What did the baseball represent in the movie Knives Out?

Knives Out - Baseball

I’ve seen Knives Out twice. During the first viewing I recognized the political subplot contrasting the virtuous Dreamer — daughter of an illegal immigrant — with the entitled, self serving, children of a rich father.

During the second viewing I watched closely, looking for symbolism that supported the subplot, of which there is a great deal, but one thing bothered me: what was going on with that baseball?

The baseball was prominently shown as a prop throughout the movie, passing anonymously from one character to another. But what did it represent? Well, nothing really, other than to act as a Rube Goldberg type prop that seemed to move randomly through the story but in the end tied up a loose end.

Let’s start from the beginning. Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) calls his son-in-law Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson) into his study to announce that he is aware of Richard’s affair and insists that Richard tell his wife (Harlan’s daughter) or else he will. Harlan holds up an envelope with “L” written on it for “Linda.”

Of course Richard protests, but he has no power. Fortunately for Richard, Harlan dies that night. After being questioned by the police and detective Blanc (Daniel Craig), Richard goes into Harlan’s study, breaks into the desk drawer and retrieves the envelope. Inside he finds only a blank piece of paper. He chuckles to himself, puts the paper back, and then arbitrarily, in an act of defiance, picks up the baseball from Harlan’s desk and tosses it out the open window.

In the next scene we see the detectives outside discussing the case. Blanc spots the ball on the ground and picks it up and places it in his coat pocket.

The next day Blanc and Marta walk the grounds as Blanc looks for clues. One of the dogs approaches Blanc with something in its mouth. Blanc plays with the dog by pulling the ball out of his pocket and throwing it for the dog to chase. The dog drops what it has in its mouth and chases the ball. Blanc picks up the thing the dog had dropped and realizes it’s part of the trellis that climbs the outer wall of the house that leads to the hidden window. Blanc chases this clue while the dog chases the ball.

Cut to the next day. The family is gathered, expecting to hear Marta renounce her inheritance. Linda sits in a chair petting one of the dogs that has the baseball in its mouth.

The drama ensues with Blanc interrupting Marta’s renouncement of the inheritance.

In one short scene we see Linda take the ball from the dog’s mouth, and then return it to her father’s desk where it belongs.

Now, let’s flash back to earlier in the movie where Linda mentioned to Blanc that each of the children had to find their own secret way of communicating with their father. Turns out she wasn’t being figurative, but literally meant secret, because she and her father exchanged letters written in invisible ink.

As Linda replaces the ball on her father’s desk she notices the envelope with the “L” on it and takes out the blank piece of paper. She walks outside. As her son is escorted away by the police Linda uses a lighter to warm the paper, exposing the secret message, which informs her that her husband is cheating on her.

Richard threw the ball out the window, where it was picked up by Blanc, thrown again for a dog to play with, retrieved from the dog’s mouth by Linda and replaced on Harlan’s desk where Linda finds the secret letter her father had written telling her that Richard was cheating on her.

Case closed.

I knew the ball represented something, but it escaped me until after the movie I mentioned it to my wife, Vera. She gets all the credit for following the bouncing ball. 🙂

5 Incredible Sci-Fi Adaptations That You Didn’t Know Were Books First

For centuries, sci-fi has been our guiding star when it comes to the future. The best science fiction movies, from Star Wars to The Matrix, broaden our imaginations immeasurably, making us dream of planets far beyond our own, and what might yet be.

But not all science fiction films are wholly original. In fact, many of them are adapted from another rich fountain of imagination: books. Indeed, science fiction authors were experimenting with the form and imagining unfamiliar worlds far before Hollywood came onto the scene — which probably explains why many sci-fi films are based on sci-fi books. Here are five incredible sci-fi adaptations that you probably didn’t know were books first.

Planet of the Apes

Before CGI, before ascendant technology made talking apes possible onscreen, there was the book version of Planet of the Apes. Written by French author Pierre Boulle, La Planète des Singes told the story of three space travelers who discover a planet ruled by great apes. On this planet, which orbits Betelgeuse, the apes are the intelligent ones and homo sapiens are savage brutes.

Five years after it was published, Hollywood adapted the novel for the big screen. And Planet of the Apes was just the beginning of an international franchise that would include further films (Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes), reboots, television series, and video games.

Interestingly, the movie generally sticks to the book’s premise, except for its ending, which turned out to be perhaps one of the biggest and most iconic departures of all. (No spoilers in this post if you don’t already know it! But it’s safe to say that the finale of Planet of the Apes is one that Runpee will tell you not to miss.)

The Stepford Wives

The 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives was immortalized by Nicole Kidman’s very creepy turn as a “Stepford wife,” but it was inspired first by Ira Levin’s original book.

You’re probably already somewhat familiar with the premise: a young mother moves into a peaceful Connecticut neighborhood and begins to think that all is not as it appears when she meets the strangely submissive wives of Stepford. In the novel, Levin plays this seemingly simple premise up to a cymbal-crashing, memorable crescendo — so much so that the term “Stepford wife” is now a common part of our English vernacular.

The book was adapted into a movie twice: once in 1975 (directed by Bryan Forbes and starring Katharine Ross), and again in 2004 (directed by Franz Oz and starring Nicole Kidman). Both are actually worth a watch, as they’re very different in tone — the 1975 movie can probably be classified as a bonafide thriller, while the second incorporates much more dark comedy. That said, before you watch either film, you should try reading the book first.

I Am Legend

Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend in 1954 — more than 50 years before Will Smith’s blockbuster came out. And while the film might’ve sealed Will Smith’s reputation as an international film star, the impact of the book I Am Legend was actually far greater when it was first published: it basically popularized the zombie apocalypse in pop culture. Though the book just narrowly misses the cut on most “books to read before you die” masterposts, it is most certainly one of the biggest titless in the science fiction genre.

Like Planet of the Apes, the movie chose to deviate from the book’s truly, well, legendary ending. But it was clearly caught in two minds about this decision, as two conclusions were actually filmed. Again, we’ll try not to spoil anything for you. So if you’d prefer to see for yourself, this is a clip of the film’s alternate ending, which is more faithful in spirit to Matheson’s book — and you can compare it to the original one on this page.

Children of Men

P.D. James’ Children of Men caused a furor when it was released in 1992, in part due to its startling premise: it’s the year 2021, and the world is on the brink of extinction because of mass infertility. What emerges is a powerful social critique that thrums with slow-burning tension.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, admittedly, is pretty different — so much so that one blog post actually recommends reading the book as a sequel if you’re still craving more story after watching the film. Arguably, in this particular case, the film showcases even more emotional depth than the book. You can make the decision for yourself by checking out both.

Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece, Arrival, is probably well-known to everyone by now — particularly after the rounds that it made on the awards circuit in 2016. But what you probably don’t know is that the movie is based on a piece of writing: a 1998 short story by Ted Chiang titled “Story of Your Life.”

“Story of Your Life,” while not the most famous short fiction, did make a bit of a splash by winning the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella. Portraying the arrival of aliens in Earth’s orbit, both the short story and film are intense meditations on language, humanity, communication, and the nature of combat. Chiang was reportedly fascinated with the topic of free will while writing the story, a theme that also crops up quite prominently in its silver screen adaptation. The end result, for both, is an artistic and philosophical triumph.

Interview with Actress Laura Stisser

Laura StisserI serendipitously ran across RunPee fan Laura Stisser, who it turns out is an actress. Laura was kind enough to put some thought into a few interview questions — below — that I hope you’ll enjoy. Even if you’re not in the movie industry, as a general movie fan Laura provides some interesting information. And if you’ve ever thought about getting into acting, then maybe Laura will be an inspiration for you.

Actress Laura Stisser was born in Chicago, Ill and raised in the Syracuse area of NY. Laura attended Oswego High School and then graduated with a BA from Oswego State University. Laura began acting in 2016 by performing in local theater productions. She then broadened her horizons and was privileged to act in various film productions and commercial work.

Laura’s first role was as the character June in 12 Days with God — now streaming on Pureflix.  You can also see her as the rehab receptionist in Big Time Adolescence, starring Pete Davidson and Griffin Gluck — now streaming on Hulu Canada. She also had the opportunity this year to play the role of Whitney, in the TV Pilot, Sticks which filmed in the Central New York Area.
Laura has been happily married for 21 years and the mother of two teens.

Laura Stisser at IMDb.com
Laura Stisser’s professional website
Laura Stisser’s Vimeo reel
Actors Access
Backstage

Dan: I know that you got into acting late in life. What was the thing that finally pushed you to go all in and try and make this happen, verses just wondering if you should?

Laura: I am and have always been a very insecure person. Of course, life lessons always make you stronger and you then you start to create the proverbial bucket list. One of my bucket list items was to audition for theater. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was also the biggest adrenaline rush I had ever experienced. No drug or rollercoaster had even come close to that feeling. And then…I got a call back. One call back led to another one, then roles. Roles for theater, student films, then Indie films. Not only did my confidence soar, but I have met the most amazing people who have literally taken me under their wing and helped me not make as many mistakes as people can in this crazy business. I also have the most amazing family support system which are my husband, daughter and son. Without their confidence in me and pep talks I don’t think I would have kept going in the beginning.

Dan: What do you do between gigs to improve your skills?

Laura StisserLaura: I absolutely love taking scene study classes and training with Breadcrumbs Productions in my local city of Syracuse. I also will drop into Improv classes occasionally, which is great training because it literally makes you react with no script or preparation. I also follow Bonnie Gillespie, who is a former actor, current casting director and also a self-help guru who wrote a book called, Self Management for Actors. This book covers everything from having the perfect headshot that best identifies your brand, to perfecting your demo reel, and in her own words, “to surviving and thriving in the business, and everything in between.”

There is also an app called Scenebot that is phenomenal. The app gives you brand new scripts every month that you can record and perform with a talk back-track of an actor they have pre-recorded for your own personal scene partner. Not only is this great for improving your skills, but you can also submit these recordings, and actual casting directors view and give you feedback via email. If people are really lucky, they may be contacted personally by an agent who may be interested in signing them.

Dan: What sort of roles excite you?

Laura: Any role where I can be completely out of my comfort level. I have played an alcoholic, victims of bipolar disorder and dementia, right down to a Zombie getting clubbed and dragged off.

Dan: How do you prepare for a new role?

Laura: If it is a role that deals with any type of addiction or mental disorders I always research by watching/reading biographies or documentaries. It’s so important to me to get true perspective and stay away from the stereotypes.

Dan: What do you do with dialog that is poorly written?

Laura: I have been very lucky with well written dialog, but there have been a few scripts where I was thinking, “No one says that”. In that case I will ask the writer/director if I may paraphrase that line. I haven’t met a Diva writer yet where they refused my request. They have all been pretty chill as long as you get their point across and do it well.

Dan: Regarding the scenes that you have on your highlight reel, do those usually go down in one take, or does it take a few tries to get it right?

Laura: You NEVER do a scene in one take. I pride myself in knowing my lines…not saying it doesn’t happen from time to time. Regardless of the actor being perfect, the director will always do rehearsal takes, a wide shot take, close up takes, takes for safety, etc.

Dan: How does it feel when you have a deeply emotional scene and you get through it thinking you, and your co-star, nailed it, but the director wants you to do it again for some reason. Is it hard to recreate deep emotions, or even humor, over and over?

Laura: Sometimes it’s very hard to recreate emotional scenes over and over. One of my skills that I am pretty confident in is my ability to cry on cue. Now with that being said, the director does need multiple takes for one reason or another, and that does get difficult for the actor doing the scene. Not only do you start to run out of tears but it takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. A good, — and if you are lucky — compassionate director will recognize that and give you a break from it, so you can muster up those emotions again for a good solid take.

Dan: Half serious question here: How would you feel if you were in one of the movies we did Peetimes for and one of your scenes was chosen as a Peetime? (Not that we would ever do that. You’re one of our Peeps!)

Laura: If my scene got selected for a Peetime, that would mean I have made it to the big screen and movie circuit. That would be a dream come true. How can anyone complain about that?

 

 

All the Disney Princess “I Want” Songs In One Place

moana disney princess
Singing to water and/or birdies is a Disney Princess thing.

What is a Disney Princess wish-filled ” I Want” song? Notice how all the girls — and some of the guys, IE: Aladdin and Snow White’s Prince Charming — have a song full of exposition about their hopes and wishes? This was even parodied in Ralph Breaks The Internet in a genius scene where the Princesses talk about singing a song and looking into water, leading Vanellope to find a puddle and sing her own ” I Want” song.

I don’t know why Princess Vanellope isn’t a proper princess, but I suspect she’s just too young.

ralph breaks the internet and princess venelope
Wreck-It Ralph himself- proof one can be both zero and hero.

There’s one official Disney Princess that doesn’t have a song — can you guess who this is? (Merida from Brave.) Also, Elsa from Frozen is not considered an official Princess for Disney marketing reasons, but she SHOULD be a princess, jeez, and Anna too. Elsa’s ” I Want” song is award-winning and beloved by fans. So I’m adding it to this list. Also, I really think of Nala from The Lion King should be a Disney Princess. She’s mated to Simba, and it says he’s a King right in the movie title. So her song is here too.

I’m rewatching each song clip right now to see if they all sing to some form of water. Can you guess which songs don’t feature water? I’ll write the answer below!

With no further ado, here are the all Disney Princess wishing songs with their song clips from You Tube — enjoy!

Snow White – “I’m Wishing”

Cinderella – “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

Aurora – “I Wonder”

Ariel – “Part of Your World”

Belle – “Belle (reprise)”

Jasmine – “A Whole New World”

Nala – “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”

Pocahontas – “Just Around the Riverbend”

Mulan – “Reflection”

Tiana – “Almost There”

Rapunzel – “When Will My Life Begin”

Moana – “How Far I’ll Go”

Elsa – “Let it Go”

Vanellope – “A Place Called Slaughter Race”

So, who doesn’t sing to water?

Rapunzel, for one, unless you count paint. Belle doesn’t sing to any water in her song. Tiana doesn’t either, unless you count a pot of gumbo. I’m easy. Who else? Aurora and Cinderella only sing to birds, which is very “early Disney.”

Which I Want Princess songs are your favorites? Tell us in the comment section below. (I’ll tell you mine there to get started.)

Movie Review – Ralph Breaks the Internet

A Whole New World – Aladdin Lyrics and Video (1992 Animated Version)

Movie Review – Beauty and the Beast

How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Shark In a Shark Movie (or real life)

the meg shark mouth poster
Don’t be like dumb people in shark films.

Like shark movies? Ever wonder WHY we enjoy these monster/disaster/fish bait movies so much? I wonder that myself. It’s not like they’re teaching us how to avoid being eaten alive, hunted like prey, or anything useful.

So here’s the top ten ways to avoid becoming “chummy” with the sharks. (Get it? Get it? Sheesh.) I’m getting my safety information from National Geographic, but I’m also not an idiot. These things are common sense.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Being Eaten by Sharks (with movie examples of what not to do).

1. STAY AWAY FROM DEAD THINGS IN THE WATER.

You’d think this would be obvious. Someone something will be hanging around said dead fish, whale, or person, eating the body. Always. People in the movies are always dangling around with tasty arms and legs, paddling about, curious and/or sad about the dead thing. Move along, people! (These are the same characters who think it’s a great idea to split up in haunted houses to look for clues.)

the reef shark movie
Swim away from the bodies.

Point: In The Shallows, Blake Lively’s character swam up against a chewed up,  bloody whale. That would have been a great time to LEAVE. Don’t even get me started on the people in The Reef.

2. On a similar note, avoid schools of fish, seals, or sea lions.

Don’t add to the buffet. Simple rules, here.

3. If you see a lot of seabird or dolphin activity, be aware they are attracted to the same food sharks like. 

So far, Rules 1-3 are variations on a theme. Stay off the menu when there’s a meal about.

4. ALSO SHOULD BE OBVIOUS: Stay away from fishing boats, which usually dump entrails and blood in the water. 

I just watched 47 Meters Down 2 – Uncaged. Vague and minor spoiler: some people surface right as a glass bottomed shark boat dumped chum in the sea for the pleasure of tourists. This did not go well for those people.

47 meters down 2 uncaged fishbait meme
Fixed it.

5. Are you bleeding at all? Menstruating, even? Get out of the ocean.

Sharks can smell tiny amounts of blood over large distances. That big snout isn’t just a container for teeth. Remember the movie Pitch Black? (Which wasn’t a shark film, but the idea still applies.) #BloodSmells

pennywise chapter one it
Ewww. Okay. Just no to blood.

6. Avoid storm drain release points. Likewise, places where sewage enters the ocean.

These ‘garbage’ points attract bait fish, which attracts the sharks who eat them. Also, gross! Don’t swim there! I live right beside a lovely bay on the sea with plenty of nice places to swim, and STILL see young families playing in the water around the YUCKY WATER, E COLI PRESENT, DON’T SWIM HERE signs.

Just because the water’s shallow doesn’t mean it’s safe.

7. Avoid: Harbor channels, steep ocean floor drop offs, river entrances, and any place the water is murky. And be aware that after rains, river entrances will sweep yummy baitfish out to sea. 

These are places sharks like to patrol. And they can see quite well in the muck.

deep blue sea shark fin
They can still see you.

8. Don’t swim at dusk. Or dawn or night. Or any time alone, in an isolated area, especially at night. 

Twilight isn’t the time only Vampires like to feed. Also, with the not swimming alone? You’re safer in numbers. Just like with Vampires!

Did you see The Shallows? Blake Lively should have known better than to swim alone at a remote beach like that, even in broad daylight.

the shallows with blake lively
Don’t swim alone on a super remote beach, not even if you’re Blake Lively.

9. Don’t wear bright colors (yellow and orange are supposed to be the worst), or reflective jewelry that a shark will interpret as fish scales. 

Although, back to The Shallows, the jewelry did a fantastic job stitching up Blake’s skin after her first shark encounter. So if you wear jewelry, consider the kind that can double as a needle and thread.

10. Don’t splash too much. 

Man, it annoyed me in The Reef when those survivors not only hung around the dead bodies, but kicked and splashed and made too much activity while drifting around the Pacific. This is how scared prey acts.

Remember in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss lost his poison-laced spear? He was not in the shark cage anymore, and a really mean Great White was right there. Playing a legitimately smart character, he dove down under some flotsam in his scuba gear to wait out the shark presence. The scientist survived with no worries.

jaws movie poster
Great movie that actually featured smart people.

There are different ways to swim. Some involve a lot of splashing. Others have more sinuous moves. Try to do, say, the breaststroke. Or at least kick smoothly, under the water, if you’re holding onto a float.

And keep your pets, especially dogs, out of the water. They make a lot of commotion. The pet rat in The Abyss was an unusual case, but worked out for the rat. The bird in Deep Blue Sea was less lucky. I won’t spoil what happens to the dog in Crawl, but that’s an alligator movie, and I don’t have any details on gator attacks.

What if you’re diving and a shark does approach you?

Stay as still as possible if you can’t easily exit the water. But if you’re actually attacked, or if the shark has you in its mouth, don’t play dead. Attack back with everything you can, and try to get the shark in the delicate areas of eyes, gills, or snout. If you recall, in Deep Blue Sea, a large crucifix made a great shark weapon.  (Again with the useful jewelry…hmmm…)

I’m not saying to use movies for your guide in survival situations, but at least these are things to think about.

Overall, Be Aware of Yourself in the Water

When all is said and done, here’s the note attached to the credits of 47 Meters Down: Uncaged Sharks kill ten people a year. People kill ten million sharks a year. So the idea here is to be aware, but not paranoid. Note also that this statistic doesn’t include people who are attacked and survived. Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton probably didn’t commit any of these Ten Deadly Sins, but lost an arm anyway.

bethany hamilton unstoppable movie poster
Bethany Hamilton, still rocking it.

Just be think of how sea predators work, and you won’t have to avoid swimming in the ocean altogether. And if you feel something touch you while swimming, calmly but efficiently get the hell out of the water.

Don’t be like the stupid people in these shark movies:

Movie Review – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

First View Movie Review – Jaws 2

The Shallows – First View Movie Review (2016)

Deep Blue Sea – First View Movie Review (With YouTube Clips)

 

More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Urban Legends (that might be true)

scary image for scary stories in the darl
This might keep you up at night.

Guillermo del Toro’s new movie Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark — an adaptation of Alvin Schwartz’s book series — haunts theaters this week. I didn’t read the books growing up as a child. I was too much of a scaredy cat.

But then I studied collections of Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand — one of Schwartz’s influences — when I was in my twenties. It may not be Halloween yet, but it’s the perfect time to swap scary stories. Here are some of my favorites, and some are actually true.

Tell me which I of your stories I missed in the comments section below..

Note: In true Urban Legend fashion, I elected not to reread any versions of these stories, but to tell them as well as I can from my own memory. This is how stories grow and change from one teller to the next.

The New Pet

On a trip to Mexico, a woman found a sickly, abandoned dog. She snuck it back across the border with her and nursed it back to health. However, she became very concerned about her new pet. It had a nasty temper, often tried to bite her, and had a voracious appetite. She finally took her new dog to the vet. After a while, the veterinarian came out and asked her, “Where did you get that thing?”

“I found that dog in an alley in Mexico,” she confessed. “He was very sick. I couldn’t leave him there.”

“That’s no dog,” the vet told her. “That’s a Mexican sewer rat!”

She nearly fainted.

(This is the first urban legend I ever heard.)

scared woman and scary stories to tell in the dark
Urban legends…are sometimes true.

 

Kidnappers!

This is a legend that constantly gets told about a certain theme park. Brunvand has tried to track down anyone who can verify it. But everyone always claims it happened to a “friend of a friend.” It’s why he likes to call these FOAF stories.

“If you ever go to [World Famous Theme Park I’m Not Getting Sued By], keep a close eye on your children. If you lose a child, report it to an employee immediately. Time is of the essence.

Security will take you to an underground room with monitors that show you the entire park. They’ll tell you to search for your child’s face. Their clothing and hairstyle may have already been altered by the kidnappers.

True story: my cousin’s friends got lucky. They were able to recognize their kid and stop the kidnapper. The little boy’s head had been shaved, and he was dressed differently. I hate to think about what happens to other families. Something shady is going on there. If you vacation there, be careful.

(It’s never made sense to me that you would lose valuable getting away time to shave the child’s head. When I discovered this was an urban legend, I thought it would bring my sister some relief, as this is one of her greatest fears every time we visit this park. Instead, she double downed on her belief that this story is 100% true. Some people don’t want to hear that their kid isn’t the most valuable thing on Earth.)

The Killer With the Hook

Several variants on this story. Here’s one: A couple was parked out on Lover’s Lane one night. They kept hearing this “scratch, scratch, scratch” noise. When the man got out to investigate, he saw a hooded figure with a hook for a hand, scraping away at the roof of the car. The hook-handed fiend swiped at the man, nearly taking his head off. The man got back in the car and locked the doors. He started the car and gunned it, but the killer hung on, crawling down onto the hood of the car and shaking his deadly hook at them. The woman shrieked. The killer crawled back up the car and began trying to punch his way through the back windshield. The driver sped up and finally lost the killer on a sharp curve.

Later, when he got home, he tried to convince himself it had all been a bad dream. But the next morning, when he came outside, he found a hook caught in the car window.

[Ed Note: I STILL find this one scary….shudders.]

A Scary Drive

A woman was driving alone at night. A large truck came behind her, all of a sudden. It flashed its lights at her and honked, but refused to pass her. She became nervous because of the other vehicle’s aggressive actions. She sped up a little but every time she sped up, so did the truck. Every now and then, it would honk and flash its lights again.

She tried to motion for the truck to go around her, but the driver stayed on her tail as if he were stalking her. When she finally came to a gas station, she pulled over and jumped out of the car, yelling for help. When the truck pulled in, the driver yelled out the window, “There’s someone else in the car!”

Moments later, the truck driver and the service station manager, both armed, approached the woman’s car. In the backseat, they found a killer with a knife. He’d snuck into the car at the last gas station she stopped at. Every time the killer had reared up to stab the woman, the heroic trucker flashed his lights to blind him.

(This story is the reason I look in my backseat EVERY time I get into my car. The opening scene of the movie Urban Legend does a good adaptation of this one.) [Ed Note: Also the 10th Rule in ZombieLand.]

The Babysitter

This Urban Legend pops up in a lot of horror movies and surely you’ve seen this terrifying idea or a variant of it: 

One night, a young woman was babysitting her neighbors’ kids. All night long, she kept getting creepy phone calls. “You’re all going to die,” the voice on the other line would say. Thirty minutes later, she would receive another call, “I’m going to slit your throats.” After she put the children to bed, she got a third nasty phone call. So she dialed the operator to see if they could trace the calls.

When the threatening voice called again, it was followed by another call from the operator. “Get out! Quick! The call’s coming from inside the house!”

Don’t miss the best frights from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Use the RunPee app. We’ve got Peetimes for Midsommar and Crawl and we’ll be adding new ones for 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and IT: Chapter 2. You can also keep up with the latest movie news and reviews by following us on Twitter @RunPee and liking us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RunPee/.

Movie Review – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

http://runpee.com/ranking-the-chucky-movies-from-a-true-horror-fan/stories.

19 Entry-Level Horror Movies for the Squeamish

Where is “Hell’s Kitchen” and how did it get the name?

Like too many all of life’s crucial questions, there’s no definitive answer to either the where or the how, but there are many theories, all of which have some a degree of truth to them.

Hell's Kitchen boundaries
Maybe I should have made the boundary lines more blurry.

The easiest one is the where. There is definitely a place that is officially “Googley” named Hell’s Kitchen, because you can see it labeled right there in Google Maps. (Anyplace that wants to be a place must first be placed on Google Maps.)

Hell’s Kitchen is generally considered to refer to the area from 34th to 59th Streets, starting west of Eighth Avenue and north of 43rd Street. City zoning regulations generally limit buildings to six stories; therefore most of the buildings are older walk-up apartments.

As for how this neighborhood came to be known as Hell’s Kitchen, according to the Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area:

When, in 1835, Davy Crockett said, “In my part of the country, when you meet an Irishman, you find a first-rate gentleman; but these are worse than savages; they are too mean to swab hell’s kitchen.” He was referring to the Five Points.

An article published by Mary Clark in 1994, published in the New York Times stated:

…first appeared in print on September 22, 1881 when a New York Times reporter went to the West 30s with a police guide to get details of a multiple murder there. He referred to a particularly infamous tenement at 39th Street and Tenth Avenue as “Hell’s Kitchen” and said that the entire section was “probably the lowest and filthiest in the city.” According to this version, 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues became known as Hell’s Kitchen and the name was later expanded to the surrounding streets. Another version ascribes the name’s origins to a German restaurant in the area known as Heil’s Kitchen, after its proprietors. But the most common version traces it to the story of “Dutch Fred the Cop”, a veteran policeman, who with his rookie partner, was watching a small riot on West 39th Street near Tenth Avenue. The rookie is supposed to have said, “This place is hell itself”, to which Fred replied, “Hell’s a mild climate. This is Hell’s Kitchen.”

Movie Review – The Kitchen

Newie Review – The Reef – Low Budget, Decent, Non Campy Shark Movie

This 2010 Aussie shark film should be fairly simple to review, as nothing much happened besides a lot of open ocean swimming. If you’re frightened easily and don’t like horror, don’t worry: you won’t have much trouble watching The Reef. It’s not that kind of movie. I’m not entirely clear what kind of movie this is, actually. A low-budget survival tale with mostly dimwitted people?

There are five folks trapped on top of an upturned ship who have to swim 12 miles in the tropics to reach an unseen island and possible safety. Will they reach it? Does it matter? It’s one of those attrition flicks where you have to guess who’s the last man standing — or swimming, as the case may be. It’s all very predictable, but surprisingly, not scary.

I liked the beginning. It started slow and built up the characters pretty well. It was well-told and well-acted at that point, and the scenery couldn’t be beat.

Nitpicking where I shouldn’t

Unfortunately, once the swimmers hit the water, they devolved into screechy fish bait. That’s not how you cross an ocean safely. I could nitpick the heck out of this. Hanging around the bloody dead people too long isn’t wise (that’s what chum is). Don’t kick up a storm like prey animals either. They also stopped a lot. I kept shouting ,”Keep swimming! But gently! Keep going with less splashing!”

I used to teach wilderness survival  and know something about it, so I’m being harsher on The Reef than most would be. It’s like trying to watch a film like Backdraft with a firefighter. When the one guy who knew something about sailing dove under the ship to retrieve items, I saw a TON of things the survivors could have used that he just ignored. It was a whole sailing ship loaded with DAYS of useful supplies. Arg. Make me stop whining.

What I liked

The plot was lean and easy to follow, and the shark wasn’t absurd — he actually seemed like a real animal instead of an insane monster. And The Reef wasn’t campy or gory. The ‘captain’ character was the guy who kept his head and was worth watching. 

But the ending was…sudden? Underwhelming? Perhaps the real beauty of The Reef is that it’s based on a true story and the producers didn’t feel a need to over-dramatize anything. These things happen. It’s tragic (mostly), and you’d never want to live though this. But movie-wise, it’s just on the high end of average. This isn’t like Jaws (an A+ film indeed). Or even The Meg. (We gave that a B-). I still have to see 47 Meters Down (I know, I know, the sequel’s coming). Come to think of it, I want to watch The Shallows and Deep Blue Sea too. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Overall: if you want a high-octane gruesome shark tale, keep looking. There’s plenty of them out there. I actually liked The Reef for its mild plotting…I just didn’t love it.

Movie Grade: C+

Movie Rewatch — Jaws

Meet the Real Megalodon

Best Jaws Iconic Moments, plus Movie Analysis (videos)


 

Here’s the trailer for 47 Meters Down 2, set to arrive in 2019:

 

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)

Your 20 big benefits to using the RunPee app

By now you’ve heard RunPee tells you when to hit the toilet during the movies so you don’t miss the most important scenes, but you probably haven’t sat down and thought about the wealth of benefits and treats RunPee gives you — the enthusiastic movie-goer. Here are all the goodies you should know to make the best use of the world’s most indispensable movie app:

  1. All the Peetimes to make certain you never miss a crucial movie moment, reveal, or best scene, ever again.
  2. Read the scene you’re missing as you take a Peetime. Our synopses are short and sweet and get you up to speed. You will never feel lost when you get back to your seat again.
  3. The Built In Timer vibrates quietly in your lap before your Cue to get up and go, so no one else in the theater ever gets disturbed.RunPee Timer
  4. Drink all the sodas, beers, wine, cocktails you like, and your bladder will thank you for it.
  5. You can run to the concession stand for lots of food during any Peetime, without waiting in annoying or long lines.
  6. Don’t sit through the credits for no reason if there’s nothing to see.  Go home with confidence with our Anything Extra section. On the other hand, never miss an extra scene, moment, dedication, or movie tidbit again, if there is one. RunPee will tell you when the Extra scene is, how long it lasts, and our advice on whether to wait for it or not…all without giving away spoilers.
  7. If you come in late to the film, our Running Late benefit will tell you what happened in the first three minutes. WHEW. Now you can breathe and relax.
  8. Our Peetime Meta details give you a choice of what kind of scenes to miss – a talking moment, a bit of non-crucial action, a musical montage of time passing, or a transition scene. You choose.
  9. We give you — depending on how long the film is — 2-4 Peetimes to choose from,  so there will always a Peetime you can tell your bladder to wait for. We try to have Peetimes spread out within half-hour increments.
  10. Our #MovieMeme play area lets you be creative with your favorite films. Make your own art on top of any movie poster in our gallery. Draw or say anything you like on it, using your own finger as a brush, and share your fun art with the world.MovieMeme
  11. Our Peeple’s Poll lets you rate a movie twice — on your expectations before the movie, and your thoughts after. You can also choose to compare other Peeples’s votes based on a similar age range and gender. There is no poll like this anywhere else.Peeple's Poll results for Captain Marvel
  12. Vote in the 3D Poll to let other Peeple know if it’s worth spending the extra cash on those 3D glasses. Or look to see if others think you should bother with it. This is a big money saver right there that can pay for the Infinity Peecoin right there.
    Located at the very bottom of the Movie Info screen.
  13. Speaking of the Infinity Peecoin, you can choose how to use your app — free by watching short video ads, for ten cents a movie to buy Peecoins, or make a one-time lifetime expense for the Infinity Peecoin.
  14. If you do watch the free ads, you can do it all at once and BANK your Peecoins away for later use. Never run out of Peecoins right before a feature film begins.
  15. Rate and share your movie grade with actual movie poster artwork, using your choice from a large assortment of icons. Is your movie worth 4 out of 5 Groots? 5 of 5 Deadpools? RunPee makes it easy to have fun sharing your opinion with your friends.
  16. Read our comprehensive, personable movie reviews, written in-house by the members of the RunPee Family after we see the film.
  17. Check out the (literally) thousands of movie and entertainment articles published, all created by us, on the RunPee blog. You could spend days in there, enjoying the posts written by and for the movie-lover.
  18. Enjoy our immense archive of movie Peetimes, with thousands of movies going back 10 years — along with some older classics — for your curiosity and enjoyment.
  19. Get Alert Peetimes in movies with unexpectedly graphic scenes of violence, animal abuse, torture, or over-the-top gore. alert peetime
  20. Get the BEST one on one customer service on the planet for your app. If you contact [email protected], we give you a speedy reply based on your actual needs, and not some form letter. Contact us anytime with any advice, critiques, comments, or questions. We want to do everything we can to make your RunPee app the best thing you’ve ever downloaded.

AND…here’s a bonus benefit:

21. Know you’re helping a small family-run business grow. This is RunPee’s 10th Anniversary as an app, and we thank YOU for being part of our extended RunPee Family. A lot of you have been with us from the beginning, and seen how we’ve adapted and improved over the years, largely through your suggestions. Thank you for telling everyone about us, and for all you newbies being willing to take on a new app movie-going phone app. We would not exist without you. (Many hugs!)RunPee Family

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