Interview with John Wick director Chad Stahelski – from stunt double to director

Remember the 1990s movie The Crow, staring Brandon Lee who was tragically shot on set during filming? In order to finish the movie, a young Chad Stahelski went from stunt double to actor double. Now here he is, decades later, as one of the brightest new directors in Hollywood.

Read the full interview at Yahoo.com.

Movie Review – John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Not as good as the first two)

Movie Review – The Intruder

Movie Review - The IntruderThe Intruder was a decent film. The story has been done before and was really predictable, but the performance that Dennis Quaid gave made it enjoyable to watch.

He really brought his character to life. That was fun. Basically, this was Cold Creek Manor all over again with Quaid as the bad guy, instead of the new homeowner. He just switched roles. I found his performance in this one a lot better than Cold Creek Manor. I think being a bad guy suits him.

I’m considering this movie as a great way to spend an evening in, curled up on the couch, watching it on the television. I don’t feel that it had enough presence to compensate for ticket prices.

Grade: C+

About The Peetimes: 2 Peetimes were submitted. They are equally good choices to use, easy to sum up, and I avoided any of the action/suspense moments.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Intruder. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG-13) for violence, terror, some sexuality, language and thematic elements
Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Movie Review – The Curse of La Llorona – A Good Scary Time in the Conjuring Universe

Movie Review - The Curse of La LloronaThis premier was a happy moment and a sad moment for me. I’ve been anticipating this film for quite some time. The Conjuring Universe is my all-time favorite series of movies. Ever.

As a little girl, I read The Amityville Horror, and that is where I first discovered Ed and Lorraine Warren. I’ve followed their lives ever since and was ecstatic when The Conjuring came out. This has been a wonderful way to give them the limelight they deserved.

Sadly, last night, in her sleep, Lorraine Warren passed away. She lived to a ripe age of 92. I call that a successful life…a life that touched many people and will be surely missed. So as I sat in a beautiful Dolby theater, with my seat reclined, the woman on the screen left this world.

That’s a little chilling all by itself.

What was also chilling and creepy was The Curse of La Llorona. I tell you what — I got the chill bumps so many times that my legs looked like a Yeti on the way out. There were so many scenes that I jumped that I lost count.

I really like it when you can hear how much the movie is affecting the audience. I wasn’t the only one leaving with furry legs. I thought this one really vocal woman was going to have a heart attack. A good time was had by all.

They gave you a few glimpses into the rest of the movies: the way they wove them all together is really impressive. There is some great writing going on here. I’m looking forward to the next Annabelle, which is talked about in this movie.

There were even some funny moments; the delivery and timing of these lines were extremely well-placed.

My one and only complaint is that I kind of felt the little girl didn’t shine like she could have. Her role was a little flat. Other than that, I loved it.

This is odd…two weeks in a row, now my main complaints are the roles of the little girls. Pet Sematary did the same thing. This solidifies my thoughts on getting my granddaughter an agent. The acting world needs some fresh faces of the little girl kind.

In conclusion, if you’re a fan of James Wan and the creations he comes out with, see this movie. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This was a really short, fast paced movie. I’ve decided on only 1 Peetime. I found a spot right in the middle that allows you plenty of time to use. Any point after this Peetime is a must-see.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Curse of La Llorona. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence and terror
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Movie Review – Hellboy – Wow. So, so, so bad.

Movie Review - HellboyGoing into the movie I didn’t expect much. The trailer looked promising, so I gave the movie a pre-movie rating of 75/100 in the Peeple’s Poll in the RunPee app.

Right from the start the movie had problems. They launched directly into a voice-over narration — rarely a good choice. (I think Fellowship of the Ring is the only movie that ever really pulled this off.)

The first three minutes were dreadfully written, but it’s a historical scene that sets up the present day story, so I gave them a pass.

It didn’t get any better when we finally got to present day. It’s hard to pick out where this movie went wrong when everything is bad.

The Writing

The writer Andrew Cosby has only three writing credits, all TV shows, most notably as a series writer for A Town Called Eureka. Every scene in the movie is packed with dialog. The audience never gets a chance to engage in the story because the characters tell us everything, over and over. It was all tell, no show. There was humor, but most of it felt forced.

The Direction

Hellboy is directed by Neil Marshall, whose background, again, is mostly in TV. I have to wonder how this came to be. It seems to me that if you’re making a movie, then someone on the staff should have some experience making movies, because clearly, TV and movies aren’t the same thing.

The Acting

Wow, so bad on so many levels. To be fair, the dialog and direction didn’t give the actors anything to work with. There’s no telling how good the actors could be with the right material and direction…with the exception of Milla Jovovich, who, as much as it pains me to say, was worse than usual. I ran a quick analysis on her filmography from RottenTomatoes, and her 33 movies have an average critics’ score of 37%.

David Harbour portrays the titular Hellboy. I can’t be critical of his performance because, as I mentioned above, he had nothing to work with, but again, his background is largely in TV.

Ian McShane (American Gods, John Wick series, etc.) is outstanding in his particular character role — which is pretty much the same in everything he does — but it doesn’t make a dent in this poor script. Here’s a man with some gravitas and a heap of experience who just seemed to be reading his lines, wondering how he got himself into this role.

Special Effects

Kudos have to be given to the FX team. For better or for worse, I had to look away from the screen a dozen times, and wish I had looked away more. My wife had nightmares last night after seeing the movie. They didn’t hold back on the gore.

The best thing I can say about this movie is that everything is only consistently bad, but not horrible. (Except for Milla’s acting which was yeah, really bad. No joke…I think the Pig Man might have been the best actor in the movie.)

If you go see this movie, or have seen it, I sincerely hope you disagree with my assessment, but in the end I gave this movie a post-movie rating of 10/100 in the Peeple’s Poll. That’s the lowest rating I’ve ever given a movie.

On a positive note: my wife, who collaborated with me on the Peetimes, didn’t hate the movie. She gave it a “C”. But, she married me, which can’t say much about her judgement. 🙂

Grade: F-

About The Peetimes: We have 3 Peetimes for this movie that are nicely spaced out. We highly recommend the middle Peetime. It’s by far the longest and is easy to summarize. In fact, if you make it back in around 3 minutes you’ll hardly miss a thing.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Hellboy. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, and language
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Remake

Everything You Need to Know About Hellboy

Hellboy reboot movie
Hell’s a bitch, boy.

Hellboy opens on April 12, 2019.  It will be the titular character’s third major theatrical adventure.  Not sure who Hellboy is? Never heard of the B.P.R.D.? Wondering what’s up with his forehead? No worries. We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what the deal is for the new Hellboy movie:  

— Hellboy is a popular comic book character.  However, the movie will not be like your typical superhero or comic book movie.  

— Hellboy is a half-demon, summoned from hell as a baby by Nazi occultists.  His actual Latin name means “And upon his brow is set a crown of flame.” Which brings context to one of the movie posters and an image from the trailer.  

— One of Hellboy’s main weapons is his right hand, which is made of stone.  

— Hellboy has horns, but he files them off.  This is why he has two large round stubs on his forehead.  

— Hellboy is destined to bring about the apocalypse, but he rejects that destiny. 

— Hellboy was raised by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm like a normal boy.  

— Professor Bruttenholm founded the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.).  Hellboy works for the B.P.R.D.

— Guillermo del Toro made two films featuring the character Hellboy:  Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Del Toro chose not to finish what was originally planned to be a trilogy.

— Ron Perlman was the first actor to play Hellboy in the original films.  He is famous for playing Vincent in the Beauty and the Beast TV series and Clay on Sons of Anarchy.  Perlman said he feels remorse for not completing the trilogy, and that he feels like he let the fans down.  

— Doug Jones played fan-favorite character Abe Sapien (an amphibious man) in the original films.  The character will not appear in the new movie. Jones was invited to do a cameo but had to decline.  He had a scheduling conflict with the shooting schedule for Star Trek: Discovery. He also had an injury which prevented him from taking on the physically demanding role.  (Side note: If you ever get the chance, it’s totally worth waiting in line to meet Doug Jones and get an autograph. He’s one of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve met at any of the cons.  And why wouldn’t you want to support one of our greatest living character actors?)    

— The new movie is a reboot, not a sequel.  It stars David Harbour (Sheriff Hopper from Stranger Things) as Hellboy.    

— It will be more of a horror film than the original, which was more of a fantasy film.  

— The new movie will be more faithful to the comic books.  Creator Mike Mignola was a concept artist on the original Hellboy movie.  He’s been more involved with the script for the reboot.  

— The movie will be bloodier and more adult.  In an interview with Empire, Harbour said, “There’s really a sense that you’re actually killing things, even if they are giants or monsters. You’re chopping their heads off, you’re bathing in their blood, and you’re feeling the complex feelings of actually cutting the heart out of another thing. We’re taking the time to deal with the fact that Hellboy is a killer. He’s a weapon.” 

— The movie is not an origin story and begins in the middle of the action.

— David Harbour says the stunts made it the hardest shoot he’s ever done. 

— The main villain is Blood Witch Nimue, who wants to join the monster world and the human world.  The character is played by Milla Jovovich, who’s no stranger to monster movies as the star of the Resident Evil series.  

–The main inspiration for the movie is The Wild Hunt storyline from the comics, but there are also elements from Darkness Calls and The Storm and The Fury.

–When the producers were accused of whitewashing, by hiring a white actor to play a Japanese character from the comics, actor Ed Skrein resigned so they could recast the role.  Daniel Dae Kim was then cast in the part of Major Ben Daimio.

— The original Hellboy had a girlfriend played by Selma Blair.  David Harbour says his version of Hellboy is more isolated and is unable to have sex with humans.

This presumably makes the apocalypse more appealing.  

— David Harbour told Empire, “In our movie Hellboy’s younger. He’s rougher. He’s much more of a teenager. He’s really struggling with the idea of whether or not he’s a good person.” 

— In an interview with Independent, Harbour compared Hellboy to Hamlet.  “On a surface level, he’s an adopted kid from Hell. He was meant to bring about the apocalypse. Yet, he just wants to be a good guy and fight evil. But he has this destiny. That struggle is very Hamlet-esque, even having tones of Coriolanus, where you have this guy who cannot understand his own true nature. Those levels of complexity, if we can bring that to this movie, which we’re trying to do, I think will be really rich.”

— The producers already have loose ideas for sequels.

Be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes and a review for Hellboy, and to find out if there’s anything after the credits.  Follow us on Twitter @RunPee to stay up to date on the latest movie news.

Peetimes are coming soon for Shazam and Avengers: Endgame — make sure you have the RunPee app on your phone, so you won’t miss a moment of the action.

Making of Hellboy Featurette — Enjoy!

Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Did Jordan Peele Play Fair? Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed On Your First Viewing of Us

Scissors from Jordan Peele movie Us
This poster contains a clue.

Jordan Peele made a splash with the satiric horror film Get Out and even won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.  His new movie Us proves he’s not just a one-hit wonder, but a visionary filmmaker who will keep surprising, delighting, and frightening us for years to come.  (He’s already in talks to do a new Candyman film.)

One of the joys of Us is that it lends itself well to multiple viewings. I enjoyed it even more my second time around. There are things you won’t see your first time because you don’t know to look for them. Us is one of the rare films like The Sixth Sense or Memento that practically demands you watch it again immediately.  I watched this movie a second time two days after my first watch. 

Us — What I Noticed on My Second Viewing

— The movies on the shelf in the opening shot are Goonies, C.H.U.D., A Nightmare on Elm Street (which I thought was The Man With Two Brains because I can’t see well apparently), and some VHS tape I’m not sure anyone has been able to read the title of.  A lot of the action in Goonies takes place underground. The monsters in C.H.U.D. live underneath the city. Both of these are Easter eggs foreshadowing the Tethered.

— Adelaide’s father wins her a Thriller t-shirt.  Thriller is the video in which Michael Jackson reveals to his girlfriend he secretly has a monster inside him.  Just like adult Adelaide secretly has a monster inside her. Or viewed another way, we all have a Tethered self.  

— Everything in the movie has a double:

  1. The Vision Quest fun house is later Merlin’s Quest fun house.
  2. The twins are literally doubles of each other and even speak the same. (“Jinx!  Double jinx! Triple jinx!”)
  3. The bleeding man on the beach is the double/Tethered of the sign man.  (This is confirmed by one of the last shots of the film when we see him holding the Jeremiah 11:11 sign in flashback.)  
  4. The families are doubles of each other.  One black family, one white family, each with two kids.  

— One of the coolest bits of foreshadowing is an overhead shot of the family walking across the beach with their shadows walking beside them.

— The words above both versions of the funhouse door (“Find yourself”) are both foreshadowing and a subtle joke.

— On a second viewing, the rabbits in the cages are even more unsettling because now you know the context.

— When the family first get to the beach house and have dinner, Adelaide is very quiet.  She’s reliving her memory of what happened after the fun house incident at Santa Cruz beach.  Her parents are talking to a therapist about why Adelaide hasn’t spoken since getting lost at the boardwalk.  “I just want my little girl back,” the mother says. Hmmm. That’s the first clue that this isn’t her little girl.  

— Adelaide tries to talk Gabe out of going to the beach.  He guilts her into going. She finally reaches a compromise:  “We leave by dark.” (Um, “Because I don’t want the self whose place I took to try to take it back!”)  

— As they drive to the beach, they see paramedics putting a patient into an ambulance.  It’s the sign guy (Jeremiah 11:11). This creeps Adelaide out.

— Jason, the son, is making a tunnel out of sand on the beach.

— The frisbee lands on a dot on the beach towel, perfectly covering it up, a visual symbol/metaphor for humans and the Tethered selves that live in the darkness beneath them.  

–Jason sees a man on the beach who has blood dripping from his fingers.  This is the Tethered of the sign guy and presumably the reason for the sign guy’s injuries.  He’s also the only Tethered whose face we get a close up of later when everyone is joining hands.  He has a sort of maniacal smile. I believe he’s meant to be a Christ figure. Jeremiah 11:11 (NIV) says, “Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.’”  When the Tethered sign man is bleeding on the beach, that is him crucified. When he is holding hands with others in the morning light with a rapturous look on his face as humanity is destroyed, that is his resurrection. And he is definitely forsaking mankind, reveling in its destruction.  As GameSpot pointed out, he is also the first link in the chain, standing in wait to join hands with the rest of the Tethered.

— Adelaide doesn’t just freak out because Jason is missing.  She freaks out because she thinks he went in Merlin’s Forest.  She knows that it’s the gateway to the Tethereds’ world.

The 11:11 on the clock at bedtime disturbs Adelaide because it reminds her of the sign guy and his fate.

— When Adelaide says, “I don’t feel like myself,” Gabe says, “I think you look like yourself.”  This line takes on new meaning on a second watch. Because technically she’s not herself.

— When the Tethered family appears in the driveway, Adelaide calls 911 immediately.  Not out of irrational fear, but because she knows what they are: their Tethered selves.  (There’s a separate theory that Adelaide has repressed the memory of dragging Red/the real Adelaide to the underworld until the end of the movie when it starts to come back to her.  And she really only has the memory of seeing a second self in the mirror as a child. I don’t subscribe to that theory.)

— I swear on my second viewing I heard Red say “the girl hated the shadow so much for so long until she realized she was being tested by God.”  But I seem to be the only one. Call it the Mandela effect.

–When Red tells Adelaide to tether herself to the table, it’s revenge for Adelaide leaving Red chained to the bed as a child.

— I love the small moments of the Tethered enjoying what they’ve been deprived of.  Abraham trying on Gabe’s glasses. Elisabeth Moss’s Dahlia playing with lipstick and trying out different facial expressions in the mirror.  

— Umbrae who was born laughing also dies laughing.

— Adelaide follows Red and Jason into Merlin’s Forest.  She seems to know the path a little too well and to not be surprised by anything she encounters.  

— Red’s creepy, hoarse voice is most likely due to her throat being injured from Adelaide choking her so hard when they were children.  

— I’m still confused as to the significance of the ballet recital other than it just looking cool as hell and poetic.  I also don’t understand why the dance is what convinced the Tethered to make Red their leader rather than her rare ability to speak.  

— Adelaide has a sinister grin on her face after she kills Red.  The type of remorselessness we don’t usually associate with our heroes.

— In the ambulance, when Jason looks at his mother, he pulls his mask down.  They are both wearing masks now.

I walked into my second viewing wanting to answer one question:  Does Jordan Peele play fair?

Initially, I wanted to see if Red’s final monologue made sense once one knew the twist.  “We were born special. God brought us together that that night. I never stopped thinking about you, how you could have taken me with you.”

That part still makes sense after the twist. Adelaide could have grabbed Red (the real Adelaide) and walked out of the fun-house with her instead of chaining her to the bed.  Presumably. “If it weren’t for you, I never would have danced at all.” This is literally true as it is Adelaide that starts taking dance lessons as part of her parents’ attempt to get her to talk by encouraging her creativity.  When Adelaide dances, Red has to dance. In a deeper sense, like Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” Red may not have done much with her surface life if she’d never entered the fun-house. But instead she’s started a revolution that is going to change the world.  Something that would never have happened if Adelaide hadn’t switched places with her.

But does Peele play fair with the rest of the film?  

Can one reasonably guess at the twist ending from the clues provided?  I believe so. I’ve mentioned several clues in this post that all point to the twist.  Red’s voice, the mother’s line about wanting her little girl back, Adelaide’s extreme reluctance to return to the beach, her overprotectiveness of Jason at the beach, her immediately calling 911, and Adelaide knowing the entrance to the tunnel system a little too well.  I’ve read one reviewer who made the assumption that the girls switched places from the edit the first time he saw the movie. Just like I assumed in The Sixth Sense (SPOILER) Bruce Willis had died from getting shot in the first scene. But soon abandoned that thought as the movie went on.

I definitely recommend seeing Us more than once.  

It has earned a place among my favorite horror movie endings of all time.   If you really want to jump down the rabbit hole, you can spend hours reading about fan theories, Easter eggs, and symbolism in Us online.  

And if you’re a horror fan, be sure to use the RunPee app to get Peetimes for Pet Semetary, and upcoming films like The Curse of La Llorona, the Child’s Play remake, and Annabelle Comes Home.  You can also find reviews for lots of great horror movies on our blog. Follow us on Twitter@RunPee for the latest movie news.

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review – Get Out – Jordan Peele Hits A Home Run

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

 

Movie Review – Pet Sematary – A Worthy Adaptation

Movie Review - Pet SemataryThe newest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Pet Sematary, was a solid remake. Thirty years after the original release, the makers attempted to revive their cult classic film. That’s a huge undertaking, and an enormous gamble, considering the die-hard fans of the original. To please or not to please — that is the question.

They took a chance and drastically changed the plot…and it worked! I loved what they changed up and was very satisfied they didn’t shame the original.

From the trailers, I had two major red flags go off. These differences were huge to me, and made me cringe in fear of a total flop.

First and foremost, the cat. The original Church exemplified terror. He was a majestic British Short Hair that is, and always will be, iconic. I was scandalized that they were using a fluffy, long haired Maine Coon. What?! This in my mind was going to be a CATastrophe! So there I was, sitting the theater waiting for my disappointment to build, and low and behold, Church 2.0 won me over. This cat worked it on the catwalk; his performance was CATaclysmic. Well done. I was wrong.

My second gripe was Jud’s role. When I saw and heard John Lithgow in the trailer, I thought to myself, “Lithgow’s got some Munster-sized shoes to fill.” To me, no one could replace Fred Gwynne. He 100% owns that part in Hollywood History. So again, I’m sitting there waiting for the disappointment. Happily, because of the drastic plot changes, Lithgow pulled it off. He melded perfectly into the film. Almost. They fleshed his character out more so than the original, and that was an enjoyable addition. My one complaint: the essence that was lacking in his role was a result of a directing issue.

So I am now two for two on my fears being squashed. Kind of like a kitty cat on a heavily traveled road. Squish. I love it when movies prove me wrong.

There are a few minor issues that I’m going to throw in real quick. Jete Laurence as Ellie Creed had a very big part to fill. Her presence just wasn’t strong enough. She was okay, but I could see the possibilities, I felt she came in just under the bar the rest of the movie set.

Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed also slightly bothered me. However, after a long discussion with RunPee Mom, we deduced it wasn’t her fault. The character itself isn’t endearing, and we’re saying that about Denise Crosby’s portrayal too. Rachel comes across as weak and needy, but that’s how she was written. So technically, Seimetz pulled her part off. I’m a very strong-willed person and I don’t like it when women are portrayed that way, but here, it worked.

I like ending my reviews on a positive note, so let’s praise Jason Clarke: he was awesome as Louis Creed. His performance was phenomenal, as was little Hugo Lavoie. He did a dandy job as Gage. I’m sad I didn’t hear “No fair,” or “Now I wanna play with youuuu,” but he was still fabulous.

Now that the cat’s out of the bag about what I thought, I’ll end by saying, “Great job! I was not disappointed.”

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: This is a pretty short movie. 2 Peetimes were picked, and they both allow you plenty of time.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Pet Sematary. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for horror violence, bloody images, and some language
Genres: Horror, Thriller

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

cabin in the woods poster
The name is the plot. But it’s the most original way it’s ever been done, and the most fun.

Horror movies aren’t for everyone. But sometimes a film will come around that everyone can enjoy, even if you’re a little (or a lot) nervous about seeing it.

To sum: if you found you could handle the scarier episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and The X-Files, you’ll be okay with my suggestions below. It’s going to be a subjective list, though, so your mileage will vary. That’s all the warning I can give you, besides my little story notes next to the movie titles. And some films I really can’t talk about..because…you know — spoilers.

Because I have a low tolerance for grossness, I’m not including any real body horror, like Slither, even though a lot of people found it quite funny. I refuse to see it, even though I’m a huge fan of James Gunn’s best-known Guardians of the Galaxy. The Thing has the most body horror on this list, and a few of the Alien and Predator installments have icky moments that are hard to forget. But since those films are more sci-fi than real horror, I think these are okay. In any case, read my notes about each to see which iterations in the franchises are more story-based, and less gore or jump-scare oriented.

I’m including some comments from RunPee Dan here and there, mostly where he disagrees with my choices. 😉

Best Horror Movies for Non-Horror Fans

  1. Zombieland — With perfect casting, sparkling chemistry, an engagingly funny (!) post-apocalyptic zombie plot/buddy road trip film, you can’t beat this. There’s even a great list of rules to live by and a cameo that must not be missed. The only gross scenes are pre-loaded in the beginning and they aren’t too bad. If you can survive watching the first five minutes, the rest is cake: slender yellow cream-filled Hostess cakes. (If you don’t get this reference, you’re too young, or haven’t seen the film yet.)
  2. Army of Darkness — I’m a long time Bruce Campbell fan. After discovering his classic B-movie comic character work on Xena: Warrior Princess, I began tracking down his filmography. Army of Darkness is a precious concoction of horror, fantasy, and comedy. The horror is actually almost non-existent compared to Evil Dead 1 and 2, which I do NOT recommend viewing in any form. Those are straight horror and the Evil Dead remake is the worst. Fortunately, Army of Darkness requires no prior knowledge. Ash describes what you need to know in less than a minute before you’re thrown, car and all, into the time of castles, wizards, and knights.
  3. Shawn of the Dead — There’s only one gross-out moment in this funny, funny zombie film. It’s set in the UK and involves a slacker and his best friend in a fun bromance where they are less interested in fighting hordes of the undead than having a beer in their favorite pub. My second-favorite zombie film, with Zombieland only coming first by a hair’s width. And the scene set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now must be seen by everyone. I demand this. 😉
  4. A Quiet Place — I’m not sure why this was even billed as horror. This A level film hits all the sci fi and dystopian marks, and hits them so well you’ll be floored. Don’t watch this if there’s any racket or busy activity in the house, because you need absolute silence to appreciate this fully for the first viewing. I’m excited a second Quiet Place was announced, and can’t gush enough over how exciting and smart this film is. Also, Emily Blunt can do no wrong. She should have gotten at least an Oscar nod for the bathtub scene.
  5. Happy Death Day 1 (and 2) — The original is definitely horror, although on the lighter, funnier end. The sequel barely qualifies as horror, and is more like a comic sci-fi movie with some continuing horror themes. I heard this got green-lit for a threequel, so we’ll see if that installment goes in yet another direction. They might drop the “killer baby” element completely by then, seeing as how it’s only kind of shoe-horned into the sequel.
  6. The Alien Franchise — Every installment qualifies as horror, in my book. It’s firmly in the sci-fi genre, but it’s scary every time, and has horrific elements. But the first film is mostly a suspense thriller with jump scares, and the second is pure adrenaline-pumping action. It’s the first movie I sat forward in my movie seat for the entire way through. So watch Alien and Aliens, and then STOP. I can’t recommend anything else in the entire ourve. Actually, you can see the first Aliens vs Predators, but not the second. You’re just going to have to trust me on this.
  7. The Terminator — Few people would consider The Terminator horror, but the original is intended as a scary sci-fi film, regardless of where the rest of the franchise went. (Dan says he doesn’t think this film belongs here.)
  8. The Predator franchise — These are intended as horror/sci fi films, but they are very watchable. Most of the horror has safe discretion shots, or long off views of the Really Bad Things. You can safely watch any of these except Predator 2, which is a freak show and awful. Sorry. (Dan: I wouldn’t put this here, but it’s borderline.)
  9. The Thing — This sci-fi horror/thriller (the original, not the update) has some true gross-out moments, but since I can handle this film, I’m including it. If I can tolerate these scenes, I think anyone can. (Dan: Carpenter’s The Thing is way horrific. Like body horror to the extreme.)
  10. Cabin in the Woods — Some scenes are a little brutish, but they happen to be amusing at the same time (remember: mermaids). And I can’t say a single other thing about Cabin in the Woods without spoiling your first experience. This one has made my regular movie rotation. (Dan: Again, borderline. It’s really graphic.)
  11. Tucker and Dale vs Evil — Another regular viewing film for me. The horror is funny (we’re noticing a theme here — humor helps a lot), and there are no jump scares, gross outs, or even much ‘evil’. It’s just Alan Tydyk (Beloved as Wash in Firefly) and Tyler Labine (Sock from Reaper) having a grand old time, as they twist the horror trope on its head. Enjoy!
  12. Pitch Black — I don’t know why I resisted this film when my husband wanted to show it to me. I watched it eventually, and instantly fell in love with both it and Vin Diesel. If you liked Aliens, this will be easy. It’s more like scary science fiction, with no gore I can recall (again with the discretionary shots), and a rousing adventure tale that unfolds like some alien orchid under three suns. Pitch Black, as Part One of The Chronicles of Riddick, now has two sequels, plus an animated short. All are easy to view horror-wise, but nothing will come close to the original in execution, appeal, and pure excitement. I love that we figure everything out as the characters do. One of my faves.  Enough of my gushing, eh?
  13. Poltergeist — This one still scares me, even though there’s only one bad moment (in a bathroom, which is a trope for trouble if there ever was one).   Lots of good lines, too: “You moved the tombstones, but you forgot to movie the bodies!” I think I had more shudders from the simple “They’re here,” than anything with a nominally higher fear factor.
  14. Gremlins (1 and 2) — You’d think this was a cute and cuddly kid’s flick, but you’re wrong. The Mogwai is way high in the cuteness charts (he’s like a Pokemon), but his progeny are just mean. Funny, I guess, but nasty. But except for the infamous “microwave’ scene, I think it’s mostly discretionary shots. Have you clued in by now that I think violence in a film is tolerable if I’m not subjected to actual gore and realistic suffering?
  15. The Sixth Sense — Yes, this has some scary moments, but they’re always jump scares, with almost no gore. It’s about dead people after all, but it turns out that the dead don’t always want to hurt you. And that’s all I can say if you’ve never seen this genuinely great movie.
  16. Signs — This is honestly more about suspense. You never actually SEE anything. Not well, and not for more than a heartbeat. You’ll enjoy this film. It’s an updated and isolated version of…wait. I can’t say more. It’s Shylaman. You can’t discuss his films. It’s a law.
  17. Jaws — I saw this as a kid and was terrified. Times have changed. Now Jaws is a buddy thriller set in the ocean against an implacable foe. There are only two genuine jump scares, and they barely qualify as gory these days. (I’ll just say it: the crabs in the early scene; the ‘head’ mid-way through.) In my recent re-watch, I was amazed how spectacular Jaws is, and it still holds up. It’s a freaking masterpiece that’s the forerunner of today’s blockbuster. If it’s been a while, try it again. A +, with the Indianopolis monologue reaching legendary status (that tale really happened, BTW…Goggle it. Man, to live through that…). Anyway, Jaws qualifies now as an adventure movie. As far as other Jawses, I can’t comment. Try me later when I I’ve seen them. I’ve heard Jaws 2 is okay.
  18. Warm Bodies — Not horror. But it’s got regular octane and super octane zombies, so I guess it qualifies. It’s actually a zom-rom-com. Seriously. A love story! And a sweet one at that. Your kids could watch this and not be scared.
  19. Maze Runner — This is science fiction dystopian film, but the creatures in the maze are pretty hideous.  (Dan: I don’t think this has anything to do with horror. But maybe I just don’t remember it well enough.)

You’ll probably think some of these don’t belong on the list, and you might find some of the films  scarier or grosser than you personally prefer. Or I might have left some good choices off the list completely — like Silence of the Lambs, which might be considered more of a scary thriller than anything else, and bring this list to 20. I haven’t seen Silence of the Lambs yet, so I can’t say anything about it. Maybe The Shining, which actually is super creepy, but I lived through it and now see a lot of it as ludicrously amusing (it has not held up so well). I do want to see the recent Us, but I’m a weenie and need someone to hold my hand. I’m sure there will be a number 20 in my future eventually.

I’d love to hear what I missed, or what you disagree with in the comments.

Clever Moments You Might Have Missed Watching The Horror-Thriller Movie Us

Jordan Peele movie poster for Us
Absolutely, you need to see Us twice.

We all know watching a horror movie comes with the expectation you’ll be screaming, and anticipating moments that you’ll be startled.  This oftentimes leads to you missing an important yet subtle symbol or scene. I loved Director Jordan Peele’s debut horror film Us, and found a lot of interesting and super-clever tidbits that make everything come together.

Hints and Clues to Notice in the Movie Us:

1. The rabbits appear again in this movie just like in Get Out. Also, I noticed that the rabbits were mainly just white with only a few brown or black ones mirroring America, or some of the many environments we work and live in. Other rabbit sightings: the daughter’s t-shirt; when the homeless guy was taken into the ambulance, he looked to be wearing a rabbit’s foot around his neck; and the doll the young Ade played with was a white rabbit.

2. Don’t miss that deer on the wall of the fun house; it reminded me of the deer at the beginning of Get Out.

3. The signal to move when the doppelganger family stood in the driveway was the Wakanda arms pose from the movie Black Panther.

4. The counselor and the parents thought the daughter was suffering from PTSD.

5. There was a subtle spider doppelganger in the vacation home.

6. The son, nor the mom, had rhythm when the song I Got 5 On It was playing in the car on the road trip. Hmmm (remember I said this when you watch).

7. Jeremiah 11:11 “I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape” appeared as a reference several times: on the homeless man’s sign in 1986, during the present day when he got put into the ambulance, and then as the son Jason noticed the time was 11:11 at the vacation house, just before the doppelgangers arrived.

8. The name of the fun house in 1986 when young Ade entered was called Vision Quest, but in present-day of the movie when Momma Ade entered it was called Merlin’s Nest Hall.

9. Jason’s mask is red, like the doppelgangers’ clothing. More importantly, why does he have a mask in the first place? (Remember I said this, too.)

10. Jason growled like his doppelganger when he and his sister entered the neighbor’s house. Very questionable, or just a little touch of humor? (Remember this.)

11. Momma Ade and her doppelganger, Red, never seemed tethered like the others, as they didn’t have synchronized movements like some of the other copycat pairs. (And again, remember I said this…)

12. The scene of Momma Ade crying reminds you of the Get Out movie character Chris Washington, crying before he was sunk in the chair by the teaspoon-stirring Virginia.
13.  Jordan Peele has been making a cameo appearance in both his movies that no on would notice.  He does the voice of what sounds like a dying rabbit in Get Out and in Us.
14. While there were no extra scenes before or during the credits, Jordan Peele did list the doppelganger cast names in a unique way.  He listed the human cast name in regular color, then he put the doppelganger name right to it in red…which is what color they all wore…and the lead doppelganger name is Red.

Lastly, I’ll mention those gold fabric scissors. I think they represent the act of cutting the ties or the tether between the two pairs. We often are our own worst enemy (as the movie subtitle states) and sometimes we need to sever that tether in order to escape what oppresses us.

While we all have a different “rabbit’s eye” that we view in life, what else did you notice in the movie?  Do you want to watch Us more than once to catch everything? Leave your insights in the comments below.

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review – Us – Tons of Symbolism, Creepy, and a Great Time at the Movies

Movie Review - UsI’m by no means a lover of horror movies anymore, but when Jordan Peele writes one, you can’t help but wonder what it will be like. His freshman movie, Get Out, was creepy enough to motivate me to see more from him. Us didn’t let me down. It’s a little hard to write specifics about the movie without giving away spoilers, because there’s so much to say, due to Director Peele’s love for symbolism and thought-provoking cliffhangers.

Let me start with a little framework. Director Peele stated in interviews that the idea of this movie came from various iconic horror-based inspirations, but the 1960 Twilight Zone episode entitled Mirror Image, where Vera Miles encountered her own doppelganger in a bus terminal, sent his imagination over the top.

The movie begins with a few sentences on the screen, pointing out that there are miles and miles of tunnels and secret passageways underneath cities in America, of which some have no purpose at all. At first, when I read that I wondered if the theater had put the wrong movie on. The next scene didn’t do much for immediately confirming that I was watching the right film given that the time setting was 1986, and a very old television was playing a “Hands Across America” infomercial inviting people to take part in the hand-holding (thus, a tethering which you’ll see resurface as symbolism) around the USA, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.

The movie is extremely scary and creepy. Jordan does a good job setting up each scene, especially when the black doppelganger family arrived in the driveway. Director Peele took his time before revealing the family, I’m sure, to increase the suspense and wow factor.

In the meantime, the scenes played out with a little humor from the father Gabe, going from suburban sweet-talking with reason, as he’s a little naive to what’s going on, to straight up hood trash-talking. On the other hand, the mom Ade has a very good idea that something terrible is about to happen. That’ll make more sense as the plot thickens, and at the end of the movie (wink).

There’s a lot of killing, with blood flying and gushing everywhere. If you have a weak stomach for blood, cover your eyes, but don’t keep them shut, as the movie is not filled with massive narrative scripting as much as visuals and sound effects. Jordan Peele used Michael Abels again to do the music, which is the same man Jordan found on YouTube to do the music for Get Out.

The acting was very good by all the characters. Shout-out to Lupita Nyong’o who plays the mom, Ade. She needs an award nomination for the dual role she played — exceptional job, and that spooky voice she created for her doppelganger made her even scarier. Now, let me point out a few things I noticed about the movie that you may have missed, or you should look for when you see it a second time. You have to see it 2 or 3 times because you’ll discover something new every time you see it.

These notes aren’t true spoilers, but if you want to go into the film with no foreknowledge at all, you might want to stop reading here, and return after you’ve seen it. But I think these notes will help your first-time viewing enjoyment, so this will have to be your call:

1. The rabbits appear again in this movie just like in Get Out. Also, I noticed that the rabbits were mainly just white with only a few brown or black ones mirroring America, or some of the many environments we work and live in. Other rabbit sightings: the daughter’s t-shirt; when the homeless guy was taken into the ambulance, he looked to be wearing a rabbit’s foot around his neck; and the doll the young Ade played with was a white rabbit.

2. Don’t miss that deer on the wall of the fun house; it reminded me of the deer at the beginning of Get Out.

3. The signal to move when the doppelganger family stood in the driveway was the Wakanda arms pose from the movie Black Panther.

4. The counselor and the parents thought the daughter was suffering from PTSD.

5. There was a subtle spider doppelganger in the vacation home.

6. The son, nor the mom, had rhythm when the song I Got 5 On It was playing in the car on the road trip. Hmmm (remember I said this when you watch).

7. Jeremiah 11:11 “I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape” appeared as a reference several times: on the homeless man’s sign in 1986, during the present day when he got put into the ambulance, and then as the son Jason noticed the time was 11:11 at the vacation house, just before the doppelgangers arrived.

8. The name of the fun house in 1986 when young Ade entered was called Vision Quest, but in present-day of the movie when Momma Ade entered it was called Merlin’s Nest Hall.

9. Jason’s mask is red, like the doppelgangers’ clothing. More importantly, why does he have a mask in the first place? (Remember I said this, too.)

10. Jason growled like his doppelganger when he and his sister entered the neighbor’s house. Very questionable, or just a little touch of humor? (Remember this.)

11. Momma Ade and her doppelganger, Red, never seemed tethered like the others, as they didn’t have synchronized movements like some of the other copycat pairs. (And again, remember I said this…)

12. The scene of Momma Ade crying reminds you of the Get Out movie character Chris Washington, crying before he was sunk in the chair by the teaspoon-stirring Virginia.
13.  Jordan Peele has been making a cameo appearance in both his movies that no on would notice.  He does the voice of what sounds like a dying rabbit in Get Out and in Us.
14. While there were no extra scenes before or during the credits, Jordan Peele did list the doppelgänger cast names in a unique way.  He listed the human cast name in regular color, then he put the doppelgänger name right to it in red…which is what color they all wore…and the lead doppelgänger name is Red.

Lastly, I’ll mention those gold fabric scissors. I think they represent the act of cutting the ties or the tether between the two pairs. We often are our own worst enemy (as the movie subtitle states) and sometimes we need to sever that tether in order to escape what oppresses us.

I also agree with another theory that Peele portrays the doppelgangers as a means for him to continue to explore ‘double consciousness’ — W.E.B Du Bois’ influential race theory of how Blacks see themselves two-fold: as themselves, and as themselves through their oppressor’s eyes. Hence, the beginning of the movie with the long camera shot of the white rabbit’s eye staring at us.

Okay, I told you there was much to say without giving away spoilers, only tips to pay attention to as you watch. Hopefully, you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m headed to see it again tonight. Let me know your thoughts below.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Oh my! I’m still shaking in my seat. It was difficult to find Peetimes. The plot didn’t let up much or long enough for anyone to leave their seat and not miss a good part, or one of the many symbolic references. I recommend the 3rd Peetime — it’s the longest.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Us. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for violence/terror, and language
Genres: Horror, Thriller

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