Movie Database

31 words.

This is where I jot down a few sentences about movies I’ve watched recently. Currently these are all horror movies.

Recently-Watched Movies

The Creator (2023, Gareth Edwards). Well at least it wasn’t a superhero movie. ๐Ÿค–๐ŸŒ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ›ฐ๏ธ๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฅใ† I had an idea to try to keep up with new movies in 2024. I was looking forward to this one, but I’m not going to lie, I nodded off toward the end of it. I felt like it had a tone that thought it was supposed to be a sweeping Gone With The Wind-style epic for our time but the actual story behind it didn’t really deliver anything epic. I never once felt any sympathetic connection with any characters in the movie, or understood their one-track-mind motivations, or really cared what happened to them. Didn’t really get what the movie was trying to convey, other than the tired, depressing, here-we-go-again, heavy-handed theme of America and Human Beings so awful that AI should replace them. I found the Vietnam War-style licensed music choices a bit confusing and jarring. Nice visual effects, though nothing particularly ground-breaking. But hey, at least it wasn’t a superhero movie, and I only counted a handful of times when people obviously shouldn’t have survived explosive shockwaves, which, along with the falling hundreds of feet without getting hurt, has become the visual effects version of the Wilhelm Scream. (Prime Video.)

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023, James Mangold). Not like the old days, but not terrible. โฐ๐Ÿš‚๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ›ฅ๏ธ๐Ÿ๐Ÿชฆ๐Ÿ›ฉ๏ธ๐Ÿ›๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚ Not a thrill ride. Not the same as the old days. Not fantastic. Not groundbreaking. Watered down, safe, corporate Disney affair. Checks all the boxes. Basically fan fiction. But I didn’t hate it, and only a few times got bored enough to walk away from the screen. (I didn’t hate Crystal Skull either, which took way more chances.) Every review I read was like “omg they de-aged Harrison Ford but they didn’t change his voice so it was so fake!” and I thought, huh, I didn’t even notice. His voice has always sounded the same to me through the years. I thought it was one of the best de-agings I’ve seen to date, except for the action parts where the face was moving a lot. There’s a weird sort of unnatural post-processed motion-blur look that a lot of heavy effects shots have. I mean I say it was good, but there was never a moment when I was looking at the de-aging that I thought I was looking at an actor instead of a visual effects shot, but it was fine. The whole thing was fine. Nothing special, like most blockbusters. The more I talk about it, the closer I get to the most dreaded condemnation of all… It was mediocre. But I can’t really point to anything I didn’t like. But the bad thing is I also can’t point to anything that I particularly liked. It was… unmemorable. It was like watching a really expensive clip show. Actually, I thought of one part I liked. I thought the best character moments came in the very last scenes. Where was the rest of that movie? (Disney+.)

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 (2023, Christopher McQuarrie). Not surprising but still fun. ๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”‘๐Ÿ›ฉ๏ธ๐Ÿ’ฃ๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ•บ๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿคœ๐Ÿคบ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿš†๐Ÿ›ค๏ธ๐Ÿช‚๐Ÿ”‘ Woo new Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies have become one of the most exciting action movie events in modern cinema. I don’t know who is doing the music for this one but they sound like they’re trying for a note-for-note reproduction of the Inception soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Overall, the AI stuff was silly, of course, but it was still a fun movie full of fun action sequences. (Amazon Video.)

Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock). Don’t steal money from your boss. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿ’ต๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™‚๏ธB๐ŸŽฑ๐Ÿจ๐Ÿ›€๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿš—๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿช‘๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿง Number one on the AFI 100 Thrills list. First time I’ve ever watched it all the way through. “It’s hot as fresh milk.” She’s a thief! Frantic music. Are we meant to think she’s imagining these voices while she drives or are these actual events happening elsewhere? Huh, The Iconic Scene is less than halfway into the movie, wasn’t expecting that. Such an unusual structure to this movie. Starts one way then completely changes to something else. The field of psychiatry always seems to play a prominent role in these older movies. This actor at the end who has to deliver all this dry expositional dialog to explain everything has a tough role. Hard to decide how to rate this. I wasn’t particularly affected by it. I examined it like one of the stuffed birds that Norman Bates made in the movie. I’m not entirely sure why the AFI ranked it higher than The Birds. I guess just because it had never been done before. (Amazon Video.)

The Birds (1963, Alfred Hitchcock). At least they saved the love birds. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿฆœ๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ›ฅ๏ธ๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿฅณ๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿƒโ›ฝ๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿ ๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿฆ…๐Ÿš— Now consulting the AFI 100 Thrills list to find early horror films. I have a vague memory of being scared by this movie on a weekend re-run seen on the tiny black-and-white kitchen television as a kid. My aunt was terrified of birds, and I find them slightly discomforting to this day. Anyway. Ms. Daniels is quite the obsessive stalker, you see. Why does this dude in California have a New England accent. Seriously what is this lady’s deal? A tetanus shot for bird claws? Read a book, 1960s people! OMG she’s a pathological liar, you see. Jessica Tandy. I’m finding all the verbal chess pretty unexpected and amusing. A surprising amount of the movie is a light entertainment afternoon soap opera. Little Veronica Cartwright, who later plays Lambert in Alien. Impressive composite work to overlay all the birds into these scenes (using “yellowscreen” techniques, apparently). There’s no music. The birds sound synthetic, because they were created on a synthesizer. The children’s song goes, “Ristle-tee, rostle-tee, Hey donnie-dostle-tee knickety-knackety, Rustical quality, Now, now, now.” There must have been at least 50 cigarettes lit and smoked in this movie. I noticed quite early on there’s a lot of actors stepping on each others’ lines, but I think it’s intentional to keep it snappy, so there’s never any verbal pauses. (Some mid-Atlantic accents, too.) Tipi Hedren’s face is always slightly out of focus in closeups. Impressive overhead shot of the town and the burning gas station. Yeesh these loud synthesized bird sounds are creepy and unsettling. It’s such a long movie for 1963! And these old movies just STOP when they’re done, don’t they? Anyway, it’s pretty good. Surprisingly suspenseful, without any music or jump scares, and a surprisingly engaging, if quaint, story. (Make sure to check out the trailer on the Wikipedia page, too. Funny stuff.) (Amazon Video.)

The Ring (2002, Gore Verbinski). A good reason to replace VHS technology. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ“ผ๐Ÿ“บโšซ๏ธ๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿชœ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ“ผ๐Ÿ™‚ Halloween Night Scares. I remember this as one of the scariest horror movies I’ve ever seen, but after finding the original Japanese version a bit meh, I wondered if that was a false memory, so I had to check. It’s got the green The Matrix look. Seems more grounded in reality, which makes it feel scarier than the Japanese version, which was a bit more fantastical (both the characters were psychics or something). Definitely creepier imagery. Somewhat better characters, although the ex-husband is kind of a jerk. There’s a lot of detective work and not very much action. And I’m still not sure I get how the videotape ended up being cursed. Overall it’s not as good as I remember. I almost fell asleep near the end. I must have been in a highly suggestible mood when I first watched it. I can’t remember where I read this, but perhaps it was memorable simply because it was so different from the two decades of horror slashers that preceded it, and ushered in a period of more psychological than monster-based horror. I’ve marked it as canonical for being the first movie to introduce Japanense horror to the West. Also, I swear I remember a scene at the end where they put the tape in a video rental store, but it was missing in this version and ended ambiguously. Maybe that’s just how I wanted it to end. (I’m pretty sure DVDs had replaced VHS by the time this movie came out and Netflix had replaced video rental stores. I’m almost positive I first watched this on a Netflix DVD rental.) Also, Samara clearly inspired the video game FEAR. (Paramount+.)

Ring (1998, Hideo Nakata, Japanese). Sometimes the original isn’t better. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ“ผ๐Ÿ“บโšซ๏ธ๐Ÿชฎ๐Ÿ‘๏ธ๐Ÿ“ž๐ŸŒ‹๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ“ผ๐Ÿง Halloween Night Scares. I thought I’d watch the original Japanese version, with the expectation that it would be scarier than the English version, which I remember as one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, if not the scariest. I remember a lot of creeeeeepy imagery, and I just assumed the original Japanese horror (which I think of as creepier than English horror) would go even further. But as it turns out there’s very little creepiness in the original, and it’s a slightly different story, I think. It’s got weirdly silent interior ambiences, like older movies relying on foley work. I guess this is where the popularity of the industrial ambient horror score originated from. I have to admit I’m finding it somewhat hard to follow, and my attention keeps wandering. Like, it’s not clear how any of this is related to a videotape. Not sure they addressed that in the English version either, actually. I have a sinking feeling that if I re-watch the English remake, I won’t like it anymore. Cool end title music though. I’ve marked this as canonical for being the mainstream introduction of Japanese horror to the world. (Amazon Video.)

The Thing (1982, John Carpenter). Nobody ever listens to the dogs. ๐Ÿ† โ„๏ธ๐Ÿš๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ›ธ๐Ÿ‘น๐Ÿ˜จ๐ŸŒจ๏ธโšก๏ธ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ‘ Halloween Night Scares. Rewatching one of the scariest horror movies I can ever recall seeing. The classic survival horror isolation story, often imitated, here done just about as well as it can be done. I’m reminded that there was an early episode of The X-Files that borrowed heavily from this movie. A rare John Carpenter film where someone else is credited for the music, and it sets a creepier tone than usual (there is still plenty of the signature monotonic John Carpenter synth sound though). That classic 80s anamorphic look. Classic red and blue lighting. Isolation, distrust, claustrophobia, and tension. Still great, though maybe a little dated now. (Amazon Video.)

The Fly (1958, Kurt Neumann). He said help me not squash me. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿฉธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿ•ต๏ธ๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿˆ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿน๐Ÿชฐ๐Ÿ•ธ๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚ Vincent Price in a supporting role (I believe this movie essentially launched his career). Odd structure to the movie, starting with a murder and working backwards. Interesting subtext about the speed of scientific discovery and whether it’s too fast. Luckily they didn’t know about the Internet back then. The laboratory set looked like it must have blown the entire special effects budget of the time. Anyway, it’s actually a decent movie. Surprisingly good performance from Patricia Owens. I daresay she carried the whole movie. (Incidentally I’ve never seen the entire Jeff Goldblum version because it’s gross.) (Max.)

Mr. Harrigan's Phone (2022, John Lee Hancock). This is why you should get an Android phone. ๐Ÿ“š๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ“ฑ๐Ÿชฆ๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ˜ I just happened to finish the audiobook this morning, and I just happened to notice there was a movie version. I didn’t expect it to be very good. Netflix doesn’t have a great reputation for original programming. They can afford great cameras and sets and effects, but they tend to scrimp on the writing and actors. Right away, this kid’s voiceover narration isn’t anywhere near as good as Will Patten’s narration in the audiobook. The younger kid actor is much better at reading than the older kid actor. This was a good example of a movie that was ruined for me by reading the book first. I found the movie quite dull, while I found the audiobook riveting. I doubt that I would have liked the movie even if I’d seen it first, but at least I might have wondered what was going to happen next. None of the acting performances in the movie were as good as Will Patten’s narrating of the audiobook. (Netflix.)

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1977, John DeBello). At least they tried to make it funny. ๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ…๐Ÿš๐Ÿช‚๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ๐Ÿ™‚ I mean, of course I’m going to watch Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, because I immediately thought that’s what Rubber was supposed to be an homage to. I also suspected that Attack of the Killer Tomatoes would be a better movie, even though it’s quite famous for being terrible, so I wanted to check my theory. It is terrible. But it’s also an unabashed comedy, with actual proper jokes and everything, beyond the main sarcastic one. The tomatoes actually aren’t in the movie much–most of the comedy is about government ineptitude. It’s got, you know, subtext. Social satire, even. Also a real helicopter crash. When I saw it, I thought, wow that was a weird stunt, I don’t think they’re supposed to do that; they wrecked a whole helicopter for this? Well, no they didn’t. It was a big oops. “This … may God help us … is a cherry tomato.” And yes, it’s better than Rubber. (Tubi.)

Rubber (2010, Quentin Dupieux). Not every idea needs to be a movie. ๐ŸŒต๐Ÿ”ญ๐Ÿ›ž๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿฆโ€โฌ›๐Ÿš—๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿ˜‘ Seen this mentioned a few times. Thought it sounded ridiculous. It is. It might have been a Monty Python sketch at one time in history. Except they would have known when to end the sketch. It reminds me of those NaNoWriMo dailies where you write down whatever fourth-wall-breaking nonsense is in your head to fill the required word count. I guess if you have enough money and/or the right connections, you can turn those pages into a film. Lucky us. It could also be what someone thinks a horror movie made by Rick & Morty might look like (not the makers of Rick & Morty, the characters Rick & Morty), and you can imagine them vehemently defending its integrity. The director is French, so maybe it’s a translation issue. Maybe these jokes are hilarious and culturally relevant to a French or European audience. It’s the kind of humor that feels like they’re directly mocking the audience, like the art piece that’s a banana taped to a wall, not the kind of humor where the audience is in on the joke. This movie had a half a million dollar budget. Can you imagine an earnest young filmmaker trying to start their career seeing that and thinking, They had a half million dollars and they did that with it?? And they still had a prosperous career afterward?? What better example of the adage, It’s not what you know, but who you know, could there be? I watched this entire thing so nobody could say I didn’t give it a chance and it’s hard not to feel angry about it. (Max.)

The Fog (1980, John Carpenter). Ghosts looking for their gold. ๐Ÿ“ป๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ’จโ›ต๏ธ๐Ÿ”ช๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ›ป๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ’จ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d heard of The Fog before but never had the vaguest clue what it was about or noticed anyone talking about it. It’s atmospheric. The late-night swing jazz radio music backdrop behind everything gives it a sinister vibe. It’s got an eclectic cast of characters. But Jamie Lee Curtis got demoted from the semi-strong female lead in Halloween to a hitchhiker sidekick. I guess this was the inspiration for The Secret World’s Kingsmouth zone. The story rules that govern the capabilities of the spooky fog don’t make much sense. The dated smoke effects undercut the tension somewhat. It’s a nice idea, and I thought it started well, but the conclusion fell a bit flat for me. (Tubi.)

Diary of the Dead (2007, George A. Romero). Zombie apocalypse, Internet-style. The survivors make a documentary. ๐ŸŽฌ๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸšŒ๐Ÿฅ๐ŸŽฅ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸŽฅ๐Ÿ ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™‚ The fifth in the George A. Romero Living Dead series. I don’t like found footage or handheld camera work in general so I was sure this was going to be terrible. What I will say, though, is that this is a found footage film created by professionals who know how to hire actors and write scripts and block scenes for long takes. So in that sense it’s automatically better than most. And, dammit, it’s actually not bad. Limited motion sickness. Good characters. Decent story. Accurately bleak view of humanity. And it’s another keen George A. Romero observation of society’s faults (this time, in the area of media obsession and media trust and the rise of Internet journalism and populism). It pains me to say I kind of liked it. As with all the ones before, it’s no masterpiece, but it’s worth watching. (Tubi.)

Land of the Dead (Unrated) (2005, George A. Romero). Zombie apocalypse, 2000s-style. The survivors live in Pittsburg with lots of guns. ๐Ÿ™๏ธ๐ŸงŸ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™€๏ธ๐ŸงŸโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿš›๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿงจ๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ซ๐Ÿ™‚ The next in the “Living Dead” movies, following twenty years after Day of the Dead from 1985, capitalizing on the peak zombie media years. I genuinely didn’t know George A. Romero had directed so many of these canonical Dead movies. Here we can definitely see how much the George A. Romero and The Walking Dead universes are creatively intertwined, in the sense that they both highlight life after the zombie apocalypse. DC and Marvel, so to speak. The same, but legally distinct. Wikipedia tells me the first The Walking Dead comic came out a year before this movie. Anyway on to the movie. Nice prologue. It’s a bleak vision of humanity. You can tell by the desaturation. It’s Mad Max Thunderdome with zombies. More action movie than ever before. It’s the continuing theme of humans being humans (“humans being”), this time featuring class warfare. Also smarter zombies. Somebody did a fairly impressive imitation of a Wilhelm Scream that wasn’t an actual Wilhelm Scream at 1:14:23. This installment wasn’t fantastic (none of them are, so far), but it was a decent cast of characters and a sufficiently acerbic metaphor for humanity so it was good enough. (Amazon Video.)