Triple Scoop Reviews: Krampus, Hush, and Phenomena

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I confess, I haven’t been watching very many movies lately, choosing to binge-watch shows like Killing Eve and Shadowhunters instead. (Yeah, I said Shadowhunters. Come at me. I AM IMPERVIOUS TO YOUR SCORN.)

Still, the few movies I have been watching these days have mostly been horror, ranging from the clever to the weird to the very fucking weird. Let’s discuss.

Krampus

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix (DVD)
Spoilers: Not really
Grade: Vanilla

This one is actually pretty hard to rate. I enjoyed it, I think. I’m reasonably certain that I’d like it more and more with each viewing. But tonally, it’s definitely bizarre: part family drama, part inspirational holiday, part holiday horror, and part crack comedy, this is the movie for you if you like some killer gingerbread men and homicidal Christmas angels along with your “what it means to be a family” stories. Honestly, that sounds pretty much exactly like my jam, so I’m trying to figure out what my hesitation is on this one.

Maybe it’s the PG-13 rating. The vast majority of the violence here is of the “you never actually see it” variety, and I’m not 100% sure it works, like, I feel there’s maybe a lack of payoff or balance. At first, we only get glimpses of the horror, and that’s fine, but when we eventually do get to explicitly see the delightfully absurd Christmas monsters, I feel like we should also get some equally explicit, over-the-top gore, too, and that never happens. Not even mild gore, TBH. I don’t know, I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it, exactly. Something just doesn’t quite feel right with the build.

Great cast, though: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell, etc. And I really enjoyed the ambiguous ending, too, which is not something I say very often. I’m always looking for more alternative holiday classics; we’ll see if this one gets another viewing next year.

Hush

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix
Spoilers: Only mild ones
Grade: Chocolate

This is a really solid horror film. I enjoyed it a lot: it’s original, well-acted, generally well thought-out, like, the staging of certain scenes and moments pan out pretty much perfectly. It’s also a really good length, which can be tricky with this kind of ‘one dude tries to murder one woman in a house’ story. Hush doesn’t outstay its welcome, which is nice.

My primary disappointment with the film is that it doesn’t actually star a deaf actress. Which isn’t a knock to Kate Siegel, who also co-write the script–she’s fantastic, and I like her performance a whole lot. (And, of course, I also loved her in The Haunting of Hill House; she and husband Mike Flanagan have teamed up for some pretty good horror stories, though this one, I think, has a much better ending.) That being said, Maddy is still a deaf lead character, and it would’ve been nice to see that role actually go to a deaf actress. And if you’re gonna argue that Hush needed a hearing actress because of the one scene where Maddy listens to her inner voice, let me just cut that off, because the movie already told us that Maddy’s inner voice sounds like her mother. While I like the scene as it plays in the film, there is absolutely no reason Maddy’s Mom couldn’t have worked for this role as well. (Also, there’s a weird beat at the beginning of the movie where the director uses ominous music while showing you that Maddie is deaf. And while that’s probably just to establish genre and set mood, it has the unfortunate side effect of making her deafness itself seems ominous in the everyday context of chopping onions and shit. I’m not a fan.)

That all being said, I did enjoy Hush quite a bit. It’s a smart, claustrophobic horror flick, and while the kill count is admittedly low, Maddy still makes for an awesome Final Girl.

Phenomena

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix (DVD)
Spoilers: YES, ALL OF THEM
Grade: Strawberry

Well. That was a movie, all right.

Look, I adore the premise of this film. A baby-faced Jennifer Connolly plays the new girl at a Swiss boarding school in a town where, unfortunately, several murders have taken place over the past eight months. (Which is why we do our research before we send our kids off to boarding school, thanks.) Our heroine is special, though: she has psychic dreams, psychic somnambulism, and she can control/communicate with insects. Under the mentorship of consulting entomologist Donald Pleasance, Jennifer tries to track down the killer. I am all on board with that level of weirdness. I want Netflix to remake this into a surreal, binge-worthy TV show immediately.

But wow, this movie’s fucked up and not always in a good way. The killer, it turns out, is a deformed little boy, who’s being protected/helped by his mother, who was raped by a mental patient years ago, and you can just miss me with ALL that bullshit. Donald Pleasance has a chimpanzee BFF who, I shit you not, avenges the entomologist’s murder at the end of the movie when he kills the shit out of Evil Mom with a razor. There is also some poor writing, odd editing choices, and a weirdly intrusive soundtrack with music that often feels completely mismatched with the scene itself. Goblin and Suspiria, this is not.

Mostly, Phenomena just feels like something of a hot mess. A hot maggoty mess. Mekaela, the best gift I’ve ever given you is watching this one on my own. There are so MANY maggots in this movie. You would never have forgiven me.

“The Dreams of Youth Are The Regrets of Maturity.”

Without a movie challenge this year, I came to a startling realization a few weeks ago: I could rent whatever the hell I wanted from Netflix. There were no self-imposed deadlines I had to meet, no movies I absolutely HAD to watch. This, of course, left me wondering exactly what I wanted to watch, and I decided I was in the mood for something light, ridiculous, perhaps something that was funny even though it wasn’t actually supposed to be.

This is how I ended up watching Legend, a movie where Child of the Forest Tom Cruise wears armor without pants and has a telepathic conversation with a unicorn.

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“Always Left With No Munchings and Crunchings.”

I was inspired to create and complete the 2016 Disney Princess Challenge last year when I watched and reviewed Sleeping Beauty. The only problem was that by taking Briar Rose out of the mix, I had inadvertently left myself with only eleven official Disney Princesses when I needed twelve.

I briefly considered picking Alice or Wendy Darling, but ultimately decided to go with an actual princess instead, in this case, Princess Eilonwy. Eilonwy is from The Black Cauldron, an 80’s flop that Disney has tried very, very hard to bury in the bottom of the Disney Vault. That alone might have been enough to spark my interest, but there’s also the fact that The Black Cauldron is the second book in The Prydain Chronicles, which was actually the first epic fantasy series that I ever read. (And a series that I enjoyed, until I heartlessly dumped it for my one true junior high love, The Belgariad.) Originally, I wasn’t so interested in the movie, but lately I’ve been wondering how it compared, so I decided to check it out.

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In retrospect, I may have made the wrong choice.

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6 Different Ways The Goonies Are All Doomed – A Drinking Game

It was my sister’s birthday yesterday, and we did a lot of the low-key, generally-nerdy things that make up my (and, hopefully, her) favorite kind of days: dining out, a trip to the bookstore, a successful game of Castle Panic, and playing a drinking game to The Goonies.

goonies

I’m not doing one of my normal reviews for The Goonies today because I already have two reviews in the works, plus a few writing projects that are important beause I could actually get paid for them. I was born a sell-out, kids. I like money.

I also apparently like ruining childhood memories. The drinking game, per usual, did not actually lead to getting drunk — more on that below — but it did lead to a list of the many more realistic ways The Goonies should have turned out. Before we get to that, though, let me give you the Rules in case you, too, like to mix nostalgia with copious amounts of alcohol.

The Goonies Drinking Game

Take a sip whenever

Mikey uses his inhaler
Anyone says the words “rich stuff”
Whenever the kids consult the map
Data uses a gadget
Mouth speaks Spanish
Anyone tells Mouth to shut up
Anyone says “One-Eyed Willy”
Whenever the Fratellis argue
Anytime anyone says a word wrong
Anytime someone says “Goonies never say die”

Despite the fact that I take a ridiculous amount of pleasure coming up with drinking game rules, Mekaela and I aren’t particularly heavy drinkers, so we just played this with sips of hard cider. (We did find out, however, that I apparently take bigger sips than Mekaela does.) Obviously any type or quantity of alcohol could be used in your game, although I beg of you — if you’re taking shots, PLEASE do not do so when Mikey uses his inhaler or when someone says, “One-Eyed Willy.” I will not be responsible for your deaths. (On the other hand “Goonies never say die” is only stated once, so making that a shot is one solid variation.)

One 80’s classic and two bottles of hard cider later, I have come up with six different scenarios for you. Don’t let Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner fool you. This is . . .

What REALLY Happened To The Goonies:

Scenario One:

Mikey, after taking his inhaler four times in ten minutes despite exhibiting zero symptoms of respiratory distress, promptly suffers an episode of tachycardia before he can leave his home to look for hidden pirate treasure. Upon returning from her shopping trip, his mother drives him to the hospital. Though Mikey makes a full recovery, he has no time to discover the rich stuff before his father signs the papers. The Goonies never see each other again. The Fratellis are eventually caught — competence obviously not being one of their finer points — but it takes some time, and several innocent people die before they can be apprehended. This includes Sloth, who is unjustly killed by the police, considering no band of mischievous children appear to stick up for his heroics.

Scenario Two:

Mikey and his friends make it to the restaurant. Brand, unfortunately does not, as Troy’s little stunt running him off the road results in Brand breaking his neck. Andy and Stef find Brand’s body and tell the Goonies outside the restaurant. Obviously heartbroken, Mikey returns home. One-Eyed Willy is never discovered, and the Fratellis (including Sloth) meet the same end as in Scenario Two.

Scenario Three: 

The Goonies safely make it to the caves beneath the fireplace and force Chunk to go fetch the cops on his own, proving once again that they’re pretty terrible friends, not to mention lousy forward-thinkers, as Chunk is the least credible member of the group. When Chunk is naturally captured by the Fratellis, he is tortured for information. And once the helpful bats reveal that he was telling the truth all along, Chuck is then promptly murdered because seriously. We all know this. Thus, Sloth never makes it out of his chains, never having the proper Baby Ruth motivation to break them.

Meanwhile, Andy and Stef are not significantly moved by Mikey’s rousing speech, and choose to ride the bucket up to Troy, the King Douchebag, and his douchebag friends. Unfortunately, Andy doesn’t realize until it’s too late that she was bitten by one of the bats. She contracts rabies and dies days later. On the bright side, Stef lives, although she does develop a fairly understandable case of chiroptophobia.

Sadly, Data dies when his Pinchers of Peril utterly and predictably fail to hold his weight, and he is impaled on the spikes below. The others manage to safely make it down but of course are stymied without Andy to play the piano from Hell. They try anyway, though, as the Fratellis are coming, and even manage to guess one note correctly before plummeting to their doom.

Scenario Four:

The Goonies miraculously make it to One-Eyed Willy’s ship, where the Fratellis catch up with them. However, instead of having them walk the plank for no reason whatsoever, Mama Fratelli and her sons instead immediately skewer the Goonies with their pirate swords. Chunk and Sloth valiantly show up to save the day, only to find a bunch of dead children. Still valiantly, they try to avenge Chunk’s fallen friends. Everyone dies but Mama Fratelli, who accidentally sets off One-Eyed Willy’s trap and is thus trapped forever without Sloth to get her through whatever alternate route.

Scenario Five:

The Goonies and the Fratellis make to the beach. However, when Rosalita discovers the jewels at the last minute, she wisely keeps that discovery to herself so that she can buy herself a better life where she doesn’t have to earn a living by helping supposed drug lords move.

Scenario Six:

The Fratellis make it to the beach, and Rosalita does reveal the jewels. Triumphantly, the papers are ripped up.

Unfortunately, six months later, Data’s parents decide to move to Detroit after all — as parents will do — and Data never sees or hears from any of the Goonies ever again.

Rosalita is fired after Mrs. Walsh discovers the broken statue and incorrectly assumes that she was responsible.

Chunk’s parents do not honor his promise to adopt Sloth, who ends up homeless. Meanwhile, Chunk becomes very depressed, eventually comes to resent his friends for being assholes to him, and stops speaking to them a few years later. Enduring the Truffle Shuffle alone costs him thousands of dollars in therapy.

Mikey also starts going to therapy because Brand rightfully informs their parents that his little brother believed a centuries old skeleton was sentient and had been waiting for him to visit, not to mentioned introduced his friends to said skeleton like this was a legitimately normal thing to do. Mikey is treated for his delusional beliefs; incidentally, he also stands by his decision to throw away his inhaler after years of abusing it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the inhaler on him when he suffers an actual asthma attack, having trusted Andy that being a good kisser will make up for his malfunctioning lungs. As the Power of Love (or Lips) is not a scientifically supported remedy for asthma, Mikey of course dies. Brand blames Andy for his brother’s death, and the two break up. Andy doubles down on her conviction that one only needs purely natural remedies for serious physical conditions and creates a blog about them once the internet is born. Brand, meanwhile, goes to college and does pretty well, despite being haunted by persistent dreams that the ghost of his dead brother is now sailing with One-Eyed Willy. Brand also never learns to drive. For Reasons.

Mouth and Stef start having on again/off again hate sex, once Mouth grows up enough that their age difference becomes less creepy. This continues even after they get married to other people.

Finally, the Fratellis escape prison with the same sort of sophisticated techniques they used the last time. The brothers eventually end up killing each other, mostly by accident, but Mama Fratelli lives on to commit terrible crimes and terrify children everywhere with what is clearly not water.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this evening of Ruining Childhood Classics with Carlie St. George. Please remember to tip your wait staff and drink responsibly!

“Either You’ve Got the Car Started, or You’re a Dead Man.”

Interesting. By happy coincidence, Kirsten and I both recently ended up watching sequels from different horror franchises where an emotionally traumatized survivor named Tommy has to come face-to-face with the monster from his childhood.

Luckily for me, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is a little better than Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not ART. But I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

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“I Have Always Valued My Lifelessness.”

We’re going back inside the Disney Vault today. Let’s bypass the movies about princesses and mermaids and talking teapots, though, and focus on the ones about electroshock treatments and evil witches who have cabinets full of stolen, interchangeable heads.

. . . I feel that this poster does not accurately capture the tone of this movie at all. And for heaven’s sake, is that really supposed to be Fairuza Balk?

Yes. This is a movie from my childhood, and it’s . . . well, it’s an odd one.

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