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12 Steps For a Perfect Pop Culture Christmas

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice the confusion laced within a holiday message. When it comes to Christmas the confusion is on overload. Somewhere along the way a religious message got smacked with a load of pop culture overtones to create a holiday lush with semiotic excess, too much for the brain or heart to process. So, allow me from my seat on the sidelines to create the How To guide so you can enjoy the perfect pop culture Christmas.

12. Shop early and shop often for things you’ll never need that are on sale at bargain basement prices.

Christmas really begins on Black Friday, or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, whichever you prefer. The holiday is about buying to your heart’s content and making sure everything you and your children have ever dreamed of is stacked up under that decorated tree. The bruises and broken limbs you get in pursuit of those awesome sale prices will be well worth it. Who needs teeth when they can have stuff?

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10 Supporting Characters Who Spoiled Their Movies

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

You know who they are.

You’ve seen them in movies you really wanted to like only to have the film taken down a peg, maybe two, by those annoying, bothersome supporting characters who for some reason, writers, producers, or some studio suit considered indispensable. Sometimes they’re sidekicks, sometimes comedy relief, sometimes they’re kids, and sometimes they’re just plain head scratchers. But in every case, they stick out like sore thumbs, dragging down the quality of otherwise decent pictures or films that could have been great but fell short due to bad casting.

We speak of the mysterious extra punch that movie makers throughout cinema history have at one time or another considered indispensable to the success of a film. Often such instincts have proven on the money (literally!) as endless numbers of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers films can attest! And in case modern audiences have become too smug in their belief that today’s filmmakers are way too sophisticated to fall back on such dubious casting, they’re asked to look no farther than the string of Star Wars movies, blockbusters all!

But even as we disparage their use, there has been a method to filmmakers’ madness in casting such annoying characters. Often they’re used to keep the stars from getting too full of themselves; taking the air out of their sails when it threatens to carry them away. Other times, it’s to inject some needed comedy relief in tense situations. In still others, it might be to inject some pearls of wisdom or unconscious bits of philosophical truth to the goings on. Sometimes they might be allowed to display certain kinds of emotions such as fright or sentimentality not allowed the hero lest he seem less heroic. Sometimes he might even play cupid, maneuvering the hero and his romantic interest into each other’s arms. Which is to say, under the proper circumstances, the supporting character can work, but when they don’t, movie buffs end up with Supporting Characters Who Spoiled their Movies!

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10) Alan Hale

Perhaps in love with the jovial, good nature he projected on film, producers in the golden age of Hollywood seemed to have high regard for Alan Hale, Sr. who appeared in countless films from the silent era until his death in 1950. Although Hale worked in many of his parts, his oft-repeated role as comedy relief for Errol Flynn managed to take such films as The Adventures of Robin Hood, Desperate Journey, and The Sea Hawk down a notch or two from perfection.

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The Top 10 Ultimate Tough Guy Movies

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by James Jay Carafano

Editor’s Note: See James Jay Carafano’s article from yesterday for the opposite of the films on this list: 10 Tinseltown Turkeys That Make Real Men Choke.

10. Straw Dogs (1971)

Dustin Hoffman made his bones as a misfit Hollywood Holden Caulfield in The Graduate (1967). Who would have thought of him as an action hero? “Bloody Sam” Peckinpah, that’s who. The director of Wild West’s wildest tough guy movie, The Wild Bunch (1969), followed up with a controversial film starring Hoffman as a meek math professor on sabbatical in rural Cornwall. When a bunch of rowdy locals storm his home, Hoffman goes all Rambo proving his “manhood” in an orgy of violence. Even Hoffman’s character can’t believe what happens. “Jesus, I got ‘em all,” he mumbles at the end of the movie. This film cemented Peckinpah’s place as the king of his generation’s tough guy moviemakers. For some unfathomable reason, the movie was remade in 2011. Stick to the original.

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10 Great Films That Flopped in the Last 20 Years

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at 10 of the best money-losing movies over the last couple of decades.

1. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Joel and Ethan Coen’s fond sendup of 1930s screwball comedies was an ingeniously plotted story of a neophyte businessman (Tim Robbins) charged with becoming the puppet leader of a corporation that wants to depress the stock price. Instead, he turns out to be an entrepreneurial visionary who invents the hula hoop. An irascible Paul Newman is hilarious as the scheming board member frustrated by the simple honesty of the Robbins character. The movie deserves the cult success that later attached to The Big Lebowski.

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10 Films Set Around Thanksgiving That You Can Stream Tonight

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Looking for a movie to watch this holiday that’s at least somewhat relevant to the season? Perfect. We’ve got you covered.

These films aren’t necessarily about Thanksgiving, although a couple of them are. Regardless, they each have some connection to the holiday and provide a welcome escape. Here are 10 films set around Thanksgiving that you can stream tonight:

#10. Tower Heist

Capitalizing on real-life headlines regarding Wall Street graft and investment Ponzi schemes, Tower Heist imagines how the staff of a high-rise luxury apartment complex would react to the news that their most high-profile tenant had squandered their retirement savings. The comedy stars Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and Alan Alda.

When Alda’s Wall Street billionaire is arrested for scamming investors out of their money, Stiller’s building manager recruits Murphy’s petty thief to help the defrauded building staff steal their money back.

Thanksgiving Connection: The titular heist occurs during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Streaming options: Available to rent/buy on Amazon and Vudu.

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10 Tinseltown Turkeys That Make Real Men Choke

Thursday, November 27th, 2014 - by James Jay Carafano

Sometimes Hollywood serves up some pretty indigestible fare. Some films, such as Howard the Duck (1986), are impossible to swallow—so terrible they become synonymous with “bad cinema.” (Who can forget Gary Larson’s The Far Side cartoon depicting “Hell’s Video Store,” its shelves stocked solely with copies of Ishtar (1987)?)

But not every bomb reaches such heights of notoriety.  Here’s a list of movies that are every bit as bad—and leave “real men” with extra heartburn. They degrade the genres that “real men” love best.

10. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)

All right, this utterly dreadful sci-fi schlock is, admittedly, no stranger to lists of worst movies ever. And justifiably so. Written, directed and produced by the world’s least talented filmmaker, Edward D. Wood, it’s a bijou of awfulness. What twists the knife in this celluloid sacrilege is the sight of Bela Lugosi, one of Hollywood’s greatest horror stars, shambling through what was to be his last appearance on the silver screen. Rather than try to sit through this sad excuse for a film, better to watch Tim Burton’s engaging biopic Ed Wood (1994), which tells the story behind the movie.

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A Radical Ranking of Disney’s 8 Best Animated Features

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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You may remember my experience last week where I received the strange basket of apples with a cryptic note from Valerie. I ate one of the apples and fell into a deep sleep, after which I received the strangest ideas for how to improve Walt Disney World. So I wrote them down, and my editor posted them here.

Well, I decided to try a second apple from the basket. One bite of this next apple, and I passed out again. I woke up with the inspiration to rank some of Disney’s best cartoons. Get ready, because I guarantee you that you’ve never seen Disney’s films in this light…

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8. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

Just picture it: a large, virile character roams the world, and though people see him as a bad guy, he’s really good inside, and in the end, he saves the day!

Am I talking about Wreck-It Ralph? Of course I am, but in reality I’m talking about the man whose life I’m convinced the movie is a metaphor for: our wonderful ally Vladimir Putin. Just think about it.

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10 Disney Classics Which Deserve a Live-Action Remake

Friday, November 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Above, you can view the new trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of Cinderella. The film marks the third such reimagining, following this year’s hugely successful Maleficent and 2010′s Tim Burton-directed Alice in Wonderland. If Cinderella proves successful, which seems to be a foregone conclusion, the question becomes: which other Disney classics might lend themselves to a live-action treatment?

Not every old Disney film stands as an ideal candidate. Many feature talking animals as their main characters and, if you were to try to translate them into CGI within a live-action setting, wouldn’t prove that much different than their animated originals.

Weeding those out, let’s rank what’s left. Here are 10 Disney classics which deserve a live-action remake.

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The 10 Most Absurd Plots from Ancient Comedy

Thursday, November 20th, 2014 - by Spencer Klavan

Anyone who’s ever watched a Seth Rogen movie knows that great comedy can be long on laughs, short on plot. Try to recite the story of Pineapple Express from beginning to end in coherent English and you’ll see what I mean. But paper-thin plotting wasn’t invented in 2008. Ancient Greek comedies made about as much narrative sense as a James Brown interview. Add in 2500 years worth of cultural change, and you get scripts that read like a Japanese knock-off of a Will Ferrell film written by someone on ‘shrooms. Ranked from weirdly confusing to utterly incomprehensible, here are ten ancient plots that made more jokes than sense.

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The Top 10 Cinematic Portrayals of DC Comics Villains

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Warner Bros. recently announced an aggressive slate of films based upon DC Comics properties which will share a single cinematic universe, an answer to the successful franchise which Marvel Studios has built since 2008’s Iron Man. The DC slate opens with 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will continue the same year with Suicide Squad, which director David Ayer recently described as “The Dirty Dozen with supervillains.”

In the comics, the Suicide Squad boasts DC’s B-list villains, characters like Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. However, if rumors now circulating prove true, the cinematic interpretation of Suicide Squad may boast A-list villains like Lex Luthor and the Joker. Reports claim that bombshell actress Margot Robbie has been cast as Harley Quinn, and that Oscar-winner Jared Leto is in talks to play Joker.

In any case, the roster of DC Comics villains portrayed in live-action film is about to explode. Before that happens, let’s consider where the existing rogues gallery ranks. Here are the top 10 cinematic portrayals of DC Comics villains.

#10. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow

When it was announced that Christopher Nolan would be rebooting the Batman franchise years after Joel Schumacher piloted it into the ground, no one could have predicted how definitive the result would become. Among the bold moves made in re-imagining the property was featuring lesser known villains, including the Scarecrow.

Actor Cillian Murphy took what could have easily been a camp character and grounded him in a believable reality. Dr. Jonathan Crane served a vital narrative purpose befitting his nature as a criminal psychologist obsessed with fear. Fear stood as the dominant theme in Batman Begins, as Bruce Wayne turned his fear against the criminals holding an unholy grip upon Gotham City.

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10 Films That Show Respect for the American Veteran

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by James Jay Carafano

They are veterans not victims. Every once in a while, Hollywood captures the nobility of the American veteran. Coming home may not always be easy, but those who have worn their country’s uniform have done much to nurture, shape, and enrich this nation. Here are 10 movies that tell their story.

1. The Searchers (1956)

This story of a complex and conflicted veteran “hero” fighting his personal demons and a savage frontier is widely regarded as one of the greatest American films ever made. It’s based on a novel by Alan Le May which draws from actual events that occurred in 1836. On film, the story is moved to after the Civil War. John Wayne plays one of the three million veterans who came home after the conflict. When his niece is abducted during an Indian raid, Wayne embarks on a violent 10-year search to find her. In the end, he rides off into the sunset, triumphing over both hatred and adversity.

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Coming Soon: Dark Hearts: The Secret of Haunting Melissa

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

Some of you were probably too busy voting Democrats out of office to notice that a terrific new trailer for the Haunting Melissa sequel came out on YouTube last week. HM was director Neal Edelstein’s innovative ghost-movie-in-an-app that climbed the App Store bestseller list in 2013. The script to that film was by your humble correspondent as is the script to the sequel, Dark Hearts: The Secret of Haunting Melissawhich is due out later this month:

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Download the free app here.

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Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture

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The Top 10 Movie Trailers Released in October

Saturday, November 8th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Movie trailers released throughout October preview some huge titles coming to theaters in near weeks and months. Everything from quirky independent romance to blockbuster action adventure is represented here. Which trailer came out on top? You’ll be surprised.

#10. Life Partners

A narrative born of modern themes, to be sure, Life Partners follows the relationship between two female friends, one of whom happens to be gay. As each wind their way in and out of romantic entanglements with others, the relationship between them is tested and reevaluated.

It will be curious to see how sexual orientation is handled in this film. If these two friends end up together in spite of one of them being straight, which certainly seems to be the trajectory drawn in this trailer, doesn’t that kind of run up against the militant “born that way” narrative?

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5 Conservative Themes Hidden in Interstellar

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by John Boot

The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan made his conservative leanings clear in that film and in The Dark Knight Rises, which earned the sobriquet of “reactionary vision” from the leftist newspaper The Guardian. Is Interstellar as unabashed in its conservatism? No, but there is a political subtext to the film that’s visible to the discerning. It may not be showy about being conservative, but it’s conservative just the same. Let’s look at five ways the film aligns with conservative philosophy and values.

1. Human beings are not just another animal.

Once this proposition would have been uncontroversial, but not anymore. Today liberals hasten to remind us that we’re just one among many species. “Human beings are no more special than a butterfly, a gazelle or a paramecium,” opined a onetime senior White House science policy analyst at the Huffington Post. “Our species is nothing but a normal consequence of natural selection, and certainly not the pinnacle of evolution. We are nothing special. God is just not that into us.” Nonsense, says Interstellar: the hero of the film, a pilot played by Matthew McConaughey, says humans have a special gift for adjusting and overcoming the sometimes dire circumstances of nature. Man is unique.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Official Main Trailer

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Movie Trailer Review

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The Top 20 Films of the 1970s

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This is an expansion of Kyle Smith’s list of the 10 best films of the 1970s published here in June. I’ve asked Kyle to expand his series as PJ Lifestyle begins offering more lists, articles, essays, and blog posts exploring culture, art, technology, and history by decade. Recently he expanded his ’80s list to a top 20 here, his ’60s list here, his ’50s list here, and his ’40s list here. Do you disagree with Kyle’s choices? Do you have your own ideas for lists of movies or other cultural subjects? Which years and what subjects would you most like to see covered at PJ Lifestyle? Email: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com. Also check out Kyle’s top 10 movie picks for the ‘30s’90s, and the ’00s before he expands them to top 20s. Click here to read “What Makes a Great Movie?,” Kyle’s essay explaining his criteria for these lists.

20. The Way We Were (1973)

Mistakenly confused in the memory with the sentimental theme song, the film is actually a barbed character study that explores how politics can become a kind of obsession that in this case drives a wedge between a happy-go-lucky, apolitical screenwriter (Robert Redford) and his stridently leftist wife (Barbara Streisand) during the McCarthy period. 

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10 Films that Tell the Future of War

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 - by James Jay Carafano

Most Hollywood science fiction isn’t really all that “out there.” Take the computers on the original Star Trek. They operated a lot more like creaky 1960s IBM mainframes than 21st century iPads. Nevertheless, Hollywood has often been the inspiration for how militaries think about future wars. Here are 10 films that impress by their ability to presage the next weapons of war.

1. The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1961)

The 19th century novelist pretty much single-handedly invented science fiction—and in the process he forecast military weapons from submarines to super bombs. The single best effort to bring his imagination to the screen was a 1958 Czech film, later released in the U.S. and dubbed in English. What makes this film so engaging is a unique visual style called “Mystimation” which combined flats that looked like Victorian engravings with live actors.

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The 20 Best Films of the 1940s

Saturday, November 1st, 2014 - by Kyle Smith

Editor’s Note: This is an expansion of Kyle Smith’s list of the 10 best films of the 1940s published here in July. I’ve asked Kyle to expand his series as PJ Lifestyle begins offering more lists, articles, essays, and blog posts exploring culture, art, technology, and history by decade. Last month he expanded his ’80s list to a top 20 here, his ’60s list here, and his ’50s list here. Do you disagree with Kyle’s choices? Do you have your own ideas for lists of movies or other cultural subjects? Which years and what subjects would you most like to see covered at PJ Lifestyle? Email: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com. Also check out Kyle’s top 10 movie picks for the ‘30s, ‘70s,  ’90s, and the ’00s before he expands them to top 20s. Click here to read “What Makes a Great Movie?,” Kyle’s essay explaining his criteria for these lists.

In the 1940s, patriotic films meant to rally the nation competed for attention with escapist fare and wonderfully felt nostalgia, but some of the best films of the decade are the uncharacteristically dark ones that were far ahead of their time. Here’s one critic’s expanded list of the 20 best films of the decade.

20. Red River (1948)

An ambitious rancher (John Wayne) and the boy (Montgomery Clift) he adopts and turns into his heir clash on a massive cattle drive north on the Chisholm Trail. Howard Hawks’s film is a rambling, broad-shouldered Western that captures the courage, resourcefulness, self-sacrifice and the sometimes extreme measures involved in the building of great American fortunes. Wayne’s thorny, complicated hero give the lie to those who would claim his performances lacked depth.

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Ranking the Halloween Films From Best to Worst

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

Friday the 13th may be the series that popularized the slasher movie genre, but Halloween is where it started. Before Jason Voorhees, audiences were terrified by Michael Myers, also known as The Shape, and the Boogeyman. Unlike his fellow members of the genre’s “Big 3,” Jason and Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers’ story is one that has been re-imagined, splintered, and rebooted probably more than any other besides Universal’s stable of classic movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein. What follows is a look at the various films in the Halloween franchise, grouped by what’s worth watching sober to when a drinking game is necessary.

Classic Duology: Halloween I and II

Halloween is considered a classic, and the pieces are all there for one: iconic villain, haunting score, and a terrifying scenario are all present. Michael Myers may not be as flashy as Jason or Freddy, but he can be more frightening in his simplicity. John Carpenter’s original finds horror in the mundane, showing Jamie Lee Curtis’s character Laurie and her friends being boringly normal as Michael lurks in the background, unseen as his prey goes about their lives in blissful ignorance.

The formula slashers continue to follow to this day in some regard is laid out here as Michael stalks his victims one by one as the obsessed and arguably, equally unhinged Dr. Loomis tries to enact the solution he felt should have been used all along to end Michael’s reign of terror– murder. The climax is one of the most tense and horrifying in the history of the genre, as one madman tries to save Laurie Strode from another.

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Think Pop Culture Doesn’t Matter? Visit Sleepy Hollow, New York

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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If you’re still operating under the false notion that pop culture doesn’t have a real impact on everyday life, take a look at America’s oldest example, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

When Washington Irving penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820 under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, he probably had no idea that his short story would inspire the beloved town of his youth to turn itself into a living homage to his tale. Settled in the late 1600s, the village was originally an agricultural and manufacturing zone of Tarrytown, New York. Nicknamed “Sleeper’s Haven” by early Dutch settlers, Washington Irving picked up on the Anglicized version of the name, “Sleepy Hollow” when staying with family in the area as a boy. Eventually millionaires like John D. Rockefeller would build mansions around the industrial zone that would become known as North Tarrytown at the turn of the 20th century. But it was Irving’s story that proved eternal when, in 1996, the village voted to rename itself Sleepy Hollow.

Street signs are orange and black, as is one of the village’s fire trucks. The Headless Horseman is the school mascot who, dubbed the nation’s “scariest high school mascot”, runs through every football game at half-time. Police cars and fire trucks also bear the Headless Horseman logo with pride. Halloween is celebrated throughout October with haunted hayrides, street festivals, a parade encompassing both Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown’s main streets, several ghost tours and performances of the Washington Irving legend. The Great Jack O’Lantern blaze puts Christmas light spectaculars to shame and Horseman’s Hollow turns a 17th century Dutch mill into a gory homage to the headless Hessian.

The Old Dutch Church, Ichabod Crane’s presumed safe haven, stands guard over a vast “garden cemetery” designed to allow Victorian families to picnic with their dearly departed. Tours of the cemetery can be taken both day and night and feature stops at the graves of Washington Irving and those who inspired characters in his tale. A fair runs every weekend alongside the cemetery, providing tour groups with the opportunity to walk the grounds with alcohol in hand. The gas station on the other side of the infamous bridge hawks t-shirts and other assorted Headless Horseman souvenirs. And if you’re hungry, there’s always The Horseman Restaurant, a hole in the wall diner that promises you’ll “lose your head” over their milkshakes.

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Ranking the Nightmare on Elm Street Films from Best to Worst

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

New Line Cinema is known as “The House That Freddy Built”, and rightfully so. The A Nightmare on Elm Street films were slow but steady in permeating America’s wider pop-culture, making child-murderer and punster Freddy Krueger into a household name. Freddy is a horror legend, and one of the “Big 3” of the slasher genre along with Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. While having fewer films than those two, Freddy arguably has the best track record for being entertaining, if not actually being imaginative and scary. What follows is a look at the A Nightmare on Elm Street films, going from horror classics to diminishing returns.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors

Dream Warriors beats out the original film largely because it’s one of the few to have Freddy hit that sweet spot between horror and ham without diminishing either. The cannon fodder is probably the most likable cast in horror movie history, and that adds to the terror and the sadness when any of them get offed by Freddy.

Speaking of, Freddy isn’t as on his A-game with the nightmare settings when he goes to work on his victims, but his subtle manipulations of the environment to get at them has never been better. The paranoia invoked by this creative decision masterfully displays the dream logic of the scenes in which Krueger appears, and makes them that much more terrifyingly plausible as a result. Freddy takes out his victims methodically and with a twinge of dark humor that makes their deaths that much more disturbing, instead of the punchline they would later become.

We also get the return of Heather Langenkamp as Nancy, now older, wiser, and more prepared to deal with Freddy once she unintentionally finds herself back in his sights with the new teens. The film has been compared to Jason and the Argonauts, but I prefer Freddy Vs. X-Men. Dream Warriors succeeds as both horror and adventure, and it’s arguably the best performance Robert Englund gave as Krueger.

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Ranking the Friday the 13th Films from Best to Worst

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Ash Freeman

As a fan of slasher movies, I know they don’t have the best rep. Shallow plots, lame characters, laughable acting (literally in some cases, intentionally or not) — that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s not to like in a slasher movie, depending on your morals, anyway. But the genre has its fans for many reasons, whether the monster designs, the mythology and characters, or how convincingly the effects work can portray horrifying deaths. Or, let’s be real,  just boobs and gore do it for some.

Anyway, John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was the first to codify this horror-subgenre, but Friday the 13th with its iconic villain Jason Voorhees is the archetype that more often comes to mind. Each film in the series, while by no means great works of art, have their charms and their downsides as pieces of horror fiction. What follows is the list of what are

IN MY VAGUELY HUMBLE OPINION

the films of the Friday the 13th franchise, from best to worst.

Friday The 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter

If you were expecting the first movie in the series to be here, well, you were wrong. “Aged like a fine wine” would be kind of haughty and pretentious to say, but well, I already did. The Final Chapter is Friday the 13th at its best, and in its purest form, before it would resort to gimmickry in order to keep the series on life-support.

This film is where the series would get its first major recurring character that wasn’t Jason himself: Tommy Jarvis. Played by a pre-Goonies Corey Feldman, he would be the first, and despite the title’s protestations, not the last to take down Jason for good. Hell, he did it twice, actually. Part 4 is also the first of an internal trilogy of sorts for the series, with parts 5 and 6 that I like to refer to as the Tommy Jarvis Saga. Tom Savini is back for some of the most impressive gore effects the series has to offer, lovingly crafted and staged for the film’s inexplicably likeable cast of characters.

Part 4′s hapless group of cannon fodder is drafted to be not much different from any of the other previous casts. However, their portrayals, while somewhat amateurish on occasion, are earnest, and thus I found them entertaining. Of note is a pre-Back to the Future Crispin Glover, with one of the most spastic dances ever put on film being a particular highlight. All said, if someone wanted to watch a dictionary definition-quality slasher film or the best example of a Friday the 13th movie, you could do worse, as you’ll soon see.

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7 Good Things and 8 Bad Things About the New Avengers Trailer

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Pierre Comtois

Anticipation following the first Avengers movie was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

That anticipation was dimmed somewhat when it was learned that Thanos, who appeared for all but two seconds at the very end, was not slated as the villain for Avengers 2. Instead, he appeared next in the surprise blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy helping to underscore one of the exciting things about Marvel Studios films (as opposed to Marvel films from other studios): their interconnectivity, the ingredient that catapulted tiny Marvel Comics ahead of giant competitor DC Comics in the early 1960s.

Where will Thanos appear next? Who can tell?

The point is, the Marvel movie universe isn’t dependent on any single ingredient. Not Thanos, not Tony Stark, not Captain America, not SHIELD. Something to keep in mind as Avengers 2 rolls around along with rumors that major characters (driven by the expiration of standing contracts of the actors who play them) are soon to fall by the wayside.

Tony Stark may go off into the sunset, Cap may be killed off, Thor may end up in Valhalla leading to a possible reorganized and reconstituted Avengers team much like the epochal events that took place in Avengers #16 when Iron Man, Giant-Man, and Thor quit and were replaced by Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, the latter two perhaps not coincidentally, set to be introduced in Avengers 2.

Which brings us to the new, recently released Avengers 2 trailer which, if it accurately presages the events in the film, raises the bar as well as the stakes for the new film, one that promises to meet if not exceed the colossal earnings of the first.

With so much riding on the new film, not least of which is the expectation that its content tops the first, the trailer hints at less than perfection. Yeah, there seems to be plenty to like in the sample footage, but there’s also stuff that makes discerning viewers stop and wonder. Thus, in the interests of keeping fans fully informed (in no particular order) here are some reasons why they should look forward to Avengers 2 as well as a few to inspire doubt.

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Would You Survive a Horror Movie?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Robert Wargas

Those with long memories will recall that Wes Craven’s Scream, which came out way back in 1996, was praised for its hip “self-awareness,” coming as it did in a particularly “meta” era of ’90s postmodernism, full of overrated cult fare like Pulp Fiction and Clerks. The film’s edginess consisted in banging on the fourth wall without quite breaking it. In one scene, for instance, a horror-movie fanatic and video-store clerk (remember: 1996) played by Jamie Kennedy tells his fellow teenagers about the “rules” of surviving a slasher film.

One of these “rules,” which is now common knowledge, is that in order to survive one mustn’t practice the carnal arts. Those who do it always get it. What the less eloquent might call “c*ckblocking” is an established horror-movie tradition. In the first Halloween film, Michael Myers ruins one couple’s tryst by stabbing the guy and then assaulting his teenage girlfriend—which might sound like a standard Friday evening at Roman Polanski’s house, but for an audience of 1970s suburban teens it was genuinely frightening. Come to think of it, every horror movie has a boyfriend character, football letter jacket and all, who gets his head caved in while fetching a few beers from the fridge. Each series has its own tropes. The Friday the 13th movies rely on the obligatory sex-in-the-woods scene: two camp counselors set up a tent, and before long Jason shows up with his machete for an especially kinky threesome.

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