Old Movie Reviews: Hellraiser

Writing

Hello kids and welcome to the final installment of the spooky movie party! I am incredibly sad that the month of October is coming to a close and as always wishing Halloween could come more than once a year. When I was trying to pick out a third movie I wanted to find something that was a little older, but unfortunately Netflix only has horror movies from the late 70s and on, so I decided to go with a classic I have never seen, “Hellraiser.” Unlike the other two films in this series, I had absolutely no idea what this one was about. It’s a good thing I’ve never had an issue with gore because otherwise I would’ve had to stop watching it.

Let’s start with characters. I cannot even begin to explain to you how much I hated Julia in this movie. Who in their right mind sees a disgusting slimy skeleton creature who claims to be their ex and just decides to go with it and help them! No, what is wrong with you! I don’t care how good the sex was, it doesn’t warrant raising the goddamn dead. I was incredibly satisfied when she got stabbed because that’s honestly what I wanted to do with her the second she came on screen. Besides her, I was moderately okay with everyone else. Kirsty was obviously my favorite because I love my badass, demon fighting women.

I couldn’t help but notice however that this film did not pass the Bechdal Test. Neither did “The Shining” actually. If you don’t know what the Bechdal Test is, it’s a test used to judge whether or not movies have enough female representation. All a movie has to do is have at least two female characters, who have a conversation, that’s about something other than a man. “Hellraiser” has exactly two women in it (not including the seemingly female cenobite because her gender is never really specified). Julia and Kirsty however, only exchange a few lines throughout the film and they all have to do with Kirsty’s dad or Frank. Even if you want to consider the cenobite, it still doesn’t pass because their conversation is also about Frank.

Sidebar: “The Shining” doesn’t pass because Wendy and the two twin girls are the only women and they never even see each other. “The Amityville Horror” however, gets a pass only because Kathy has a conversation with her daughter about her creepy demon girl friend. The true horror of old horror movies: sexism.

Overall, I think the monsters and the plot of “Hellraiser” were chilling, It definitely seemed the scariest out of all the ones I watched. There was only one thing more off putting than the skinless guy with a lazy eye that was crawling around naked for half the movie, and that is the weird sexual undertone, present throughout the entire film. It was completely unnecessary and very obvious. We know every story has some weird connotation to sex but that doesn’t mean you need to make it blatantly obvious. It makes it hard to tell whether the film director was trying to be deep, or was just a major perv.

“Hellraiser” was not my favorite spooky movie out of the three I watched, I think that title probably goes to “The Shining”. However, I did find “Hellraiser” entertaining, if at times a little ridiculous. I give it 3 out of 5 spooky pumpkins.

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What is your favorite scary movie? If you would like to hear more about the Bechdal Test and also listen to some really hilarious ladies, I would recommend listening to the podcast “The Bechdal Cast.” Let me know what you thought of this series and share your spooky movie stories in the comments! Happy Halloween!!

Old Movie Reviews: The Shining

Writing

I know this post is going up pretty late, but did you know The Shining is two and a half hours long!? I sure didn’t but that’s because up until tonight I had only seen the 30 second bunny version of The Shining ( If you don’t know what it is, google it). It surprisingly took me 20 years to get around to watching the classic horror movie, largely because of the time stamp, the fact that I wanted to read the book, and also because of my aversion to Stanley Kubrick, which I do not have time to unpack here. Let’s get into the film.

Right from the beginning it is clear that the movie deserves most of the attention it’s given. The cinematography is outstanding, and despite the length the plot seems fairly fast paced. It’s the kind of movie where you can’t look away from the screen because you might miss something (I would know because I was trying to dye my hair and kept having to pause and go back… yet another reason this post is up late).

One of the movies most talked about features is the performance of Jack Nicholson and while it is admittedly creepy, I was more impressed by Shelley Duvall. It’s not often in horror movies that female characters get such a gratifying character arc, so it’s even better to see, when it’s as well done as it is here.

Honestly it’s hard to find anything to critique in this horror movie because it is so beautifully made, once again I wasn’t particularly scared. Creepy for sure but I think horror movies just don’t get me the way they used to, perhaps because I’ve seen so many, or maybe it’s because men being creepy isn’t entirely new territory. I mean obviously I’ve never been trapped in a hotel alone being chased with an ax, but at the same time it’s “Oh a husband is being a dick to his wife, oh now he’s violent with her, oh now he’s chasing her with an ax, why am I not surprised.” It’s an obvious progression and honestly something to be careful of when choosing a husband. Never marry writers, from what movies have taught me they seem incredibly susceptible to becoming crazy murderers… and also men I guess. Yea maybe avoid men.

Moving on from my need to see everything from a feminist perspective, I found this movie thoroughly entertaining, and I surprisingly did not find myself to be bored at any moment. The performances were great as were the visuals and it seems like the kind of movie I would watch again especially if I was in the mood for a horror movie but wanted to stick with something familiar. I give “The Shining” 4 out 5 spooky pumpkins.

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That leaves one movie left in my spooky movie marathon. Check back tomorrow evening to read my review of “Hellraiser.” Happy Halloween Eve!

Old Movie Reviews: The Amityville Horror

Writing

Hello everyone! In honor of my favorite holiday Halloween, I decided to give you some special spooky content. Today, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I will be viewing a different old horror movie, that I haven’t seen before every night. Tonight’s feature presentation? The Amityville Horror.

Since this is “old” movie reviews, I obviously selected the 1979 version over the 2005 version. I also selected the older one because I just can’t take Ryan Reynolds seriously. Before we get in to the actual movie, I just want to talk about HOW BEAUTIFUL Margot Kidder is in this movie. No matter what kind of horror is going on around them, female 70’s horror movie characters always look stunning. Seriously though, I spent half of the movie complaining about how there was no way that woman had five teenage children, she looks amazing. James Brolin however, looks like he might be the murderer in an equally campy movie about the house down the street. I mean I guess that is true of most men in the 70’s though…

When it comes to the actual plot, the movie was pretty typical. A+ to the creator for deciding not to put a visual on the demon or the ghost girl because if they had the movie would probably lose all scary quality. I find it incredibly funny that the priest knows the house is possessed 15 minutes in to the film but for some reason it takes another 2 hours for that little tidbit of information to reach the family. Equally amusing is the fact that they don’t even suspect a demon until the last 20 minutes of the movie. I’m going to give you all a piece of advice right now. If your house smells like sulfur, and your kid keeps going on about some ghost child you can’t see, at least look into the history of your house. Oh and always ask your realtor why the giant fancy house is priced so cheap because 9 times out of 10 somebody’s ass probably got murdered there. If half of horror movie characters followed this rule then we would be down to half the amount of horror house movies we have today.

To give Amityville credit where it’s due, it is one of the first of its kind. Although it might seem overused now it definitely wasn’t at the time of its release and the film does have a nice, creepy atmosphere, as well as a good score. Was it scary? no. but it was entertaining and all together pretty spooky. It’s not everyday where you have a door to hell in your basement, and overall it’s refreshing to see that for once everyone survived, even the family dog, who is usually the first to go.

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I give The Amityville Horror 3.5/5 spooky pumpkins based on spook factor, cinematic quality, and story quality. The extra half pumpkin is just for Margot Kidder because she is a underrated sweet baby angel.

Check back for tomorrow’s horror movie review! Happy Halloween!

13 Reasons Why: Season 2 Review

Non-fiction, Writing

WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE 1ST AND 2ND SEASON OF 13 REASONS WHY. IT ALSO CONTAINS DISCUSSION OF THE SENSITIVE TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THE SHOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

13 Reasons Why is Netflix’s original series that came out last year and released their second season about a week ago.

The first season was based on the book of the same title by Jay Asher and tells the story of Hannah, a girl who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes, each one for a different person at her school, that chronicle the events leading to her suicide.

Due to my fragile mental state, I usually refrain from watching shows that deal with suicide, but my mom had gotten me the book 5 years earlier and I had loved it. I enjoyed the first season and thought it stayed very true to the book. However the first season ended where the book ended so I was curious to see where they would go with the second season.

The first thing I will give the show credit for is it’s “bingeability” I finished the whole season in about 5 days. The show definitely keeps you engrossed and on the edge. This isn’t necessarily always for the best though. Throughout the season, the characters are faced with disaster after disaster and even when things are looking up it only lasts for about half an episode before everything once again comes crashing down. It gives the show an over all feeling of hopelessness which is not ideal for a show based around suicide.

Speaking of the shows themes, much like season one, the show faced a lot of backlash for it’s graphic depictions of rape and suicide as well as the way people deal with it. A lot of viewers say the show depicts suicide as a way that’s offensive to those that have suffered suicide attempts. Here’s my take on it: the show focuses on one story of one person. The show never claims that this is typical of all suicidal people or that all people with these experiences behave this way. The fact that the show even uses something that is so often tiptoed around as a main theme is something to be commended over the logistics of how Hannah comes to kill herself and leave the tapes. As a survivor of a suicide attempt I don’t find it offensive at all and I appreciate the shows boldness with this and other topics. The show also provides a very large selection of resources for people struggling with these topics.

The best part about this season by far was Jessica Davis’s recovery from her rape. The compassion her friends show her and how she works towards owning her experience and getting professional help is very refreshing throughout the shitshow everyone else is enduring. This, as well as Sky’s example of the person who deals with suicidal thoughts in a healthy way by going to a mental facility, brings the high-strung, emotionally charged show down to a more comfortable level.

Which brings me to the thing that annoyed me the most about this season. While every character is dealing with their mental illnesses and their problems, not once is anyone ever concerned about Clay’s vivid hallucinations. He spend half the show talking to a dead girl but somehow he’s just helping everyone else? Hallucinations are a very real symptom of mental illness and it’s annoying to see a show that’s trying so hard to shine a light on these symptoms, just brush this one under the rug.

It’s pretty obvious at the end of this season that Netflix is shooting for a third, and while the second season was engrossing it seems to me the show has completed what it was meant to do. The creation of problems at the end seemed unnecessary and it seemed like the show was just fishing for a problem that could be considered bigger than Hannah’s suicide.

Overall, the second season was well written and engrossing with all the actors once again giving incredible performances. While not as good as the first season the second season holds strong on its own. Can the third?

Watering Dead Plants

Fiction, Writing

A Play By: Avery Jam

[The scene begins in a kitchen. JACK sits in a chair at the kitchen table reading a book and LIZA stands at the counter facing the audience carefully picking the dead leaves off some obviously dead plants.]

LIZA: Hey Jack?

JACK: Hm?

LIZA: I want you to stop calling me stupid.

[silence]

JACK: You know Liza, those plants are dead.

LIZA: No, they’re not they just need to be cleaned up a little.

[silence]

LIZA: So…could you stop calling me stupid?

JACK: Why do you care?

LIZA: Because I don’t like the way it sounds and it makes me feel inferior. Plus it’s not like I’m stupid, I graduated with honors.

JACK: It’s not like I call you stupid in front of people.

LIZA: Yea but I’m not stupid…and also you do.

JACK: Liz, I call everything stupid. It’s a word. It doesn’t mean anything.

LIZA: Ok, but it means something to me.

JACK: Then stop letting it. I’m not going to change the way I talk because it makes you uncomfortable.

LIZA: [becoming more agitated] Is it that hard to change one word?

JACK: Is it that hard to stop letting one word affect you?

[silence. LIZA begins to water the dead plants with a small watering can.]

LIZA: What about bitch?

JACK: What about it?

LIZA: Could you stop calling me a bitch?

JACK: I call everyone a bitch.

LIZA: You don’t call your mom a bitch because you love and respect her. Do you not love and respect me?

JACK: You know that’s different.

[LIZA turns to JACK who is now disinterestedly looking at his phone]

LIZA: How?

JACK: We’ve been together for three years so you shouldn’t take it personally. Why are you asking me this? Why do you want to change me so bad?

LIZA: I just wish you were a little nicer to me. Especially in front of other people.

JACK: [Beginning to get fed up] The only reason you think I’m mean is because you take everything personally. That’s not my fault, it’s yours.

LIZA: Ok, but-

JACK: And the only reason people think I’m mean to you is because you tell them I am. I should be the one telling you to stop saying things.

[LIZA turns back to her plants and looks down at her hands before going back to caring for the plants.]

JACK: Liz there’s no point in watering them.

[silence as JACK looks at LIZA and then back down to his phone.]

LIZA: Do you remember… when you were coming off the pills and you thought I was hiding something from you so you put me in a chokehold and pushed me on the ground?

JACK: Liza why the fuck are you bringing that up?

LIZA: I don’t know.

JACK: Also it was hardly a chokehold. I put my arm around your neck and sat with you on the floor. It’s not my fault you’re so weak.

LIZA: It was a chokehold. It hurt.

JACK: No. It wasn’t. You always make me the bad guy and are telling me that I hurt you but you’re the one always exaggerating.

LIZA: I was just thinking…you never apologized for it.

JACK: sorry that you are weaker than me and I was struggling with drug withdrawal

LIZA: That’s not what I meant.

JACK: [Yelling] Well then what the fuck do you want from me Liza?

LIZA: Nothing…nevermind.

[silence. LIZA goes back to watering the plants]

JACK: Liza just give up on the fucking plants already. You’re stupid to keep trying to grow them.

LIZA: [Suddenly throws one of the dead plant pots on the floor.]

JACK: [Yelling] What the fuck was that for?!

LIZA: [Also yelling] You’re so mean to me! I know you are, no matter how many times you say you aren’t I know you are! You shouldn’t want to call your girlfriend stupid or a bitch!

JACK: [remains silent looking at LIZA]

LIZA: Go on tell me how it’s all my fault and how I need to stop being so irrational. If you loved me you would do anything not to hurt me. But all you do is hurt me and you never apologize and I’m fucking tired of it Jack!

JACK: What is wrong with you?

LIZA: Nothing is wrong with me. I am allowed to be angry. My therapist says I’m allowed to be angry.

JACK: This isn’t angry. This is fucking crazy. You’re crazy. Are you taking your pills? Are you trying to accuse me of abusing you? Do you know how serious that is? I can’t even believe you would consider that!

LIZA: Jack no I-

JACK: Compared to other women you have it so good. I would never punch you in the face or anything.

LIZA: but-

JACK: [putting on his coat to leave] Just stop Liza you’ve said enough. I understand how you feel.

LIZA: Jack please don’t leave I didn’t know what I was saying. Please don’t leave again.

JACK: I’m going to hang out with some coworkers.

LIZA: Don’t leave. I don’t like it when you leave angry. It makes me feel like you won’t come back.

JACK: Maybe one day I won’t. I’m not attached to you Liza. There are a million girls like you.

LIZA: Why do you stay with me then?

JACK: Because girls are a chore Liza. Getting a new girlfriend would be too much work.

LIZA: Oh. ok.

JACK: I’ll be back later. Pick this mess up while I’m gone [JACK gestures to the broken pot]. And please calm down.

[LIZA looks down at the floor and slowly nods]

JACK: Oh and Liza?

LIZA: yea?

JACK: There’s no point in watering dead plants. They’re never going to grow.

[JACK walks offstage as LIZA sinks to the floor picking up a leaf or flower from the floor.]

LIZA: No point in taking care of you…you’re never going to grow…

[LIZA sets the piece down]

LIZA: Dead things can’t grow. I can’t grow.

[LIZA places her head in her hands as the lights fade to black.]

Everything, Everything

bookish, Writing

If you read my May TBR, then you know that this month I was reading Nicola Yoon’s “Everything, Everything,” which was released as a film as well, on May 19th.

“Everything, Everything,” is a story about a girl named Madeline who is born with an immunodeficiency disorder and has never left her house. When new neighbors move in next store, Maddy begins talking online with their son Olly. Talking online with him makes her question her illness and ultimately become a bolder person, and the plot develops from there.

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The beautiful book cover.

I finished this book in 2 days and I thought it was lovely. I don’t usually spring for YA novels, but I really liked the cover of this one and I only liked it more when I started reading it. The writing is captivating and the addition of illustrations makes it unique. Starting off, it seemed similar to “The Fault In Our Stars,” but the twist in the end (which I won’t disclose here because, spoilers) separates it from that group. Overall when I finished reading, I was pleased with the ending and the book.

2 nights ago, I saw the movie and enjoyed it just as much. It starred Amandala Stenberg who I have been following on Instagram for quite some time and she was absolutely beautiful. The soundtrack fit the book perfectly and overall the movie remained true to the events in the novel. It didn’t concentrate too much on the romance and concentrated more on Madeline working through her disease and growing as a person, which was refreshing. All in all it was feel good and enjoyable.

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At the end of both I give “Everything, Everything” a combined 4 out of 5 stars. If you are looking for a light, refreshing summer read, then I would recommend you pick up this book.