Scary Movies

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Since today is Halloween, it’s the perfect day to talk about my love of scary movies. I came to this affinity later in life and my enjoyment of them is always a bit perplexing as they don’t actually scare me. I may jump or otherwise react during the movie, but there doesn’t seem to be any lasting impact after the fact; I can watch something like The Strangers or The Ring and have it not even phase me in the slightest. Back in the day a roommate and I watched the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and she was so freaked out that she had to go stay at her boyfriend’s house, leaving me in the house all alone. Not only did I sleep like a baby that night, I had just learned how to get the place to myself. Don’t think that I didn’t use that to my advantage as much as possible.

The problem with liking scary movies is that you have to sit through an lot of bad movies; while the horror genre has plenty of good film, the sheer rate at which they are cranking these movies out means that that there are going to be a lot of clunkers in the bunch, especially for people who don’t scare easily. Because I’m not watching these movies behind splayed hands or covering in the corner, I can actually objectively judge these movies and a lot come up lacking. Horror movies tend to be a little formulaic and fall prey to heavy reliance on sequels, so you often have to wade through plenty of crap before you find a horror movie that is actually decent. Even if the movie doesn’t deliver for me on the scares front, I can still enjoy the movie as a whole. I tend to like films that are creative or that are somewhat grounded in real life more than movies like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. Anything with a creepy kid usually gets extra points in my book, as does the presence of an English accent. The presence of actual character development or a cohesive narrative aren’t givens in many horror movies, but when they are there they make for a much better experience. So with these caveats in place, here are my five of my favorite scary movies….

  • The Cabin in the Woods:

I’m a fan of the self-aware horror film that poke fun at the tropes and clichés that tend to dominate the genre. Much like Scream, The Cabin in the Woods knowingly winks at the audience while still providing some legitimately scary moments as well as unexpected plot twists. The Cabin in the Woods is not the same movie at the end that it starts out as and I think it’s all the better for that.  This movie is also legitimately funny.

 

  • The Others

Creepy kids AND British accents. This is a Heather horror movie twofer! I figured this movie out pretty quickly, but still enjoyed it despite seeing the big reveal coming. That’s saying something, as usually in horror movies once you know the twist, the whole thing kind of falls apart.

 

  • The Exorcist:

Going old-school with this pick, but though I didn’t find The Exorcist all that scary, it certainly did create a mood. And that mood was unsettling; if the scene with the crucifix didn’t make you extremely uncomfortable, I don’t want to know you. Great score, beautiful cinematography, and quite daring for being made in the 70s. The sequels and remakes that followed were garbage, but the original is still a solid film.

 

  • Insidious:

The early 2010s were a glorious time for creepy kid movies that were actually well executed. Between Insidious and the slightly lesser Sinister, I don’t feel so bad about not having offspring. Children seem to be ready vessels for some evil stuff. It doesn’t quite stick the landing, but overall Insidious does enough stuff that I do like to make it watchable.

 

  • The Descent:

The chills in the The Descent are provided not only by the creatures lurking in the cave but from the claustrophobic conditions that the women find themselves in. It’s full on tension and the film does spend a little bit of time developing the all-female cast beyond the most rudimentary stock characters. As someone who is always a little suspicious of nature, this movie only reinforced that heading into caves is never a good idea.

Now it’s your turn – what scary movies are your favorites or keep you up at night? Let us know in the comments. Based on family and friend recommendations, I plan to try and watch The Babadook tonight. Happy Halloween!

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Pop Culture Odds and Ends – I Heart NY Edition

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I probably should just move to NYC at this point, right?

My friend Amanda has been telling me this for years; she even has my neighborhood picked out (Chelsea). And I have to admit that there is a certain logic to it, given how much time I spend in the city and how much I love being there. I’m on my way there today, one of my last trips this year. Sadly the day job is putting a major damper on this trip, but I’m still trying to make the most of it. I’ll be flying solo for a lot of the time, which I do kind of love – it’s great spending time with my friends, but it’s also nice to have the freedom to do all the silly stuff that I like to do, like chase down art installations/street art and eat weird stuff that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone else. If I want to spend 3 hours trying to locate some graffiti or walk 20 blocks out of the way to try a cupcake ATM (both things that have actually happened), I am free to do so. And honestly nothing makes me happier than waking up in NYC, even if I have to cut the trip short because I am apparently the only person who can do anything around the office.

But I’d hate to leave my family and the friends that I have here and despite my current annoyance I do enjoy my job. I’m also convinced that as much as I love NYC that it would lose some of its appeal if I actually lived in NYC. Right now, it’s a perfect little getaway that gives me a reprieve from my normal life. The reality of day to day life in the city would be a lot different. The cruel irony is that living in NYC would meant that I probably couldn’t afford most of what I like to do in the city; the harsh reality is that I most likely wouldn’t be living in Chelsea, or even Manhattan or Brooklyn in general because I would be priced out. Wah-wah.

Never disappointing – the pop culture roundup. See what you might have missed in the last week.

Television

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baseball

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Movies

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Trailers

  • A teaser trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2:

 

  • Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life:

 

  • Logan:

 

  • Nocturnal Animals:

 

  • Legion:

 

  • Arrival:

 

  • Always Shine:

 

  • Come and Find Me:

 

  • Barry:

 

  • Loving Vincent:

 

  • Nashville on CMT:

 

  • I am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House:

 

  • Red Dead Redemption 2:

 

  • A Cure for Wellness:

 

  • Incarnate:

 

Music

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Books

 

Theater

 

Stand-up

 

Odds and Ends

 

Mashups and Supercuts

  • Top 10 horror movie deaths of all-time:

 

  • The movies sing the Friends theme song:

 

  • A Vintage 1940s version of Maroon 5’s “This Love”:

 

  • Rapping with Tom Hanks:

 

  • Kings of Leon covered Selena Gomez:

 

  • Cher and James Corden update “I Got You Babe” for the modern era:

 

  • Tom Cruise and James Corden recreated some of Cruise’s iconic roles:

 

  • Weird Al takes on the final presidential debate:

 

  • Miss Piggy busts out a little Lauryn Hill:

 

  • And finally, a trick or treat TV supercut:

Pop Culture Weekend

This weekend was a busy one, but I didn’t do anything particularly exciting on the pop culture front. Mostly the weekend was spent hanging out with friends, which was great; I’m away so much that it’s rare that I get to spend so much time with my various friend groups. My limited time with pop culture was mostly clearing out the DVR and trying to stay current with my Sunday night shows (which I generally succeeded with, minus a technical glitch with my HBO GO app). Here are the highlights:

  • I did watch the Hamilton’s America PBS documentary because I’m pretty sure that I am contractually obligated to watch everything and anything related to Hamilton. I thought it was an interesting look at the process behind putting the show together, but if people thought that they were going to see a lot of musical numbers they were probably pretty disappointed. There were performances throughout the documentary, but they were just snippets; no song was shown in its entirety. But for those who haven’t been able to snag a ticket yet, it did give some insight into the staging of the show, which is the one thing that is lacking from just listening to the original cast recording. Plus now I know that there is an Alexander Hamilton statue in Central Park that I can try to find; I guarantee that I get lost in this quest, since it once took me TWO HOURS to find the Captain America statue in Prospect Park. If you missed the doc, it’s currently streaming online.
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot recently debuted on one of the movie channels so I had DVRed it. This came out in March of this year, while I was still recovering from my Oscar prep binge, so I missed it in the theater. It was fine, but I’m glad that I watched it at home on a cold and rainy night rather than paying money to see it in the theater. There was a lot going on in this movie and I don’t think it ever fully found its groove or tone. Still, it was amusing and I’m always down to see anything with Tina Fey in it. Not as funny as I expected, but I guess there is a limit on how many jokes you can mine from war reporting.
  • I finally got the chance to catch up on the first two episodes of the new season of Supergirl, which jumped from CBS to the CW. So far I think that they are playing to the show’s strengths and eliminating stuff that didn’t work as well (I was never a fan of the James/Kara romance angle). They even managed to introduce Superman to the show without overshadowing Supergirl. My only complaint is that Calista Flockhart is no longer a regular cast member; her Cat Grant could deliver the best biting insults. Supergirl is never a show that I’ll love, but they have made a good show better.
  • I also watched Zoolander 2, which was so forgettable that I just spent twenty minutes trying to remember what the other movie I watched  this weekend was. It was…not good. I say that as a fan of the original. Perfectly fine movie to have on in the background while I did other things, but no need to watch this one. At least it was relatively short.
  • I’ve been pretty MIA most of this baseball season – I think I just needed a break – but I did make sure to tune in to the final innings of the Cubs/Dodgers game to see the Cubbies clinch their Word Series berth. Despite my Yankee fandom, I do love an underdog. Here’s to hoping the Cubs bring home the trophy (sorry Cleveland).
  • Golden Girls re-runs – this is pretty much my go to when it’s on. I’ve seen every episode a million times, but I still love it. I am guessing that I am the only person who pregames football Sunday with Blanche, Rose, Dorothy and Sophia.

So how about you? What did you watch, read, or listen to this weekend? Share your pop culture consumption with us in the comments.