Friday Night Flix Double Feature: The Taking of Deborah Logan and Mine Games

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 7.53.48 AMWelcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

HAPPY MOTHERFUCKING HALLOWEEN!!!! RRRAAAARRRRGH!

Dude I love this holiday. Love it. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it a million more: Halloween is a unique, wonderful day. All the other holidays are family holidays. This one is a community holiday. Rather than staying home with family, eating and drinking ourselves into a coma, on this day we go to our strange ass neighbors’ houses with our dolled up kiddies and fucking commune. It’s rare. It’s annoying and takes way to much preparation but we don’t do it any other day of the year. In honor of this, my most favoritest of holidays, I’m bringing you not one but TWO watchable horror features. You’re welcome, America.

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First we have The Taking of Deborah Logan (Netflix). Yes, it’s a found footage/mockumentary type deal but it’s not nearly as annoying some of the other crap I’ve covered. It’s a lot like The Last Exorcism, classy and smart and not overly reliant on absurd camera tricks. It veers a little too far into the obviously paranormal for my taste but for the first hour it’s ridiculously plausible and unsettling.

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You know what’s really scary? It’s not ghosts or demons or serial killers. It’s the human brain, turning on itself. That’s what dementia is: the ultimate horror story. For a good hour, this movie walks the line between “Is something supernatural going on?” and “Is this just a sad, disturbing tale of an extreme case of Alzheimer’s?” That’s when it’s at its best, when you’re not sure if something spectral is at work or not. I’m glad the movie plants its flag and picks a direction eventually but I wish it was left a little bit more vague. Vaguer? Sure. Nevertheless it’s fun as shit and features a tour de force performance by a woman who is what Patricia Clarkson wishes she could be.

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I don’t know who Jill Larson is but she is incredible. She’s apparently some soap opera star. She’s only 67 and has the physicality of a much younger woman, yet she’s so lithe and slender she’s able to play much older in this role. One moment she looks like she’s on her deathbed, the next she’s vaulting across a room to choke some unsuspecting priest. She elevates the whole movie and is perhaps the biggest reason why this is better than the otherwise excellent Last Exorcism. In that movie the possessee was an overacting weirdo. Jill Larson is the shit.


The second movie is possibly a bit better even though it’s a rehash of circular thought experiments like Time Crimes and Triangle. It’s a circular horror puzzle by the name of Mine Games (Netflix). Silly pun name notwithstanding, this is a super slick thriller featuring a gang of not-that-annoying 20-somethings doing the typical weekend excursion turned bad. As expected none of them are particularly engaging or discernible, yet they play their parts well and carry out their parts of the narrative without too much whining. That may not sound like high praise but think of how many times you’ve watched a horror movie and spent most of your time despising the pretty, angsty young people that populated it.

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There are no real surprises here and nothing especially novel, yet it’s smooth and well-paced. It positively races to the finish with very little wasted energy. If you haven’t seen Time Crimes or Triangle, the cycle of death thing might actually blow your mind a little. For psychological/supernatural horror you could do a lot worse.

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Added Bonus: This is going to be my last regular FNF for a while. I’ll still drop by on occasion but work and work and other work are taking precedence right now. It’s a shame and I’m sure my 2.3 readers per week will be positively devastated. Try not to cry. You can still catch me talking over Joe like it’s my job on the ModernBorecast, and you can read some of my ramblings at IGN.com. Heck, you can even follow me on Twitter at @adamdileo if you’re that sort of person. I don’t judge.

Happy Halloween!

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Westeros, according to Jar Jar Martin **Updated, with More Images!**

Hey, there’s a new George R.R. Martin book coming out on Tuesday, 11/3. Just not the one you or anyone else wants. Instead,  The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones is a book about the art and history of the world of Westeros and GRRM and his co-authors stopped by the 92nd Street Y to yammer at fanboys  & girls about it. You can listen to the yammering here and look at the pretty, pretty pictures below. After the jump, see my favorite depiction of The Wall, which I almost had in my grasp but I let it slip away. Sad face.

Dragonstone

Dragonstone by Philip Straub

Castle Black & The Wall

Castle Black & The Wall

The Red Keep

The Red Keep by Ted Nasmith

Winterfell

Winterfell

The Iron Throne

The Iron Throne by Marc Simonetti

**UPDATE** Much more after the jump:

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Marvel Films – Phase 3 Slate

Marvel Studios has unveiled it’s slate of films for it’s Phase 3 intiative, which includes a) a complete asston of movies and properties and b) seemingly totally sweet films. Scroll down past our friend T’Challa here for alook at the whats & whens:

T'challa!

The Black Panther

Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)

Doctor Strange (Nov. 4, 2016)

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)

Thor: Ragnarok (July 28, 2017)

Black Panther (Nov. 3, 2017)

Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May, 2018)

Captain Marvel (July 6, 2018)

Inhumans (Nov. 2, 2018)

Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (May 3, 2019)

*immediately breaks out in nerd sweat*

*immediately breaks out in nerd sweat*

Full Slate: 10704201_10152494679712677_3225265368523189110_o

Friday Night Flix: Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi

wb1Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Notice how I didn’t put the English translation of this week’s movie up there in the title? I usually include the translation because I am not (generally) a pretentious purist snob. I didn’t this time because that perfectly reasonable if straightforward title Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi translates to The Witches of Zugarramurdi. But what did they call it when they ported it over to the U.S.? Witching and Bitching (Netflix). I smell a rant coming on.

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It’s perhaps fitting that whoever bought the U.S. rights to this thing chose that title. The movie is built on disturbingly pervasive misogyny, which of course the word bitch is as well. You may not think of it this way, but bitch is about one micron less offensive than the dreaded N word. (Perhaps that one micron accounts for why I can bring myself to type one and not the other.)

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But the truth remains: bitch is to woman (a traditionally oppressed, marginalized and victimized subset of humanity) as the N word is to black people. By using it we are denigrating whatever we’re talking about – a nasty person, too much complaining, a victim of prison rape – by comparing it to women. To our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. How horrible is that? That we do not think of it as terribly offensive on the larger spectrum of curse words just shows how far we have to go before gender equality is anywhere close to real. So stop saying bitch, okay?

And the movie? It’s okay. It’s got some funny parts (see, e.g., gold painted Jesus leaning out of a car window blasting a shotgun at the cops) and some cool atmosphere. It’s well shot and acted, even if it skews a tad goofier than I’d like. It’s biggest sin (other than the fact that ALL the male characters’ wives and mothers are painted as hideous shrews) is that it fails to explore the relatable side of its cannibalistic witch cult.

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See when our bandits flee to this witch village (for the real life Zugarramundi is the Spainish equivalent of our own Salem) the witches don’t attack them outright. There’s some vague prophecy aspect (the kid is the Chosen One or some such) but the ladies are overall pretty nice until these chump thieves piss them off. They get some comeuppance I guess so maybe that’s part of the message? Who knows.

Added bonus: Next Friday is Halloween! Holy poop!

Trailer Park: Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron

Keep it up nerds and Marvel’s going to take their ball & go home.  Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron trailer leaks early (it was supposed to debut during Agents of SHIELD next week), so of course Marvel pulls it down.  But, surprise, surprise, they go all Good Guy Gary and toss up the official version.  Thanks Marvel!

Hulkbuster armor looks rad as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuudge.

Friday Night Flix: The Believers

Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

The Believers (Netflix) is not a move about Justin Bieber. It is an 80s horror/procedural thing starring Martin Sheen(!) as an I guess hearthrobby psychologist working with the NYPD. It’s a total product of its time what with the novelty of “Santaria” and “voodoo” and whatnot. It’s immensely fun.

If you haven’t seen it, definitely check this one out. Sheen is terrific even though the material is sorely dated. From the opening scene you know you’re not in a modern movie, the editing alone makes it feel totally goofy even though the events being depicted are totally tragic and horrifying.

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If you’re wondering if Sheen just so happens to have a Santaria practitioner as a maid, the answer is yes. This movie follows the religious horror playbook page by page and it is awesome.

Added bonus: Casual child abuse! At one point Sheen’s kid throws a fit and runs into traffic. How does President Bartlett explain the severity of the kid’s bonehead maneuver? He tans his hide in the middle of the street. It was a simpler time.