Top 25 Movie Quotes: Part II

Ever seen the American Film Institute’s list of movie quotes? Let me sum up: of the hundred, about 25 are Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. Most of the rest are from the other golden oldies that are revered by the writers of film studies textbooks; they may be well-made, but they’re also very much a reminder of how discriminatory Hollywood was in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Though I give big ups for including Jaws, Psycho, and The Sixth Sense, the AFI’s selections just don’t speak to me, and if you’re on this site, perhaps they don’t speak to you, either. Though many of the movies I quote from aren’t horror, they are all delightful (the quotes, not necessarily the movies). After trying and failing to narrow down my own list to a slim ten squared, here is part two of several upcoming parts. In no particular order (except the chronological order in which I wrote about these films in my movie journal):

25.) Susan Sarandon, addressing the rumor that she was intoxicated while filming her lesbian love scene in The Hunger: “You wouldn’t have to get drunk to bed Catherine Deneuve, I don’t care what your sexual history to that point had been.” (The Celluloid Closet, 1995)

24.) Adam (Leigh Whannell): “I don’t give a crap if you covered yourself in peanut butter and had a fifteen-hooker gang bang!” (Saw, 2004)

23.) Detective Mills (Brad Pitt): “What’s in the box? What’s in the fucking box?!” (Se7en, 1995)

22.) [Paul, trying to summon The Boss, repeatedly rings an annoying buzzer] The Boss: “OKAY, Paul!” (Eraserhead, 1977)

21.) Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton): “I’ve seen The Exorcist about a hundred and sixty-seven times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it!” (Beetlejuice, 1988)

20.) Steve (Craig T. Nelson): “You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!” (Poltergeist, 1982)

19.) Yzma (Eartha Kitt), pondering how to get rid of her enemy: “Ah, how shall I do it? Oh, I know. I’ll turn him into a flea, a harmless little flea, and then I’ll put that flea in a box, and then I’ll put that box inside of another box, and then I’ll mail that box to myself, and when it arrives, I’ll smash it with a hammer! It’s brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, I tell you! Genius, I say! Or, to save on postage, I’ll just poison him with this!” (The Emperor’s New Groove, 2000)

18.) Chip (Jim Carrey): “Come back here, so that I may brain thee!” (The Cable Guy, 1996)

17.) Beverly (Jeremy Irons), explaining to Claire why he and his twin brother tricked her into dating both of them: “My brother and I always shared things.” Claire (Geneviève Bujold): “I’m not a thing.”

Sorry, there’s a dearth of interesting stills from this movie–it’s not actually a story of three people going to a fancy restaurant

16.) Donald (Nicolas Cage): “I just got shot! Isn’t that fucked up?” Charlie (also Nicolas Cage): “Shut up! Stop laughing!” (Adaptation., 2002)

Not a clip from the aforementioned scene, which was not to be found–this is my runner-up quote: [Charlie is trying to write but getting distracted and trying to ply himself with coffee and a muffin]: “Maybe banana nut. That’s a good muffin.”

15.) [Milton (Stephen Root) is given a piece of cake at an office birthday party and is about to take a bite] Nina (Kinna McInroe): “Now, Milton, don’t be greedy, let’s pass it along and make sure everyone gets a piece.” Milton: “Yeah, but last time I didn’t receive a piece. And I was told…” [Mumbles to himself as the cake is getting distributed to everyone else…] “The ratio of cake to people…” [Milton ends up with no cake again]

14.) Evan (Steve Carell) is being supernaturally sabotaged by his jealous coworker Bruce (Jim Carrey), who is making him speak gibberish while attempting to deliver the news: “I lika do da cha cha.” (Bruce Almighty, 2003)

13.) Bobby (Adam Sandler) “Mama says that alligators are ornery because they got all them teeth but no toothbrush.” (The Waterboy, 1998)

Look on the left, it’s Lawrence Gilliard Jr.!

12.) [Craig (Ice Cube) has just won a fist fight] Dana (Regina King): “He think he a mack.” Mr. Jones (John Witherspoon): “Macaroni.” (Friday, 1995)

11.) “Have you checked the children?” (When a Stranger Calls, 1979)

This clip doesn’t actually contain that quote, but it’s a damn masterful bit of film

10.) Meridith (Amanda Wyss): “I believe my father loved me. I also believe that if you love something truly, you can’t help but destroy it.” (The Id, 2015)

Amanda Wyss is magic

9.) [A group of strangers at a bus station begin transforming to have the same face] Ulises (Gustavo Sánchez Parra): “Why are you talking about me in plural?” (Los Parecidos, AKA The Similars, 2015)

8.) Amilyn (Paul Reubens): “You ruined my new jacket. Kill him a lot!” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1992)

7.) Jovie (Zooey Deschanel), thinking she is being pranked by her coworker: “Did Crumpet put you up to this?” (This one is a bit of a thinker if you’re not a David Sedaris fan; he wrote an essay called “The Santaland Diaries” about his experiences working, like Jovie does, as en elf in a department store, where his elf name was Crumpet. (Elf, 2003)

6.) [Mary, a mental hospital resident with dissociative identity disorder discussing with her therapist what parts of her body are represented by her different personalities] Doctor: “And where do you live, Simon?” Mary, as Simon: “I live in the weak and the wounded…Doc.” (Session 9, 2001)

5.) Shrek (Mike Myers): “Aw, come on, Donkey, look at him, in his wee little boots! I mean, how many cats can wear boots? Honestly?” (Shrek 2, 2004)

4.) Beast (Kelsey Grammer), using his catchphrase from the comic books: “Oh my stars and garters.” (X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006)

3.) Billy (Adam Sandler) is playing in the bathtub and addresses the bird-shaped faucet: “Stop looking at me, swan!” (Billy Madison, 1995)

2.) Jack Pumpkinhead: “Would you please check my head for signs of spoiling?” (Return to Oz, 1985)

This is actually one of the less disconcerting images from this movie

1.) Randy (Jamie Kennedy), explaining horror movie tropes: “Never, ever, ever under any circumstances say ‘I’ll be right back.’ Because you won’t be back.” (Scream, 1996)

*Author’s note: I have extensively relied on IMDb for help, both with dates and with some of the quotes. Any mis-quoting is my error.

Top 25 Movie Quotes: Part I

You ever see the American Film Institute’s list of movie quotes? Let me sum up: of the hundred, about 25 are Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. Most of the rest are from the other golden oldies that are revered by the writers of film studies textbooks; they may be well-made, but they’re also very much a reminder of how discriminatory Hollywood was in terms of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Though I give big ups for including Jaws, Psycho, and The Sixth Sense, the AFI’s selections just don’t speak to me, and if you’re on this site, perhaps they don’t speak to you, either. Though many of the movies I quote from aren’t horror, they are all delightful (the quotes, not necessarily the movies). After trying and failing to narrow down my own list to a slim ten squared, here is part one of several upcoming parts. In no particular order (except the chronological order in which I wrote about these films in my movie journal):

25.) “Let us tear the paper tiger of male imperialism!” (Lysistrata, 1972)

24.) “You cheeky monkey!” (Spider, 2002)

If you’ve never seen post-body horror David Cronenberg, you could certainly do worse

23.) Jack (Jack Nicholson): “You’ve had your whole fucking life to think things over, what good’s a few minutes more gonna do you now?” (The Shining, 1980)

Jack, moments away from a baseball bat to the head due to his incessant mansplaining

22.) Ben (Duane Jones), to pushy white guy Harry: “Now get the hell down in the cellar. You can be the boss down there, but I’m boss up here.” (Night of the Living Dead, 1968)

You tell him, Ben!

21.) [Allison (Arielle Kebbel) is freaking out because her friends have disappeared after going in the cursed Saeki house, and her school principal is attempting to reassure her] “Allison, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Vanessa and Miyuki aren’t missing. They’re right here.” [Miyuki and Vanessa suddenly appear as ghosts next to her] (The Grudge 2, 2006)

Sure wish I could find a clip of this on YouTube–the picture doesn’t do it justice; Allison looks only mildly disconcerted here, probably because they’re all wearing the same outfit

20.) [Dr. Blake (Mary Steenburgen) is testifying in court that her mother, despite having an intellectual disability and needing support from her own parents, was responsible for Blake’s best traits] “Please let the record show my mother raised me.” (I Am Sam, 2001)

19.) Hecuba (Katharine Hepburn), trying to psych herself into rising: “Up. Up, body.” (The Trojan Women, 1971)

18.) Antigone (Irene Papas): “I can face death. But I cannot leave my brother unburied.” (Antigone, 1961)

Can you tell I once took a college course on gender in classical Greece?

17.) [While filming Plan Nine from Outer Space, actor Tor Johnson bumps into the set while trying to get through a door, and the cameraman asks Ed, the director (Johnny Depp), if he wants to do another take] Ed: “No, it’s fine. It’s real. You know, in actuality, Lobo would have to struggle with this problem every day.” (Ed Wood, 1994)

16.) [Possessed lawman Entragian (Ron Perlman) is sorting through the IDs of a group of people he’s arrested] “You’re Peter. And you’re Mary. So where’s Paul? I mean, how can you sing ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ without Paul? Wait a minute…Peter Jackson? I love Lord of the Rings!” (Desperation, 2006)

15.) Ralph (John Kassir) is having a drug-induced hallucination (or is he?): “Bad zombies! Shoo!” (Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical, 2005)

14.) [Cornelia (Agnes Moorehead) is alerting the police to an intruder in her home, and is told to wait for help] “I have a gun, and I know how to use it!” (The Bat, 1959)

She’s terrifically sassy, for the ’50s

13.) Desk clerk: “That her?” Luger (Samuel L. Jackson): “No, that’s a picture.” (National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1)

If you’ve never seen this, it’s amusing as well as undeniably cringy (1993 was different times), but Samuel L. Jackson is amazing–also watch for a brief appearance by Lin Shaye

12.) Regarding the cloying nature of kid show host Smoochy the rhino (Edward Norton): “He’s a bottle of pancake syrup with legs!” (Death to Smoochy, 2002)

Robin Williams on the left–great performances from both of them

11.) “No one can take your kidney but me.” (Gau min, AKA Koma, 2004)

10.) “The human mouth is called a piehole.” (Over the Hedge, 2006)

9.) Daffy the Gremlin, in homage to Marathon Man: “Is it safe?” (Gremlins 2: The New Batch, 1990)

The dentist gremlin
The torture scene from Marathon Man

8.) [A group of suffragists have been arrested for picketing and given a choice of paying a fine or going to jail, and they choose jail] Lucy Burns: “To pay the fine would be admitting guilt. We haven’t broken a law. Not one dollar.” (Iron Jawed Angels, 2004)

Frances O’Connor as Lucy Burns in the foreground, and hey there’s Vera Farmiga just behind her! The Conjuring 2 was a reunion!

7.) “Go find your head!” (Hakkyousuru kuchibiru, AKA Crazy Lips, 2000)

Actual tagline: “People who watch this movie go crazy in a week.”

6.) Kit (Eddie Murphy): “White boys always get the Oscar. It’s a known fact. Did I ever get a nomination? No! You know why? Cause I hadn’t played any of them slave roles, and get my ass whipped. That’s how you get the nomination.” (Bowfinger, 1999)


5.) “Words create lies. Pain can be trusted.” (Ôdishon, AKA Audition, 1999)

Eihi Shiina as Asami, who has definite trust issues

4.) “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” (The Princess Bride, 1987)

3.) Norther (Steve Buscemi), reciting a poem he’s been working on for twelve years: “The grass so green/Skies so blue/Spectre is really great!” (Big Fish, 2003)

The smug face of a master poet

2.) [Mike, trying to convince Sully to get their forbidden human acquaintance home without alerting their coworkers] “Now put that thing back where it came from or so help me…Oh, hey. We’re rehearsing a scene for the upcoming company play called, uh, Put That Thing Back Where it Came from or So Help Me. It’s a musical.” (Monsters, Inc., 2001)

1.) [Actress Jennifer Tilly (playing herself) is being held captive by Chucky and his wife Tiffany, also voiced by Tilly] Jennifer’s friend Joan, over the phone: “I heard you scream. I can still hear you screaming!” Tiffany: “Oh, Bound is on cable. Gina Gershon is fingering me.” (Seed of Chucky, 2004)

It’s not the best film of the franchise, but this whole bit is gold

*Author’s note: I have extensively relied on IMDb for help, both with dates and with some of the quotes. Any mis-quoting is my error.

A Side Trip into Neuroticism: ‘Glass’ and Human Potential

*Warning: SPOILERS for Glass!*

If you’ve ever read any of my Side Trip pieces, it would be immediately obvious, dear reader, that I suffer from low self esteem. Lately I’ve been taking steps to better myself in ways that I feel are necessary, with the help of a habit-tracking app. For the last eleven weeks, no excuses, on a daily basis I’ve been cleaning, meditating, walking at least 10,000 steps, eating healthier, doing yoga and strength training, and writing (at least one sentence a day). In short, all of the stuff that I nag myself about doing but previously hadn’t been doing consistently. I’ve gradually come to a place where I’m starting to feel less gross, but there are still times when I can’t stand myself. I’m a bit late to the Glass party, I know, but I saw it for the first time recently and it really resonated with me in multiple unexpected ways.

Just gonna leave this here.

In the movie, the villains are so much more interesting than the heroes. David, the main protagonist, is a good dude but kind of one-dimensional. I found myself empathizing more with the antagonists. For example, The Horde and their philosophy that feeling pain is necessary for growth and evolution. Their main tenet is that suffering leads to “purity.” They put forth the notion that “The broken are the strongest.” I feel broken pretty frequently; I have depression and anxiety and often wish I could just function like a normal person. Ya know, enjoy interacting with people and not have crying spells so forceful and sustained that I make myself sick and not beat myself up every time I make a mistake. Glass made me realize it’s painful to be self-loathing and that I’ve overcome a lot of difficult stuff. If this all sounds ineffectual and wishy-washy to you, I don’t disagree, but the inner voices I normally hear while writing, those of my friends Tabbitha, Paula, and Hannah encouraging me to add transitions or more detail to fully explain something, are drowned out by an imaginary snarky critic sneering, “Oh, like your life is soooooo hard!”

Like this, but sneerier

Moving on, Mr. Glass is another character that doesn’t let adversity bring him down. He’s all about turning perceived weaknesses into strengths. Hedwig, a part of The Horde, is coming to terms with the fact that he’s permanently nine years old after meeting Dr. Staples, who points out to him that “That must be so hard.” Up to that point, he was the most confident personality and really really really really liked himself; now for the first time he feels shame. When Glass brings up his age, Hedwig looks crestfallen. But then Glass says, “That’s incredible. You can see the world the way it really is. Always.” Hedwig clearly feels better. In the next scene, he says, “I feel like dancing.” Glass responds, “Then go ahead and dance.” He even claps for him.

Glass is just a cool dude. His bones are incredibly fragile, giving him limited physical abilities, but he’s super duper smart and goddamn if he isn’t the most likable character in the movie. His mama, Mrs. Price, loves him unconditionally and regularly comes to visit him in the hospital where he’s confined. She’s always proud of him, even though he’s a Lex Luthor-ian supervillain who maims and kills a mess of people. “They always underestimate the mastermind,” she declares, satisfied at how he fools the entire hospital staff into thinking he’s helpless so he can escape. It hit me right in the feels towards the end when he tells her, “I wasn’t a mistake, Mama.” “No,” she replies. “You were spectacular.”

There aren’t a lot of stills of Mrs. Price, but here’s one from that scene

One of the prominent themes of Glass is that we are more powerful than we think, if we allow ourselves to try. As stated by Mr. Glass: “There are unknown forces that don’t want us to realize what we are truly capable of. They don’t want us to know the things we suspect are extraordinary about ourselves are real. I believe that if everyone sees what just a few people become when they wholly embrace their gifts, others will awaken. Belief in oneself is contagious. We give each other permission to be superheroes. We will never awaken otherwise.” I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have a gift for writing, but I love it and have spent a shit-ton of time honing my technique (hint: it involves swears). I hope you like this bit of fluff, but if you didn’t I can content myself with the knowledge that at least my sister Leslie, my own Mrs. Price, is reading and cheering me on.

Awaken, and be fabulous! Party like it’s 1999!

Bonus pic of Patricia, my favorite Horde personality.

[To a row of tied-up cheerleaders] “Look at you all. My name is Patricia. Now, who would like a P.B. and J. sandwich? You do.”–actual quote

‘The Call’ (2020): Make The Call to Watch it

Not to be confused with the Korean movie from 2020 that’s also titled The Call. It’s 1987, and awkward kid Chris (Chester Rushing) is adjusting to life in his new high school. He’s befriended by Tonya (Erin Sanders), Zack (Mike Manning), and Brett (Sloane Morgan Siegel), who have a grudge against Edith Cranston (Lin Shaye) and drag Chris into it. Seems Tonya’s sister Laura (Brooklyn Anne Miller) has gone missing, and Edith’s daycare was her last known whereabouts. The teens have a tradition of pranking Edith, who this time around catches them and epically loses her shit, culminating in her committing suicide. They’re contacted by Edith’s husband Edward (Tobin Bell), who has a proposition (a game, if you will) for them: if they can stay on a call with Edith, who was buried with a phone, for a full minute, they win $100,000. Of course, Edith won’t make it easy on them.

“I’m not afraid of you. But you should be very, very afraid of me.”–actual quote

I tend to be skeptical of depictions of the 1980s by millennial filmmakers, who were but babes during the decade, but the ’80s accoutrements are skillfully displayed without overshadowing the aesthetic in general: crimped hair, a Walkman, arcade games, blue and pink eye shadow, middle-of-the-night static on TV, and of course the rotary phone on which one makes the titular calls. Visual references to horror movies are plentiful (but not obnoxiously so), from The Exorcist to Poltergeist, but two of the most striking are ones from movies that were released in 1987. There’s an early scene that takes place at a carnival that’s very reminiscent of The Lost Boys, and in one scene there’s a bedroom set overhung with chains, much like in Hellraiser–see the image two paragraphs below.

They’re drinking beer and getting high! They’re dooooomed! Dooooomed! To the max!

The characters are more complex than are often depicted in horror movies revolving around teens. Their personalities and motivations are explained in depth. (Except for Tonya, alas–her big reveal is a rare sour note.) The performances are exquisite across the board. Chris, Tonya, and Brett are likable. Manning is spot-on as the quintessential ’80s teenage asshole, evoking a young Val Kilmer. I was actually rooting for the kids to make it, even Zack. I’m a big fan of Lin Shaye (we need more scream queens over 70), but even so I griped a lot about her acting here in my review of The Midnight Man. However, in this one she totally nails being a woman who both demands empathy for her grief and terror of her vengeance. Similarly, Tobin Bell is adept at building tension as a widower barely concealing his rage while confronting the people he blames for his wife’s death, but he’s also a tender, affectionate husband to Edith. I love the scene when Edward tries to comfort her when she’s devastated: “My dream was to be with you forever. And I am. So I’m happy as a clam.”

How frickin cute are they?! Just look at that chemistry!

I was pleasantly surprised by the overall dark and serious tone. Most of it takes place at night, a good chunk in the dimly-lit Cranston house. There’s little in the way of comic relief or one-liners. Though I had a small chuckle when Chris says “As weird as Edith is, I have to admit I’ve seen stranger things.” ‘Cause Chester Rushing was on Stranger Things. And of course there’s a giddy thrill when Edward comes this close to saying “I want to play a game.” It’s not rated, but the multiple f-bombs take it far away from PG-13. Yet it’s not gory, relying mainly on psychological scares.

Even Hellraiser has more cheerful lighting
Edith has such sights to show him

There’s an interesting motif of the futility of trying to escape the past. Multiple characters mention wanting to bury unpleasant events in their history, but none of them is able to effectively do so. In fact, the past is more present than the present for every character. Edith and Edward are persecuted and made miserable for the incident with Laura. All of the teens are haunted by their illicit life experiences, which Edith brings to the fore and forces them to face: for example, Zack and Brett’s abusive father, who says, keeping right along with the theme, “I’m always gonna find you.” As Edith points out, hell isn’t fire and brimstone but instead reliving one’s worst memories.

Speaking of being stuck in the past…the only thing missing is a Trapper Keeper

Overall, I loved it. I was expecting a dumb teen romp, and I got a beautifully shot, smart, entertaining movie. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something thought-provoking but fun and even a little creepy at times.

‘Visions’: Pretty to Look at, but Not Much Substance

Directed by Kevin Greutert, produced by Blumhouse. Evie (Isla Fisher) is a pregnant lady recovering from the trauma of inadvertently causing the death of an infant in a car crash the previous year. She and her husband David (Anson Mount) have just bought a sizable and lovely vineyard, but before they can begin to enjoy themselves, trouble is a’brewin’. Evie has terrifying visions, including a sinister hooded figure, a gun, and blood spattering the wall. She’s convinced the house is haunted, but David refuses to hear her out, putting them both in terrible danger.

Or, going by the look on her face, bordering-on-orgasmic danger

Shortly after I began early drafts of this review, I found out that I myself am pregnant (third time for me), so naturally I enjoy the plot point that Evie is more susceptible to psychic energies because she’s expecting. It adds an interesting new wrinkle to a prolific genre. I concur with the filmmakers that gestating a baby really is a superpower, even aside from the miraculous capability of growing an entire person from scratch. In normal circumstances I’m a clumsy oaf, but when I’m carrying a child, I gain the ability to fall not only far less often but also in slow motion. (After the baby is born my reflexes get exponentially faster, not unlike in the lunch tray scene from Sam Raimi’s Spiderman.)

Look, even getting into a car requires a very particular set of skills

My main gripe is how fast and loose anything medical is portrayed. Evie is bombarded with antidepressants, even when they’re inappropriate for her situation. She’s prescribed them after her car accident because she’s sad she killed a baby. As anyone with depression will tell you, there’s a big difference between being grief-stricken for obvious reasons and being clinically depressed. In the present the pills are foisted on her again because David thinks she’s having hallucinations. As IMDB points out, she’d be better off with an anti-psychotic for that. Dr. Mathison (Jim Parsons), the man Evie sees regarding the health of her fetus, is a whimsical combination of gynecologist, sonographer (to be fair it’s not unheard of for an ob\gyn to do sonograms, but it is something that requires additional schooling), and psychiatrist. Evie and David even turn to him when she falls through a plate glass window instead of going to the emergency room.

“Let me tell you about my other job as a theoretical physicist.”

Expanding on the depictions of control, the movie puzzles me; it has a strong Rosemary’s Baby vibe, what with everybody (especially men) telling Evie she’s crazy and trying to regulate what she does with her own body. It could have been a story about a strong woman refusing to ignore her powerful instincts. Instead it’s a story about a hysterical woman who lets everyone push her around. David isn’t a villain; he’s as sweet and supportive as he is domineering. He’s frequently condescending; it’s impossible to watch him and not be reminded of John in “The Yellow Wallpaper” (“She shall be as sick as she pleases”), but just as frequently he’s a kind and decent husband. Every time Evie is scared, which is constantly–Evie spends the majority of her time on screen whining, crying, or screaming–she collapses into his arms, and he lovingly soothes her. As if it weren’t enough that Evie is a total wimp, there are multiple noxious female stereotypes. Evie and her new friend Sadie (Gillian Jacobs) bond by griping about motherhood with every cliche in the book. Then there’s a prenatal yoga class full of woo-woo weirdos who try to force happy thoughts into Evie with their breath, a segment that’s played for laughs (despite the still below that makes it look like they’re a cult about to sacrifice her).

The face I made during this scene, too

I had a difficult time telling what the movie is about in terms of the underlying concept. There doesn’t seem to be a moral or a resounding message. There is a touch of the oddly common anti-materialism present in horror movies involving suspiciously luxurious-yet-affordable houses: one half of a married couple panics at the paranormal phenomena, and the other one cries, “But we’ve sunk everything we have into this!” Finally they reconcile the fact that they can’t live in a cheap murder house when they’re dead, and they tend to flee with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Who’s this guy, you ask? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not saying nothing happens. There’s a LOT going on. The movie is so full of red herrings to detract from the final twist that ancillary characters are coming out of the woodwork throughout. My least favorite of these are the horrifyingly stereotypical superstitious Latinx folks who work on the vineyard. They bombard David with “fertility cult shit” and warn Evie of “El Maligno. The evil one. It get much stronger since you come.” Eva Longoria is completely wasted as Evie’s best friend, and John de Lancie is similarly under-used as a vintner who pops up mainly to provide expositional information. And don’t get me started on Joanna Cassidy as Helena, a psychic/wine tastemaker who’s angry and rude to Evie until she abruptly does a 180 personality-wise, hugging her and cooing, “Come here. I’ll help you.” After that, she’s even more insufferable than when she was surly, spouting painful dialogue like: “Certain acts of psychic violence, the truly evil ones, echo throughout time, like ripples spreading across a pond.”

“I once stayed in a haunted house that played ’70s music.” “Really?” “At first I was afraid, I was petrified.” “Shut up!” “Have you heard about the haunted house shortage? Seems like a lot of people are running out of them.” “Oh, you’re not helping!”*

Overall, it’s fairly entertaining, but it’s decidedly un-scary. It’s rated R yet has a firmly PG-13 feel until the climax. I recommend watching with subtitles because there’s an inordinate amount of murmuring, even from the characters who are alive. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something light and simple.

*Cheesy jokes courtesy of Totes wish I could take credit for them.

Halloween Saw Challenge!

It’s Halloween 2020, and my first October 31st at home in 25 years. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and the time is right. I’m watching the entire Saw franchise in one day. The eight films total just about 13 hours, so I better get started. Let the game begin!

*No spoilers*

Saw (2004)

In the classic original, Adam and Dr. Gordon find themselves locked in a warehouse, chained to thick pipes. They don’t know why they’re there, but they have clues…and saws.

We’re introduced to the Jigsaw Killer, the cancer patient who kidnaps people that take their lives for granted (with the help of dedicated disciples) and puts them in traps to test their willingness to do horrible things to survive. It sets the precedent of absolutely gut-wrenching scenes and twist after twist. I’ve seen this one quite a few times, so it doesn’t shock me anymore (plus the deaths are fairly mild compared to the later films), but I still admire the writing and direction. I miss Team Wan-nell.

Most memorable trap: The reverse bear trap. Amanda wakes up with a contraption on her face that will explode if she doesn’t get the key, which is currently lodged in a dude’s stomach.

Favorite quote: Dr. Gordon–“He doesn’t want us to cut through our chains. He wants us to cut through our feet!”

Saw II (2005)

Seven seemingly unrelated people (including Amanda from the previous movie) wake up in a decrepit house. They’re being slowly poisoned by nerve gas and need to find the antidote. Meanwhile a team of law enforcement officials have cornered John the Jigsaw Killer, who taunts them while they try to free his captives.

James Wan steps down from directorial duties (Darren Lynn Bousman takes over), but Leigh Whannell still retains writing credits (along with Bousman). As can be expected for a sequel, the gore ante is upped, and we open right with a trap. We also get more backstory on Jigsaw. It may not have the element of surprise the first one possessed, but it’s a solid sequel.

Most memorable trap: The hand trap. Addison puts her hands through two holes to reach for an antidote, and her wrists are held in place by blades.

Favorite quote: John–“Oh yes, there will be blood.”

Saw III (2006)

Jeff, a man embittered by the hit and run death of his son is faced with the people responsible for letting it happen. Meanwhile, Lynn, a doctor, is tasked against her will with keeping an increasingly sickly John alive. Further meanwhile, the surviving members of the previous films’ law enforcement team are still at work hunting for Jigsaw. In addition, we meet John’s wife Jill.

Bousman returns to direct, with Whannell writing and Wan contributing to the story and producing. It’s actually a pretty clever premise. The franchise is striking in its promotion of embracing life, forgiveness, and working together. Brute force and selfishness are never the answer. Not bad, as far as third movies go. The timeline and logic of the series is consistent.

Most memorable trap: The rack. The hit and run driver is crucified on a contraption that slowly turns and crushes his limbs.

Favorite quote: Lynn–“There’s no preventative treatment for what you have.” John–“I remember you saying that to me once before in almost the exact same tone. Leave it to a doctor to find such a cold, clinical way of saying I’m a dead man walking. Looking at me, how long would you say I have left?” Lynn–“I’d have to examine you. Even then, a frontal lobe tumor is unpredictable. The growth depends on the rate of mitosis versus apoptosis and–” John–“I’m sorry, but is all this crude medical equipment around me causing you to believe that you’re still inside a hospital?” Lynn–“No.” John –“Then why are you speaking to me in that graduate school medical jargon? LOOK AT ME! Now you’re looking.”

Saw IV (2007)

SWAT Commander Rigg, first introduced in Saw II, is the main focus. Jigsaw is punishing him for being obsessive about the case (a cardinal sin in the Saw franchise is being a workaholic, worse than being a murderer, really), and has set before him a series of tests. Meanwhile, the FBI is getting involved, and Jill is a person of interest.

Bousman directs for the last time. Team Wan-nell are executive producers, but writing credit goes to Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. It opens with an extremely gory autopsy then moves to a trap. I’m feeling a bit desensitized. The traps are always varied and fiendishly inventive, but the storyline is starting to feel repetitive. However, this one is interesting in that it moves away from the small space setting and involves more of an element of choice.

Most memorable trap: The scalping seat. A woman is strapped to a chair with her hair ensnared in rotating gears.

Favorite quote: [Rigg tells his wife Tracy that he can’t go with her to help her mother] Tracy–“You won’t. What you can’t do is save everyone.”

Saw V (2008)

Going back to the group-of-people-trapped format, five folks who according to Jigsaw have abused privileges they were born with, are forced to play a game. As per usual, the investigators on the case are drawn in as well.

David Hackl takes over directing from Darren Lynn Bousman, while Melton and Dunstan return to write. Team Wan-nell still retain executive producer credits. The quality of the writing, which up until this point was pretty smart or at least coherent, is starting to drop. For example the newspaper headline “Boyfriend Kills Detective’s Sister” is an awfully lazy way to provide exposition, especially since in the next scene said detective tells his coworker the story after they come across said boyfriend’s corpse. “Looks like justice was served,” observes the coworker pleasantly with no suspicion whatsoever. However, I’m still impressed at how seamlessly Jigsaw’s proteges are retconned into the storyline, going back even to the first movie. And despite how unvarying the plot is, the twists are still pretty unpredictable.

Most memorable trap: The necktie trap. The five strangers are locked in place with a noose that strangles them if any of them steps forward–but the keys to the trap are in a glass box on the other side of the room, so they have to take turns running to get their individual keys. (And no, it doesn’t occur to any of them to try sharing one key.)

Favorite quote: Jigsaw–“If you’re good at anticipating the human mind, it leaves nothing to chance.” (Yet another, more depressing, theme of the franchise–people are predictable in their self-serving attitudes.)

Saw VI (2009)

Returning to the character-being-tested formula, this time we have William, the CEO of an insurance company being forced to make decisions and learning lessons regarding his notions of the worth of human lives, namely that of his staff. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials are still gamely trying to solve the mystery of the Jigsaw killer.

Kevin Greutert takes the reins as director, and Team Meltstan returns to write. Wan and Whannell are still credited as executive producers. This one comes across as a bit preachier and heavy-handed than the previous films (I kid you not, William keeps a tank of pirahna fish in his office), but its message that people are humans and not numbers is worthwhile. It’s pretty decent for a fifth sequel.

Most memorable trap: The carousel. William is faced with six employees, and he can save two, but only by incurring injuries to himself.

Favorite quote: Dave and Shelby are trying to convince William to spare them on the carousel: Shelby–“Mr. Easton, Mr. Easton, my parents are sick, okay, they need me, I’m all they have.” Dave–“You’re fucking lying! Your parents hate you! They cut you off!” Shelby–“What? Shut up! That’s not true!” Dave–“Fuck you! It is true, I sit next to you!”

Saw: The Final Chapter AKA Saw3D (2010)

The survivors of Jigsaw’s traps come together to form the world’s most hardcore support group. They’re led by the charismatic Bobby, who has completely fabricated a tale of escaping Jigsaw in order to sell books. Which naturally gets him in a heap of trouble with John. Meanwhile, the investigation of the murders continues to limp along.

Greutert and Team Meltstan return to direct/write, ditto for Team Wan-nell as executive producers. This one is leaning toward cheesy, and not just because it’s 3D. Some of the survivors in the support group are from the actual movies, but some are just made up for this one, which is a cheat since over the last six movies we’ve exhaustively seen Jigsaw’s every move. (Not to mention that a “growing number” of escapees, as reported by the news, ruins the concept of how difficult it is to actually win any of Jigsaw’s games.) The rationale behind the selection of victims playing the game is starting to unravel, too, with a bunch of randos unrelated to the main story thrown in. In addition, one character goes on a killing spree, and the body count climbs gratuitously high. The people who are relevant to the plot didn’t really do anything that bad. A phony self-help guru and his squad aren’t technically hurting anybody. It’s not like they’re workaholics. Aaaaand while I’m griping, the new lead cop on the case, Gibson, is the most bland, vanilla, forgettable character in the franchise. Do I care if he ends up in a trap? I do not. I won’t even notice he’s gone. I had to grudgingly admire the ending though.

Most memorable trap: The public execution trap. This one takes place in a store window, in a highly visible area with dozens of witnesses; two men and a woman, all part of a love triangle, are each chained to a buzzsaw and forced to choose who gets sawn in half.

Favorite quote: Dr. Gordon, patronizingly, to Bobby–“Bravo! To be able to sustain such a traumatic experience and uh…and yet find a positive in that grisly act. It’s a remarkable feat [heh heh feet], indeed…if not a little perverse.”

Jigsaw (2017)

We start completely fresh with a brand new cast (aside from Tobin Bell returning as Jigsaw–what a trooper): a group of five game-players and new law enforcement officials.

Team Wan-nell still have credit as producers, but direction has been taken over by Michael and Peter Spierig, with writing by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger. I tried, but I couldn’t really care much about all these unfamiliar faces, even if some of them are loosely tied to Jigsaw’s family and shoehorned into the storyline. The traps are disappointing and derivative, for the most part. The series really should have ended with 3D. Welp, at least they didn’t put him in space.

Most memorable trap: The grain silo trap. Mitch and Anna are buried shoulder deep in grain, then assailed by falling sharp objects.

Favorite quote: [Eleanor is about to perform an autopsy on a Jigsaw victim with a bucket on his head]–“He looks a little ‘pail.’ “

Well, I made it. So much for the Saw movies, at least until next year when it gets a shiny new take on the franchise starring Chris Rock. Darren Lynn Bousman directs, with writing by Team Stol-finger and production by Team Wan-nell (and Chris Rock too). I am grudgingly curious. See ya then, and happy Halloween!

Deon Taylor’s ‘Dead Tone’: I Have Multiple Complaints, But I Can’t Hate It

AKA 75, AKA 7eventy 5ive. Like Deon Taylor‘s horror anthology TV show Nite Tales, the movie features Flava Flav as MC, who appears to spout nonsense and disappear in a flash of subpar special effects. The action begins at a kids’ slumber party/house party for adults. After the children play the game 75, which involves prank calling a person and keeping him or her on the phone for 75 seconds, the hosts’s parents and friends are slaughtered. Flash forward ten years, and survivors Marcus (co-writer Brian Hooks) and Scott (Will Horneff) are now in college. For no logical reason, Marcus is still really into making prank calls, in fact regularly making money from people betting on whether he can effectively fool people. Also in the mix we have his friend Kareem (Antwon Tanner), Kareem’s gf Roxy (Cherie Johnson), Roxy’s friend Jody (Aimee Garcia), Jody’s crush Crazy Cal (Austin Basis), stereotypical gay guy Shawn (Germán Legarreta), and token white girl Karina (Jud Taylor). Karina’s ex-boyfriend Brandon (Jonathan Chase), who is rich and spoiled, invites Karina to his notorious end-of-finals house party, and she insists that her crew be invited. Naturally, Marcus starts a game of 75, which once again lures a killer, who in the meantime has been dispatching the other attendants of the slumber party who lived. Luckily, detectives Criton (Rutger Hauer) and Hastings (Gwendoline Yeo) are on the case.

Marcus (on the right), apparently not being traumatized

Even for a slasher, (most of) the characters are horrible. I think Karina is supposed to be likable, but in her first scene she snipes at Brandon for cheating on her with an “ugly fat chick,” which just pissed me off. (She later reiterates, in case I forgot and started to like her, “You better stay away from those fat girls.”) Brandon is meant to be an entitled asshole, and he acts like one, going so far as to call Karina’s pals “ghetto, food stamp friends.” I can’t emphasize enough that Marcus continues to prank call people, even after seeing a grisly murder committed directly after playing 75; he’s otherwise decent though. Shawn is extremely offensive, for example squealing “Girls’ huddle!” with Jody, Roxy, and Karina. (Though I do have to say I’m impressed how the others treat him like an equal, including the guys. When the killer shows up, they refuse to just run off without finding him.) Unsurprisingly, while his het friends are hooking up he finds a guy, but they aren’t shown kissing or anything else more intimate than sort of touching each other, unlike the opposite-sex couples. Scott is more likable than Brandon, but I still had genuine difficulty telling them apart. Even the ancillary partygoers are just garbage people; whilst prank calling, they come across what sounds like a woman getting murdered, and no one bothers to call the police. Shortly after, someone shouts, “Why aren’t we partying?”

Roxy is pretty great

There’s a high body count and it’s occasionally extremely gory, but the movie is not scary at all. The killer takes forever to show up, and when he does he’s toting an axe. It’s one guy with an axe against a house full of people. And he’s forever getting the axe stuck in things. He throws someone off a second story balcony and then turns his back while she hobbles away. (‘He’s really not very good at this,’ my notes read.) There are a lot of cheap jump scares, even the old standby, “Karina, is that you?” (Surprisingly, she doesn’t follow that up with “This isn’t funny!”) And of course the characters decide to check things out after discovering a corpse instead of leaving, and then of course they split up.

Isn’t he hot in that getup? It’s summer!

Aside from Marcus and his ill-advised antics with the prank calls, some stuff just sticks out as wonky. I remember 2007 was a different time, but people still had caller ID–why are so many people answering calls from a blocked number? My favorite though is that shortly after sleepover survivor Chuck (Josh Hammond) is killed (not a spoiler, they introduce him with clear signals that he’s only there to get murdered), his picture is featured on the news. The photo is a screen grab from the scene when he dies–how could the newscasters possibly have that?

Forgive the poor quality of the image–I took a picture of my TV

It’s riddled with cliches in general (the cops are the overused combo of fresh young partner and grizzled jaded detective whose boss is always screaming at him for being too obsessed with the case and breaking the rules), but the ending is definitely unpredictable. The performances are decent. It’s refreshingly diverse and entertaining as well. Despite my constant gripes, I didn’t hate it. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something baffling but fun.

“Girls’ huddle!”

‘The Midnight Man’ (2018) is Impossible to Take Seriously–But it’s Fun

While acting as caretaker for her crotchety grandma Anna (Lin Shaye), Alex (Gabrielle Haugh) stumbles onto a game from Anna’s childhood. It involves the Midnight Man (Kyle Strauts), a creature who appears when summoned with a precise sequence of events, including but not limited to turning off all the lights, writing down one’s fears, drawing blood from a finger, and lighting a candle. The main objective of the game is to avoid being killed by him until 3:30 in the morning. Faced with this irresistible concept, Alex wastes no time playing. Naturally, the demon has tricks up his sleeve for Alex and her buddies Miles (Grayson Gabriel) and Kelly (Emily Haine).

This is a face only a mother could love–on payday

I first watched this movie as part of a birthday celebration with my husband, sister, and brother-in-law. (I watched it a second time to review it–you’re welcome.) We’re Lin Shaye fans, and Robert Englund as Anna’s doctor is a happy bonus. It has a fun premise; I’m always down for a good boogeyman story. Unfortunately, it was so ridiculous that we laughed our way through it.

“I’ve got my eye on me!”

One of my biggest gripes is the lack of logical continuity. Things are one way, and then suddenly they’re the opposite. The rules of the game change to suit what’s easiest to move the plot forward. When Anna is a kid, the players all provide a picture of themselves, while Alex and her crew don’t have to bother. Alex doesn’t actually turn off every single light in the house, and while it’s supposedly crucial to relight each player’s candle within ten seconds of going out, they sometimes count so slowly that in real time they’ve had much longer than that. The plot is inspired by a Creepypasta story, which is acknowledged by Kelly in the movie; she comes in preening about being an expert because she read about it online. However, Alex and Miles act like destroying their copy of the game is going to accomplish something as far as stopping the Midnight Man. The characters are similarly erratic. Alex has no consistent pet name for Anna; she alternates between Nana, Grams, and Gran–which bloody is it? Who calls their grandma more than one thing? Anna sinisterly asks Alex to look in the attic for her hand mirror, making it clear that she’s enticing Alex to find the game, but after coming across Alex looking at it, she hollers “YOU OPENED THE GAME!!!” and faints. After she regains consciousness her emotional state is just as unclear (see below). Though to be fair, she does seem to be suffering from dementia.

“Nana-Granny-Grandma-Grammy-Grams is growling with happiness!”

In addition to being capricious, everybody does just plain stupid shit. In the opening, a flashback to Anna’s youth shows one of her friends freaking out and leaving the kids’ circle of salt–which offers protection from the Midnight Man–for no particular reason. Alex and Max sort of have feelings for each other, and while Kelly cowers in a salt circle that she can’t leave after her candle goes out, they decide to take off (for…reasons?) and end up making out, ’cause screw you, Kelly, no movie is complete without a heteronormative romantic subplot. And again, what exactly is Alex’s motivation for playing the game at all?

“Welp, I’m bored, let’s play the game that made Nana-Grams faint.”

Miles is pretty likable, but otherwise most of the characters leave something to be desired. Kelly delivers the entirety of her lines in a lazy whine. Anna is extremely over-the-top, and Shaye reaaaally overdoes it with the crazy faces and screaming. Englund does well playing against type as kindly Dr. Harding, but his dialogue often gets corny: “Your mother would be proud. The world lost a fine soul the day she passed and for that, I am truly sorry.” Alex is a totally unremarkable lead, and Gabrielle Haugh has moments where she spits out her lines as quickly and flatly as possible, like she’s in a hurry to get the movie over with (can’t blame her there), though her gestures and expressions are always on point (see below).

‘Getting my foot in the door, on to bigger and better things…’

It’s not scary whatsoever. The Midnight Man is a mass of makeup and special effects, even having a computer-distorted voice. (Yet I do like his motto: “Your tears mean nothing to me.”) The movie mainly relies on cheap jump scares and altogether too many shots of MM’s hand reaching out of a door.

Somebody’s been watching Donnie Darko

Buuuuut I didn’t hate it. The practical effects, like the sea of blood that accompanies a death in the opening, are notable. The music is creepy. Anna’s massive, in-some-areas-gradually-decaying-as-a-metaphor-but-otherwise-quite-lovely-house, is a great set; my favorite parts are the room full of clocks and the leaky greenhouse room. (You guessed it, they go in there with their candles and are surprised that leaky roofs leak.) Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something you can enjoy poking fun at that’s not so bad you’ll be miserable.

‘Seconds Apart’ is Worth Watching at Least Once (or Twice)

Twin brothers Jonah (Edmund Entin) and Seth (Gary Entin) are teenage psychopaths with telepathic powers and the ability to make folks hallucinate. As part of a mysterious project, they manipulate people into killing themselves. On their trail is the troubled but dedicated Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones).

It’s like looking at two evil Rushmore-era Jason Schwartzmans

About ten years ago, I asked my sister for suggestions of movies I should review, and she mentioned this one. I haven’t gotten around to it until now, but it turned out to be well worth the wait.

The boys’ infinite synchronicity and their undeservedly smug parents add much to the creepiness factor

But first the gripes. I loved Lampkin; his angst coupled with his unflagging determination adds everything to the emotional journey of watching. Orlando Jones gives a heartbreaking performance. Unfortunately, he adds nothing at all to the plot. The movie would have rolled right along with or without him. Even the expositional info about the boys’ backgrounds he digs up could have been revealed without involving a whole other character–or left out entirely–why explain the source of their powers? Jonah’s love interest Eve (Samantha Droke) is not at all appealing. Most of her screen time is dedicated to talking about herself incessantly.

This is the face I make while listening to Eve, too

It also comes across as derivative at times. The scene below is strongly reminiscent of Carrie.

“Aw, we’re wearing the same outfit! They’re all gonna laugh at us!”

And the plot of twins divided by one of them falling in love is straight out of Dead Ringers.

However, there are some genuine and original shocks. The opening sequence, involving four sexist and arrogant but otherwise probably okay guys (except the one who might have killed a dog) being forced into a game of Russian roulette by the twins is highly disturbing, as are most of the scenes involving Seth and Jonah exploiting people (ew, the Guinea worm scene!). The visuals are gorgeous but haunting.

If this shot doesn’t make you want to watch, I give up

On the whole, I was impressed. Check it out if you’re in the mood for something with snappy banter, religious overtones, and stylish gore.

“When I’m with you, I’m so happy I’m beside myself.”

‘Death Bed: The Bed That Eats’ is as Bonkers as it Sounds

A demon-possessed sleeping receptacle nom-noms on people, apples, and chicken legs alike, while its companion, a haunted painting (Dave Marsh), watches and provides commentary and exposition.

Ooh, artsy!

I first became aware of this movie after hearing comic Patton Oswalt describe it in a stand-up routine. My husband and I sought it out, and it was just as ridiculous as Oswalt made it out to be.

It appears the bed is health-conscious enough to avoid eating plastic

The special effects are laughable. The audio frequently mismatches the visuals. The movie was made in the ’70s and not released until the 2000s, and it’s clear from the visible scratches that in the meantime the film reels were not taken care of (or possibly not taken care of in the first place). Most of the action seems like filler, for example the painting guy bringing the plot (such as it is) to a screeching halt to share flashbacks of random people being eaten by the bed. The performances are atrocious. Demene Hall (below) as Diane is the best of the bunch.

She got top billing, good for her!

Nothing makes a damn lick of sense. A lady dies and then turns into flowers. Characters do things that directly contradict themselves, like when Sharon’s Brother (William Russ, credited here as Rusty Russ) is told by their mother to go find Sharon (Rosa Luxemburg), he says he knows where she is, and then in his next scene he’s on the phone asking someone her whereabouts. Or when First Female Victim (Dessa Stone)–I’m not making these names up, by the way–asks for food and then says she’s not hungry. When the denizens of the film aren’t being ingested by what looks suspiciously like dish soap, they’re making baffling non-sequiturs like “That place looks clean for having been abandoned for so long. I hope there’s not a maniac around.” Yup, gotta watch out for them cleaning maniacs, they’re a real hazard.

Not to be confused with a cleaning monster

But my favorite thing is the characters’ tone-deaf reactions to what should be horrifying happenings. One guy tries calmly shooting the bed while being devoured. Sharon’s Brother stabs it–his hands are dissolved to the bone and replaced by plastic skeleton hands, which he just stares at bemusedly. Or when Sharon’s Brother serenely watches a severed eye jump around on the bed under its own power but whirls around, startled, when a door slams shut.

“It’s curtains for you, bed!”

I honestly can’t tell if the movie was meant to be funny. One might assume so given that the acts are broken up into segments called “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” “Dinner,” and “The Just Dessert.” I’m hoping that the bed’s sound effects like groaning, yawning, burping, chuckling, and crunching are meant to be humorous. I don’t want to think it’s possible that the filmmakers created something so stunningly bad with intentions of it being completely scary and earnest.

This is either a joke or product placement

According to IMDB, writer/director George Barry was inspired by a dream, which is why the movie is so batshit crazy, ahem surreal. There is one creepy scene. Diane is having a nightmare in which her friend Suzan (Julie Ritter) is telling her about a book of dead people: “I’m in it, and you are, too.” It’s the only part of the movie when the bizarreness is disconcerting rather than so over-the-top that it’s comical.

And then it catches fire, as books of dead people are wont to do

Interestingly, the movie is driven by women. The demon is motivated to create the bed due to its infatuation with a woman, and she’s its sole weakness. All of the main characters are female, besides Sharon’s Brother, who even in name is defined only by his relationship with her. It’s actually Sharon who takes over to fight the bed while her bro gives up.

“How many bones are in your hand?” “Sharon, no.” “About a handful.” “If I had the capacity to get upset, I totally would be right now.”

Sooooo, I didn’t hate it. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s endearingly wacky, original, and unpredictable. There are few movies I actively warn people away from, and this isn’t one of them. Actually, I recommend it. It has to be seen to be believed.

*Cleaning monster image courtesy of