Indulging in the strange and horrific in all pop culture forms, and appreciating the power of Film
I’m a writer, critic, podcaster, Editor in Chief (Filminquiry.com) Vice President of media genome operations (Katch Media), and overall film fanatic. While I enjoy all kinds of cinema/TV/Media, I have a special place in my heart for horror and the wonderfully weird in life.
It’s been a couple of weeks now since I got to visit this lovely Tim Burton themed bar/restaurant, and I’m glad I’ve had time to reflect because it only confirms that the magic of the venue was real.
With locations in both NYC and LA, this features uniquely themed food and drinks, with a variety to tickle any fancy, and (depending on location) performers and adequate aesthetics to capture the Burton mood in us all.
I visited the one in Manhattan, NY, and while I hope to someday venture to the West Coast site, I can only confirm the experience here.
While Beetlehouse isn’t a large spot it packs a lot into its walls. Not long after arriving my group was set with drinks and and choices for the prefix menu, as well as a “Willy Wonka” impersonator who delighted us for most of the night.
One of the things most can appreciate about Tim Burton– fan or not- is his ability to create an atmosphere you won’t forget. Well, luckily, I can report that this inspired locale does as well.
As far as the menu, right now given the current circumstances we live in, there’s a set variety you can choose from. Yes, it’s limited, but there is still something to satisfy most: from fish, a couple non-meatless options (as well as vegan) and then the big burger: Edward Scissorhands. And yes, it comes with scissors in the top. This restaurant goes for full immersion.
With an appetizer, a dinner and a dessert (plus the drinks- oh the drinks!) it’s quite worth the price, but mostly, the experience. I loved the attention to detail from the Beetlejuice style tables to the many decorations and artwork. I took a stroll around the place and found myself reveling in all of the different pieces that, being the movie fan I am, I immediately registered. As a geek, I absolutely adored this aspect, and while I might have loved it for that either way, I am happy to report that this restaurant has the full package.
Satisfied with the inventive drinks, the tasty food, and the overall weird ambiance, I’d recommend any movie fan visit this fun, hip, and very fulfilling locale.
Unfortunately Weird is a column for the kind of film that ends up being memorably weird, but in all the wrong ways.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I watched the film Wild Mountain Thyme, and it still hasn’t left my brain. This isn’t a fond experience I’m recollecting, a meaningful film-viewing, no. It is because my brain is still unable to process what it is I saw.
If you’re asking yourself “what am I watching?” with the frequency that I was, you know something isn’t right.
For anyone out there who adores this film and finds it delightful I say- I am happy for you, enjoy what you enjoy, but, also, you’re probably not going to like what I say next.
What the hell?
This is one of the worst, most bizarre movie-watching experiences that I have had in a long time. However, I am still glad I did. This is for many reasons I won’t all divulge, but mostly because curiosity demanded that I do. You know what happened to the cat though, right?
Before I begin to explain (what is even explainable) about this film and what is unequivocally wrong here, I shall attempt to discern the plot. Thereby, bring some clarity to an otherwise strangely structured, confusingly off, motion picture.
We open to beautiful Ireland, narrated by Christopher Walken as Tom Reilly, the patriarch of one the two families at the heart of this “magical” story. We’re introduced to two of the most depressed kids ever, on nearby farms, before quickly moving to them as adults.
One is Rosemary (Emily Blunt) and the other is Walken‘s son, Anthony Reilly (Jamie Dornan). The two stars of the film have a clear affection for one another but are hindered by…something. Stubbornness? A strange experience when they were kids when one pushed the other? One might wonder, with this cast- along with the film’s writer/director John Patrick Shanley (Yes, director of Doubt, writer of Moonstruck, maybe go watch one of those) how bad could it be?
I haven’t even told you yet that Jon Hamm is in it.
Eye roll, sigh, head tilt… huh?
So, these two bourgeoning romantic partners spend a lot of time throughout this film speaking in fast paced dialogue that borders on the unintelligible, and crosses into completely bonkers, while taking the longest route to an admission of love that I can recall. The plot wobbles awkwardly like a three-legged chair, and its as uncomfortable and ridiculous as one too.
What’s worse is that, despite having this strange desire to describe what I saw, I find it hard to completely convey the oddity that is Wild Mountain Thyme. There are so many moments throughout that are truly head scratching. If I was to compile a list of emotions felt while watching this movie the majority would fall under the confused, conflated and confounded side, and yes, I realize those are all synonyms of the same word, yet somehow this film adds layers to the meaning. Did you know you could be perplexed with such nuance?
I’m a romantic at heart, so I am always hoping that a film fulfills its intentions. I find no pleasure in saying that Wild Mountain Thyme does not.
There is so much talent involved here (both in front and behind the camera) that when the credits came I found myself slack jawed in awe that this was produced. In theory, maybe, this had a roadmap for success, in execution, however, it stumbles into meandering nonsense, hurried and ineffective.
A new Guy Ritchie movie? And we’ve got Jason Statham? Color me intrigued! (With a light shading of skepticism).
In their newest collaboration (after many years apart) Statham plays the mysterious “H” a newly hired security guard for an armored truck company. What they don’t know (same as the viewer) is that he isn’t quite who he seems. If you’ve watched a Statham movie, like, ever- you’ll know that he means business. His business here? Revenge.
But, we’ll get to that.
One Crime, Two Crimes, and a wholelotmore
As the film opens we’re shown a robbery, one that is inevitably the catalyst for the story, delivered to us in pieces over the course of the film. We’re merely spectators here as the camera immerses us inside the armored truck, feeling the tension, but still being limited to what we can ascertain. The opening credits are akin to a Bond film visually, (which makes me wonder what that particular team up would look like) and it immediately sets the style for the rest of the film. There is also the use of chapter names, which- while at first- seemed unnecessary, somehow won me over. Specifically the last. In many ways, despite a thin plot, the movie was overly heavy-handed with its intentions (and especially the… dialogue- which tickled my gag reflex on more than one occasion).
Yet from the very beginning the tension is present, festering, as we slowly understand the motives of our lead, and well, his full wrath.
Jason Statham is no stranger to a character like this, but it’s one of my favorite performances of his in some time. His cool, icy demeanor doesn’t falter, strutting into danger with the collectedness of Terminator and a firearm efficacy that’s chilling. As a grieving, anger fueled man on a rampage, Statham does drive the lean plot with evident rage.
What are his intentions?
“A Dark Spirit”
“H” is a man with power in the criminal world and when a heist goes wrong, his teenage son is killed. This sets him upon a mission to find his killer. Eventually he finds his way to Scott Eastwood (channeling some serious Waingro from Heat, a far superior film- watch it if you haven’t) who is part of another crew. He’s a hothead, clearly making impulsive, selfish decisions; the kind of guy you somehow hope is responsible. It makes rooting for the antihero at the center a lot easier. Also, for screenwriters Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies, a stock antagonist requires less imagination.
The Mystery of “H” doesn’t take long to decipher, but the film unearths his story at the right pace. It takes its time to build. The score by Christopher Benstead permeates throughout, teetering between frustratingly insistent and understandably pestering. There’s something rather sinister underlining the film, with some sequences reaching a disturbing height,but there’s also a sense of grief in H’s intentions, that’s evident, and clings to Statham throughout.
We get answers in different ways, from H’s dedication to finding those responsible, to meeting those who are. It, of course, culminates in a big bloody final heist.
The supporting roles work, but are pretty by-the-numbers, with appearances by Holt McCallany, Josh Harnett, Jeffrey Donovan and Laz Alonso (to name some). Suffice to say, primarily a male-dominated picture.
When it comes to Ritchie movies, they tend to be hit or miss. I can tell this will divide audiences (and it has) especially fans, with his decisions here. So, what was is that made me lean (streettchhh) towards favor?
so much wrath
In this instance I tried to go into this without expectation, after all- I had enjoyed his last outing, and being reunited with Statham– it seemed like it could be promising. In some ways it was like my first theatrical experience post-pandemic. Though it wasn’t, it sure felt like it, and maybe that tinged this experience with an extra level of enthusiasm. However, I admittedly did enjoy Wrath of Man. Is it perfect? Hardly. Problematic at times? Eh, yes (gulp). But, is it entertaining? Absolutely. It’s a full-throttle thrill ride that manages to mar dark intensity with an action-filled narrative. It is one of the more serious notches in Richie’s recent belt, and I was surprised by that.
Wrath of Man is really Statham‘s, what I’ll call, “Symphony of revenge” featuring many bodies falling, and bullets a blazing. With a killer (in all ways) ending, it’s about as joyful as one can expect from a movie like this. However, there’s a level of escapism through cinema that can be found here, with some compelling sequences and great action, but temper your expectations.
It was a moody piece, one that could have been much better with the right cohesion, writing, and less concern for being “cool” and more for striving for originality. I think there could have been an even better film if it had shed some of its concern for excess. Still, if you can disconnect from that and from the overly masculine intent, you’ll find Wrath of Man to be a entertaining, thrilling, ride.
Have you seen Wrath of Man? What did you think?Let me know!
For Mother’s Day (and because there isn’t a whole lot of new content I can chime in on) I figured why not make this all about appreciating some of the best Moms in horror!
Let’s face it, there are a lot of amazing mothers in horror’s cinematic inventory. Here’s a just a sampling! I tried to spread it out with different kinds of horror/portrayals (not necessarily favorites) but know- there are so many more!
Disclaimer: A good horror mommy, doesn’t a good “mother” make. Food for thought.
Mother knows best. 😏
Can Toni Collette do wrong? (Said everyone, always, because she’s just so talented, and the answer is no). In Hereditary, she again proves this thought. It’s not an easy endeavor to protect your family from possession, but she gives it the old college try. She goes… full unraveled. Watch for consecutive disturbing reveals.
Available to stream on Showtime or Fubo tv.
Lupita Nyong’o, Lupita Nyong’o, Lupita Nyong’o. Isn’t that enough? 😍 If you’ve somehow missed this terrific sophomore directorial effort from Jordan Peele with another spectacular performance from Lupita I would recommend rectifying that ASAP. Also, Lupita Nyong’o, just sayin.
Okay, no secret- I love Stephen King. While Cujo might not be the best adaptation of his work (certainly far from the worst) this protective mama is as badass as they come. The always amazing Dee Wallace (here’s your reminder, just in case, watch E.T too) will do anything to protect her child. Give it a watch, and just remember: the dog isn’t real, because they would never do such a horrendous thing. 🙂
Available to stream on AMC+
People Under the Stairs (1991)
This might seem unexpected, but Wes Craven’s film, which seems to be divisive among most, has one mommy you wouldn’t want to run into (let alone rob from and then get stuck in their twisted house of horror). Wendy Robie plays “Woman” and she’s adequately terrifying throughout this horror/comedy/ outright absurd, film.
Unfortunately, this isn’t currently streaming. Want to borrow my Blu ray? 🙂
The Babadook (2015)
Essie Davis plays Amelia, another protective mother, hoping to keep her son away from Mister Babadook. It’s a wonderful, inventive horror with a terrific cast. Creepy? Yes. Awesome? Also yes! Bonus Points. Watch if you dare (just watch it).
Available to stream on AMC+ and DirectV
The Exorcist (1973)
It’s tough to deal with life when your daughter has her head spinning and crawls on the ceiling, but you can say, Ellen Burstyn did her best. Burstyn is incredible, as she grounds this horror in reality, making her performance as a mother concerned, really hit home. Also… Classic!
Available to stream on showtime and Fubo tv.
Also see Mama, Serial Mom, Get Out, Rosemary’s Baby, Carrie, Goodnight Mommy, Friday the 13th, Mommie Dearest, House of 1000 Corpses, Okay, there are a lot! Not to mention— Psycho 😉, Dead Alive,Scream 2,The Others, The Conjuring.
While it’s not exactly a horror, I’d also like to give Terminator 2 a shoutout. And the Queen in Aliens- that bitch is protective. (I have a hard time stopping).
I won’t regale you with some of the total misfires I experienced this week when watching new content (though one will get its own review this weekend), but I will give a some suggestions!
The Mitchells vs The Machines
Technology takes over the world and while on a bonding family road trip The Mitchells become unexpected heroes.
The animation is terrific and there are wonderful themes about family, technology, and… MOVIES. 😍 Who doesn’t love a animated tale with equal shares of laugh out loud moments and heart? It may be because I share a real kinship with the lead character, but this was a delightful experience.
You’ll have feels after.
Special shoutouts to all the film references, the Furby throwback, Doug the Pug, Journey album covers and The Shining socks.
Streaming on Netflix
The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4
If you’re a fan and you’ve managed to hang on this long I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, but you should watch the newest! I have had *thoughts* on whether or not we need more of this show, and depending on where this goes, I’ll have more. Until then..
While this is a gloomy viewing experience, there are some emotional reunions that really hit home, and some shifts in environment and direction that provides new life. As always, amazingly acted, beautifully shot.
But prepare your emotions accordingly.
Streaming on Hulu with new episodes every Wednesday.
Bonus: For some strange reason I was late to the game on this one, but I finally watched The Old Guard (on Netflix) and loved it! I would definitely recommend watching Charlize Theron kick ass, any day of the week.
Have you watched these? Let me know your thoughts!
With my newest…what I’m calling my “return to my normalcy” episode of the Go, On, Scare, Me Podcast, I’ve decided to expand from the initial plan.
I had intended to make this a Spider 🕷 filled episode, but I’m disappointed there isn’t more to dive into! That isn’t to say I won’t, because I definitely will, but why limit it to one creepy crawly when there are so many to choose from? So, I’m casting a bigger web 😏.
Are you afraid of spiders? Bugs? Insects? A specific little beastie? Please drop me a line below, with whatever your comfortable with, to include on my recording. Tell us your fear, experiences, if that translates to films/tv, and anything you else you would like to include! If you’d like to leave a voice message to be included click here.
It’s been some time, but I’m excited to return to my level of weird normalcy. 🙂 I’m also going to include some of an interview I did (last year 🥺) with a professor of Psychology. Hopefully you’ll enjoy!
By now, if you haven’t heard of Godzilla vs. Kong, I’m a little concerned. Really. It’s our first big blockbuster of the year, landing on both HBO Max and in theaters, delivering high energy thrills, epic fight scenes, and lots of incredibly thought-provoking narratives.
Okay, so, not so much on the last one.
There are a lot of terrific special effects, and there is no denying that a spectacle of this kind is going to be fun and Godzilla vs. Kong is. Don’t get me wrong, while there were some definite lulls, it kept my attention (from my home) and it definitely reinvogorated the desire to be in a theater seeing something of this scope. *Chokes up.*
Is it what I expected?
Perhaps, and maybe that’s part of the problem. Gareth Edward‘s Godzilla (2014) had some interesting ideas, some terrific cinematography, and the story had real stakes. Godzilla: King of the Monsters, eehmmm, not really. This is definitely an improvement on the latter, but it lacks the direction of Edward’s film. Adam Wingard has done a couple movies that I truly adore (and will probably review at some point on this site), but this gargantuan spectacle isn’t one of them.
There are some very cool sequences where these two fight (wait- what??) even though the weirdo in me really wants to see a spin off where they’re besties somewhere, splashing around, feeling #makelovenotwar vibes. But, leaning back into “reality”, there are some great developments here, as well as some things that will give you some answers you probably wanted, like when this first came out, like, “How is Kong possibly going to compete with Godzilla?”
These “monsters- not really monsters” aren’t really the problem. The biggest issue with this film, and it’s what makes it hard to give this a full on, energetic, slow-motion thumbs up, are the human characters. Look at this cast, it’s pretty stacked: Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), Dr. Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown) and her father, Kyler Chandler. As well as Julian Dennison, Bryan Tyree Henry, and Demián Bichir to name a few.
Why isn’t it elevated to the blockbusterI wanted?
These titular creatures are legendary for a reason, and then when you see this cast lineup your hopes shift upward. Unfortunately, the storylines are just not compelling. More than anything they are there just to keep the monster’s story moving, but don’t have their own purpose. They are characters with thin trajectory’s and even worse dialogue.
With the exception of one.
As we have seen in countless iterations of King Kong, he often has a soft-spot for a kind-hearted human. This time around it is a young girl, raised on the island and looked after by Kong when she loses her parents, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who quite literally, steals the show.
There are a lot of talented individuals in this movie that have nothing to really do. They feel like spectators, with little to contribute to the overall story. There’s a subplot with three characters (all terrific actors) that may illicit a couple laughs, but is mostly unnecessary. Tonally, the film makes a couple of quick pivots, attempting to be playful, but mostly suffers from inconsistency. It’s hard to balance the importance of what’s happening, the potential horror as you will, while keeping this a family movie night pick. I think this is a case of visual style over substance, which many popcorn flicks are, so it isn’t unexpected.
It has some sweet moments, primarily between Jia and Kong. Some pretty badass moments, (I personally always love it when Godzilla first makes his entrance). There are some other interesting creatures/worlds that come into play, but the films supposed “villain” ends up being overwhelmingly lackluster. Or, perhaps, not the execution, but the motivation behind the creation.
A couple last, mostly nonsensical, thoughts: I half expected Immigrant Song to start playing during one fight scene (yes, I’m harking back to one of the MCU’s best, Thor: Ragnarok). While in a similar MCU vein, I was also wondering if maybe there’ll be some accords written up, holding these two accountable, because places get hella damaged, people killed, and no one seems concerned.
I didn’t dislike the film, it was an exciting jaunt, mostly, but I also, didn’t love it. I believe it is possible to have a film of this caliber and visual lushness, that can still have characters conducive to quality and depth. This just isn’t it.
One could argue, but, do we really need that? And I would respond, shouldn’t we?
What are your thoughts? Can you look past the script and human stories and just enjoy it? Or are you still looking for a new movie about these classic monsters that has a bit more? Let me know! Also, #teamkong or #teamgodzilla? Personally, I’m team Rebecca Hall, and now, Kaylee Hottle!