

Gotta inform the kiddies about the war on drugs.

 

 

 

And now for the big 3:

 
Wings (April 19, 1990; NBC)

Famous comedy series that ran for 8 seasons.  Though the show did decline in quality during the last 2 seasons.

 

 

In Living Color (April 15, 1990 – May 19, 1994; Fox)

Of course, who can forget one of the best skit-comedy shows that is probably only topped in terms of popularity by Saturday Night Live?  Not to mention all the celebrities who were made famous because of this (again, like SNL).  Watch how long it takes before the anti-PC jokes start to fly.

 

 

Twin Peaks (April 8, 1990 – June 10, 1991; ABC)

Undoubtedly the most influential prime-time television series of the year, let alone of the month.  The show that broke ground of having an ongoing story progress from episode to episode, as opposed to having most episodes be stand-alone events (like sitcoms).  Everyone was in a frenzy over the first season, to the point where even news broadcasts would ask the question, “Who killed Laura Palmer?”  Unfortunately, the second season answered that question, and many have mixed opinions about it, mostly negative.  But then we got a third season in more recent years that is far more difficult to approach for casual viewers.

Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: March 1990

March 1990, the sequel to February 1990.  An interesting month to be sure for that year.  Steve Jackson Games gets raided by the U.S. Secret Service; a case that would evolve years later into something establishing the legalities of online speech still equating to speech; as in free speech.  Carole Gist becomes the 1st African American to be crowned Miss USAHeriberto Seda becomes a New York City Zodiac Killer copycat.  Janet Jackson wins a Soul Train Music Award.  The first world ice hockey tournament for women is held in Ottowa.  The LA Lakers retire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Star Trek V wins the Golden Raspberry Award.  Akira Kurosawa wins the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The United States begins broadcasting TV Martí to Cuba in an effort to bridge the information blackout imposed by the Castro regime.  The final episode of the cancelled series Alf aired on the 24th.  And Michael Jordon is still hot in basketball.

 

Music

Ok, some disclosure before proceeding here.  I’m generally not a fan of rap and hip-hop, but I can’t ignore something that reached platinum status (and later quadruple platinum; that’s not a joke in case you were wondering, that’s a real thing apparently).  So Bill Biv DeVoe released an album titled Poison that was a huge hit.  Not my kind of music, but for those who are curious to know and are interested in that style of music.  I’ll be sticking with my metal and rock.  Also worth mentioning is Salt-N-Pepa: Black’s Magic, Digital Underground: Sex Packets, Above the Law: Livin’ Like Hustlers, Urban Dance Squad: Mental Floss for the Globe.  The rap and hip-hop wave was out in full force.  For those electronic lovers, there’s also The Beloved: Happiness.  As for the rock & roll genre, I’ll give an honorable mention to The Fall – Extricate, and to Nitzer Ebb: Showtime.

Tribe: Here at the Home

The song “Outside” would later be featured in the game Rock Band.  Personally, I’m more akin to the song “Rescue Me.”  The band never made it big and only released 3 albums and disbanded in 1994.  It had its fans; I wasn’t one of them (a casual listener at best).  But the songs are decent enough.  Plus I’m a bit biased with this particular selection, considering some band members would go on to get involved with the creation of the videogame Thief II: The Metal Age.  And System Shock 2.

 

Borghesia – Resistance

So this is an electronic band, which usually isn’t my thing.  But I have to admit, I really dig the beats on this album.  It sounds epic, yet not overdone.  I mean, just the opening track is incredible.  The downside is that it’s in a foreign language that us English speakers won’t be able to understand, but that’s ok, because I usually have a hard time listening to lyrics in general anyway.

 

Robert Plant: Manic Nirvana

Interesting rock n’roll stuff.  It’s groovy.  Stand outs for me were Tie Dye on the Highway, Anniversary, Watching You.

 

Depeche Mode: Violator

You know this band from the song Personal Jesus.

 

Heart: Brigade

Definitely one of the best female bands that has ever existed.  But there’s only one song for me on this album.  Wild Child.

 

Social Distortion: Social Distortion

It’s one of the most famous rock bands with their debut album.  I have to include this just on principle alone, even if these guys are pricks.  You’ve heard the songs “Ball and Chain” and “Story of my Life.”  I think the band is just ok, but one can’t ignore their fame.

 

Movies

I’ll give an honorable mention for a film called Side Out.  The film itself is just so-so at best, but it does have, “that’s so 90s” feel to it, and many do consider it the greatest beach volleyball movie ever made (some competition that genre’s got; I still say Top Gun is the best one, and it’s not even a beach volleyball movie).  So, with that out of the way, there were some fairly good picks for this month.

Lambada

A film to capitalize and promote the lambada dance craze, which never really took off as well as many hoped it would.  In fact, in the same month, another lambada film was released titled The Forbidden Dance.  Let’s just say it’s not even in the same league as this film.  But whatever, this is a prime guilty pleasure film, with great cheese and ridiculous moments.  Such a guilty pleasure for me that I enjoy it more than Dirty Dancing (you can’t hit me, I’ll lambada dodge all those beer bottles and bullets coming my way).  This is one of the definitive, “that’s so 90s” films.  Though I have to admit, that chick in the poster is a bit of a bitch in the movie, in ways that, well, just don’t happen in movies anymore, at least not in the context of this movie.

 

Joe Versus the Volcano

First it’s a dystopian future film about a guy who hates his desk job.  Then it turns into a road-travel-romance flick.  It’s interesting, and a bit of a cult classic (this month’s films have plenty of those).  What would you do if you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal disease and only had a few months to live?

 

Last of the Finest

So it’s mainly a so-so cop action-thriller, but I’m a bit of a sucker for this movie.  Especially because of the bitchin’ shootout during the finale.  Also known as Blue Heat in the UK, which is a better title.

 

The Ambulance

This is a pretty damn fun thriller that moves along at a brisk pace which never lets up once you get about 30 minutes in.  James Earl Jones literally chews the scenery, Stan Lee makes a cameo, and there’s some fun stunts served with a decent dose of cheese.  This film flies under the radar of many, but it’s a great under-appreciated popcorn flick worth checking out.

 

Blind Fury

A cult classic.  It’s no Zatoichi, but it’s the best American-made blind swordsman movie we’re ever going to get.

 

House Party

House Party movie posters at movie poster warehouse ...

Found it difficult to get into until the 2nd half kicked in (though I do believe I should give that portion a second chance).  That second half alone makes the film worth seeing.  Great down-to-earth characters and moments; some good laughs; and one of the best endings ever.  A true cult classic, the kind that Superbad wishes it could be.

 

Pretty Woman

This was the #1 highest grossing film of the year.  It also skyrocketed Julia Roberts film career.  And… it’s not bad, for a dream scenario of a rich guy going out with a hooker and making her life better and saving her from it (I’ll take it over 50 Shades anyday).  Richard Gere and Julia Roberts work well together, and would team up again in a future romantic comedy film.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Come on, you know this movie!  You know this franchise!  The most financially successful independent film of that decade.  And you bet your ass it’s the best live action TMNT film ever made.

 

The Hunt for Red October

Arguably the best film of the month, at least as far as popularity from today’s perspective goes.  Also arguably the most famous Tom Clancy novel-to-film adaptation ever done (though not my personal favorite; that one comes later on).

Games

I’ll give brief mention to Kid Kool and the Quest for the Seven Wonder Herbs, just because the Kid Kool franchise  was known well-enough during the time period.  But this game is too fucking irritating to recommend playing.  Fuck you, and your Mario Bros. rip-offs.

Baseball Simulator 1.000 (NES)

No, I’m not a fan of sports games.  But this one is remembered by anyone who played it during that time period.  That’s all I’ll say.

 

Burai Fighter (NES)

Now this is more like my kind of side-scroller shooter.  This is fun, but like most of them, hard as hell.

 

Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (NES)

Yep, another fun side-scroller.  Just look at those levels.  Aren’t the graphics great?  It’s like you’re flying through intestines.

 

Adventures of Lolo 2 (NES)

Finally.  Something that is neither a sports game nor a shooter.  A puzzle-like game.

 

Conflict (NES)

Well what-do-ya-know?  Another one that stands out.  This time it’s more of a tabletop wargame than it is a puzzle game or shooter.  Basically think of it as one of those Avalon Hill wargames from the 70s and 80s put into videogame format, and this is basically what you get.  If we had an NES back in the day (I was a Sega Genesis person, didn’t hop over to Nintendo until the N64 came out), I’d imagine my dad would’ve played the hell out of this.  He’s a sucker for stuff like this.

 

 

Code Name: Viper (NES)

Another side-scrolling shooter, but this time it’s a shameless rip-off of the arcade game (also ported to the NES) Rolling Thunder.  However, they did improve on the gameplay, letting it be a bit more forgiving (ie fair).

 

Al Unser’s Jr. Turbo Racing (NES)

That racing music.  The immersion this manages to bring for an NES title.  Have to admit, despite racing games not being my thing, there’s something alluring and addictive about this one.

 

Astyanax (NES)

Good luck pronouncing the name of this hack-and-slash side-scroller.  Another port of an arcade game (most NES games were).

 

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle (Game Boy)

Well…  Ok, so this game isn’t regarded as good.  But it does have a reputation that made it well-known.  The first videogame released to feature Bugs Bunny.  Puzzle elements.  And gameplay that infuriated gamers; including the inability to fucking jump, while you played as a fucking bunny!

 

Kwirk (Game Boy)

So this is when I usually throw the Game Boy a bone here, because their games aren’t on par with those from the NES and PC.  But when the games emphasize puzzle-solving rather than action, then it’s not bad.  The hand-held systems weren’t capable of making any decent real-time action games yet.  But every now and then…  But this is no masterpiece.  It gets monotonous.  But the fact that there’s a Game Boy game that’s fun which isn’t Pokemon…

 

Revenge of the ‘Gator (Game Boy)

And what-do-ya-know?  Another decent title for the Game Boy.  Another pinball game.  Quite polished for a Game Boy title.

Shows

Well, there were at least 2 memorable ones that go a bit beyond being just cult favorites.  Makes it better than last month’s offerings then.

NewsWatch TV (March 1990 – present; AMC Network, Ion Television)

You can pretty much tell what this is from the description.  A news series.  Well, considering it’s still ongoing; kinda worth mentioning.
H.E.L.P. (March 3, 1990 – April 14, 1990; ABC)

I honestly can’t say I know much about this series.  What I do know is that some consider it to be ahead of its time, and cancelled as a result.  To quote a youtuber: “it was basically Third Watch…but a decade earlier, with some really big names in it.” Also came out before Law & Order, though that would be coming soon.  Only ran for one season (6 episodes), and was intended to be a simple mid-season replacement for Mission Impossible.  Mainly mentioning the show because it may have inspired others that came after it, particularly Third Watch (which wouldn’t come out until near the end of the decade).

 

Sydney (March 21 – June 25, 1990; CBS)

A show that was hyped and sort of popular, likely because it starred Valerie Bertinelli.  But it was short lived and didn’t go past 13 episodes for 1 season.  Never saw it, but I’m aware of the brief popularity it had at the time.

 

The Outsiders (March 25, 1990 – July 22, 1990; Fox)

There are a lot of mixed opinions about this show.  On the one hand, the pilot episode ended up being one of the highest watched and rated series premieres of all time during that time period.  On the other hand, the ratings fell sharply after that, thanks to 60 Minutes and Married With Children.  Some revere the show, others think it is a borderline disgrace to the famous film it acts as a sequel to.  Main reason it has its haters is largely due to the cast, which many felt were inferior to those who were cast in the 1980s movie.  The show only ran for one season and was cancelled, but from what I understand it didn’t end on a cliffhanger either; so it can be considered more-or-less complete.  You be the judge, if you ever decide to watch it.

 

Equal Justice (March 27, 1990 – July 3, 1991; ABC)

The show had its cult following, which were outraged when the show got cancelled after 2 seasons.  From what I understand, just about everyone who watched the show loved it.  Great cast and writing.  But it never built up a big enough audience (like others); probably because many dismissed it as an LA Law ripoff.  Plus the early 90s was loaded with courtroom drama and police drama shows already, and Law & Order hadn’t even aired yet.  So if you like your Pittsburgh D.A. shows, well here’s another you might like.
Bagdad Cafe (March 30, 1990 – July 27, 1991; CBS)

As if The Outsiders wasn’t enough, now we have another series made that is based on a film (and may more or less act as a sequel to it).  I wouldn’t have given this sitcom much thought if not for one thing.  It stars Whoopi Goldberg.  That should be enough to convince some to give it a watch, even if it did get cancelled midway through season 2.

 

Carol & Company (March 31, 1990 – July 20, 1991; NBC)

Only ran for one season, then got cancelled (though there was some sort of spin-off which some would consider season 2, which also didn’t last long).  An anthology series without any ongoing character development or storyline.  So it didn’t leave any threads dangling when it got off the air.  Anyway, some people love the show.  I was never a watcher.

 

Alright, so enough with the petty shows only some fanatical fans remember.  Now for the 2 big tamales.

 

Tribes (March 5 – July 13, 1990; Fox)

Ah, this show.  One of the High School soap operas that made its mark alongside other shows like Degrassi and Edgemont (the latter of which would show up during the next decade).  It was created precisely for the timeslot it occupied, so that high schoolers could catch an episode when they got home before doing their homework.  Unfortunately, despite the popularity and cult following this series had, it was cancelled after 1 season of 95 episodes.  Fox hoped the series would reach Syndication, but it never happened.  Oh well.  Thanks for the memories.

 

Road to Avonlea (March 5, 1990 – March 31, 1996; The Disney Channel)

Heard good things about this Emmy Award winning series from Canada.  Ran for 7 seasons.  Technically, the series started airing in Canada in January 1990, but made it’s way to American televisions for this month.  But watch out for those alternate titles and versions.  To quote Wikipedia, “In the United States, its title was shortened to simply Avonlea, and a number of episodes were retitled and reordered. When the series was released on VHS and DVD in the United States, the title changed from Road to Avonlea to Tales from Avonlea.”  It’s a family show that takes place during the very early 1900s.  And this could very well be the top show of March 1990, and one of those series many hold in high reverence.  I should check it out sometime.

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956-2007) epic 4 film review, and what the films say about society then and now.

Fair warning, there will be spoilers for all 4 films.  I strongly encourage you to watch at least one of these Body Snatcher films first before reading this review; preferably the 1978 version.

What True Horror Is

When people talk about horror, about films that scare them, I think back years ago to a Bravo special where they listed the top 100 scariest movie moments of all time (pretty sure AMC did something similar at some point).  But the list can also be equated to the top 100 most terrifying films of all time.  Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was listed among them, because of the boat trip where they saw disturbing imagery.  Up in the top three was The Exorcist, and Alien.  After those two came and went in 2nd and 3rd place, I was left wondering, “Well what the hell could first place be?”  It ended up being the film Jaws.  And thinking more about it a few hours after that was listed, I realized they had a point.  Jaws was a film that not only terrified some people when they washed it, but it made people terrified to go swimming in the ocean.  You know, because once that film came out, people figured it was 50/50 odds of getting ripped apart by a great white shark, even if those odds don’t match the actual statistics.  But in any case, job well done.  The film played on a fear that many already had to some extent, amplified it, and made many film-goers more paranoid about the potential real-life situation that could happen.

There’s a reason why films like Jaws, The Exorcist, Alien, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Blair Witch Project, among others, are classics that withstand the test of time in-spite of anything that does come off as dated (the shark in Jaws, the cliches and stereotypes some of these films started, etc).  And there’s a reason why others are quickly forgotten.  If there’s anything I despise about most horror films, especially those of today, it’s the overuse of the JUMP-scare.  And you always use caps when spelling out the JUMP in JUMP-scare because it’s almost always punctuated by a loud music cue.  Or if music is unavailable, throw a fucking cat into the scene, because people are scared of cats.  But no matter what, always make sure there’s a hot chick in the film.  Whether she’s the last survivor or one of the victims during the first 3/4ths of the runtime, all that matters is that she’s in it so this shit can be sold to the horny male teenagers and lesbians who want to bang her; but they can’t bang her, so they just fantasize about her while banging their real girlfriends.  The main movie I think of when it comes to relying on nothing but JUMP-scares to get people to watch it is The Unborn from 2009.  “What’s that movie?” you may ask.  To which I reply, “Exactly.”

That’s not to say JUMP-scares can’t be utilized effectively, as each of the above films have at least one moment that executes the technique.  But the classics tend not to lean so heavily on that crutch.  Because JUMP-scares are a quick-fix.  No real lasting impact, as their intention and execution is a dime-a-dozen among horror films ever since the 80s (the 70s had it, but to a lesser extent).  Just something to make people content until they have the urge to go out and see the next piece of shit horror film out there that also relies heavily on the use of jump-scares, to the point where they break that crutch with their fat lazy bloated weight.

fat-guy-epic-swing-fail

The point is, JUMP-scares are not scary.  They are not horror.  They are not terrifying.  They are startling.  Know what else is startling?  Someone who walks up behind you without you being aware, and then says something calmly; something like, “Hey, you planning on doing the dishes?”  There’s nothing terrifying about that unless you’re scared shitless of being near some family member or significant other.  On that note, if one were to establish that the family member was deeply disturbed, and you had a very good reason to keep away from him/her, that you don’t know for sure what would happen should they get close to you, then you have something going for horror.  The creeping dread.  The mounting tension.  The dwindling candlelight of hope.

Alfred Hitchcock stated it best when talking about a hypothetical scene in a film.  If people were having a conversation at a dinner table, but then an explosion happened that killed a good number of them, then you would be startled, but the tension eases off quickly after that.  But if you take the same sequence and show the bomb hidden beneath the table at the very beginning, counting down, and then focus on everyone talking at the dinner table, then you have mounting tension.  As you get to know the people through dialogue, you may begin to relate to some, sympathize with others, and hope they somehow get away from there before the bomb goes off.

Because this is a fundamental element to what makes all, I repeat, all horror films work.  Tension.  The same thing that makes thrillers work is also what is needed to make horror films work.  Tension.  But tension alone isn’t enough, because the whole point of tension is the buildup of dread, the buildup of worry.  Dreading what?  Worrying about what?  If it’s buildup to an inconsequential JUMP-scare like most of those found in the film The Unborn, then it’s not exactly that great of a jump scare to say the least.  Even in Alien the jump-scares meant something.  Like, “Oh crap, the Alien is behind him!  He’s going to die!”  Or, “Oh shit!  It’s on the escape pod!  How will she survive now?”  You know as opposed to some scare that’s a fake-out scare, or a repetitious scare like the last half-dozen that came before it which doesn’t evolve the character or the plot in any way.

In most cases, the fear comes from worrying about what will happen to someone.  Otherwise the only thing you’re likely scared of is dying from a heart attack (which is one way to face your fear).  Or because the film contains something that represents what you yourself fear.  So if a film contains well-written and relatable characters dealing with something that is related to something you fear happening, then you may have just come across your own personal favorite horror film.  Since it’s usually difficult to make something that relatable to such a large number of potential customers, especially in this day and age when just about everything has been done in the past, the best course of action to take (one would think) would be keeping things simple.

If you can remember other characters in a film just as well as you can remember the monster/person who killed most of them, then you know you’re doing something right.  For example, people remember Laurie Strode about as well as they remember Michael Myers.

By simple, I mean, “Fear of the unknown,” style.  Not revealing very much about the antagonist, the creature, the thing, it, etc (oh God, not the etcetera!).  For example, with John Carpenter’s The Thing, we never really know the true identity of the creature, or how many forms it can take, how many planets it has wiped out.  With Ridley Scott’s Alien, we have vague knowledge of the Alien’s origin; that it may have been an experiment, a species created by the Disc Jockey, or perhaps something the Disc Jockey was transporting elsewhere before something went wrong.  Either way, it’s implied its a monster that is capable of killing other alien species with technology far more advanced than humans, thus begging the question, “If they died, then what chance do we have to survive?”  Plus the implied devious/sexual nature of the creature, which can be unsettling.

https://i1.wp.com/cdn.bgr.com/2017/04/giger.jpg

Nowadays most film-makers have the desire to explain away as much as possible, because they can’t have the audience pondering and thinking up their own conclusions; no, that would encourage creative thinking.  And unfortunately, Ridley Scott isn’t immune to this, with all the harm he has caused to the Alien franchise with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.  Fear of the unknown is an outdated concept in Hollywood now, as well as a concept they seem to shun for some reason.  Maybe they’re terrified of critical thinking audiences.

“Hey, now you pay attention to somethin’ here. These kids ain’t the same anymore, and you know what’s behind it all? Rock ‘n’ roll. That music is turnin’ the kids into a bunch of sex hungry, beer drinkin’, road racin’ werewolves.”

There is another element of fear that has not lost its touch ever since the concept first made its way to the screen in 1956.  Fear of each other.  Paranoia.  Just how well do you know those around you?  Just how well connected are you with your neighbors and the community you live in?  Would you be able to tell the difference if something had changed?  Would you be able to do so before it was too late?  Sometimes it’s something as innocent as new hip trends that the new generation wants to get into (one decade it’s Dungeons & Dragons, the next it’s uncensored perverted Japanese videogames).  Other times it’s something more sinister.

 

On March 21, 1947, President Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) issued Executive Order 9835, also known as the Loyalty Order, which mandated that all federal employees be analyzed to determine whether they were sufficiently loyal to the government. Truman’s loyalty program was a startling development for a country that prized the concepts of personal liberty and freedom of political organization. Yet it was only one of many questionable activities that occurred during the period of anticommunist hysteria known as the Red Scare.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Rated: 3 / 5

“There’s no emotion. None. Just the pretense of it. The words, gesture, the tone of voice; everything else is the same, but not the feeling!”

The first film, like many films from the 50s, and 60s, and 70s, and 80s, played on the fear of Communism spreading into the United States.  The Red Scare.  Of course Hollywood wasn’t going to pass on the chance to have someone else to target, along with the Nazis which plagued many Hollywood films as the main villains (hell, I’d say they never went away; I dare you to come up with 1 year where there wasn’t some Hollywood film that had some Nazi villain, released during the 50s to the present).  Communists, socialists, those who threaten our capitalist republic government and lifestyle!

“Comrades, if you look closely, you can see the letters ‘SS’ written on this pods.”

The takeover is done rather well in this film.  It’s a subtle thing at first.  Some people act differently.  They have the details and features that humans should have, but they started out without character, without features; implying that they are featureless, characterless beings which disguise themselves to contain more.  They’re no longer human (because communists/socialists < human).  They are aliens, planning to take over.  And they are starting with this small town, and will work their way outward from there.  Like the domino theory.

However, this film doesn’t settle for something so simplistic.  There’s more to it than just capitalizing on the Red Scare.  There’s also a focus on psychiatry, which the main protagonist specializes in, and how those seeking psychiatric help can lose themselves.

“From my practice I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away, only it happened slowly instead of all at once. They didn’t seem to mind.”
“But just some people Miles.”
“All of us. A little bit, we harden our hearts, grow callous. Only when we have to fight to stay human do we realize how precious it is to us.”

The Body Snatchers aren’t just a metaphor for communism and socialism.  It’s also a metaphor for those who have lost their sense of humanity.  How easy it is to do so.  Psychiatrists working with people, trying to help them to get back on their feet and learn how to deal with their emotions responsibly.  However, many would rather learn to deal with their emotions by trying not to have any at all.  Booze-drinking, pill-swallowing, the latter of which is something a psychiatrist recommend.  Despite their intentions, they too share a responsibility for others losing their humanity.  Too difficult to go on, so they give up rather than keep on fighting.  Better to take the easy way out and not care at all.  Life would be simpler that way.

“So that’s how it began. Out of the sky”
“Your new bodies are growing in there. They’re taking you over, cell for cell, atom for atom. There’s no pain. Suddenly while you’re asleep they’ll absorb your minds, your memories. Then you’re reborn into an untroubled world.”
“Where everyone’s the same.”
“Exactly.”
“What a world.”

[…]

“I love Becky. Tomorrow, will I feel the same?”
“There’s no need for love.”
“No emotion. Then you have no feelings. Only the instinct to survive. You can’t love or be loved, am I right!?”
“You say it as if it were terrible. Believe me, it isn’t. You’ve been in love before; it didn’t last. It never does. Love. Desire. Ambition. Faith. Without them, life’s so simple, believe me.”
“I don’t want any part of it.”
“You’re forgetting something Miles.”
“What?”
“You have no choice.”

So the film opts to tackle a threat that is external just as much as it is internal.  Why try love when it risks you becoming broken-hearted (or when it results in your significant other divorcing you and taking half your shit)?  Why have desire when you can’t have what you want?  Why have ambition when it ultimately leads you nowhere?  Why have faith when it lets you down numerous times?

“I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until I kissed Becky.”  Seriously, that’s a line in this movie.  Isn’t this great?

Such themes touched upon, but the film doesn’t go far enough with them in my opinion.  And to be honest, I never expected it to go far enough, considering the time period it was made it.  Thankfully, the other films that followed would dive more heavily into such themes, but it can be argued that a couple of the later adaptations dive too heavily into such themes.

Other than taking issue with the method on how the film tackles these, uh, issues, there is one moment in the film that I can’t make much sense of.  The film established that the pods eject lifeforms which take on the form and shape of an individual, and the lifeform replaces the individual.  They leave it completely vague as to what happens to the previous body (something the 70s and 90s version doesn’t shy away from), but one would have to assume the other body is disposed of somehow so that the replica can take its place.  Otherwise what would be the point of creating a replica?  So I’m wondering what exactly happened to Becky’s body during those brief couple minutes that Miles left her alone in the cave for.  Was some pod hidden there that managed to break out, take form, replace Becky, put on her clothes, and then lie there waiting for Miles when he got back?  That’s a lot to take in, especially given the time limit to achieve such a convenient feat.  It’s executed better in the 70s remake.

Oh, and one last thing.  Of course, the film was remade numerous times due to the popularity of not just the first film, but also of the 1978 film that followed.  However, I’m thinking there’s another reason they wanted to remake this, given this dialogue by the psychiatrist protagonist to this little boy named Jimmy:

“All right Jimmy. Open your mouth. Shut your eyes. In the words of the poet, ‘I’ll give you something to make you wise.'”

Hollywood pedophilia alert!  I guess pills can also be a metaphor for something devious.

“Hey, get back here so I can stick it in your mouth!”

 

 

Under pressure from the negative publicity aimed at their studios, movie executives created blacklists that barred suspected radicals from employment; similar lists were also established in other industries.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Rated 4.5 / 5

What can I say?  I like both posters.

So let me get this out of the way.  This is my favorite horror film of all time.  When I first saw this film, it terrified me to the core.  I mean, the moment when the loved one crumbles away; plus the final moment of the film.  Kinda scarred me as a kid (so did the 90s one for that matter, but I’ll get to that later).  Watching it again, it still holds up very well.  Because this is THE film that absolutely nails the element of growing tension and growing sense of isolation.  It truly knows hot to make the audience as paranoid as the main characters.  And on that note, Kevin McCarthy, the main protagonist from the last film, manages to show up in a great (albeit depressing) cameo in this film.  He spent 30 years trying to warn us…

But anyway, like the last film, this movie still builds on the paranoia of the second Red Scare, which never fully went away, given the Cold War that was still ongoing.  But in all fairness, the Red Scare died down a bit since the 50s film.  In any case, communism and socialism were still big red targets.  And like the last film, it doesn’t just focus on how one should be wary of the subtle rise of such a society, with people continually losing their humanity, giving up the fight, and just serving the hive mind.  Psychiatry still plays a significant role, though that’s not the role of our lead protagonists; that role goes to Leonard Nemoy.  It’s only logical.

“Or the one.”  Yeah, it seems fitting that they would put him in this film not just because of that line from Wrath of Khan, but also because of the bagpipe version of Amazing Grace done in both films.  Granted, Wrath of Khan wouldn’t be made until a few years after this film’s release, but still…

Rather, the protagonists we get from Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams are Department of Health inspector and botanist respectively.  Also reflective of the sign of the times, given that the 70s had a Green Peace wave of its own kind.  Which makes the invasion of the pods all the more ironic, as they are portrayed to be plant-like, but are parasites.  Like mistletoe.

“I think it’s a grex.”
“A what?”
“G-R-E-X. That’s when two different species cross-pollinate and produce a third completely unique one. And listen to this. Epilobic. From the Greek epi: upon. And lobus: a pod. Many of the species are dangerous weeds and should be avoided”
“Dangerous?”
“In the garden. See? Look how quickly it roots. Their characteristic rapid and widespread growth pattern was even absorbed in many of the large, war-torn cities of Europe. Indeed, some of these plants may thrive on devastated ground.”

Now that dialogue description of the pod plant, that bares resemblance to the rise of Nazi Germany.  A country devastated by war, still suffering economically.  Fertile ground for the rise of socialism and fascism; for the rise of Hitler.  So yes, that theme is still in these films.  But they go a little further when it comes to talking about the plants.

“Nancy, shut the music off.”
“It’s for the plants, Stan.”
“Screw the plants. I hate the music.”
“It’s wonderful for my plants. They just love it. Plants have feelings, you know, just like people. It’s fascinating. This type of music stimulates the growth of the plants.”

That dialogue exchange takes place at this bathhouse.  Well, more of a mud-bathhouse, which I guess is metaphorical for us being like plant seeds in the soil.  In the bathhouse, some cheery music is being played for the plants.  Contrast this to when Amazing Grace is being played near the end at the shipping docks for the pods.  Music for the plants, signifying a funeral for mankind.

By then end of the film, Sutherland’s character can be seen walking towards some capitol-like building, in a grey lifeless environment, passing by trees with no leaves on them, no life.

The film’s arcs stand out in a significant way.  First is the invasion, where we see the town operating as normal before people start getting replaced by pods.  We see the takeover happen from the beginning, as opposed to the first and third film where we pretty much enter into the story while it’s going on.  We see the relationships people have with one another, and how it’s not all peaches and roses.  Then the 2nd act, people are changing.  The protagonists begin to feel isolated from the community.  Then the 3rd act, the protagonists are right in the middle of an alien society, trying to run, trying to survive.  It’s this third act where we are dropped into a George Orwell 1984 situation.  Trying to live in a society where any hint of emotion is a death sentence; how trying to remain strong in such an environment is impossible, as you will eventually wear down.  Then the last act, where the takeover is pretty much complete, and we see how lifeless this new life is.

“You’ll be born again into an untroubles world; free of anxiety, fear, hate.”

[…]

“Your minds and memories will be totally absorbed. Everything remains intact.”

[…]

“I hate you.”
“We don’t hate you. There’s no need for hate, now, or love.”

[…]

“Don’t be trapped by old concepts.”

[…]

“We came here from a dying world. We drift through the universe from planet to planet; pushed on by the solar winds. We adapt, and we survive. The function of life is survival.”

Because as parasitic beings, the pods aren’t capable of sustaining themselves.  They thrive only where there is life.  During the last few minutes of the film, Sutherland, now a pod person, wanders around aimlessly in the city.  Sure there are others around, and he does the same stuff he did prior to being a pod person (sitting around at work; cutting out pieces of newspaper).  But he has no emotion with his actions.  He has no purpose.  There’s no feeling to anything he’s doing.  Incapable of being bored, incapable of being happy, incapable of being sad, incapable of any emotion.  There’s nothing to motivate him, or any of the other pod people for that matter, other than replacing all humans with pods.  And when there’s no humans left?  Then eventually the world dies like the last one they were on, and they eventually move on to the next one.

Unbeknownst to many, that garbage truck is filled with what remains from humans after they’ve been absorbed by the pods.

Just as they look like people but aren’t, they also looked like plants but aren’t.  It would be dangerous to treat them as something they’re not.  And this comes back to the threat of socialism.  The society can thrive for a while, but is destined to die off if it doesn’t change/evolve.  Because having emotions, ambitions, love, hate, sadness, happiness, something to drive an individual is what can allow one to sustain themselves, and others.

Which brings me to the other aspect of the film.  Like the first film, it’s not just about the threat of communism/socialism.  There’s also a psychiatrist element to it, among other 70s culture aspects that differ from that of the 50s.  In the 50s, marriage was considered sacred, and husband and wife were never to divorce under any circumstance.  With the free-flying 70s, they began to change their opinion on marriage, that it shouldn’t be considered so sacred.  Divorce rates rose.  Relationships suffered (more or less).  Many sought aid from psychiatrists, put their complete faith in them, hoping that they would fix things for them.

“People are stepping in and out of relationships too fast because they don’t want the responsibility. That’s why marriages are going to hell. The whole family unit is shot to hell.”
“David, you’re not listening to what she’s saying.”
[David turns towards Matthew] “Matthew, please stay out of this.”  [He turns back to Elizabeth] “You see? That’s the point. I’m listening to you, but he doesn’t think I am. Why? Because he doesn’t expect me to bother enough or to care.”
[…]
“How did you feel about what you just saw? You were probably shocked. You wanted to shut your feelings off, withdraw, maybe make believe that it wasn’t happening because then you don’t have to deal with it.”
“I wanna deal with that poor woman in the bookstore.”
“Why? … Do you identify with her?”
“Yes.”

There’s also the idea of failing relationships in this film.  It’s evident early on even before Elizabeth’s husband is turned into a pod person, how he cares more about the sports on tv than being intimate with her.  When he does become a pod person, what little intimate feelings he still had for her disappeared, and he becomes more closed off from her than ever.  One could say their relationship was going down that direction in the first place, but the pod invasion accelerated the process.  Thus a callback to that line of dialogue from the first film, “From my practice I’ve seen how people have allowed their humanity to drain away, only it happened slowly instead of all at once.

So what’s most important is our relationship with one another.  The closer we are to someone, the more we know about each other, the more emotionally connected we are, the more quickly we can identify when something is wrong.  And possibly take precautions to overcome the trouble before it rises too high.  Because many were so closed off from one another, because so many relied on psychiatry rather than on themselves, it made it easier to be conquered by the invaders.  Because say what you will about the hive-mind, their interconnections can be a strength too, a strength that can overwhelm us in spite of our own strengths, and in spite of their own weaknesses.

 

With the dawning of the new anticommunist crusade in the late 1940s, Hoover’s agency compiled extensive files on suspected subversives through the use of wiretaps, surveillance and the infiltration of leftist groups.

The information obtained by the FBI proved essential in high-profile legal cases, including the 1949 conviction of 12 prominent leaders of the American Communist Party on charges that they had advocated the overthrow of the government. Moreover, Hoover’s agents helped build the case against Julius Rosenberg (1918-53) and his wife, Ethel Rosenberg (1915-53), who were convicted of espionage in 1951 and executed two years later.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

 

Body Snatchers (1993)

Rated: 3 / 5

“Where you going to go? Where you going to run? Where you going to hide? Nowhere. ‘Cause there’s no one, like you, left.”

This film is a little rough.  It’s not as good as the first one, let alone being a far cry from the 1978 version.  But it does bring enough interesting moments to the table to still make it a worthwhile watch.

Anyway, this film is more blunt than the previous two on where its metaphor priorities are.  With the Cold War over and the bashing of the commies being so 80’s at that point, what is the threat of a pod invasion supposed to represent at this point?  What should the socialistic hive-mind represent now?  The military, obviously.  No longer is the threat foreign (metaphorically speaking), it is domestic.  No longer is it the Ruskies, it’s the American troops.  To be fair though, there are some decent opportunities to be had with this direction.  Soldiers all have to dress the same, act the way their superiors demand, and don’t ask questions when taking orders.  Conform.

While there is a psychiatrist in this film, played by Forrest Whitaker, keeping with the tradition of the previous entries, he takes more of a backseat here, only showing up in two scenes (from what I recall).  The emphasis is put more on the Environmental Protection Agency (the next step from Department of Health role of Donald Sutherland’s character from the last film), a role taken by the dad of the family unit who moves into this military complex temporarily (basically a small town near/within a military base).  He has been ordered to the military base to check on the water in the river, to see if there’s any sort of strange pollution going on. Well, that is where the pods are found (unlike the last film, we know they came from space, but aren’t shown the actual space travel).  So I guess there’s a connection here between the military, pollution, and an overall threat to every American.  Well the Green Peace movement is still ongoing from the 70s it seems, but you would think we would’ve learned that plants suck at this point.

But he’s not the main protagonist; that would be his daughter.  And here comes that secondary theme these films tend to have.  This family unit, composed of the EPA dad, the 17 year old (almost 18 and legal) daughter, the elementary son, and the wife.  They’re not the most well-kept family, at least as far as the daughter is concerned.  She can’t wait to be free of them and do her own thing, especially when her dad is restrictive of her at times.  She wants to be free and independent, and get a boyfriend, and get laid.  Well, she gets 1 out of 3 in this film, and makes out with the military boyfriend she just met, so I guess that makes it 1.5 out of 3.

The father and daughter don’t listen to the son when he talks about strange things going on at the base.  And the dad doesn’t take his daughter’s concerns seriously.  Some failure to communicate, once again providing some compare and contrast between the humans and the aliens.  But there’s also this decent scene at a school where all the children do finger-painting, and the paintings all look exactly the same, save for the painting done by the new kid.  Of course, this was done to show how far gone the town is and the methods used to determine who needed a good podding.  But this also acts as a metaphor for brainwashing the youth in school; to make them all think alike; to make them ready for the hive-mind, to be conformed.

To further the film’s credit, it also has what I consider to be the best “alien reveal speech” out of all the films.  You know, that speech where they state they come from another world, that they wish to remake this one so that there’s no emotions, no conflict.  And it’s delivered by Full Metal Jacket sergeant himself, R. Lee Ermy.  But he’s not delivering it in the over-the-top, “Do what I say or I’ll get the Looney Tunes to rape your mother!” type of dialogue that we’re all familiar with (or we should be; if you’re not, go watch Full Metal Jacket right now!).  Rather, he delivers the dialogue in a calm and soft-spoken manner, which ends up being more unsettling.

“Look what your fear has done to you. Can’t you see? When all things are conformed, there will be no more disputes, no conflicts, no problems any longer.”
[…]
“There are hundreds, even thousands of us here. We have traveled light-years throughout the universe, always surviving, always growing stronger, because we’ve learned it’s the race that’s important, not the individual.”

“The individual is always important.”

It’s also a bit interesting to see that it’s a white guy delivering this line to a black guy, about the race being more important than the individual.  Granted, he’s speaking more in terms of human/alien race rather than race of color, but that’s all the more reason to make me think it was intentional.  How one of the disputes and conflicts caused by humanity has to do with racial disputes.  One would think this subject is given more attention at the start of the film when the daughter becomes ambushed (sort of) by a black soldier in the bathroom, who doesn’t have any ill-intention towards her, but is terrified of others who are after him.  But this could very well play on the assumption that white people tend to distrust black people more, and how blacks fear white because blacks are the minority.  The film isn’t blunt on this subject in any way, shape, or form, even to the point where I could be reading too much into it and the casting just ended up accidentally allowing for such a message to make its way into the film.  I’m going to go on the assumption that this theme is intentional, especially when considering that the only scenes where black and white people seem to be getting on just fine is when they are all pod people, completely conformed.  If this theme was intentional, I’ll applaud the film for doing it so subtly and naturally.

This film also marks another element that may have been hinted at in the previous film, but goes full-on here.  How alluring and borderline seductive the pod people can be when it comes to convincing others to join them.  This isn’t really done by having the pod people seduce the humans per-se; rather in the subtle nods, and in the unique camera style the director employs.  How the pod wife is giving her husband a back message to relax him before making him the next victim.  The way Ermy delivers his speech to Whitaker.  How the slightly underage girl presents herself to the soldier boyfriend when in pod form (a bit of a callback to that one scene in the 70s film).

Plus, the pod people aren’t shown once to be using any weaponry in this film, as opposed to the humans who use weaponry any chance they get to defend themselves, or commit suicide.  Come to think of it, the pod people didn’t use any weapons in the previous films either.  This offers contrast to the way they conquer vs. the way humans conquer.  The pod people prefer being subtle, conquering the world as calmly and non-violently as possible.  While the humans, we like to take a more blunt approach towards defending ourselves and taking over other countries.  One is violent, one is more peaceful.  Both don’t give a damn about what the individual wants that they are annihilating.  But the film pulls back a bit on showing the downsides to the pod people winning.  Yes, it does admit the individual is lost to the hive-mind; and it does show the horrific way humans become assimilated; but it’s less blunt than the previous films when it comes to stating the downsides of the benefits of having no more conflict or emotion.  This is a trend that will carry on, more heavily, into the 2007 film.  But at least this film tries to even-handedly show the faults in both the humans and the pods.

The main issues I had with this film is that the acting was spotty in some places.  The scope of the film felt too drawn back compared to the others, even for a film that is meant to convey a sense of isolationism.  The ending could potentially be open to interpretation, about who the real monsters are or something like that; but I took it to mean that all the stuff that happened on the military base was also happening in other parts of the United States, or even the world, and so the protagonists were screwed.  Who knows for sure?  The finale felt too rushed no matter how you look at it.

 

As the Red Scare intensified, its political climate turned increasingly conservative. Elected officials from both major parties sought to portray themselves as staunch anticommunists, and few people dared to criticize the questionable tactics used to persecute suspected radicals. Membership in leftist groups dropped as it became clear that such associations could lead to serious consequences, and dissenting voices from the left side of the political spectrum fell silent on a range of important issues. In judicial affairs, for example, support for free speech and other civil liberties eroded significantly. This trend was symbolized by the 1951 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dennis v. United States, which said that the free-speech rights of accused Communists could be restricted because their actions presented a clear and present danger to the government.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

 

The Invasion (2007)

Rated: 2.5 / 5

I expected to hate this film more than I did.  Make no mistake, this isn’t a solid film.  In fact, watching it made me hold greater appreciation for the 1993 version.  That being said, there are signs that this film actually had some decent potential.  That also being said, a 2.5 is the rating I would give this on a good day, so my rating will likely be lowered if I were to rewatch this again.  Because if you thought the 1993 Body Snatchers film was too blunt with its messaging about the military and conformity, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Hey, look, shitty CG effects shown at the start of the film so that the film can be even less subtle about an invasion happening.  Someone get a box of tissues and wipe all that digital snot off his face.

So the first film had things focused on occupants of a small town.  The 70s film upgraded the scale to a major city.  The 90s film pulled back a bit and kept it focused on a small town, inside a military complex.  Well the 2007 film opted to make it 70s in scope again.  But what would the focus be on now?  The Cold War is over, and the franchise already dealt with the military.  So what else could be used as a metaphor for the dangers of hive-mind conformity and socialism?  Apparently, rich corporate assholes was the next prime candidate, because nothing says conformity and socialism like rich corporate capitalist men in Wall Street suits.  Then again, I believe the point the film is trying to make it how much better the world would be if the rich corporate and political assholes were more like socialist assholes.  Throw in some nods about toxic drinking water (something hinted at in the 90s film; the 70s had some indication that there’s something special about the water, but more in an ironic way with how plants and humans use it), messages about how efficiently countries like Japan and and Europe can deal with virus outbreaks due to their protocols which are superior to that of the U.S., and a solid dose of the international scene regarding the war on terror, and war in general.  So in other words, it takes shots at the George W. Bush administration, which was a popular target at that time period, and continued to be until around 2013.  Then you can see where this film’s priorities lie.  It’s going to be more critical of the U.S. than the 90s film was, and…

…you know what, fuck it.  Just thinking thinking about this, I’ve decided to lower the rating to 2 / 5.

New rating: 2 / 5

Technology to monitor cells like this in real-time.

Look, I don’t have much of a problem with films that are critical of the United States, because one is usually critical of the place they live so that it can be made to be a better place.  Like how one can be critical of the rich fucks who fund the political fucks you don’t agree with.  But the way this film goes about doing it, at the expense of how the first few films went about it… I had a feeling it was going to be bad once that dinner scene happened with the Russian ambassador (don’t worry, this isn’t returning to the Red Scare stuff; actually, maybe you should worry).  It became pretty obvious at that point where the film was heading.  About how humans suck and are doomed to wipe themselves out, while ignoring the alternative aspect regarding the existence of humans who manage to resolve issues/conflicts peacefully.  Very pretentious.

So the film does a bit of a return to form by making the main protagonist a psychiatrist again, only this time played by Nicole Kidman.  And the film does something I had hoped it would do.  It brings sharper focus on what it is many psychiatrists do.  How they usually prescribe pills to people to keep them emotionally stable and functional.  And implying that this has downsides, something hinted at in the 50s and 70s version.

“You give people pills to make their lives better. How’s that different from what we’re doing?”

Unfortunately, the film really dumbs this aspect down with dialogue like that, how they ask the question of how taking pills is any different from what the pod people are doing.  I can think of several differences, such as how people can make themselves stop taking pills, how pill-swallowers can still be independent and emotional, that being a pod person has worse side-effects than the pills you were taking, among other things.  In fact, the film dumbs down things a lot when it comes to portraying the downsides of the hive-mind.  In that it tries to avoid mentioning it altogether.  The only time it really gets into the downsides of being a pod person (except there aren’t any fucking pods in this fucking movie, it’s all done by CG cell effects now) is by throwing in another bullshit situation.

I take one look at that face, and then I think…

“My baby boy is immune to the pod disease!  All you pod people can suck it!”

That’s more or less what’s revealed.  The film does what none of the others did, create a deus-ex-machina to save the day by having some people immune so that a cure can be made which will reverse the process.  It’s at this point I’m starting to think this movie is full of shit in its depiction of pod people.  These aren’t fucking pod people!  These can hardly even be called body snatchers (which is probably why they removed those two words from the fucking title).  They aren’t taking bodies and replacing them with their own, they’re altering cell structures somehow (try saying “Cell Snatchers” 5 times fast), which somehow allows them to have minds of their own and… it just seems stupid to me.  They can say what they want about how scientifically plausible this is; but all I see is just one more example of lazy writing to come up with a plot contrivance for some bullshit oh-so-convenient ending; because they don’t have the balls to make the film dark and serious.  That, and it’s also a way of saying, “Well that kid from the first film got podded, the kid on the swings from the 2nd film likely got molested by Catholic Priest Robert Duvall, and the kid from the 3rd film got the shit killed out of him; let’s have the kid survive this time and take a significant role.”

… and then I think I want to be in the pod-dad’s position of beating that little fucker to death with that metal pipe!

By the end of the film, in-spite of the pukers (they don’t deserve the name “pod people;” and since one of the ways they transmit this disease is by puking slime on others, or in their drinks, I’m just going to refer to them as pukers from here on) stating that they will kill anyone immune to their 28 Days Later disease, the film tries to make them sympathetic by the end.  Through the first half of the film, there are newspaper headlines and news programs discussing the war and casualties happening throughout the world.  During the latter half, these headlines are replaced with stories of conflicts ending and peace being made, indicating that the pod people are putting a stop to all this violence.  But once a cure is found and all pod people revert back to being normal, the wars start up again.  So the film ends on a note of, “Did she do the right thing?  Would it have been better if the pod people took over?”  There’s some problems with this message, outside of it being politically blunt as fuck.

“Look at yourself. Is this who you are? Is this who you want to be? You were wrong to fight them.”

“You wondered what it would be like if people could live more like those trees. Completely connected with each other, in harmony.”

“Have you seen the television? Have you read the newspapers? Have you seen what’s happening here, what we’re offering? A world without war, without poverty, without murder, without rape; a world without suffering. Because in our world, no one can hurt each other or exploit each other or try to destroy each other, because in our world there is no other. You know what it’s like Carol. Deep down inside, you know that fighting us is fighting for all the wrong things. Carol, you know it’s true. Our world is a better world.”

So outside of having the pukers wanting to kill a kid immune to their virus, the film implies that they’re not so bad.  There isn’t any focus on the consequences to be had for losing your individuality, your emotions, your independence.  It could’ve worked if there was more emphasis as to how valuable family/personal relationships are, but this film isn’t made/written well enough to take advantage of that.  The only real thing we get is, “Momma loves her son,” and that’s it.  You can say what you want about what her relationship with Daniel Craig, before he became a British secret agent not named Christopher Steele, entails.  You can say what you want about the relationship with the dad who divorced her and what that entails.  But the fact of the matter is that these aspects come off as cold and emotionless before any of them had to deal with the pod people.  The only one that doesn’t come off as cold is the mother-son relationship, but even then it’s played by-the-numbers.  So the film sucks when it comes to showcasing the advantages and disadvantages of personal relationships (unlike any of the predecessors).

“What we believe is that the way the entity plugged itself into our brain was so different from how we’re actually wired, that the mind interpreted the alien experience as a form of unconsciousness. Which explains why those who have been cured have no recollection of recent events. They experienced everything as if they were asleep.”

[…]

“Pick up the newspaper. For better or worse, we’re human again.”

Not being so bad for ending wars.  Well that only works if they rule everything everywhere.  And assuming they do manage that, then what?  What happens after they take over?  What will life be like then?  If the film is going to go in a direction like this, it would be nice to have some list of pros and cons.  But it shies away when depicting the cons of being a pod person.  Why?  I mean, most of the people who do wind up as pod people are usually businessmen, rich men, Wall Street dudes, anyone who is of the upper-class.  There’s even a feminism message in this film with regards to a few lines of dialogue given by Nicole Kidman’s character, and further indications the film wants to go along with said feminism message by having her get in a scuffle with her ex-husband (while he’s a pod person), and by having most of the pod people be white rich guys.

“All I am saying is that civilization crumbles whenever we need it most. In the right situation, we are all capable of the most terrible crimes. To imagine a world where this was not so, where every crisis did not result in new atrocities, where every newspaper is not full of war and violence. Well, this is to imagine a world where human beings cease to be human.”

While I’ll give you that we still retain some basic animal instincts, you have to admit we’re not the same animal we were a few thousand years ago.”

True.”

“Read Piaget, Kohlberg or Maslow, Graves, Wilber, and you’ll see that we’re still evolving. Our consciousness is changing. Five hundred years ago, postmodern feminists didn’t exist yet one sits right beside you today. And while that fact may not undo all of the terrible things that have been done in this world, at least it gives me reason to believe that one day, things may be different.”

Not exactly making a good case for humanity there, considering that postmodern feminists suck.  But that’s another thing about this film.  I’ve stated in previous blog entries that I believe 2006 was the year things began to go downhill in the entertainment industry.  Not quickly, but slowly and subtly, via subliminal messaging (not as subliminal as in They Live, but with the way dialogue is spoken, with the way various groups/sexes/races/countries are portrayed in the media, etc).  This film is one of those during the early days the trend became noticeable to me that contains many of the aspects most SJWs/NPCs (whatever you want to call these thin-skinned pussies).  A couple lines about feminism encouraging the makings of the ideal strong independent woman that came more into fruition when films like Atomic Blonde, the new Star Wars trilogy, Wonder Woman, etc, came about in more recent years (as of this writing).  The downplaying of how bad socialism/communism actually is.  Growing ever more-critical of the United States.  Hell, even a vague notion on how bad guns are makes it into this movie.  Whenever she has a gun, she tosses it away soon after using it, ashamed that she decided to.  “Guns are bad, but I needed to protect myself and my son, but they’re still bad.”  This film contains most of the preachy traits I despise that at least half the films released nowadays in theaters contains.

So at this point I find this 2007 adaptation to be more of an interesting case study than anything else when it comes to the history of film.  The cultural/political messages contained within it, and how the same messages grew and spread from there to other films as the years went on.  And how one-sided they make the issues they tackle out to be.  How ironic.  When you think about it, it’s a perfect analogy for this whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers scenario.  It starts out as a small seed.  Not so dangerous, doesn’t seem like a reasonable threat, so let it grow, let it spread, let it multiply, like weeds in a garden, while they sing propaganda on how the weeds have just as much of a right to live as the fruits and vegetables they suffocate.  Let the teachers in schools teach about how to take the cultural/political lessons found in film; teach students how to interpret such message.  Let the media do the same.  Let the schools, media, films/shows program them all like the NPCs they are.

“The veneer of civility hides our true self-interests.”

The film did show signs of potential.  There were indications that it could’ve been better than what we got.  The impact on a relationship when a divorce happens; how terrible the world seems; one losing their humanity when they become a cutthroat businessman.  And how it could all make one seriously consider ending it all because they can’t take it anymore, and the pod invasion being a metaphor for how willing people would be willing to give up their rights, their independence, their emotions, for the sake of blindly following a cause that could lead to a better world, while being oblivious to the downsides within that other world.  But the film wants to keep the existence of those downsides hidden about as well as a politician tries to hide their lies.  Which I treat as an insult to my intelligence.  But hey, at least it had a scene where she knocks out a kid.  And there’s one bitchin’ car chase sequence.  Other than that, this isn’t a film I can recommend.

 

Americans also felt the effects of the Red Scare on a personal level, and thousands of alleged communist sympathizers saw their lives disrupted. They were hounded by law enforcement, alienated from friends and family and fired from their jobs. While a small number of the accused may have been aspiring revolutionaries, most others were the victims of false allegations or had done nothing more than exercise their democratic right to join a political party. Though the climate of fear and repression began to ease in the late 1950s, the Red Scare has continued to influence political debate in the decades since and is often cited as an example of how unfounded fears can compromise civil liberties.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/red-scare

 

The Snatchers (?)

Well, you know Hollywood is eventually going to remake this again, like how they continually try to remake history.  Seems like any film that had some amount of popularity is due for a remake every 10-20 years.  Considering it’s been over 10 since the last one, and considering they’ve used up the title “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” twice, and used “Body Snatchers,” and used “The Invasion,” I figure it’s only natural they use the only other noun left.  Funny enough, a videogame has already taken the title, and it’s about a detective in the cyberpunk future tracking down and killing robots who have taken over human identities.  Yeah, that sounds like the direction they would take the plot nowadays.

Personally, I think there’s a better way to deal with a remake to make it relevant in today’s age.  But no robots; fuck that.  If they want a movie about robots replacing people, it better not be called Body Snatchers.  What they should do is have pods invade again, and they fall into Hollywood.  Where the ground is very fertile because of how well society was doing (like a reverse-socialism disease; whereas socialism tends to take root in poor places, SJWism takes root in rich places).  From there it spreads to Los Angeles and San Fransisco (where the 70s version took place), and have them make movies and ads promoting these new plant pods that everyone should have for a very reasonable price (like that movie The Stuff).  And since the film is titled “The Snatchers,” naturally, the pods should take people over by being shoved up people’s snatches.  And since we’re in a day and age where the new fad is encouraging people to be anything but straight, and convincing men to transition into women, it becomes easier to find snatches to invade (men have been convinced to have their dick and balls chopped off and replaced with a cunt, which they can then act like).  It becomes easier to win because those trends cut down the amount of reproduction humans are capable of, while increasing the rate of reproduction the pods are capable of.  And anyone who becomes a pod person is interconnected with all other pod people about as well as they’re connected on FaceBook and Twitter (but not Gab, because those Silicon fuckers decided that’s too big of a threatening competitor to tolerate), so they’re able to stay up-to-date in the hive-mind regarding what they should be doing.  And anytime they see anyone who isn’t one of them, anytime they see an independent, or a conservative, or God forbid an intelligent well-mannered straight white masculine male who is attractive as fuck and has a six-pack and loads of testosterone and a giant bulging cock which has banged hundreds of chicks who can’t get enough of him, the NPCs point and go REEEEEEEE!!!!!  RREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!  The sound that attracts all other NPC SJW cunt-pods who want to cut off his dick so that he will no longer be capable of shoving it up their REEEEEEEEE!  The podway, or the highway.  “If I don’t get dicks, no one gets dicks!”

 

So yeah, the potential is all there.  This Body Snatcher concept is arguably more relevant today than it was during the 70s if used in the right way.  But if Hollywood remade it now, I guarantee you it would portray the SJWs as the good guys and all Trump-supporters as the pod people, somehow, even if they have to write them out-of-character to do it.

Which brings me back to why I find the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be the most terrifying horror film of all time (just a personal opinion; what people are scared of is entirely subjective).  Many say they are afraid of the unknown.  I say everyone else is afraid of all people they don’t know.  They don’t know what everyone around them will do.  They don’t know if they’re going to be the next suicide bomber, mass shooter, rapist, Hollywood turncoat, conservative speaker, spy, gold-digger, or just a plane annoying asshole.  And that terrifies people.  They are more willing to be pessimistic and terrified of all the bad others can cause rather than be willing to consider the good people can do.  Someone could be the next loving companion, the next friend, the next drinking buddy, the next person actually capable of giving a good lay, the next person who enjoys the things you enjoy, the next person who shares some of your views, the next person you may have plenty in common with.  But we’re encouraged to be divided by things that are both subtle and blunt.  Fake news media, liberal teachers, online bloggers.  On that last note, how would you know you could trust me?  The same way you could figure out if you can trust the other asshats you listen to and trust more easily than me.  Be an independent, don’t be a blind sheep, do some fucking research (the good kind; get information from those who have different perspectives, and don’t just rely on Google search engines to do it; never rely on just a small number of sources, let alone just 1).

The fear goes both ways.  Good people are scared that they will let their guard down for bad people, yet they have to let their guard down for someone else lest they become too lonely and isolated.  Bad people are scared that there will be enough good intelligent people out their to ruin their plan, and must wipe them out as subtly as possible at first so as not to be discovered, then as quickly as possible when they inevitably are discovered, at which time they may have enough numbers to accomplish their task.

There’s also the fear that someone you know and love changes for some reason, and the thing that changes affects your love for them.  They don’t act the way they used to, they don’t believe what they used to believe, they stand for something you never imagined and never hoped they would stand for, etc.

The fear that people will destroy something you value, something that may or may not be tangible.  The fear that the only way you may be able to go on is to become just like them.

 

 

PS: On the note of the Red Scare and communist influence in Hollywood during the McCarthy era, I strongly recommend checking out the video below.  You’d be surprised how much rewritten history you’ve been subjected too.

It’s Not Just A Movie: The Importance of Films

It’s true that there are many, many movies that are “just movies,” entertaining enough but with little weight behind them. And there are many movies that are nothing more than complete wastes of time and space. But the ones that really grip people’s imaginations, the ones that inspire passionate discussions and debates, the ones that are outright adored by people from all over the world and from every conceivable background…these speak to something much deeper. They’re not “just movies.”Silentology

Introduction

“Dude, chill out, it’s just a movie.”  “Don’t take it so seriously.  It’s just a movie.”  “It’s no big deal, it’s just a movie.”  “It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a movie.”

When I hear lines like that, half the time I wanna smash these people into the cement and curb-stomp them into oblivion.  The other half of the time, I’m thinking, “Yeah, they’re probably right, it’s no big deal, no need to get worked up over something like this.”  And to be honest, I believe either response can be appropriate depending on the context (I exaggerated on the curb-stomp part for those who can’t tell when I am or am not being serious, but punching them is ok, especially if they’re women).  Because when someone says, “It’s just a movie,” that’s like saying, “It’s only a book,” or, “It’s only a game.”  Or to bring up the point more bluntly, that’s like saying to someone who’s read/watched William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Why are you analyzing Hamlet?  Dude, it’s just Shakespeare.”  To which many literary critics would respond as articulately as possible, “Fuck you you tasteless twat!”  You mine as well as say the works of Homer, Aristotle, Mark Twain, Orson Welles, among others, don’t really amount to anything significant.

But here’s the thing.  For some people it does mean something.  Sometimes it’s more than that for a lot of people.  All of the above (movies/games/books) acts as a form of entertainment, and/or escapism, and/or education.  And often, one partakes in this entertainment with others, friends and family.  Hell, sometimes they partake in it with complete strangers.  If you sit on the bleachers of a sports event, or in the middle of a crowded movie theater, or walk around at a Con, how many around you tend to be people you know?  How many are strangers?  People you don’t know, people you may not want to hang around with under other circumstances, and yet here they all are for a common purpose, to be entertained by something you would find entertaining.  It’s an experience.  An experience where you forget about the problems in the world, escape into the world the film portrays, and maybe even discuss the events in the film after the show is over with those strangers.

“Wasn’t that scene awesome?”  “Oh, that guy had it coming.”  “What do you think this means?”  “Where do you think things will go from there?”

If you’re not careful, you may become a nerd.

So when someone says, “It’s just a movie,” they mean it shouldn’t be taken (that) seriously.  And why shouldn’t it be taken seriously?  Well, I’ll bring up each and every argument made towards that statement, and put them through the meat grinder.

 

 

Argument #1: It’s just entertainment.  Analyze it too much, and you’ll take the fun out of it.

This argument is directed towards two areas: at the individual who analyzes the film, and at those who read/listen to the analyst.  For the former, the risk is that the individual will ruin the film for his/herself.  For the latter, it’s that the individual will ruin the film for others (for purposes of this writing, let’s assume there are no spoilers revealed because everyone has seen the movie).

In regards to the former, this depends on the individual.  Honestly, analyzing a film can be like analyzing comedy, determine how/why a joke is funny and what philosophical/psychological links that are involved with making someone laugh.  Honestly, I was scared just dipping into such subject matter in my Philosophy 101 course.  I don’t want to analyze comedy because that does risk me being analytical about all comedy and focusing and the how and why I should consider it funny, and how/why other people are finding it funny.  Thus I could end up spending my time thinking about it critically rather than just having fun with it.  Thus one could have films like It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World lose their enjoyment if they ponder stuff like why it’s considered funny to have this idiot set off explosions in a basement that he and his wife are locked in, rather than laughing at the absurdity of the moment.  Or even slasher films, where someone gets killed in an over-the-top manner which delights audiences (most likely because they couldn’t wait to see this dumb sack of shit character get wasted by the disfigured fuck wearing a mask).  Or a John Woo shoot-em-up flick from the 80s or 90s.

It’s like Bruce Lee said, “Don’t think!  Feel! It’s like a finger pointing away to the moon.  Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all of the heavenly glory!”  So one should be sure to have fun with a film first and fore-most.

Ah, but then there comes the other side of the coin.  After all, being analytical allows one to pick up on the messages/lessons meanings within the film, stuff that can affect one’s life for the better (or at least one would hope).  For instance, the Bruce Lee quote mentioned above.  It’s a good life lesson is it not?  Yet how would one appreciate it if they weren’t at least somewhat analytical about the movie?  And at the same time, it’s a line that encourages one to not be so analytical to the point where they would miss out on the “heavenly glory.”  Thus through analysis, one learns they shouldn’t overdo analysis.  The level of fun one can have with a movie can increase when they become analytical about it.  Take the reviews I made for The Dark Crystal and Ghost in the Shell for example.  The Dark Crystal is a film I have always enjoyed on a surface level ever since I was a child, giving no thought as to the in-depth meanings one can find in the film if one reads into it.  And yet when I did read into it when I got older, it only enhanced the experience, and putting my thoughts on the subject online has encouraged others to check the movie out, if not give it a second look to more fully appreciate it.  Ghost in the Shell, on the other hand, was a film I didn’t care for too much on a first watch, but then later regarded it as a masterpiece when I did read into it, analyze it, and find all these meanings within it.

But of course it is possible to have one’s enjoyment of a film lowered the more they do read into it.  Lately the focus of that has been The Last Jedi, but that’s a tale for another time.  There is an anime film called Origin: Spirits of the Past, which I initially enjoyed upon a first watch, partly because I didn’t know what to expect, and was happy to let the film surprise me.  But after an initial watch, the re-watch-ability of a movie often tends to rely on finding depth to it by reading into it (with the possible exception of action films where you just want to rewatch sequences of bullets flying, of explosions, of people/things beating the hell out of each other, etc.).  In the case of Origins, it just came off as just another, “Rainforests are to be respected, stop fucking them up for the sake of technology, m’kay?  Or else mother nature will fight back, m’kay?”  Plus one could notice things they missed before, which could make a film worse for them just as easily as it could make it better, it just depends.

In the end, the argument, “Your analyzing will kill the pleasure to be had,” is bullshit because analyzing a film can enhance the viewing experience.  And if it does the opposite, then maybe the film wasn’t as good as you first thought.  After all, there are plenty of other films out there to experience that you will find to be great.  Besides, it’s the truly great films that stand the test of time precisely because film critics analyze it and find it to be worthwhile then and now.  It’s how films like The Searchers are remembered, how Star Trek is remembered, the original Star Wars trilogy, The Godfather, etc.  They’re not remembered just because some people watched it and thought, “That was nice,” before moving on with their lives.  Hell no.  They’re remembered because they impacted lives in some way.  Because there was something to be had along with the entertainment.  The analysis can give you insight into your life.  And it can allow you to respond more fully to all that a film (and those who created it) has to offer.

Which brings me to the whole “You’ll ruin the film for others,” argument.  Anyone who makes that argument is a candy-ass.  Mamby-pamby whiny overaged-tit-sucking vermin who have no sense of pride, of independence, or of having their own opinion they’re willing to defend.

“I liked the film.”

“Well I thought it sucked!”

“Great, now the film sucks and my life sucks!  Boo-fuckity-hoo!”

You mean to tell me that you’ve seen a film that you enjoyed greatly, then read some schmuk’s review online where they give a compelling argument as to why the film isn’t great and why they didn’t enjoy it, and you bitch about it because this convinced you that the film is worse than you thought and therefore can’t enjoy it as much as you used to?  If that happens, either the reviewer was making some really good points, or you’re too flaky for your own good.  I mean, for crying out loud, you act like every movie you saw as a kid you enjoy just as much if not more-so when you got older.  Fuck off.  There are several films I enjoy that I have seen negative reviews of which, while some do bring up good points, I enjoy the film regardless of the negatives pointed out.  For example, I enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road, yet still found this negative review delightfully entertaining, and I still watch and enjoy the film regardless:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell, I’ve even convinced a film critic or two to appreciate a movie more thanks to the insight I provided on the movie.  Case in point, Forest Taylor of Slaughterfilm learned to appreciate the film Angel Heart (will get around to making a review for that at some point) after listening to my insights:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your tastes in film can change, whether it’s because time affects how you see and enjoy things, or because the opinions you subject yourself to affect how you see and enjoy things.  Here’s a scary thought: what if a film affects how you see and enjoy things?

 

Argument #2: It’s just entertainment, it’s not telling you to live your life this way.

We should take the ethics of movies seriously precisely because the people who make them don’t want their ethics to be taken seriously. Because movies are pervasive, because they reach us when our guard is down, because we unconsciously relate so many choices in our lives to the stories they tell, their influence is like that of folk tales three hundred years ago. — http://www.spectacle.org/1295/movintr.html

That may be true for a good portion of films, though that depends on the film, who’s watching it, and how impressionable they are.  But let’s just ignore the fact that documentaries exist which tell you how to live your life (ex: Supersize Me says don’t eat fast food, especially McDonalds, Citizenfour says don’t trust the Internet, smartphones, or the NSA, End of the Line says stop eating fish), just for a minute.  Let’s ignore those propaganda films like Tell Your Children (aka Reefer Madness) which say you shouldn’t smoke weed or you’ll become a homicidal maniac.  For the sake of argument, let’s just say we’re only talking about films which aren’t blunt in their messaging, that seem to exist more for the sake of the story and the entertainment value than anything else.

So, Black Panther (a film I still haven’t seen, in case you were wondering) was hyped up prior to release.  Many were excited for it, and many were told to be excited for it.  It’s almost like people were expecting some Return of the Jedi event from the 80s or something, or the arrival of the first Star Wars prequel, or the arrival of The Force Awakens.  But unlike those movie where it was all about the arrival of pure sci-fi/fantasy escapism (which has it’s own nerd culture), Black Panther’s arrival was touted as a cultural revolution (an over-the-top reaction in my opinion, but it’s the narrative most mainstream outlets want to go with, so…).

“So it can serve as the forefront of a rallying cry to actually come together – as a people, as a culture – to celebrate us, to celebrate our skin, to celebrate Africa, to celebrate who we are in 2018.”Kristen Thompson

 

 

 

 

 

In other words, a film hailed as a black people’s movie that will have a positive effect on the black community, much less anyone else of any other race.  That’s right, the greatest thing since the first on-screen interracial kiss on Star Trek, the greatest thing since Sidney Poitier bitch-slapping that white racist in In The Heat of the Night.  A film to signal the age of empowerment.  Try saying, “It’s just a movie,” to them and you’ll get labeled racist.  Try telling them to chill and they’ll throw grape juice at you.  Clearly, from critics to newscasters, many promoted the idea that Black Panther stood for something significant in American culture, and thus many would state that it is more than just a movie.  A movie that will impact lives (though that’s advertising outside of the film, not within it).  For all I know, the film succeeded in doing just that.

Then there’s those controversial films from the 70s.  Dirty Harry, Death Wish, Walking Tall.  If nothing else, Dirty Harry’s impact involved people constantly quoting the line, “‘Do I feel lucky?’  Well do ya, punk?”  And Death Wish was deemed controversial because some felt it would encourage many to become vigilantes, more-so because the film was released at a time when the crime rate was high and many didn’t think the police were doing enough (a climate which helped Dirty Harry become popular, as many enjoyed seeing a cop who just got things done without always doing things by the book).  And Walking Tall, encouraging people to carry a big stick (ala Theodore Roosevelt), stand up for yourself, and get things done yourself to make the community better, even if that means going against officials.

 

 

 

Each of those films had their fair share of making an impact on people through the actions of the protagonists, the lines they said, and the messages one can read within the film.  Hell, you could watch the movie Cinema Paradiso and know that film can have a major impact on one’s life, because that’s basically what that movie is about.  Films that can teach one morals, dialogue, demonstrate how certain things work, showcase relationships, show different perspectives, offer greater understanding of people and places around the world, enhance the imaginations, find role models, offer unique forms of education, among other aspects of enlightenment.  Whether you like it or not, films can influence one’s opinion, maybe even their life.  Films can inspire.

 

 

 

Argument #3: It’s just entertainment, it’s not history.

Cinema has perhaps the greatest potential to be the most effective mass media instrument. Besides proving cheap entertainment for masses, it can easily become a means of mass instruction and mass education. — Siddhi Bahadkar

The excuse for artistic license to overrule reality for the sake of entertainment.  This is something that mainly applies to films based on a true story.  A reason to distort the truth.  This is something I addressed in an earlier blog entry titled On the topic of films “based on true stories/events”  Long story short, distorting truth in a film that is made for entertainment can have real-life consequences which can be infuriating.  Distorting the truth in the film Remember the Titans got the real-life Herman Boone to be glorified for acting in ways he didn’t.  Distorting the truth in Selma caused a woman to be outraged at the false depiction of LBJ, and thus write her own opinion article on it.

On the other hand, distorting history can be fun if it’s obvious history is being distorted.  For instance, how Hitler died in Inglorious Basterds.  Or the stuff depicted in History of the World Part I.  How about anything Monty Python did?

When it comes to films based on true stories, one should take the “true story” aspect with a grain of salt, go ahead and be entertained, and then do a little research to see how accurate the film is.  If nothing else, it offers an excuse to learn some history.  Learning what a film did right and did wrong in terms of historical accuracy can enhance the viewing experience in its own way.

 

Conclusion

The “It’s just a film” excuse is bullshit.  Films have too much of an impact on people’s lives to be considered that irrelevant.  That’s like telling a Raider’s fan, “It’s just a game.”  If something can bring out that much passion in an individual, then it’s more than the sum of its parts.

Regardless of what people may say, your opinion matters, especially if it affects just one life.

And the constructive criticism goes both ways.  I expect myself to show deeper insight and appreciation (or bash it for being the dumb piece of shit it is) for a film just as much as I expect others to do the same towards films I have experienced myself.  Case in point, as I stated earlier, I got Forest Taylor of Slaughterfilm to gain some more insight into Angel Heart.  He did the same for me, with his analysis of Predator.

 

“Cinema has become a powerful vehicle for culture, education, leisure and propaganda.” — Vikas Sha Mbe

Also worth reading:

http://www2.gsu.edu/~jougms/Justamovie.htm

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/why-movies-still-matter

https://thoughteconomics.com/the-role-of-film-in-society/

http://www.stuartfernie.org/filmsimportant.htm

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/screen-time/why-is-it-important-for-kids-to-see-consequences-in-movies

 

 

Edit (7-4-2018): Got a counter-argument for some of the stuff I said in this post, sort of.  My initial comments in a thread on the Slaughterfilm website (which, admittedly, is what got me to make this blog post in the first place):

The Last Jedi “It’s just a movie, calm down.”

Fuck off. It’s more than a movie to a lot of people. Some films are more than just films. They exist as a form of entertainment, and entertainment is something everyone needs (yes, “need”, not “want”). And if you listen to the discussions and arguments, you’ll find that they make good points for being pissed at the movie. It’s not that it’s a movie, it’s what the movie represents.

For the neutral folk like yourselves, if it means nothing, then it’s not a discussion you should be involved in. Considering you’ve mentioned the film and the controversy on a few occasions, so you mine as well as drop the pretense, since you seem to care. For others who were fans of the star wars saga/franchise, it represents a major irreparable flaw in the Star Wars universe, with story flaws, character flaws, betrayals of personalities/rules setup in the past (and in the same film), and a film that exists more as feminist anti-capitalist propaganda and less as a Star Wars Story. And then there are those who don’t really give a damn about Star Wars in general, and just enjoy the movie for the spectacle (shutting their brains off to anything requiring 2 seconds of thought), and/or are all for the feminist anti-capitalist message (and they’re all hypocrites).

In addition, the film represents where the Star Wars franchise is headed unless something is done soon (assuming it’s not too late). Some get too violent or illogical about it, such as that fund-raising event to remake the film (it’s not that they will remake it themselves, they want to raise funds to give to Disney under the agreement that they will remake the film with the raised budget in the way these fans desire), and it’s wishful thinking in my opinion. Others troll supporters of the film on Twitter and stuff, calling them shills and whatnot (but in all fairness, they are right some of the time). But if nothing else, this is a backlash against Disney for doing the same thing to the fans, sending their own shills to troll them, convincing youtube to demonetize accounts, remove comments/videos/accounts, and not taking anyone’s arguments seriously, even if it’s well-founded criticism.

This isn’t just a rabid fan-base, it’s also a rabid corporate-base. The fans don’t want to see anymore Star Wars films released that are this politically driven, and are protesting both the film, future Star Wars films, and Disney, until they either get taken seriously, or until Star Wars dies. They just want a film where the writers, directors, and producers know the lore and the source material, and wish to create a new film with great care in this regard. The fact that the new film took less care than the prequel trilogy did says something.

As for the character who played Rose, I’m not so sure she quit Instagram because she was being relentlessly trolled. There’s no record showing her being trolled, no comment screenshots, and not even her word on it. It’s the word of Disney staff saying that’s how it is. Comes off as some other form of damage control by using anti-feminism as a scapegoat or something.

Speaking of re-evaluating the prequels, I have done just that:
https://theanomaloushost.org/2018/06/25/star-wars-prequel-trilogy-1999-2005-epic-review/

And in addition, I plan on doing a re-review of The Last Jedi, to showcase precisely how it’s more than just a movie, why the fan rage is justified, and why the criticism should be taken seriously. But as a warm-up for this, you might want to check this video out which explains this position more clearly than I can:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgyUZmv0DFU&index=26&list=PLpx0V8z84pQmt9FYJ2qZmjND7VDLhdq55&t=0s

Christ, and I was about to recommend a movie for you guys to continue on with the batshit crazy Japanese flicks (Suicide Club, available on YouTube, uncut). I have an idea, why don’t you give me a reason not to take this seriously. “It’s just a movie” is not an excuse that will hold weight. I guarantee it. That’s like saying Seven Samurai is only a movie, or that The Godfather is only a movie. Movies can change lives, and people make a living making and critiquing/talking about movies. Besides, if it was just a movie made solely for entertainment purposes and nothing else, Kathleen Kennedy wouldn’t be promoting the message “The Force is Female.”

So what do you say? Put into practice what you said many many months ago?

“Having them exist is an opportunity for conversation.”

“If people would just sit the fuck down, and talk about things…”

And here’s my counter-argument to their counter-argument:

Nice counter-argument to what I said. I pity you don’t consider one other thing that throws a wrench into your entire stance. The corporations that make the films, and how much they care about the films (or not). While it’s true they largely exist just to create films to make a profit off of them, there’s other factors to consider. George Lucas didn’t create Star Wars just to make money, it was to tell a story he had a personal investment in. Same thing with the prequels, though with more mixed results. Oliver Stone did something similar with his film Platoon, as did Francis Ford Coppola with Apocalypse Now, and so did Akira Kurosawa with Dreams. In those cases, the film was a method of expressing their own personal/political/philosophical views, or just to tell a story they felt needed to be told. It wasn’t just a cash-grab for them.

On the other side of the coin, corporations also make films for similar reasons pointed out in John Carpenter’s They Live: subliminal messaging (sometimes it’s too blunt to be considered subliminal, at least in terms of being subtle). Sometimes the films are made to encourage audiences to think in a certain way, a “herd mentality”. And sometimes a film is made with little to no passion other than the subliminal message, which is something many critics nowadays are picking up on because it’s difficult to avoid. And if the film becomes more about the message than about the story, which is what many critics of The Last Jedi are arguing against, then the criticism is inevitably going to be about the message. And the director and others responsible for making that film lash out at the criticism, becoming just as bad, if not worse, than the worst of those they argue against.

And it would be nice if many could just, “make their own damn movie.” The problem is that many face obstacles from corporations like Disney, among others, because the film industry has become political. Films like 2018’s Death Wish can’t be released without facing criticism, saying it’s “the wrong film at the wrong time.” Films like 2017’s The Red Pill can’t be made without resorting to Kickstarter after backlash over the direction it was heading, as a documentary. And, of course, there’s the cancellation of conservative television shows such as Last Man Standing despite the fact that it was doing so well in the ratings compared to other shows on similar channels. Many people like me have a right to be pissed when the kinds of films/shows we want aren’t getting made simply because they don’t fit in with.

Lastly, you can claim all you want that “it’s just a movie” for you, but that statement would be easier to swallow when, considering this is a podcast that is all about violent/bloody/gory/rapy movies, you guys say you’re not interested in some so-and-so movie like 2018’s Death Wish because it’s about some old upper-class white dude turning into a vigilante and killing people. Sounds like some of the media you’ve been watching over the past few years has had an impact on the types of films you’d be willing to watch. I’m not saying you have to watch that movie, I’m just giving an example. There’s other films I can recommend over that one.

 

Oh, right, and one other thing.  If films didn’t have an impact on your lives in any way, in particular films with rape scenes in them, then how do you explain the “rape jar”?

Entertainment Industry Nostalgia: February 1990

Ok, finally finished up February 1990.  Going lighter on the “Cultural Etc.” stuff because, well, I was too lazy to methodically track down ads and clothing styles and stuff from that month.  So here it is, the noteworthy music, movies, and shows from February 1990.

 

Music

Last month was just a warm-up compared to what was unleashed this month in the music industry.

MC Hammer: Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em

Everyone knows U Can’t Touch This, even if it is a rip-off of Super Freak by Rick James (bitch) .

KLF: Chill Out

Relaxation music.

Primus: Frizzle Fry

Too Many Puppies, and John the Fisherman were the big album hits.  I can only listen to this album in small bursts, like 2 songs at a time tops before I’ve had enough.

Damn Yankees: Damn Yankees

High Enough, Coming of Age, and Come Again were among the big hits, and this album was known for reviving the career of Ted Nugent.  Despite what they say the big hits were, my personal favorite song from this song is “Tell Me How You Want It.”

The Cramps: Stay Sick

Garage Band with several songs that take a big nod to other songs (God Damn Rock & Roll is a heavy nod to Old Time Rock & Roll by Bob Seger).  UK band.

Riot: The Privilege of Power

Decent rock n’ roll album, though I find the intermissions between songs questionable.  Upon a listen, didn’t find any notable standouts, but I didn’t hear any weak songs either, so it’s an all around solid album.

Peter Wolf: Up to No Good

Not bad.  The best song is a toss-up between Up to No Good, and Shades of Red-Shades of Blue.

Gamma Ray: Heading for Tomorrow

Would’ve been my favorite of the month if only it didn’t have several weak songs stacked atop the few excellent songs (the standouts are Lust for Life, Free Time, and Heading for Tomorrow).  First studio album of the German metal band.  I strongly recommend the original version as opposed to the remastered version.  Best song on the album is the one the album is named after, which runs at a vast 14 minutes (though there are various versions of this song, one of which is the live version which runs at an insane 20+ minutes).

Oingo Boingo: Dark at the End of the Tunnel

Arguably their last good album.

 

Eric Johnson: Ah Via Musicom

The way he plays that guitar, especially in Cliffs of Dover.

Movies

While the music album selection improved this month, it’s debate-able as to whether or not the film quality improved or worsened or stayed the same compared to January 1990.  None of the films were as good as Tremors (in my opinion), but some of the others sure gave last month’s top films a run for their money.

Mountains of the Moon

Think of this as The Lost City of Z, except better.  While the locations may not involve tropical rainforests, it’s still an adventure film where two men form a common bond over exploring the unknown (to England) locations, yet become torn apart due to semi-political conflicts at home.  Sure doesn’t hold back on the violent moments (as brief as they are), nor the harshness of the environments confronted during exploration.

 

Hard to Kill

Not one of the better Steven Seagal films in my opinion, yet for some reason a lot of Seagal fans hold this film in high regard.  I’m only including it here for that reason, otherwise it’s forgettable to me.

 

Nightbreed

Fun film.  Great practical effects work, an adrenaline-filled finale, music that sounds like a Batman-rip-off (understandable considering both films were conducted by Danny Elfman), and David Cronenberg playing the villain.  Be sure you see the director’s cut.

 

Cinema Paradiso

I reviewed this movie.  TL;DR: a fun drama film that’s all about nostalgia and love for films and how they can shape one’s life and one’s community.  Likely the film of the month (while last month, in my opinion, it was Tremors).

 

 

Video Games

More or less about as decent as last month’s selections, except that this month would get a game release on the NES that would go down as an all-time classic.
Rollerball (NES)

Fun little pinball game, which weren’t all that common on the NES, or in general as far as I know for back then.

 

Super Spike V’Ball (NES)

Well, I guess the NES just wouldn’t let Sega get away with being the only console to release a beach volleyball game, so they had to take their shot at it, even if they had to port it from the arcade to do it!  And they did a decent job from what I’ve seen.

 

Golf (Game Boy)

Gotta give the Game Boy something just out of pity, like the last episode.  Don’t get me wrong, this game has its fans back in the day, and it’s decent, but it’s not anything I would ever want to play today.

 

Batman (NES)

One of the big NES classics in the same vane as Ninja Gaiden (and probably just as difficult; hard as hell).  Need I say more other than the 90s knew how to make a solid film-to-game adaptation?  Sega would follow suit in the months to come.  And as great as this game is, while it should have by all right been the best game of the month, something else came out that would top it, and practically every other NES game ever made.  And I’m not so sure I have the willpower today to get good enough to beat this thing.  But it is fun, so long as I don’t get pissed enough to throw the controller and the console out the fucking window.

 

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Well, it’s Super Mario Bros. 3.  Nothing else is going to top this for game of the month.  Was definitely a contender (if not winner) for Game of the Year.  A game so hyped up (and lived up to it), that there was an entire movie created for the sole purpose of being a glorified advertisement for it.

To bad this was in 1989, kinda hoped to dig into it a bit for the 90s nostalgia, especially since I watched it in the 90s.

Television Shows

I could only find 3 shows that were halfway decent, though none of them lasted the year, let alone half the year.  These are mostly sympathy picks, key word being “mostly.”

Rodeo Drive (February 5, 1990 – May 4, 1990; Lifetime Television)

A so-so game show that was never going to be popular, but the host made it entertaining.

 

Elvis (February 6 – May 19, 1990; ABC)

Show didn’t gain enough ratings, so it was cancelled, and re-released along with the unaired episodes as a 4 hour miniseries.  Honestly, the show seemed ok to me.  Maybe audiences got Elvis fatigue during this time period, or the show wasn’t advertised enough.  Then again, a lot of great shows got cancelled before their prime from the late 80s to about 2010 (seriously, fuck you people for cancelling Firefly, Surface and Deadwood).  It is what it is.

 

Nasty Boys (February 19 – July 20, 1990; NBC)

“Is this College Boy?”

“No, this is Donald Trump.”

Ok, now this show was so fucking fun in the way only the 90s could be (well ok, late 80s too).  What the early 90s crowd thought awesome cops were like (more gangster than cop, but in all the right ways).  Entertaining for the cheese and the awesomeness.  Seriously, fuck you people for cancelling Nasty Boys!

 

Edit (11-18-2018): Well, looks like I may have overlooked one.  There was this made for TV movie which ended up acting as a pilot for a series that would show up next month.  The series is a bit different from this made-for-tv film, which itself is a glorified series pilot.  But it’s worth mentioning, mainly just for the pilot/movie.

 

A Family For Joe (February 25, 1990 for pilot/film; March 24 – August 19, 1990 for series)

So the film itself has some fans who like it.  The show has less fans, but worth mentioning.  And that’s all I’ll really do here, give an honorable mention.  It’s about some foster kids who don’t want to get separated, so they get some bum off the street to act as their father.

 

Other Cultural Stuff

On the topic of films “based on true stories/events”

“[…] any time you hear the words ‘based on a true story,’ that’s usually a translation for ‘We bought the rights to this story, took out the boring parts, then made up just about everything else.'” — Bill Simmons

“I don’t think the movie should be more important than the truth.” — Greg Paspatis

“History is written by the victors.” — Winston Churchill

So I was going to talk about the film All the Money in the World, but I’ve failed to come up with enough content to make it a worthwhile review entry. I’ve been stuck with writer’s block over the past few weeks (that, and I’ve been working longer job hours, dealing with the flu, trying to complete projects so I can review them on this site but get side-tracked by something, plus plain old procrastination), so I’ve been struggling to get back on this site and post some new content. But believe me, once I get a couple of these “projects” out of the way, I’ll get my groove back in no time. These are projects I intend to make a post about.

But anyway, after seeing the above mentioned film, it got me thinking about another topic I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while now, a topic that came up after seeing Hidden Figures, and revisiting a childhood favorite of mine, Remember the Titans. Movies based on true stories/events. In the past, I never really made that much of a deal over films like these. After all, as I’ve been told in the past, “it’s just a movie”. No need to make a big deal about it, no need to bitch about it, just simply enjoy it or don’t, and leave it at that. The thing is though, I’ve learned over the past couple years that the “it’s just a movie” argument is bullshit. That’s like saying the novel 1984, or A Clockwork Orange, or Animal Farm, “is just a book.” Because, as I’ll demonstrate, there are things going on that make it clear that it’s more than just a movie.

Continue reading

Top 20 Fight Scenes

Yep, a top whatever number list.  This is by no means definitive, as I’m sure there are plenty of films out there I haven’t seen that potentially have fight scenes better than what is listed here.  However, I do consider myself to have enough knowledge and experience with action scenes throughout the years to make a list like this.

Now, when I mean top fight scenes, this does not include any that involves projectiles.  No guns, no shurikens, no lasers, none of that bullshit.  These fights have to mainly involve hands, fists, knives, swords, etc.  I mean, theoretically, I suppose you could throw a knife and call that a projectile, but there are also action scenes where someone rips another guy’s arm off and beats him to death with it and throws it at someone, thus making a dismembered arm a projectile.  For all you know, someone could slice limbs off and karate kick those limbs at their opponents while the limbs are still in mid-air from being sliced off.  There’s always a way to bend/break the rule.  Regardless, I’ll do my best to stick with those standards.  Sorry John Wick fans.

First, some runners up:

Runners Up

Star Wars

Basically anything from The Empire Strikes Back and onwards, they put on some pretty damn great sword duels.  Though I did find the one in The Force Awakens to be lacking (along with the rest of the movie).  Honestly, out of all of them, my favorite is the battle from Empire Strikes Back, and here’s why.  They fight like samurai in that film, while in the prequel trilogy they’re more like circus acrobats, showing off just for the sake of showing off.  But it’s not just the grounding (ie providing some semblance of realism in a sci-fi fantasy film) that makes it good, let alone the choreography.  It’s also the story the fight tells, how Luke shows that he definitely has potential to be a great jedi and is capable of besting Vader, but is inexperienced and too emotional, while Vader has complete control over his emotions and knows exactly what he’s doing and what he’s involved in.  And this is all told as the fight progresses, Luke starting off with some confidence, knowing that he is scared, but believes this must be done.  And he demonstrates that he is capable of challenging Vader, besting him in brief instances, only for Vader to turn the tables by using his force powers on Luke to show how out of his depth he really is, and wears him down until he is cornered.  The changing of the scenery matches with all this as well, the red lights demonstrating the fear Luke has and the aura of Vader’s reputation, to the bright tunnel showing that Luke has confidence amidst the darkness, to things darkening and running out of color to show that it really is hopeless for Luke.  And throughout all this, we eventually realize Vader is testing Luke, leading up to the twist that brings to light Vader’s true motivation, and provides more depth and an intriguing backstory for Luke.  A combination of story and choreography truly makes it a fight to remember, while the rest are fun just for the spectacle rather than the depth.  That being said, just about all my entries are more for the spectacle than anything else, so consider me a hypocrite when it comes to the other entries.

Magnificent imagery.

 

City Hunter

This film has a couple fairly decent fight scenes, but the one that stood out was the absolutely classic Street Fighter parody fight.  I swear, this is a better Street Fighter film than any of the live action films just because of this scene.  Yeah, it’s goofy and cheesy as hell, but at least it’s accurate to the games goddamnit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Way of the Dragon and Fists of Fury

I respect the Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris fight more than I enjoyed it.  Fists of Fury, on the other hand, had much better fights, but none that I thought stood out enough for this list.  But don’t worry, Bruce Lee won’t be excluded from this list.  I’m going to include what I consider to be his best work.  Stay tuned.

 

They Live

Come on, it’s a WWF fight put onto film.  Plus it goes on forever, which adds to the humor of it all.  This fight had to be brought up just because.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken Path

Probably never heard of this movie have ya?  Honestly, I’d almost recommend it, except that this fight does the one thing I fucking hate in any fight scene ever.  Having the good guy receive one hell of a one-sided beat down, only occasionally getting in a hit or two, before shrugging it all off and beating the bad guy to death in a quarter of the entire fight time.  It’s bullshit, but I can’t help but admire the amount of work and effort that must’ve gone into this.  Hate it too much to like it, but enjoyed the first 3/4ths to much to ignore it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Forces

Scott Adkins, this guy is never going to get a fair shot in Hollywood because Hollywood is run by hacks, pedophiles, molesters, left-wing nuts, and just plain old-fashioned cocksuckers.  Thankfully that won’t stop Adkins from outputting decent martial arts films.  Personally, I think his best film is Ninja II (the first Ninja film isn’t all that great, though it is worth watching just to see a central character from that film get offed pretty damn fast in the sequel, to the point where it just becomes fucking hilarious after all the effort made to save said individual’s life in the first film).  But this movie Special Forces contains what is arguably his best fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s enough of the warm-up, time for the actual films.  Don’t consider the ordering definitive.

 

Actual Top 20 List

#20 Universal Soldier: Regeneration

Jeanne Claude Van Damme vs. Dolph Lundgren.  A sequel that’s better than the original, and on a lower budget too.  In fact, Scott Adkins would go on to star in the sequel to this one, which also isn’t a half-bad movie in of itself.  What makes this fight stand out is seeing how much power these two have behind their punches, smashing through walls left and right, falling several stories to the ground, and having a gnarly ending.  And it all works because we know that these are super soldiers, stronger, faster, and more durable than the average soldier.  Basically something you would hope for in a Dragon Ball movie (you know, before those freaks got so strong they didn’t even wince at bullets).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#19 Rapid Fire

Poor Brandon Lee, dying before his time.  At least he managed one decent fight scene that manages to strive towards that of Bruce Lee.  Brandon Lee vs. Al Leong.  The movie itself is just so-so.  It’s a decent enough watch, so-bad-it’s-good at some points (Brandon Lee’s acting wasn’t as good as it would be in The Crow), but managed to keep me entertained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#18 Chocolate

The fights are fun, but as the film goes on, things start to get a bit monotonous.  That being said, the finale at the apartment complex provided that extra “Ooomph!” to make it stand out from everything preceding it.  Plus it’s great to see a martial arts flick with a woman who can kick ass, and is choreographed well enough to make it seem like she is capable of kicking ass, and not having too many of those bullshit fast cuts to cover up the fact that the girl isn’t capable of kicking ass like this.  Although this sequence does raise 2 questions.  1.) Just how many minions does this villain have at his disposal, considering how many got offed prior to this scene?  2.) Why the fuck don’t these idiots take a hint?  Seriously, doesn’t it ever get to the point where they have to start thinking, “Ok, we’re not capable of kicking this girl’s ass.  You’re on your own boss.”?  Made me a fan of Jeeja Yanin, who would go on to display more of her talent in Raging Phoenix among others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#17 BKO: Bangkok Knockout

I’m not going to lie, this movie really isn’t that great.  The story sucks all kinds of ass, and you’re not going to give a shit about any of the characters.  The only thing that makes this film worth watching is all the fight scenes that are littered throughout this film.  Seriously, the whole thing is basically non-stop fighting scenes.  While they’re all fun in their own way, the stand-out fight is the cage fight.  I’m amazed that this was pulled off without wire-work (or if there was wires involved, it was used pretty damn well because I couldn’t tell).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#16 Man of Tai Chi

Keanu Reeves, he knows what he’s doing when it comes to making martial arts films.  This film delivers on providing bitchin’ martial arts fights.  It does have its shares of issues however, mainly how dumb the villains get when it comes to handling this female cop who’s onto them.  Plus they threw away their opportunity for what could’ve been the best fight in the last 20 years by having the protagonist Tiger Chen puss out on fighting Iko Uwais (that guy from The Raid films, more on that later).  But despite that, there’s still some great fights, including the finale fight between Chen and Reeves.  It’s the one fight that made me go, “Hey, Keanu’s still got it!”  This was before John Wick came out for the record.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#15 Game of Death

Now this.  This is Bruce Lee’s magnum opus.  It would’ve put all his other films to shame if he completed it, but he didn’t.  He died before he could finish it.  Because of that, they scrapped what footage they could and put it into a piss-poor excuse for a Bruce Lee film.  If you want to see this as it was originally intended (minus any footage Bruce Lee didn’t shoot), then go watch the documentary A Warrior’s Journey, which is a special feature on some editions of Way of the Dragon (not the 40th anniversary edition unfortunately), which is not only a solid documentary on the man, the myth, the legend, but also compiles all that footage Lee shot, and shows it the way Lee originally wanted.  Bruce Lee facing off against 3 men, 1 on a different level of the tower Lee is climbing for the treasures at the top (sounds like inspiration for some videogames doesn’t it?).  The highlight is the first fight, a nun-chuck fight.  Don’t think I’ve seen that replicated in any other movie, save for a brief duration during the finale of Black Dynamite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#14 Dragons Forever

Jackie Chan vs. Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.  I’d say more, but I’m going to save that for a later entry below.  Let’s just say this particular film is a bit special for Jackie Chan, as this would be the last film he would do with his pals Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao.  This was their swan song movie, and it didn’t disappoint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#13 Special ID

Ah, Donnie Yen.  No top fight list is complete without him showing up somewhere.  This particular fight scene demonstrates the influence of mixed martial arts, UFC stuff, making its mark in films.  The way they fight and the mixing of submission moves demonstrates a shift in martial arts films, though I don’t believe this shift caught too much weight.  It showed signs early on with Flash Point (was tempted to add that, but decided on this one instead), and it matured greatly here.  The MMA style looked more natural in this film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#12 Ip Man

Yep, Donnie again.  While this movie is good, I don’t hold it in as high of regard as most people seem to.  That being said, the whole thing is worth watching just to get to this amazing fight in the middle section where Donnie takes on 10 men in a dojo.  Easily the best moment in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#11 Oldboy

The infamous long take that inspired all other long take fight sequences.  One man against an army.  Absolutely incredible sequence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#10 Wheels on Meals

Ah, and here’s the first time Jackie Chan fought against Benny “The Jet” Urquidez.  Their first encounter so good, audiences demanded it happen again, which it did in Dragons Forever.  This was also when Jackie Chan was teaming up with his two buddies and making several films with them, including Project A among others.  But it’s the fight between Jackie Chan and Urquidez that makes this film stand out.  Benny is a fucking beast.  I swear, this guy moves as fast as Bruce Lee.  Not to mention, in reality, Benny had gone undefeated in the kickboxing world.  And Jackie Chan said something during post-production, jokingly of course, that he could probably whip Benny’s ass anytime he wanted just like he did in the film.  Well, soon after that, Benny met Jackie outside, and challenged him, basically all like, “If you were being serious, try me out right here right now.”  Jackie backed down, stating it was just a joke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#9 Ip Man 2

I’m hesitant to put another Ip Man film on here.  But screw it, I like this fight.  Donnie Yen returns in the sequel in a finale that I consider to be better than that of the previous film.  Fairly intense fight where Ip Man takes on someone who is clearly stronger than him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8 The Girl from Naked Eye

The movie itself, it’s not all that special.  And if it wasn’t for this fight sequence, it would be forgettable.  But it has this 4-on-1 fight near the end that is not only a long take, but it looks completely believable.  This seriously looks like something that could be pulled off in real life.  Everyone gets more and more exhausted and out of breath as the fight goes on, and the protagonist doesn’t get out of it easily.  The protagonist gets the shit kicked out of him, and it shows.  Yet he manages to overcome the odds.  More believable than the Oldboy fight sequence, and quite possible the most realistic and grounded many-vs.-one fight sequence ever put on film.  I guess it’s because it’s not that well-known that made me push it so high on the list, but it’s not like I couldn’t change my mind sometime down the line.  It’s unfortunate that the main star, Jason Yee, hasn’t really been in anything else noteworthy, save for The Dark Knight Rises.  He never really got to show off his martial arts skills in anything else that’s notable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 The Legend of Drunken Master

Jackie Chan again (this will be the last one with him, I promise).  This is my favorite film of his.  It’s so good that there are 2 fights in this film that I think are equally good, so I couldn’t just pick one.  Jackie vs. the axe gang, with awesome use of bamboo.  And the finale fight, of course, include a portion where Jackie falls onto a giant bed of fiery coals that makes me cringe every time I see it.  Oh, and the finale took several months to film.  The quality shows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#6 Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector)

Finally, Tony Jaa makes an appearance.  This was the film that made me a fan of his.  Christ, several great fights in this film, I’d hate to only choose one.  But I’ll only choose one, the long take going up several flights of stairs.  Oh, and if you ever see this movie, be sure to see the Thai cut, the Tom Yum Goong version.  Increases the length of some fight scenes and makes the film flow more naturally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#5 The Man From Nowhere (aka Uncle)

A knife fight during the finale.  Short and sweet.  Not much else to say.  Bin Won vs. Thanayong Wongtrakul.

 

 

 

 

 

#4 SPL: Killzone

Donnie Yen again, and this will also be the last one for him on this list.  This time he faces off against Wu Jing.  A knife against baton fight that has an unbelievable speed and pace to it.  I don’t know of any other duo who could’ve pulled this off.

 

 

 

#3 Tiger on the Beat

The finale in this movie is the best finale I’ve ever seen in an action film ever.  Can’t say the entire finale made this list because, well, guns and bullets are involved.  However, there is one thing that manages to be better than the gunfights.  A chainsaw duel with Conan Lee.  This chainsaw duel makes the one in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Motel Hell look like pillow fights by comparison.

No video for it, but here’s a link to a site that does: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/videos/a-movies-epic-chainsaw-fight/82993805/

 

#2 Ong Bak 2

The entire finale.  Man, Tony Jaa doesn’t just do hand to hand combat and use different martial arts styles in a few situations, but also uses multiple types of weapons, and fight around and on top of an elephant.  How can you not love this sequence?

 

#1 The Raid 2

There’s Iko Uwai again.  This demonstrates why Tiger Chen should’ve fought against him in Man of Tai Chi.  The last major fight scene in the film.  Going from hand to hand fighting, until the villain realizes he can’t win in a fair fight, so then knives get involved and ratchet up the tension, along with the blood drops.  Going up against Cecep Arif Rahman.

 

 

Epilogue

To close this out, I’m taking this discussion away from movie fights and towards a fight that matters, that affects all Internet users.  December 14th, the FCC and that cocksucker Ajit Pai are going to vote to end Net Neutrality.  This isn’t the first time the FCC threatened to destroy it, but it could be the last, if they succeed.  Because if they fail to end net neutrality, they will try again 1-2 years after that, and if they fail, another 1-2 years after that, and on and on until it is repealed.  So protest, go to battleforthenet.com, call your congressmen who likely won’t listen to you, do what you can to let your voice be heard even if big corporations like Verizon and Comcast will do everything they can to drown you out.  This is something worth fighting for.  Honestly, the best we can hope for is to delay, delay, delay, until someone like Kim Dotcom finishes creating some alternative to the Internet that will hopefully last just as long if not longer, until the whole process repeats again.  Don’t let these assholes throttle and block without a fight.