My Two Cents: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

Scary-Stories-to-Tell-in-the-Dark-Banner-1

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark

Directed by: André Øvredal (Troll Hunter)

Starring Zoe Margret Colletti, Michael Garza, Gabriel Rush

CBS Films, Entertainment One (2019)

Based on the book written by Alvin Schwartz

While I was growing up, there were not a lot of horror books and shows made for kids and preteens to enjoy. It seemed everything in the nineteen seventies and made for the horror genre was geared towards adults. The nineties kids had plenty of horror –lite to enjoy. That generation had Are You Afraid Of The Dark? And the Goosebumps books to jump-start their horror obsession. By the time these arrived, I was already desensitized from watching movies like The Exorcist and The Shining at a young age. No starter horror for me. I jumped in headfirst. Today, kids can be exposed to horror without being scarred for life. This is where Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark falls into place. The main characters are all younger teenagers, and the frights are far more palatable and less gruesome.

Scary Stories is the tale of a group of teens growing up in Middle American during one of the most tumultuous times in U.S. history; the late 1960’s. On Halloween night, the gang visits a mansion, which according to legend, is haunted. The family that lived in the home had many dark secrets, including a hidden away daughter that lived a secluded, tortured existence. The kids take a book that once belonged to the daughter, and this begins a series of fateful stories being written into the book by a ghostly presence. These stories begin to happen in real-time, and the group must face their fears to save their lives.

Scary Stories is definitely meant for a teenage crowd, but also has enough to keep adults interested as well. Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape Of Water) co-wrote the screenplay, and if you are a fan of the directors work, you know there will be some wild imagery and creative monsters in the movie. I found the political and social references of the time set a dark tone for the story, although most of the younger viewers won’t understand them. Subtle humor is injected for a good counter balance the intensity of some scenes. All in all, I enjoy my horror with a little more violence, bloodshed, and of course, nudity. After all, I am a horror veteran. Scary Stories, however, would be a very nice jumping point for someone who is new to the genre, or feels like upping the game from light fare like Goosebumps.

T.

 

Advertisements

My Two Cents: Ari Aster’s MIDSOMMAR

Midsommar

Directed by: Ari Aster

Starring: Francis Pugh, Jack Raynor, Vilhelm Blomgren

A24 Films 2019

midsommar

After watching Hereditary, director Ari Aster’s first feature length film, I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it. Visually, the movie was great. The acting is stout and believable, and the characters are polarizing. However, I felt that maybe I missed a lot of the films symbolism after the first viewing. The film was very monotone for the first hour, and not until the final act did I become fully engaged in what was happening on the screen. After a second viewing, I was able to absorb a lot more, and pause and rewind when I felt a scene needed to be dissected. This made me appreciate Hereditary a lot more. Upon hearing about Midsommar, Aster’s second feature, I was hoping that I wouldn’t encounter the same trepidation I had after Hereditary. I was cautious.

This was not the case at all.

Midsmmar is the story of Dani (Francis Pugh), an early twenties woman whom experiences an absolutely horrific family tragedy. Dani’s emotionally absent boyfriend Christian, along with his college friends, are planning a trip to Sweden to experience a centuries old festival that takes place on a commune. Out of guilt and thinking she will decline, Christian invites Dani along. To the dismay of the group, she accepts the invitation and they are soon on their way to Sweden. Through a series of bizarre rituals and strange customs, the trip starts to unravel for the group of American outsiders (oddly enough, only one American actor stars in the film). I will leave the synopsis to this bare bones description, because honestly, you have to experience this film for yourself.

I love Midsommar. The film is a beautifully paced, and gorgeously shot look inside grief and the impact it has one a person’s mental wellbeing. I found it easier to process than Hereditary. The symbolism is there, but the messages and meanings are there for the viewer to grab on to, rather than piece together and think too much about. You know right from the time of their arrival that the journey will end badly. You just have to watch and see how badly it ends.

To be honest, there are not many likeable characters in Midsommar, but that is a good thing. This results in the tension being heightened and the dread more palpable. People grieve in different ways, which makes grief isolated and a subjective matter. This is why I feel not everyone will like this movie. I love looking beneath the surface of film plots, and with Midsommar, I was revealed a truly beautiful experience. The last thirty minutes of this motion picture is one of the wildest, imaginative and twisted conclusions to a film I recall seeing in cinema. If you enjoy watching something truly original, Ari Aster has cooked up a five star feast for your senses.

T.

 

My May 2018 Spotify Playlist

Every month or two, I create a new Spotify playlist. Quite frankly, Spotify is probably my favorite internet based music application. For ten bones a month, I get access to pretty much any song I want, at any time. So naturally, I like to create playlists. There is no real rhyme or reason to the songs that I add to my playlists, except they all have one thing in common. I like them. I suppose my mood has a lot to do with my monthly list of songs, perhaps the time of year as well. I would like to share with you this months tunes. Maybe you can find some inspiration, something you’ve never heard, or rediscover some greatness. You will notice I added an entire Alice Cooper album; Killers. This was no mistake. Great record by one of my favorites.

ARTIST SONG ALBUM
Mastodon High Road Once More ‘Round The Sun
Anthrax Indians Among The Living
Alice Cooper Under My Wheels Killer
Alice Cooper Be My Lover Killer
Alice Cooper Halo Of Flies Killer
Alice Cooper Desperado Killer
Alice Cooper You Drive Me Nervous Killer
Alice Cooper Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Killer
Alice Cooper Dead Babies Killer
Alice Cooper Killer Killer
Alice In Chains We Die Young Facelift
Clutch The Mob Goes Wild Blast Tyrant (Deluxe Edition)
The Damned Love Song Machine Gun Etiquette
Deftones My Own Summer (Shove It) Around The Fur
Doom Side of the Moon Wish You Were Here Encore
DOWN Witchtripper Down IV Part I – The Purple EP
Eagles Of Death Metal Don’t Speak Death By Sexy
Explosions In The Sky Your Hand In Mine The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
Faith No More Easy Angel Dust (Deluxe Edition)
Faith No More I Started a Joke – Live Faith No More: Live in Germany 2009
Fu Manchu King Of The Road King Of The Road
High On Fire Snakes For The Divine Snakes For The Divine
Iggy Pop I’m Bored New Values
Iron Maiden The Number Of The Beast Somewhere Back In Time
Quiet Riot Metal Health (Bang Your Head) Metal Health
Slayer Seasons In The Abyss Seasons In The Abyss
David Bowie Modern Love – 1999 Remastered Version Let’s Dance
Sleep Marijuanaut’s Theme The Sciences
Slaughter Eye To Eye Mass Slaughter
Anthrax Got The Time Persistence Of Time
Pallbearer Love You to Death Fear & Fury EP
Van Halen Unchained The Collection
Ozzy Osbourne Over The Mountain Prince Of Darkness
T. Rex Telegram Sam The Slider
Rage Against The Machine Bulls On Parade Evil Empire
Megadeth Public Enemy No. 1 Th1rt3en
Slayer Gemini Undisputed Attitude
The Raconteurs Carolina Drama Consolers Of The Lonely
The Rolling Stones Can’t You Hear Me Knocking Sticky Fingers (Remastered)
Skid Row Monkey Business Slave To The Grind
Soundgarden Live to Rise Avengers Assemble
Cream White Room Wheels Of Fire (Remastered)
Black Wizard Harsh Time New Waste
Neil Young Heart Of Gold Harvest (Remastered Version)
Yes Owner Of A Lonely Heart 90125
The Sword Tres Brujas Warp Riders
Misfits Saturday Night Famous Monsters
Faith No More Motherfucker Sol Invictus
ZZ Top Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers The Very Baddest
Queens of the Stone Age 3’s & 7’s Era Vulgari
The Smashing Pumpkins Disarm Siamese Dream (2011 – Remaster)
Nirvana Very Ape In Utero – 20th Anniversary Remaster
Nirvana Lake Of Fire MTV Unplugged In New York
Gary Numan / Tubeway Army Down in the Park Replicas Redux
The Payolas Eyes Of A Stranger 20th Century Masters
Roky Erickson Night of the Vampire The Evil One
Sleep Dragonaut Sleep’s Holy Mountain
Truckfighters Desert Cruiser Gravity X
Red Fang Wires Murder the Mountains (Deluxe Version)
Black Sabbath Children of the Grave Master of Reality (Remastered Edition)
Clutch Electric Worry From Beale Street to Oblivion
Megadeth Holy Wars…The Punishment Due Rust In Peace
Kylesa Scapegoat Static Tensions

 

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 02/07/2018

February 07, 2018

Today’s Daily Tonality is brought to you by fond memories.

buckowenspromophoto4Buck Owens – Act Naturally (from the single Act Naturally, 1963) Buck Owens has the best country music name, ever. If your name is Buck, what do you call your backing band? The Buckaroos, of course. My grandparents used to have a modest collection of country records when I was a kid. I didn’t care for the majority of them, but two artists stuck out. Johnny Cash and Mr. Owens. There is just something about his brand of country western music that differs from most. Don’t ask me what it is, because I can’t explain. Just listen to his stuff and you will see. His music has a very lovely effect on me. It always makes me nostalgic for my childhood, as well as remembering my grand folks fondly. Sometimes you just have to shut up and let the music do the thinking for you.

Fun fact – There is rumor (probably true considering the crazy life he led) that my granddad, Jim, was a roadie for Buck Owens during one of his western Canadian tours back in the day. I would have loved to ask him about it, but he passed before I was given this information. If it is a true story, I hope Jim and Buck shared a laugh or two.

T.

List-o-rama: My Five Favorite Comedy Movies

Everybody loves a good comedy. People love to laugh, and if they don’t, well, that is just weird. The question is, what makes a good comedy? It starts with what type of comedy that one prefers. There are so many sub genres of comedy that there is something for everyone. There is dark comedy, slapstick, parody/spoof, dramedy, romcom, even horrorcomedy. No matter what the genre, funny is funny. I would like to share with you my five favorite comedies of all time, so far. These are the five films that I remember laughing at the hardest and longest. The one thing I think connects these movies is great writing. A lot of the funniest bits are subtle little scenes and jokes that you don’t even notice the first time you watch. If you have not seen any of the following films, please do so immediately. You will get some genuine laughs and entertainment out of them.

25tvcol-badsanta-facebookjumbo

5. Bad Santa (Directed by: Terry Zwigoff | Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, Tony Cox | 2003) Willie (Thornton) is a down on his luck, scumbag safecracker. Along with his pint-sized partner Marcus (Cox), they pose as mall Santa and elf just so they can case the place and rob them blind. Everything would go perfect if Willie wasn’t such a drunken screw-up. Along the way, a sweet kid named Thurman Murman (Brett Kelly), and an even sweeter love interest (Graham) complicate things even further. Billy Bob Thornton is perfect as the “Bad Santa”. His character is so low and disgusting that you can’t help but love him. Two late, great comedic legends also star. Bernie Mac and John Ritter play the mall employees who know that something is off with Willie and Marcus. This movie is gross, vulgar, offensive, and absolutely wonderful. Plus it’s also a Christmas movie, sort of.

nerds

4. Revenge of the Nerds (Directed by: Jeff Kanew | Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, Curtis Armstrong | 1984) A group of freshman nerds join a college fraternity and use their smarts to outwit the Alpha Beta fraternity of jocks and bullies. Lambda Lambda Lambda is led by Lewis (Carradine), and Gilbert (Edwards), and has a collection of bizarre geeks and loners. I probably watched Revenge of the Nerds fifty times as a kid. I recently watched it again, and it is still as funny now. Curtis Armstrong is classic as “Booger”. He is part of so many funny scenes that he steals the show. Released in 1984, Revenge of the Nerds still stands up to the majority of comedies that come out now. I have gotten rid of ninety nine percent of my VHS tapes, but I refuse to part with my copy of ROTN. It holds a lot of fond memories.

what-we-do-in-the-shadows

3. What We Do In The Shadows (Directed by: Taika Waititi | Starring: Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Johnny Brugh | 2014) Shadows” is a mock documentary about four Vampires who share a flat in New Zealand. We follow their day-to-day lives, and discover that being a vampire is not as glamorous as it seems. The fellows deal with problems like in fighting, chores, love, death, and werewolves. And they do it all in hilarious fashion. The writing and acting is so clever and spot on that it is hard to not love these characters. Most people that I talk to have not heard of this film, which is a shame because it is damn funny. Director/actor Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) have a strong background in quirky comedy and this movie is the blueprint for quirky hilarity. If you are not familiar with it, look up What We Do In The Shadows. I promise you will laugh.

maxresdefault

2. Borat: Cultural Learnings Of American Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Directed by: Larry Charles | Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian | 2006) I have never laughed so hard at the cinema as I did when I went to see Borat. There are so many over the top, ridiculous scenes in this movie that it’s hard to pick the funniest. Sacha Cohen plays the title character, which is a “reporter” from Kazakhstan who comes to America to learn about its culture. The majority of the people in the film are not actors, and had no idea that they were being filmed for a motion picture. This results in genuine reactions to Borat’s actions. Because of Borat’s “ignorance”, he can get away with a lot of questionable things, and it is hilarious. Cohen also appeared on the talk show circuit, in character, to promote the film. I think to an extent, Borat had the same effect on the public that the Blair Witch Project had; a lot of people thought it was real. In addition to the movie being funny, it is also a commentary on the ignorance and intolerance of some people. But mostly it is just criminally hilarious.

gallery_movies-ghostbusters-1984-cast1. Ghostbusters (Directed by: Ivan Reitman | Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver | 1984) Not only a brilliant comedy, but maybe the perfect movie. For me, Ghostbusters is at the top of the heap. The movie is full of comedy brilliance; Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis all bring it. Throw in a pretty lady (Weaver), a city that never sleeps (New York City), and some pretty sweet special effects, and you get an instant classic. Bill Murray is wonderful as usual; delivering his trademark perfectly timed dry humor as Dr. Peter Venkman. The premise is ridiculous. A group of down on their luck scientists decides to use their knowledge of the supernatural to devise a way to capture ghosts and house them in nuclear containment storage boiler. Sounds legit right? Well when New York City starts to get overrun by all sorts of ghouls and specters, who you gonna call? You know the answer. Call me a Ghostbusters snob, but I think the 80’s cartoon sucks and the recent remake with the all female members also sucks. Call me old fashioned but maybe I’m just a Ghostbusters traditionalist.

T.

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/28/2018

January 28, 2018

Today’s song is brought to you by putting my Spotify library on random and making the first song to play your Daily Tonality.

charles-bradley

Charles Bradley – Strictly Reserved for You (from the album Victim of Love, 2013) A former James Brown impersonator named “Black Velvet”, Charles Bradley did not achieve a good level of success and notoriety until later in life. For my money, he is second only to James Brown as far as male soul performers go. I discovered his music a few years back in a record store. His LP Victim of Love was being played on the turntable and I instantly knew it was special. Bradley’s voice is soulful, but has a shade of pain and experience within. His longtime backing band, The Menahan Street Band, perfectly compliment the singer’s vocalizations.

As I write this, I have found out that Charles Bradley succumbed to cancer and passed away in September 2017 at the age of sixty-eight. The world was just discovering the man’s talents. Rest in peace, Black Velvet.

T.

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/25/2018

January 25, 2018     

Today’s Daily Tonality is brought to you by Ice T…because he’s certified dope.

icet-e1332248130503

Ice T – O.G. Original Gangster (from the album Original Gangster, 1991) In the world of hip hop, a lot of M.C.‘s claim this, and claim that, and brag and boast about how they are the hardest. In 1991, Ice T made a claim that he is the Original Gangster. Guess what! Damn right he is. When I was eleven, my boy Keithy came over with a cassette he acquired. It was called Power, and it was a rap album by Ice T. This cassette changed us. We heard some things on this tape that we never heard before. One song in particular, L.G.B.N.A.F. (Let’s Get Butt Naked And F**K), captivated us. It was as if learned a life lesson or something. That was my introduction to what it was to be Gangster. From hip hop, to his metal band Body Count, to acting on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for nineteen years, Ice T has made a living out of being a B.M.F. I recently listened to a podcast featuring Ice as a guest, and he said something pretty cool. He said “you don’t guide life, you ride life”. Words to live by.

T.

 

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/17/2018

January 17, 2018

Today’s song is brought to you by putting my Spotify library on random and making the first song to play your Daily Tonality.

tom-waits-1978

Tom Waits – What’s He Building? (from the album Mule Variations, 1999 – For my money, Tom Waits is the most unique singer/songwriter ever. His voice, gravelly and gruff, is unmistakable. His style cannot be categorized. Mr. Waits does not make an album because the “label” tells him to. He does not release a single because he needs money. You will not find any fluff or filler in his catalogue (which spans from the early 1970’s to present). Mule Variations is easily my favorite Waits album. It is a great mix of folk and weird. I could have picked any track for song of the day, but Spotify chose What’s He Building for us. This isn’t really and song in the traditional sense, but it is Tom Waits, so it is good.

Little Fact – Not really a fact, but a bonus video of one of Tom Waits memorable appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman.

T.

 

Some pretty cool posters.

As I browse the internet, I come across so pretty cool images. I am a fan of music gig posters, and minimalist movie posters. A lot of creativity inhabits the world, and cyberspace is the easiest way to get your art out to the masses. As I come across something I find pleasing to the eye, I save it. Here are some of the images I feel are very sharable. I have no idea who the artists are, and I can take no credit for any of these pieces. Whoever did these, please keep up the amazing work.

9e6e9b233ada7f2f559d0da00f963fab--rogues-empire

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

9e146ab9ea440975c0117e68380e6f13--rock-posters-film-posters

True Romance (1993)

85c4fe96db5944da07b9cfe6e4651e12

Lost Boys (1987)

The-Blair-Witch-Project-Minimalist-Poster

Blair Witch Project (1999)

Screenshot_20180109-131423

The Exorcist (1973)

f041718116f4999c4871243dd48e14c1

The Shining (1980)

ede3270cb644e4784587f734cb34c969

Goonies (1985)

e9882417e548b39381a69a6616ac2a78

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

db81d46f6db9c136c15774d9ee3d3c04

Ghostbusters (1984)

d078e5f52093c815855f28b1ec0889b6

The Shining (1980)

12429e2efb7358db9d06e12071c1b4d8

The VVitch (2016)

 

nm3-71_large

Danzig/White Zombie/Kyuss Gig Poster

melvinsmazza07

Melvins Gig Poster

image

Pallbearer Gig Poster

eb06a4eaece55ed5317d99903b3047b2

Blondie Gig Poster

f856dd754c24a2b9325d49ea0fb3f5eb

Queens Of The Stone Age Gig Poster

d38cd9a6fe845bf8d7cb476e82fda007

Queens Of The Stone Age Gig Poster

0006459572_10

The Sword Gig Poster

6839f63b48f3cb0798c052d9948a442b

Queens Of The Stone Age Gig Poster

885a91221450fe635b15dba148fde021

Beastie Boys Gig Poster

578b7ae8a1b24b94a1f2560b60b8fd37

Pink Floyd Tour Poster

0233b9db180d6070b821a3dabdc81423

David Bowie Gig Poster

221d3713b32c91a3573fa9e97001eb8f

Pink Floyd Gig Poster

60a54cbbd5962ec2bea2dbed71fef788

The Sword/Pallbearer Gig Poster

11c407ae44a22355bee294d8424da589

Queens Of The Stone Age Gig Poster

T.

Daily Tonality: Song of the Day 01/15/2018

January 15, 2018

Today’s Daily Tonality is brought to you by the radio at work. I heard this song and thought it was perfect for song of the day.

men-without-hats-e1407937372762

Men Without Hats – Pop Goes The World (from the album Pop Goes The World, 1987) Men Without Hats are a Canadian synth-pop based band which formed late in 1979, in Montreal. This is one of those bands that instantly take me back to a time when I was a young kid, just starting to develop my taste in music and appreciate radio. This is a happy sounding song that immediately gets stuck in your head. So for nostalgia sake, have a listen, get it stuck on repeat in your brain, and have a good time. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Little Fact – The name of the band came from the band members’ refusal to wear warm hats during winter, choosing style over comfort. Thus we have Men Without Hats.

T.