Tuesday Terrific: Sorry To Bother You (2018)

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Cassius is a dude short on cash, prospects and motivation. He’s the type that wonders – does life really matter if the sun is going to explode one day and wipe our section of the universe clean? Desperate for money, he gets a job as a telemarketer. An older co-worker gives him the keys to success and Cassius finds himself quickly moving up the ladder. Getting a promotion has its drawbacks. Now, he finds himself at constant odds with his girlfriend,  the friends/coworkers he’s left behind and his conscious.

And that’s all I can really say without spoiling this fun, wild, thought-provoking film. It’s a documentary fantasy/comedy about people trying to survive a system that sees them as no more than a “resource”.

Do yourself a favor and don’t read spoilers before seeing Sorry To Bother You. Don’t even pay too much attention to reviews (glowing or otherwise). It’s best to go in fresh with as few expectations as possible; be open to the world that’s about to unfold in front of you.

Go on. Hop in the back seat and go on an adventure with these beautiful folks.

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Tuesday Terror: The Sand (2015)

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The night after a beach party, a group wakes up and discovers the sand suddenly has a hankering for living things. If you touch it, you become stuck and get sucked down into it. Could it have anything to do with that large, slimy rock they found last night?

The Sand is a modern-day take on the 80s movie Blood Beach. It opens like a foundation footage feature (it’s not) with video from the beach party. How do you know it’s a wild and crazy time? Lots of people are screaming and pouring liquor into each other’s mouths. The scene gives a hint of the terror to come and establishes why cell phones won’t be helpful later.

For all the drinking they did the night before, the handful of characters who wake up on the beach immediately start getting up into each other’s faces: talking, kissing, etc. Eww. Someone puts her feet in the sand – the terror begins.

Our group trying to escape the beach consist of the hot guy, his ex girlfriend, his current girlfriend, the nice guy who wants the ex girlfriend, the black guy who clearly makes bad decisions and two or three more friends there to enhance body count. No one here is a villain – though one does show up briefly.

With SyFy original movie grade special effects, this should be a silly, fun movie. Though the action starts fairly quickly, there are a lot of slow moments that give the viewer the chance to think. That takes the joy out of a film like this. For example, how come the beach is so clean after their wild party? Where did all of the liquor bottles go?

I should mention that “the black guy who makes bad decisions” spends the majority of this movie stuffed in a trash barrel with a dick drawn on the side of his face….

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Tip: Stop picking up large, slimy, egg-shaped things on the beach. Don’t hang out with people who would put you in a garbage can while you are passed out.

Tuesday Terror: Tourist Trap (1979)

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I am out and about sightseeing which brings to mind a movie that scared the heck out of me when I first saw it- Tourist Trap.

I haven’t seen this film in a while but certain scenes are just seared into my teenage brain. Especially the ending.

If you know the basics ingredients of the plot, a familiar story starts to form in the mind of a horror fan. A wax museum / old mansion, a group of friends, car trouble… Still, there’s something unsettling about this movie.

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Anywho, while I’m avoiding rundown roadside attractions like Slausen’s Lost Oasis, check out the trailer for Tourist Trap:

Tuesday Terror: Dead Body (2017)

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A group of recent high school kids, who all look suspiciously like college sophomores, gather at a cabin in the woods for a party. The night starts with drugs, weird dancing, arguments and a little fake girl-on-girl action. Then, someone suggest they play Dead Body. It’s not long before fake deaths become ahhhh real murders!

Can members of the rapidly dwindling group figure out who the killer is or will everyone lose?

Dead Body was a fun movie. Even though there are some bloody deaths on screen, this felt more like a mystery movie than a horror movie. The writer put some thought into the plot in that there are plenty of red herrings to divert attention from the truth. At certain points, it veered away from the expected to keep me interested.

Just a little quibbles. Because the majority of the characters know each other, there’s no scene that “introduces” the viewer to them. They are just types (as shown in the poster). There is an outsider – the bully aka a boyfriend from a working class background. No one bothers to give him the stories of these new people he’ll be trying to survive the night with. Little bits of info do come out when they are accusing each other. It’s hard to digest who did what when people are yelling at each other.

I wish they had a little more money to afford a bigger cabin. The film feels a little claustrophobic until the action spills to the wilderness outside.

When the killer finally reveals their true self and gave the “why I’m doing this/this is all your fault” monologue, it totally made sense. I mean, it’s not a good reason to kill but I understand.

If you are looking for true slasher horror, this might not fit the bill. If you are open to a bloody who-done-it with a few unexpected twist, don’t pass over Dead Body.

 

 

Tuesday Terror: Queen Of Spades, The Dark Rite

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Russian teens gather in front of a broken mirror to evoke the spirit of the Queen of Spades. The kids soon discover that the Queen is no urban legend and she is now attached to them. Haunted and hunted by a vengeful spirit, can they find a way to escape from her clutches?

The Queen of Spades is the Russian equivalent of Bloody Mary. Grab a candle, get in front of a mirror, use lipstick to draw a door and steps, close your eyes and call her forth. If you are successful and she appears – congratulations! Now that you have summoned her, she can appear at will in other reflective surfaces. Eventually, she will cut your hair. Then, she will kill you.

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Why call her up in the first place? Teens will be teens.

Actually, what starts out as a teen horror flick transforms into a “father will do anything to save his daughter from the demon” flick. The Dad of the youngest girl is summoned to his (ex?) wife’s apartment because the kid is acting strange. He doesn’t believe his daughter at first. He thinks her friends put the idea in her head and her imagination is working overtime. He only recognizes the danger she is in when the Queen of Spades begins following him around, too.

(The girl’s mother disappears for a nice chunk of the movie. I assume she and the other missing guardians are working…)

The movie does do some interesting things. When it’s time to contact the spirit a second time, the kids gather around a walkie-talkie instead of a Ouija board. Rather than an internet search montage to find background info about the Queen or the ritual, this film does something a little old fashioned – a figure cloaked in shadow who gives them advice. Our shadow man has tangled with her in the past but didn’t score a clean victory.

Queen Of Spades has a problem with keeping the tension high. Here’s an example not related to the haunting. Dad is a mechanic who is using a client’s car to drive around. Early on in the film the client threatens to call the police and report the car stolen. It’s to show that the father is jeopardizing his business and freedom for the sake of his child. The car never gets returned but the threat just vanishes.

While not exactly by the numbers, this film was obviously influenced by a lot of other horror movies. The creature looks like an older version of Mama. The father goes on a “Ring” type of quest. How does he get cursed? By watching a video of the ritual. The writers also stirred in a little Exorcist for good measure.

Do you want to summon the Queen of Spades – the movie is missing part of the ritual but all the details are here. A word of advice, make sure you understand how to get rid of her before you call her.

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Terrific Tuesday: The Gospel According To Andre

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Documentaries about celebrities strive to pull back the layers and reveal something new about a familiar personality. Either there’s a new story – hopefully heartbreaking – that makes everyone in earshot tear up or a devastating character flaw. The idea is that you can’t really know a person until you can “see” their pain.

The Gospel According to Andre is a documentary about the life of Andre Leon Talley – former fashion editor of Vogue, friend and confident of several fashion icons and a style legend. ALT has a big, charming personality. He knows how to take charge of a room and hold court with various stories of his adventures in the industry: how he became a helper to Diana Vreeland, his stint working for Andy Warhol, how he impressed Karl Lagerfeld who gifted him with hand me downs, etc.

ALT has a more personal story about his grandmother who raised him. He talks about how he learned from her that anyone can have luxury and style. Same with church – seeing people who went to Sunday service in their best (no matter what their lives were like Monday through Friday.) Almost all of his stories tie back into his love of fashion.

Briefly, ALT talks about racism in the industry. That’s not really true. He talks about two incidents in the distant past where something racist was directly said to or about him. The director tries to make the most of this – dwelling on the pain of the memory before moving on.

In appearances that he’s done to promote the film, ALT recounts these stories but they don’t end in him near tears. He tells extended versions where he makes fun of one perpetrator (where is she now? ha!) and explains how he protected his career/reputation in the other situation. I can’t imagine that the director doesn’t have these versions on film somewhere. Why aren’t these in the doc? Why leave us with the image of a man near tears over decades old insults?

There are several interviews with friends. The ones that are most revealing are not from the icons in the industry. You get a since that ALT has been threw a lot – they want you to know that fabulous life has not been easy for him. At the same time, they aren’t trying to tell his personal business.

The director tries to ramp up the tension and drama by weaving the presidential election throughout the film. There are several scenes of Andre and his friends discussing their support for Clinton. Eventually, the scene when the results come in. If you are expecting ALT to rip one of his beautiful caftans and scream/cry in front of the cameras you will be disappointed.

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Essentially, ALT’s private life is going to remain his private life – no matter how many cameras follow him around.

Now, if you really want to have fun, after the Gospel According To Andre watch Paris Is Burning. What do they have in common? Poor black people who turn to fashion and luxury, the desire to be elevated (or escape) into the world of haute couture – this is a master thesis waiting to happen.

Or for a slightly different approach, pair Gospel According to Andre with Portrait of Jason. If a young Andre entered the world of Diana Vreeland as an eager student, Jason entered the homes of many wealthy white women as an entertainer/court jester.

Heck, watch all three documentaries and let them turn over in your mind for a bit.

Meanwhile, enjoy this song about the man of the hour:

Tuesday Terror: The Monster Project (2017)

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A duo who creates fake ghost/monster hunting videos for Youtube comes up with a great idea: film a documentary about real people who believe they are monsters. They rope in two more folks (a fellow fighting drug addiction and an ex-girlfriend) and set out to interview a supposed tattooed vampire, a body-camera wearing skinwalker and girl possessed by a demon.

Did I mention this documentary was being filmed in a boarded up house that has been the location of satanic rituals?

The Monster Project spends a healthy time trying to establish characters and relationships to foreshadow upcoming conflicts, etc. The filmmakers weren’t that exciting – just love triangles and typical drama. I wish the film had spent more time getting to know the monsters outside of the house. It could have been a day-in-the life of these normal people who believe they harbor dangerous, terrifying secrets.

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Things don’t really get going until they get to the house where – aaahhh real monsters! Do you know the chase scenes from Scooby-Doo where they run from room to room? That’s what happens here with shrieks, gurgles, growls and bloodshed.

As a found footage film, there is an explanation – sort of – for the multiple points of view. The filmmakers have cameras, the house has cameras everywhere, etc. However, there is a scene that we get were a camera recording it is completely illogical. That was a distraction for me.

 

 

The ending is one that you may not see coming but the film does throw out a few clunky clues early on.

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Tip: Don’t work with your ex.

Note: There a completely unrelated organization called The Monster Project that encourages kids to “pursue their creative potential.”

Terror Tuesday: House (1985)

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Horror writer Roger (William Kat) inherits his aunt’s house after she passes away. His first thought is to sell the place; it contains painful memories of his son’s abduction. Feeling that his son is still alive and needing a new space to write, he changes his mind. The house has his son and it wants him, too…

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This is a horror comedy that has a good balance of both. As a haunted house movie, it has things that go bump in the night, weirdness that shows up during the day and a surprise lurking in every closet. The film deals with sadness, grief and regret – but it’s not malicious.

Besides the inhabitants of the house, Roger’s world includes a nosy next door neighbor, an ex-wife who is concerned about his well being, a sexy model-type neighbor who wants knows when a man is “ready to play” and a dead aunt who stops by with advice.

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The stars of the film and most of the cameos are folks from 80s tv. For example, William Kat was The Greatest American Hero. George Wendt was a regular on Cheers. (Norm!)

Typically, horror movies gives you a human character who is evil (the true villain) or annoying to the point you root for the creature/killer to get them. That character doesn’t exist in House. There are conflicts that arrive from misunderstandings but the house is the only villain. Even today – a thousand years after I first saw the movie – that feels refreshing.

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Tip: Beware garden tools.

 

Tuesday Terror: The Comeback (1978)

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Nick Cooper, a singer who hasn’t cut (ha!) an album in six years, is ready to get in the recording booth again. Not everyone is set to welcome him back. In fact, someone wants to silence him . . . foreva!

Take a slasher movie and add a dollop of Scooby-Doo sensibility and you get The Comeback. The killer even looks like a Scooby-Doo villain. Nick looks a little like Freddie and his lust interest does give off Daphne vibes (right down to being danger-prone). As a slasher flick, it’s a bit gory in spots.

 

Nick and the other characters are in a horror/mystery but don’t know it. He is at a castle where weird sounds and visions have him doubting his sanity. The murders are happening in a different location – Nick’s old penthouse. While waiting for the characters to catch on to what’s really going on, the viewer gets introduced to a wide range of possible suspects.

It may be obvious who the killer is but the movie does its best to throw suspicion on everyone who crosses Nick’s path. When you least expect it, one of the characters is revealed to be a crossdresser. In the 70s/80s – hell maybe up through last week, this would have been a Big! Shocking! Clue! It was worth an eye roll.

The reason for all of the deaths? I won’t reveal the details but let’s say you never know how your actions impact other people.

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Tip: If you wake up in the middle of the night and see a corpse, perhaps check into a hotel.

Tuesday Terror: The Bay (2012)

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On July 4th 2009, disaster struck a small Maryland town. Several government agencies were involved in a cover up. They locked away evidence, cleaned up the bodies and buried the truth.

However, there are still witnesses.Thanks to a government leak, a journalism student who was present at the July 4th fiasco gets access to the various material authorities had confiscated. She’s combined her footage with surveillance cameras, video calls, etc to create a documentary that reveals what really happened that day…on The Bay.

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This is a pretty good found footage story. It isn’t linear and unfolds in a way that will keep you guessing as to exactly what is going on. The townspeople, who have no idea what’s happening to them, flail around for answers. Many of the theories presented don’t seem incredibly far fetched.

There are shades of Jaws – the vacuum cleaner salesman turned mayor sucks – and other horror films but it doesn’t feel redundant. The story telling works to draw you in.

This is the kind of movie that will send you to Google afterward.

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Tips: Don’t drink the water. Don’t swim in the water. Don’t run through a water sprinkler.

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