Tag Archives: movies

[film]star crossed

True story: I am not an overly romantic person. Or, if you ask my husband, a romantic person at all in any traditional sense. It took him a long time to fully get used to the idea that, no, I don’t actually want flowers and, really, I’m okay skipping all the traditional trappings of Valentine’s Day.

I don’t harbor the amount of bitterness that some people do to the holiday though. I’m not specifically anti romance. I am anti cookie cutter get a girl flowers, jewelry and candy romance. (Off topic: My husband does have my version of romance down. One example: I was obsessed with Popples at one point and he put a ton of work into tracking one down for me as a gift. It was back when we were first dating and it was the sweetest thing anyone had done for me ever at that point.) I’m also pretty anti cookie cutter romantic movies that tend to feel like they’re just the film version of hearts and candy romance. I do however enjoy a well done story about star crossed lovers across genre lines.

Presented here however is five of my go to romantic movies, some more traditonal than others.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

This is my husband and I’s movie so putting on this is list is almost obligatory. It’s also the tale of star crossed lovers who overcome all odds to be together forever. There’s also a good old fashioned killing spree, a ton of social commentary and an insanely good soundtrack.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)


Worth noting, I actually love Shakespeare, but in general struggle to ever connect with productions of Romeo and Juliet. Aside from the story being a little silly, it just doesn’t resonate with me like other Shakespeare plays. This is the only version that I genuinely love. Claire Danes’ acting aside, there isn’t much fault in it. It’s visually stunning and (again) has a fantastic soundtrack.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)


Yes, the second Baz Luhrmann movie on this list. Again, visually astounding, incredible soundtrack, etc, etc. I actually went through a phase where I was obsessed with this movie so it may actually be a case of the less said the better, but sex and absinthe fairies, oh my.

Stardust (2007)


In my world there is very little that Neil Gaiman can do wrong, and though the film adaption is quite a bit different from the book, this is Gaiman perfection. It’s snarky and romantic, smart and sexy, adventurous and funny. It puts the literal star in star crossed. (Also Claire Danes is delightful in this to balance out how not delightful she is in Romeo + Juliet.)

Princess Bride (1987)


I mean, you didn’t think any list about star crossed lovers wouldn’t have the greatest romance of all time, did you?

[film]the craft or how i learned to stop worrying and love being a feminist


Teenage me was one of those girls who used to think feminism was a bad word. I didn’t like other girls, because I bought into the idea that they were all catty, mean and probably talking shit behind your back. It didn’t help that I had dealt with some intense bullying and slut shaming by girls I considered close friends after being raped. In my head, if women were getting the short end of the stick in society, it wasn’t society. It was the fact that women were petty and spiteful.

Junior year of high school two things happened to make me step back and reevaluate my life. One of these was an amazing history teacher named Mr. Berry who forced us to critically think and not just take what we were told by books and adults at face value. In introducing me to the extensive history of the Women’s Rights Movement, he made me realize that women are, yes, sometimes spiteful and mean. They are also bad ass and amazing. I was still convinced that I was a girl who wasn’t like other girls though.

The second thing that happened that year was the release of the Craft.


The Craft, for those that are somehow unaware, is a movie about four girls who come together to create a powerful coven of witches. There are lessons about forcing what you want and ultimate power ultimately corrupts. It was the rare horror movie that put women front and center, with men serving little more purpose than a supporting cast.

More than anything, for me, it’s a movie about sisterhood and how much stronger we are when we work together. It’s also a movie about owning your personal feminine power unapologetically. As someone who had been distancing myself from all I saw as feminine in myself it was a revelation. When they do end up fighting, it’s not over anything as paltry as a boy. It’s over the power to control the world around them.


As I’ve gotten older, I realize that in some ways it’s a flawed example of feminism in pop culture. What starts as a sisterhood degenerates into a mindset of uniformity of thought being necessary (to the point of attempting to kill the one that doesn’t go along). I now see that Nancy was always only interested in personal gain with Rochelle and Bonnie sycophantically following along. I can excuse this even now though. If their coven had survived the growing pains of being granted ultimate power, I can’t help but feel like they would have grown up to be their own Witches of Eastwick (probably without the babies though).

For all its flaws, the Craft made me open my eyes and start looking for the supportiveness in other girls. It made me start to build other women up instead of tearing them down by assuming they were catty at first meeting. It made me examine the idea of Girl Power and what it means. Pop culture has always been a lens of self discovery for me and the Craft is perhaps one of the biggest cornerstones of that.


Thanks, girls, for all the inspiration.

(February is Women in Horror Month. I wanted to write this piece as the perfect example of where women and horror intersect and create awesome moments. Please check out #WiHM8 for more amazing women in the horror community.)

[film]bad kids go to hell

Bad Kids Go to Hell (2012)
Genre: Horror Comedy


Have you ever found yourself wondering what would happen if Bret Easton Ellis had written the Breakfast Club? Probably not, but if you had Bad Kids Go to Hell is there to assuage your curiosity.

Six kids that attend prestigious Crestview Academy show up for Saturday detention where they learn something about themselves and that they’re not so different after all. Things like they all could die before the day is out. Will Mommy or Daddy even care if what may or may not be a Native American curse kills them? Can you fit in having meaningless sex while being scared for your life? What is that awful, terrible thing they did last summer? And will Judd  Nelson ever actually show up in this movie since he has main billing?

There’s the Princess (daughter of a sociopathic politician), the Athlete (token black dude), the Brains (hot redhead with big boobs and immigrant from some unspecified country), the Criminal (scholarship student) and the Basket Case (Pagan who claims to talk to her dead parents through seances). Judd Nelson plays the headmaster. There’s a big statue in the middle of the library where they’re to serve their detention. There’s a kind of creepy janitor that always seems to be around.

If all this sounds familiar, it should. Bad Kids Goes to Hell owes a lot of its good moments to these homages to the Breakfast Club. It’s the Breakfast Club through the lens of a Bret Easton Ellis novel though. Murder, mayhem and a lot of stylistic sex and violence instead of a heartwarming tale about disaffection with authority and temporarily putting aside differences. There’s still plenty of disaffection, but no one has time to put aside differences once bodies start hitting the floor.

After watching, I found out that Bad Kids Go to Hell is based off a graphic novel. One can’t help being left with the feeling that perhaps some scenes worked far better in that medium. Fast paced cut scenes and flashbacks with out of this world physics especially.

Bad Kids Go to Hell is a fun enough film and horror comedy is notoriously difficult to pull of well. It suffers from style over substance as it strings together cliches in an attempt to be more clever than it really is. (Again, much like the majority of Bret Easton Ellis’ work is.) There’s a half way decent unexpected ending, but it also feels a little hollow motivation wise. By then though it’s clear no one really has any motivation for anything they do so it doesn’t even really matter.

Rating: 6/10

(Fun extra fact: Upon investigating IMDb, it turns out there’s a sequel called Bad Kids of Crestview Academy that recently came out. The headmaster is played by Sean Astin.)

[film]shadow of the vampire

Vampires are not necessarily my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I like them well enough. I even went through a phase where I was pretty obsessed with the history and lore of them. Said phase also corresponded with my so goth I wished I could shit bats and be a character in a Poppy Z. Brite story so take that for what you will. At the end of the day though, I don’t love vampires or vampire stories. I will always choose Frankenstein’s Creature over Dracula. Werewolves are inherently more interesting to me with the beast inside all of us metaphor. Vampires are, by and large, a pretty boring lot who all took the script of Stoker and Rice and ran with it.

That being said there are some great and fantastic tales featuring the bloodsuckers. Let the Right One In, Dracula’s various film incarnations and What We Do in the Shadows are a few examples. By and large my favorite though is Shadow of the Vampire. It’s not strictly a horror movie. It belongs more to the class of highly fictionalized dramas based on actual cinematic history. It frequently gets grouped together with the also amazing Gods and Monsters. Where Gods and Monsters sticks fairly close to James Whale’s real life though, Shadow of the Vampire goes for the completely fantastical. It imagines what would have happened if Max Schreck of Nosferatu was in fact perhaps an actual vampire.


The first way Shadow of the Vampire goes completely right is casting. Willem Dafoe is barely recognizable as himself and plays Schreck with equal parts horror, pathos and humor. John Malkovich as obsessed film maker Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau gives us some of his best vintage of disturbing Malkovich. Eddie Izzard and Cary Elwes both play small parts to excellent effect for both their wheelhouses.

Shadow of the Vampire relies heavily on the man or monster trope. First in leaving the audience questioning for most of the movie whether Schreck is an actual vampire or just a really really dedicated method actor. Secondly in the monster created by being consumed by obsession Malkovich presents. By the end the question is presented of who is the bigger monster and who has caused the most damage.


All around, it’s as close as you get to a perfect vampire film as you can get. There are a few plot holes granted. (Like if Schreck doesn’t cast a reflection how does he show up on film exactly?) It’s not enough to take anything away from the movie though and that’s why it’s my favorite vampire film.

[film]Green Room

I watch a lot of movies. In all honesty, though many of them are entertaining, few of them are truly excellent movies. Enter Green Room. Green Room tells the story of a punk rock band who thinks about nothing more serious than staying as true to their punk rock ideals as possible. Until after one fateful gig in the heart of Neo Nazi skinhead territory in the Pacific Northwest. From then on their main and only concern is survival.

It’s a pretty basic formula for a movie and one that’s been done in many forms. Where others fall flat and feel formulaic, Green Room was far more effective.

5 things Green Room did right:

1. Sir Patrick Stewart is the leader of the skinheads. Maybe I should put forth a full disclaimer of how big a Patrick Stewart fan I am. We did, after all, choose to watch this, because it was his birthday. That not withstanding, this is a side of Stewart rarely seen. As far playing villains, it’s not something he does enough in my opinion. He played one in the easily forgettable movie called Masterminds. He also was the best Captain Ahab on film to date. Here he leads a fantastic cast and shows how much his element it is as the calm and almost benign seeming Darcy.

“Gentlemen, you’re trapped. Things have gone south. No doubt. Now, whatever you saw, or did, is no longer my concern. But let’s be clear, it won’t end well.”

2. It feels realistic. If you’re going to set a movie in a scene, it’s really nice if it feels like the creators actually know that scene. Too many movies rely on tropes and cliches to get the point across. The beginning of this movie feels like my late teens/early 20s. It’s extremely realistically portrayed.

3. Everything has a point. The beginning of the movie starts off with two members of the band siphoning fuel so they can get their van on the road again. This ends up coming into play later in the film for a plan of the skinheads. Nothing feels like an extraneous moment and that keeps the tension high.

4. Nobody’s an idiot. Protagonists and antagonists are both realistically intelligent and dealing with a situation as best they can. This is actually the most refreshing thing about Green Room. Too often survival movies have to fall back on people doing stupid things in order for the story to move forward that no one would do in real life. No such case here. Traps are recognized as such, but they walk into them because they have no choice. When the protagonists decide to make a run for it, it’s out of desperation and they know they might not all make it. Little things like this make the movie more convincing.

“Now we won’t all live, but, I don’t know, maybe we won’t all die.”

5. It’s gory and brutal, but not unnecessarily so. I am a gore fan. I even enjoy movies that are just gore on gore strictly for the sake of gore. This is not the movie that would have worked in though. It could have easily gone this route, but wisely kept the hardcore scenes to a minimum and where they were most effective.

I highly recommend Green Room. It is that rare film that is tense, smart and entertaining. I even lost the dead pool we had going for who was going to survive and I rarely do that. (It’s a good thing, I promise. It means it’s not at all predictable.)

Let me know what you thought (about the film, the blog, how fucking amazing Sir Patrick Stewart is) in the comments.