For the last five years, I’ve thought King’s work was fine. Just fine. Nothing spectacular. I was beginning to think I was no longer the fan I used to be. Maybe I was getting tired of his work. It didn’t help that he spent a large part of those five years writing a trilogy of crime novels, and I just… don’t care about crime novels. I’ve tried to care, because I’m a King fan. But even loving his work, I still didn’t care all that much. I needed him to get back to the things that made me love him in the first place. I needed a novel that felt like classic King.
It by Stephen King is one of my favorite books of all time. It has stayed in my top five all these years, and it’s actually time for a reread to confirm that it keeps that place. Still, it was a forgone conclusion that I had to see this. I couldn’t let a fresh adaptation go by without a watch, and the reviews were all so positive I knew it was a safe bet. And it absolutely was. But I want to unpack all my feelings about this new film, and that’s going to involve spoilers whether we like it or not. For the new film, the book, and maybe even a little of the 1990 miniseries thrown in.
I’ve recently finished Lilith’s Brood (still known in some circles as The Xenogenesis Trilogy) by Octavia Butler. It’s become an instant new favorite, and I really want everyone to read it. I thought of doing a full series review, but I realized that, due to my love of it, it would just be me gushing. I’d be hard-pressed to be critical, since there’s so little that is wrong with it in my mind. So instead I’m going to indulge myself and talk about all the reasons it’s great and should be read by everyone.
I read so much this month. Let’s not delay then and get right into it.
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. (My Rating: 5/5) I was already a fan of Brosh from her blog. In fact, if you’re curious, I suggest having a look at that first to see if you like the style. It’s a mixed media type of storytelling, with simple images and text, like illustrated stories. And it’s hilarious. And sometimes surprisingly moving. While there are some previous blog posts of hers collected in this volume, there are also lots of new installments that can only be found here. I highly recommend this as a quick and amusing read that also packs a punch in spots, especially when she gets very honest and raw about her battle with depression.
February 7th, two books that I was greatly anticipating were released. Thanks to it being my birthday on the 10th, I was able to get both. Even luckier than that, I loved them both. Said books were Universal Harvester by John Darnielle and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I’m going to do a double review here discussing these and hopefully convince you to give them a shot.
Welcome to Horror Triple Feature! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. The idea is that I wrap up the last three horror films I’ve watched in mini reviews. Let’s have at it.
Souichi’s Diary of Delights by Junji Ito (My Rating: 2/5) Junji Ito is normally a safe bet for me. I love his art and his bizarre stories that chill me to the bone. In this case, this was my first go round with Souichi, who is a fan favorite up there with Tomie. I officially don’t see it. Souichi annoyed the living hell out of me. Normally, I would see the appeal. In a way, he has that Edward Scissorhands vibe to him. That he doesn’t follow the norm and takes his own path. He draws in the outsiders who are always looking for mirror images of themselves. Except that he’s a spoiled brat. So unlike Edward, who is a great example, he’s not sweet or well-meaning. He’s godawful. And not like, another great example, the Joker, where someone could get glee out of him doing whatever he feels. Because he’s simpering and whiny and gives up as soon as opposition presents itself. He’s just not fun.
There’s simply no denying that two of the highest grossing movies in 2016 were superhero films wherein the characters weren’t heroes. Hollywood has done this sort of thing in the past, disparate studios releasing movies with the same basic thrust at the same time, accidentally creating a kind of phenomenon. For me, the idea of antiheroes becoming the norm is an interesting idea for our current atmosphere. Let’s discuss.
First, it needs to be addressed that I’m a weird Trekkie. The first reboot film in 2009 is what brought me to the Star Trek fandom. I watched some of the original series and thought it was all right. Sacrilege, I’m sure some of you are crying. Then I found The Next Generation. There it suddenly was. My brand of Trek. Everyone has the incarnation that is their baby, and I don’t judge anyone for whichever show or set of films that is. Even in discovering that Next Gen was definitely my favorite, the reboot films are still beloved by me. You’re always going to show favor to whatever brought you to the dance, even among naysayers.
I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 since the film, wherein they riff This Island Earth, came out. I didn’t have Comedy Central when the show was airing there, but I did have Sci-Fi Channel (remember when it was called that?) when it switched stations. Maybe that makes it obvious when I say season eight is my favorite of the show’s entire run. That season was the beginning of my love affair with the show, and there’s a lot of nostalgia for me there.
Still I find when I watch episodes now, which I do often, season eight is still my favorite. I seem to laugh the most at those riffs, have the most fondness for those particular terrible films. Let’s talk about a few of the episodes that I feel made this season shine.
I Was A Teenage Werewolf. This isn’t just a classic for MST fans. It’s a classic horror film in general with an actually decent performance from Michael Landon. But it was also full of tropes from the time and a random sock hop scene that completely diverted from the movie’s tone and story. I love werewolves, so anytime they get to make fun of that genre, it’s bound to be a favorite of mine.
The Giant Spider Invasion. I know I’ve watched this one a million times. Overly moist rednecks in Wisconsin fight a felt-covered Volkswagen. The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island is the town sheriff. Barbara Hale gets rolled on. The stunning downward spiral that is this movie has to be seen to be believed, and the MST writers mocked it for all it was worth.
Jack Frost. A Russo-Finnish fairy tale about a mushroom-hatted guy, Prince Valiant turning into a bear, and a love interest so cute it’s actually haunting. It’s frankly mind-boggling to watch this as someone mostly unfamiliar with the cultural folk lore. Oh, and some Baba Yaga action is had, with the house with chicken legs and everything. If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll be ROFLing.
Riding With Death. The inexplicable seventies trucker genre meets science fiction. In a made-for-TV movie. Are you wincing yet? This was clearly meant to be a pilot for a TV show, and what we receive are two episodes crammed together with some questionable weaving together of plots. With lines such as “you’re as elusive as Robert Denby!” before we’ve even met the man. It has to be experienced to be believed.
Agent for H.A.R.M. The very, very poor man’s James Bond. With a lot of smirks and smarm from our “hero”. There’s a vague SF plot, but mostly it’s a total lack of action and intrigue that results in the most boring spy movie ever. Punctuated by drawn out scenes (probably meant to pad out the running time) featuring one of our riffers belting out the Bond theme in full irony mode. Delicious.
Space Mutiny. I’ve watched this episode to the point that I can never watch it again because I have it memorized. It’s my all-time favorite. In an attempt to duplicate Star Wars, we end up with a heavily muscled space pilot and a middle-aged teenage princess fighting a villain whose chief weapon is his ability to overact. If you’ve not heard of this, you’ve at least heard Ryder’s many nicknames as coined by the MST writers, my favorite being Big McLargeHuge.
I could go on. Which is why it’s easier to just say check out season eight for yourself. I’ll let you in on a little secret. You can watch these episodes pretty much anywhere. Give them a google. You won’t be disappointed. As always, happy geeking!
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