Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Continues the Magic

 

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Hi All, I’m the Tall One geeking out with my BFF

Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts….. Excuse me, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opens up with a familiar tune and then an explosion! Many of its audience returning to learn more about the Harry Potter world we’ve all loved and have adored for more than a decade now, some members might even be new to the magical world, but regardless of your familiarity with the Harry Potter world, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Fantastic Beasts delivers on fun, magic, and the same childish wonderment that the very first film, The Sorcerer’s Stone, instilled in both youths and adults. What is extra-wonderful about the film and this new extension of the beautiful universe that JK Rowling delivered to us nearly 20 years ago, is that it takes place long before Harry and his Parents. It begins in 1926 with a demolished building in New York, New York. Yes, that’s right, if you didn’t know, this first installment in the extended universe (which rumors claim their will be 5 story-lines through 19 years) takes place in America. And it is a breath of fresh air.

It is an easy claim, that there are Harry Potter lovers throughout the world, and to get a glimpse (glimpse being a full-length feature film!) of the magical universe in different parts of the world is well-deserved.

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Our lead Newt

After the explosion we move into the classic moving headlines/picture format of what is going on in the American Wizarding World. Preparing us for the new information about the different culture that we (the audience) have been salivating for. After the opening credits, we land on Newt Scamander, a name many will recognize as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a book that every wizarding family should own. A worthy endorsement by Albus Dumbledore.

Newt (Eddie Redmayne) is our first lead protagonist that came from House Hufflepuff (badger house), he is a kind soul who just wants to save all magical creatures out there, and “politely educate” his fellow magic folk, as he claims while explaining his reason for traveling state-side. Yes, that means that these magnificent, magical creatures are not just confined to the UK, and this also means that many (absolutely breath-taking) creatures are indigenous to certain areas, much like our no-maj animals. Oh what is “no-maj” you ask? It’s is American slang for non-magic folk. So its our term for muggles!

Fantastic Beasts

Some of the Fantastic Beasts, Nibbler is my favorite (second from the left). He’s adorable and he steals shiny things.

Eventually a few of Newt’s beautiful, scary, and chalk full of personality, beasts escape his magical suitcase. An American witch, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), tries to detain Newt for not registering his wand when he came through what I guess is customs in the ’20s? Anyways, they become these kind-of awkward partners in crime, but only after the poor no-maj, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), has a nasty bump in with one of Newt’s many creatures. Newt and Tina only eventually become allies because of Jacob’s innocent, yet beautiful mind set that Tina’s Legilimency (mind-reading) sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) feels towards Jacob. Jacob takes the role of audience in this film, learning about all of this new wonder and expressing it, he eventually becomes the glue between the sisters and rule-breaking Newt.

Eventually, the president of MACUSA (the Magical Congress of the United States of America), Seraphina Picquery is lead to believe that the chaos happening in New York is Newt’s fault (even though they were having problems before HE EVEN GOT THERE). Trying to keep this review spoiler free, we will leave the remainder of the plot for you to find out yourself. But know that there is more than just one plot line, and that there are many twists and turns along this amazing ride.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them provides another sweet, and succulent extension of JK Rowling’s incredible mind and Wizarding World. The story was written by Rowling herself, and the magic leaps of the screen and stays with you hours after you leave the theater. (Let’s be honest, probably days.) Currently, it can remain as a stand-alone film, but there are many names that we pot-heads will recognize through the film, and for the well-trained ear, you may even recognize some of the musical scores. Personally, this pot-head can’t wait for the next installment of the Wizarding World, and learn more about some twists that were delivered throughout the film.

This holiday, see what is truly, the best film of the year. Fantastic Beasts deserves your $10 and 2 hours of your time. Even if you aren’t a grade-A Potter fanatic.

PS on a fun fact, Actor Eddie Remayne was almost the young Voldemort in Chamber of Secrets! Let’s just say he makes a much better Newt.

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Independence Day 2: Resurgence

Independence Day (1996) is one of my all time favorite films. As I rewatched the film just last night, I realized, to be a girl is to have a crush on Mr. Charismatic, Will Smith, Captain Steve Hiller, to become a woman is to love Jeff Goldbulm’s David Levison. To be fair, I love both characters and have watched Independence Day at least once a year my entire life since 1996. Whoa… that’s at the bare minimum of 20 times. Needless to say, I was very excited for Independence Day 2: Resurgence to soar into theaters and got the chance to see it opening day on Friday.

id422ID4 2 delivers edge of the seat fun, 20 years after Levison and Captain Hiller defeat the aliens that came to pillage the earth for their own reasons that never really become clear until we get the sequel. It is very entertaining to watch almost all of our favorite characters come back to continue a story line that  we have all come to know and love, and most likely quote in regular day conversation and then not have other people understand, then you sigh and die a little inside, but know that there has to be someone out there who would have understood the reference. Then you smile a little. Because now you have another installment of one of your favorite story worlds. Continue reading

The Mad Max Trilogy

A little known Australian franchise began in 1979 that focused on an apocalyptic world where gangs ran the world and gas is a very fucking high commodity. The trilogy that was born in the desert with flames and explosions galore. Fast-forward 30 years later and the now widely-known Mad Max is being rebooted by its creator George Miller with a Hollywood treatment and a cool hundred million dollars. So before we cross the finish line with Mad Max: Fury Road, let’s gear up for the weekend by returning to the classic car-chases, consumptive waste land, and the desperate, deviant characters of the early 80s with a cumulative review of the original trilogy. 

mad maxMad Max of 1979 was a bit of a blur; cars exploding, gangs fucking shit up, and very little dialogue that was actually pretty difficult to follow without subtitles. The difficulty wasn’t just on me and my download though, apparently when the film hit theaters in America in ’81–as the sequel was coming out–they dubbed American speakers over the actual dialogue to help not confuse the audience about the film specifically taken place in Australia? The film follows Max (a young Mel Gibson) as a police “Interceptor” who tries to keep a handle on the rising crime and gang violence whom eventually takes a break from the force as his partner is badly tortured and eventually dies from a gang. So Max becomes the perfect husband and father while taking a long vacation with his doting wife and son (the son may have been playing with an actaul gun in the first seen we meet him…. CaRAZY!) Honestly, you could skip Mad Max if you wanted because the sad back-story of the Road Warrior (excluded here because of major spoilers) is reprised in a much more effective manner in the beginning of the sequel. 

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1981’s Road Warrior is another tough pill to swallow but somehow has, like, a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? It’s a fun film, more fun then the first, but still makes the fatal mistake of being a very serious action movie. There are few moments of laughter at a clever script or perfectly placed explosion which is why I wouldn’t give it that high of a rating. It’s a bummer that I am watching the film this late in my life, within the heavily influenced world of bigger budgets and CGI, but the fact that these explosions really happened with real stunt people in them, that’s pretty fucking insanely cool. Max himself has very little dialogue in this installment and he is contracted to help out a gasoline-rich community out-run a nasty raiding gang. A gang that is into leather and some same sex loving! But, you know also a gang that Max did kind of lead straight to their door, so the least he could do is help the community out. So Max is the resentful Road Warrior, it takes him time to look out for anyone other than his dog and himself but eventually he becomes our resisting protagonist in this dark and dreary life.

thunderdomeBeyond Thunderdome-oh sweet sweet Thunderdome. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Thunderdome is by far my favorite of the trilogy because it finally stops taking itself so damn seriously. Miller Americanized it a bit, with a star as big as Tina Turner in it, it’s hard to think they kept it Australian. The characters in Beyond Thunderdome are the most colorful and least civilized of the franchise and they make the movie so much more enjoyable. The very beginning is a bit confusing, but I feel as though this is a running theme within Miller’s work at this point. But soon enough we meet the glorious, rampant Auntie (Turner) who runs her Barbertown under a strict rule. She strikes some sort of deal with Max who is new to the city, and soon we find him fighting a giant “George Milton” who is ruled by a very small “Lennie Small” in the Thunderdome. And the dome is pretty damn rad. Two men enter, one leaves, and I will leave the rest of the awesomeness for you to view on your own time (because I personally think it’s the best part of the film). Eventually, Max is annexed back into the deathly desert and finds himself as a savior of a “Lord of the Flies” scenario. Our once again reluctant hero finds himself slowly helping a rag-tag group of survivors. 

Overall, Mad Max is a bit of a scramble, we have a few good characters that we only get for half the film (Fifi, Max’s Chief of  Police Department and his partner Jim Goose), some sweet ass car chases, but really the film doesn’t age well as it takes itself much too serious for an action revenge film. 1981’s Road Warrior has twice the amount of action, as sequels usually do, a better climax and a silly Feral Kid (calling Short Round?) at Max’s side after he unfortunately looses his dog to a gang member (that’s twice now!!!). For me, it wasn’t the best of the three, but definitely a fun ride to take. 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is personally my favorite and I believe it to be the best out of the Mad Max trilogy, even though it rated lower than both its’ predecessors on Rotten Tomatoes. But the whole trilogy rates over an 80% for critics which is god damned impressive for a franchise that started nearly 40 years ago. The plot for Thunderdome is easier to follow and it has enough action to hold you over, but maybe some people find it not as entertaining as the first two because there isn’t as much car chasing because we have the actual Thunderdome instead, along with some covert affairs going on too.

One thing is for sure, I can see why Hollywood wants to revamp the franchise for a new audience as the first three were successful and looked back on fondly as an exhilarating ride. But as a first time viewer, 30 some years later, and as a viewer who is actually younger than the latest film, it makes sense to make another installment for a fresh-faced audience.

Wolf Creek 2

wolf creekSo last night my remote decided I wanted to watch 2013’s Wolf Creek 2. I was like:

Sure why not,  it may or may not be torture porn but like, it has 2 stars,  I’ve watched horror movies with a lower recommendation than that.

Now I’ll admit,  I’m not the biggest fan of the torture porn genre of horror.  It’s by far the lowest point of the genres,  but it takes a lot of balls and creativity to come up with some of the ways the killer massacres their victims. That is one point I’ll always give ’em. I also have not watched the original Wolf Creek from shit, was it 2005? I’m writing this on the mobile app,  tough to check that shit. Continue reading

Hercules (2014) The one with Dwayne the Rock Johnson

Said action based poster mentioned below.

Said action based poster mentioned below.

The year 2014 could also go down in history as the year of Hercules, the demi-god known for his strength and his…. well let’s just say “amorous” father: Zeus. At the beginning of the year, screens were graced with a gritty, action drama; The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz who you might remember as the beefy Emmit Cullen in Twilight or even the Greek Sea God, Poseidon, in 2011’s ImmortalsThe film overall tried far too hard, and left the audience feeling lack luster.

With not only the summer heating up, but the theater selection as well, in rolls Dwayne the Rock Johnson in 2014’s HerculesThe movie opens as a Grecian boy describes the most gruesome, famous labors of Hercules. The young narrator begins with the legend of the Lernaean hydra, moves onto the Erymanthian Boar, and gets interrupted during what is ironically Hercules’ first labor: Nemean lion.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

As you watch Hercules take each monster down, you begin to wonder: “is this the same disastrous, overzealoused CGI film that Director Renny Harlin farted out earlier this year?” And then Dwayne struts into the camp of pillagers that kidnapped his nephew who happens to be our young narrator. The Rock is draped in the lion’s pride, the lion mane gloriously haloing around his head. As the camera slowly pans up to his face, we see him smirk and laugh, nearly right into the camera!

And you begin to wonder, is he being cheeky?

What type of movie is this going to be? (You especially wonder this, if you’ve kept your nose out of any trailers, commercials, or reviews for the film.)

Then something wonderful happens, Hercules takes out four men with one blow of his club with the lion’s teeth attached to the end. As his nephew, Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie, continues to boast Hercules’ strength, we see him take down more and more men before he lures the enemy behind a wall so the leaders of the pillagers cannot see what’s happening. And that’s when you realize exactly what type of film this is.

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta's skin is vulnerable

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta’s skin is vulnerable

It is a campy, tongue in cheek, action film that delivers the type of fun that a summer flick should deliver. You meet the rest of Hercules’ crew of misfits, all of who hold their own genuinely interesting back-stories, along with a wonderful display of individual weaponry. Rufus Sewell (as the deviner, knife-wielding Autolycus, friends with Herc since they roamed the streets as orphans), Aksel Hennie (as the young wildling Hercules took under his wing when Tydeus’ entire town was massacred), the lovable Ian McShane (the seer who had “seen” his own death, therefor could go into any battle knowing he wasn’t going to die yet, Amphiaraus), and my personal favorite Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (as the badass “Amazonia” warrior, who inexplicably wears next to no armor Atalanta) all play their parts perfectly.

Just the right amount of seriousness and cheese; Hercules is one of those films where you can tell the cast had a load of fun while filming. It plays into all the stereotypes and tropes of action flicks while winking at the viewer, like “We know what you like, and we’re gonna ride it hard and long allllll night. Oh yeah.” It’s frustrating that they wouldn’t portray this elevated funness in the posters or advertisements, because the film is doing hella decent on Rotten Tomatoes (for a mid-summer action non-marvel flick) and only decently in the box office.

Director Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the best darn mythos-based movie I have seen since Disney’s 1997 Hercules. What writers Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and (Radical Comic writer) Steve Moore did was more than just stick to the myth, they made Hercules a man, a man with pain and anguish, a troubled past, but also, more importantly, a man with a friends, a man who is both loved and feared, a man who became a legend thanks to his cohorts. He was no seed of Zeus, but since he believed he was a hero, he was one. And that is by far the best message one could take away from not only any movie, but also Hercules’ Legend.

Hercules (2014) is based off of Radical Comic’s character from The Thracian Wars and The knives of Kush. The film currently rates a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $56 million domestically as of August 6th, 2014.

The below trailer is the closest perfect description I could probably find online without spoilers, and without it being the actual perfection that is Hercules. Beware, the trailer contains many scenes that are not in the final theatrical cut, but I am very happy to report that Hercules’ wife in this adaption is Megara (seen above), and they dress her in purple. Like I said the most tongue in cheek mytho movie ever.

The Purge: Anarchy

A very creative Poster. I approve.

Okay, so I wasn’t the biggest fan of 2013’s The Purge, it had the potential to be great and turned into just another home invasion horror flick. I think I recall stating how awesome the opening and closing credits were as well, claiming that the credits had more potential than the entire plotted script.

What is really interesting about this soon to be franchise, is that they have the opportunity to bring in new actors, writers, directors, and editors to give the audience what it really wants. It is almost the new-age Jason or Mike Myers franchise, the threat and location remains the same, but everything else can change film to film. And that’s why these types of movies can get so many sequels; they are loved for years to follow because of the threat. Because of Jason or Michael, because of the silly; oddball ways they find to kill the teenagers on screen.

When the original purge first came out, I refused to see it, telling myself in the weeks prior to the release I would not, could not see it. The idea behind America’s humanity devolving into murdering neanderthals frightened me on a different level than a typical horror film. It taps into your inner thoughts and subconscious; would the public really participate in such a “utopia” and take out all of their anger and aggression one night a year, without consequences? It’s a scary concept. At least it should have been. I decided to see the film anyways, and was completely disappointed to see Writer/Director James DeMonaco take that horrific concept and make it into something we’ve all seen a hundred times. 

So I went to the theaters hoping that “Hey, the commercials and trailers actually make it seem like they are going to take the better concept of all Hell breaking lose and showing us different stories happening during the purge.” And well, I wasn’t technically wrong, but again, they only concentrated on one city and what all happened within its’ limits. The Purge: Anarchy wasn’t great by any means, but it was better than it’s predecessor in getting closer to what is really frightening behind the purge. Hell, they even gave it a nice little twist about *semi-spoiler* the government *end semi-spoiler* that makes the message of the film much more scary. But alas, they eventually brought the different story lines together, and they didn’t do it badly, but they could have made the film so much more fun if they incorporated a different type of editing style. Imagine the three separate story lines coming together on the screen at once, but with three different shots of footage? Using screen splitting (as the legendary Quentin Tarantino has done in the past) would have made the ride that much more fun. And horror movies are all about being scared and having fun! Instead, they just use the old point and shoot technique for the film. The acting in the film was actually great (special shout out to new comer Zoë Soul, she was brilliant), and it is such a waste to see the movie lie lifelessly on the cutting room floor because of the lazy Director/writer James DeMonaco coming back for a second shot at the purge. 

The biggest disappointment of Anarchy is that it quite literally, is not anarchy; it is actually more boring than frightening and you sit there and think that the latest Indiana Jones action film had more anarchy than a damn film with the word in the title of it. The killers/kidnappers we see in the movie are more strategic than the aging Jones himself, and the word “anarchy” is defined as confusion and disorder. It also means a state of society without government or law, which technically, purge night has, but again, *spoilers* it kind of doesn’t. As in there is… fuck it, I’m just gonna say it, the government is out there shooting up the poor to control the population because America isn’t killing enough on purge night. Now as fucked up as that is, it technically is still planned and (excuse me for the lack of a better pun) executed. That is not chaos, if anything it is method and order, but I suppose if they named the movie The Purge: Order or Method it would have given away the one really disturbing aspect the film actually portrayed decently. *End spoilers.*

The film’s budget is estimated at $9,000,000 and has already made $29,816,675 in its opening weekend. Safe to say, they will continue pumping out Purge movies, and hopefully the next one will explore more than one home or one city, and follow numerous stories. If anything, maybe the idea behind the purge would do better as a mini series, that way they can explore all the havoc in a season, and binge watching would be best, so really, maybe Netflix should pick up the rights to it.

Also, there might be a small chance that they actually had linear thoughts when writing the previous movies; what if they began on a small scale (the home), went a bit bigger (the city) and already plan on moving statewide or country wide for the next installment? If that is the case, I would love to eventually see a political prequel that tells us how we got to the new “Founding Fathers’ way.”

I will continue to hold out hope on a better Purge movie, the one that we are all craving for, but until then maybe I would wait for DVD release while the movies are helmed by the unimaginative DeMonaco.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is this summers block buster film that isn’t a superhero movie, but you may know the film’s better title: Rise of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or even Dawn of the Rise of the War of the Planet of the Apes. I’m just kidding, those are just a few of the names that I’ve been calling Matt Reeves‘ installment of the sci-fi franchise that started back in the 60s. After many stumbles of the tongue and just saying; “Well, the writers don’t really give two shits about the lineage of the franchise, so I’m done remembering what  intransitive verb the writers are using for each Apes film” and I just call them That One Apes Film. It seems to suffice.  Continue reading

A Clockwork Orange (day 06 of 100)

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Ahhh, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess‘s  novella about a hyper-violent youth group in a dystopian future Britain which comments on juvenile delinquency, psychiatry, youth gangs,  along with social, economic and political subjects. One of the most difficult film’s to watch on this list. So much so that I could not bring myself to watch it again, for a third time to review it with a fresh viewing. This is also a bit of the reasoning behind the giant lag in my 100ish Days of Summer. I have loaded it up 2 or 3 times int he past few weeks, and haven’t been able to really push past the first 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the film is one for the ages, premiering in 1971,  A Clockwork Orange symbolizes everything that was wrong with the rambunctious youths of England in the sixties and the fearful advantages that science takes in “curing” the “wicked.” Continue reading

Heathers: Paving the Way for Films We Love Today

Heathers’ Poster

In 1989 a  teenage comedy flopped in theaters. Years later, it was revived to cult status thanks to home video. It’s a dark teenage comedy that probably went over the heads of many adolescents, but it was brilliant nonetheless, the film is Michael Lehman‘s Heathers.  A satirical film based around the societal expectations and acceptances found in the lives of high schoolers in the 1980s, but what Heathers presented about the disturbing hierarchy of high school can still be applied to every generation since. Thanks to Heathers, teenage comedy/romance/drama films have become edgier and much more authentic, even if some of the main plots would never really happen, but the politics of high school life remain clear and horrifyingly real. So here I am, 25 years later, telling you how Heathers paved the way for the films we love today.

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) was once a wallflower with trusting friends; then events prior to the opening of Heathers, she becomes a part of a small Ohio town’s IT crowd: the Heathers. These three junior year Heathers run the school in a dictatorial manner with Veronica at their side, they use her giant IQ to write love letters to the school’s nerds in the handwriting of the town jocks as a service, obviously. I mean the note’ll give Martha “Dumptruck” shower-nozzle masturbation material for weeks. As we watch the complacent Veronica go through the motions of popularity as Dictator Heather Chandler’s right hand woman, a new dark figure roles into town, J.D. a psychotic bad boy who means business. But in the beginning, Veronica sees this dark horse as something different and more inviting than the typical jock of 1980s’ Ohio teenage boy. Their relationship is based off of the mutual hate they have for Veronica’s best friends, and as time goes on, Veronica’s teenage angst bullshit begins to have a body count. She accidentally kills her best friend/worst enemy (what’s the difference?) with the help of J.D. (Christian Slater). Things get out of hand, as they keep “accidentally” murdering their classmates  and cover it up as suicides, which then becomes the cool thing to do, and obviously has dire consequences.

Now that you know a bit more about the premise of Heathers I can divulge to you how certain scenes, characters, and lines helped contribute to a new kind of teenage film.

The Craft (1996)

Although disguised as a supernatural/horror movie, The Craft is truly about the outsiders becoming the all powerful tyrants of the schools’ pecking order. Although it’s been longer than a hot minute since I’ve watched The Craft, Heathers delivered the strong feminine leads that were then able to be transformed into the unpopular with power, shifting the focus of teenage politics to the rejected crowd.

The Virgin Suicides (1999)

When we talk about angsty teenage suicide movies, one film, by Sofia Coppola, rises to the top of anyone’s mind. The Virgin Suicides is a prime representation of 90s film dramas that focuses on the isolation of teenage life and the constant ignorance of self-involved parents that are so disconnected from their own children that the four sisters decide to take their lives into their own hands. The film is based around teenage themes that every adolescent stumbles through in their lives, and occasionally, Love, Sex, Death, Passion, Fear, and Obsession, get the better of them. The film tackles many things, but one thing that is evidently clear is that you should never trust the guy who takes your virginity, much like Veronica should have never trust J.D.

Jawbreaker (1999)

One of my favorite 90s teen films is most certainly Jawbreaker and it could even been seen as Heathers colorful, wicked sequel that took 10 years to make. Again, we are faced with the poplar crew and how the politics of high school seem to be the perfect setting for accidental deaths and eventual cover ups. No film could come close to the portrayal of blatant bitchiness and evil that is Jawbreaker. When compared to Heathers the filmmakers of Jawbreakers break all subtlety that originally went over the heads of viewers in the 80s, with crass humor and impetuous characters who really make you realize high school is hell, regardless of your status.

Sugar & Spice (2001)

Although I have not seen Sugar & Spice in the past 10 years, the plot remains crystal clear in my mind. A cheer leading squad follow their recently knocked-up captain into a life of crime and thievery to maintain a certain type of life style they have become accustom to. Nothing screams “Kids having kids,” quite like this film. And although I can’t think of a direct scene or character that sums up the similarities between Heathers and Sugar & Spice, one quote comes to mind. As the cheerleader Heather discovers her life is shit, she tries to commit suicide by swallowing pills, but before sweet sleep can be delivered, she struggles to open the “fucking child proof lock” lid that keep her from dying in a schools’ bathroom.

Saved! (2004)

Heaven, religion, and acceptance are reoccurring themes in Heathers with the town dealing with the funerals and “suicides,” and Saved! tackles the complex idea of virgin teenagers saving themselves for marriage because of God and how regardless of their “purity” they can still be wicked, sinful bitches. There would be no cataclysmic, evil Mandy Moore character without the clever writing styles of Heathers’ Daniel WatersAnd if you’re looking for a satirical take on catholic schools and the deinve high school hierarchy, that isn’t as goofy as SuperStar, I highly recommend Saved!

Mean Girls (2004)

Ah, I’m sure you were waiting to see this 10 year old gem on this list, and I contemplated placing it last, but then I would have lost all chronological aspect to this list.  Let’s be real here though. Without 1989’s Heathers there would be no Mean Girls. Screenwriter Tina Fey took the thematic meaning behind the subtle Heathers and the blatant Jawbreaker and created a comedy that perfectly represented the safari-like life of high school for the milleniums. You know that pivotal scene in the gymnasium where Fey’s character is trying to get all the girls to talk about their emotions and junk? Well Heathers did it first in a cafeteria, and then made fun of the diabolical meaning and representation behind this “talk about our feelings” crap.  Heathers is like Mean Girls mentor, without it, we would have never been graced with the heinous Regina George.

The Babysitters (2007)

The Babysitters is a brilliantly dark drama about a high school baby sitter having an affair with one of her clients. She soon begins a call-girl business for the married men of her town and things spiral into an intense representation of how one man who seems mysterious and mature can create a living hell for the girl he manipulates into sleeping with him. This film takes the relationship between Veronica and J.D. in a different direction, and instead of turning Shirley (the lead) onto murder,  John Leguizamo‘s character teaches her about sex, another deadly sin that corrupts the lives of teenagers.

Easy A (2010)

Lastly on the list is Easy A which creates a world of lies, rumors, intrigue, and a high school smarty pants slutting it up. Without Heathers, we could have never gotten the quirky Emma Stone realizing what one wrong step and one white lie could severely damage her formerly decent teenage life. We have classic back-stabbing friends,  rumors, and ever present false illusion of adults actually knowing what their doing.

In conclusion,

If you enjoyed any of the above movies, and have yet to see Heathers a perfectly sly, wonderfully written, astoundingly executed, black comedy about high school life, you might have just eaten a brain tumor for breakfast. The film is a meta representation of teenage life for the mid-western teen trapped in suburbia life where creativity and originality go to die. In honor if its’ 25 year anniversary, and in honor of Mean Girls 10 year anniversary, check out Heathers and be blown away.

Dead Before Dawn: Zombies, Demons, and Curses, Oh my!

Dead Before Dawn poster

Dead Before Dawn poster

There is a gem out there, a movie that is beyond quirky, fun, clever, and laced with satire, I mean, really it is a “B movie” with backbone and brilliance. It will have your attention from the very first clumsy clip of our pitiful protagonist, and it will not let go of you. This bright and shiny new film based on tired, dopey tropes is Dead Before Dawn and can thankfully be viewed on Netflix, which is where I just so happen to find it while perusing the horror genre. It’s a Canadian Indie film that didn’t get much traction here in the U.S. because if it did, you know for a fact, this bitch would had been watching the overused 3D tricks in theaters.  April Mullen directs the 90 minute 2012 film with a freshness that pays constant tribute to a tired genre and brings  Tim Doiron‘s goofy yet clever screenplay to life.

The Comedy-Horror takes place on what one must assume is a community college in Canada, and although the protagonists of the movie are nearing graduation, these kids seem like freshman or sophomores in age. Our lead is Casper Galloway (Devon Bostick), and I’m not sure how popular the name “Casper” is in Canada, but from my perspective, it’s a nod to the friendliest ghost we all know. Anyways, Casper is a clumsy, doodling boy who lives at home with his widowed mother, and is deathly afraid of his granddad’s “Occult Antique Store” because he kinda, sorta accidentally killed his father there. So, Casper has to watch this spooky antique store for an evening while his awesome cooky granddad, played by Christopher Lloyd, goes to an awards ceremony and receives a lifetime achievement award in the occult community? The movie ends up having a constant gag with a trophy throughout it, but hey an excuse to get the ball rolling for the film is good as any. It’s not like I was expecting a lot with this movie.

The Rag Tag group of nonbelievers: Dazzle, Becky, Seth, Casper (a smart believer, considering he's the only one who prepares for the curse), Charlotte, Patrick, and Lucy

The Rag Tag group of nonbelievers: Dazzle, Becky, Seth, Casper (a smart believer, considering he’s the only one who prepares for the curse), Charlotte, Patrick, and Lucy

So, Casper decides to watch the shop for his granddad, and while he’s there his unattainable crush (Charlotte, played by that one girl from Superbad Martha MacIsaac) walks into the store as an apparent regular. She’s there with her best friend who happens to be a whorish cheerleader, Lucy (Brittany Allen), and who has no interest in the oddball hipster friend of Casper, Seth (Tim Doiron), who is desperately in love with her and mugs. Seth sells the crap out of mugs. After Charlotte and Lucy chit chat with Caspy for awhile, the rest of the gang arrives, including Seth, star football player and token black guy Dazzle (Brandon Jay McLaren), best chick friend Becky (April Mullen), and douchy bf of the unattainable; Patrick (Kyle Schmid). Now that the rest of the important cast has arrived, we can get into the hilarious manner in which the zombie demons, aka zemons, arrive.

The store has a creepy skull urn that no one should “ever come within spitting distance of,” but of course it is out on display on the highest shelf.

Said creepy urn. I mean it has a damn human skull on it.

Said creepy urn. I mean it has a damn human skull on it.

A beautiful Zemon

A beautiful Zemon

Even though Casper is told to never touch the urn, it becomes a topic of conversation with his friends and he wishes to impress Charlotte (above), and then he drops it all because she brushes his hand. As the urn shatters, Casper freaks the hell out and claims “We’re all cursed! Doomed!” And his friends take about 5 minutes to then ridicule him and said curse, and apparently, what ever the people whom broke the urn said as the last ash fell to the floor would then happen is the new curse. Because that’s how curses work right? Anyways, to make an already long story short, as they make fun of such a “silly” topic, they claim who ever makes direct eye contact with anyone after 10 pm that night (because midnight is too cliche) the person will commit suicide, come back to life as a Zemon and make their creators and other bystanders into fellow suicide committing zemons  by giving them hickies. BUT! You can totally make one of the zemons into your salve if you can seduce and french kiss them. Like I said, they discuss what the would be curse would be for about 5 minutes. It’s a wonderful 5 minutes though, and it turns out to be a hilarious curse.

GREAT SCOTT! (Also this is the 2nd time Lloyd has played a zombie, whoops, spoiler, he makes eye contact with everyone in the shop.)

GREAT SCOTT! (Also this is the 2nd time Lloyd has played a zombie, whoops, spoiler, he makes eye contact with everyone in the shop.)

Of course, the rest of the film contains shenanigans leading up to the rag-tag group fighting off the zemons and breaking the curse before dawn, which gives them 6 hours to fix what they so royally screwed up. Dead Before Dawn has loads of amazing atheistic and verbal jokes, and is one of the best Indie Horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. I was weary about watching the film, but the fact that Christopher Lloyd was in it really helped me push play because GREAT SCOTT! He’s fucking Doc man, and he even says it! He says “GREAT SCOTT” and I flipped my shit! It was amazeballs.

The first portion of the

The first portion of the “realization of how badly we fucked up” scene

I don’t want to spoil too much else about Dead Before Dawn but I highly recommend checking it out. The Zemons look pretty convincing and they have one really great panorama shot of Casper and Becky seeing the now Zemon covered football field, because remember, they set the curse time for 10 pm. The editors also use cut-to’s and montage scenes exceptionally well, and really add the funny edge while paying tribute to the overused tropes. And of course, we have a humorous nod to different weaponry that can be spotted in numerous zombie films, but oddly enough, no use of a religious symbol, a wasted opportunity, which leads me to believe that these Zemons are only zombies, the story writer must have really wanted to contribute to the horror lexicon.

All the characters are well developed and although the acting is sub-par, you’ll love the collaboration on screen. Each character really brings an individual feel to the film and there would be an emptiness without them. Very seldom can you say that each character is a key player in a film. No talent goes to waste. You can tell the cast and crew had a great time filming and writing the movie and you’re going to have just as much fun watching it.  Be sure to listen to the end credits as well, they wrote their own songs that tie into the film, and they’re just as great and super catchy.

If you’re looking for a fun, comedy horror movie to knock some time out, I highly recommend Dead Before Dawn, and if you’ve seen it, please comment below and tell me what you thought! I’ve read other, high class reviews, and I believe that those reviewers, were not the target demographic. Anyways, if my rave review doesn’t convince you, check out the trailer below and you’ll get just a taste of the wonderment I was talking about.