FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Apr 21, 2014

Two sentences and a verdict!

Gather 'round, children, and live vicariously through this exciting update about my movie-watching habits: I've watched a shit ton of stuff lately! You see, once "internet" "streaming" became a viable option, I largely did away with buying and renting DVDs. I even cancelled my Netflix DVD subscription. I mean, Digital Video Discs are so last century, right? I am far too hip and modern to be tied to physical media that forces me to wait- sometimes up to two days!- to watch something. I wanna watch and I wanna watch now. 

Months and months later, I hardly stream any movies at all. TV shows, sure. I can easily "just one more episode" a night away, and I've indulged in more than a few binge-watches. Movies, though, are a different story altogether. My instant watch queue has a couple hundred films in it, but I'll be damned if I ever want to partake in any of them. As sad as it may sound (and it may sound sad sad sad), there have been plenty of times I've gone to watch something, ended up scrolling through my list for 15 minutes, and turned it off altogether. It seems that whenever I search for something specific, it's unavailable to stream. I'm left with stuff that is interesting enough to "add to list", but I'm rarely in the mood for any of it.

So...while I have not given up completely on streaming, I have recently reunited with physical media and golly gee, it feels good! Netflix actually has everything I search for on DVD, it's great. And man, the tactile just works for me. My brain probably releases endorphins or something when I put a disc in the player- you know, something something science. The act is somehow tied to fond memories of video stores and "movie night"s. The ways I consumed film and music as a yoot left such an indelible mark on me that I generally find experiences lessened by instant gratification. I certainly don't need to, like, become intimate with every song or movie I encounter, but without the tactile I find it all but impossible. Those hours spent reading VHS and DVD boxes or poring over the liner notes were nearly as essential to my enjoyment as the films and albums themselves. Sure, I can dig a record without knowing every little thing about it. If I just have ones and zeroes to hold onto, though, it feels too ephemeral for my liking. A digital download of Like a Prayer ain't gonna smell like patchouli, you know?

We all consume things differently, and no two relationships to a piece of art are the same. This is profound, I know! If I had a headache and you were all "Here, Stacie, have an aspirin" and I was like "No thanks, leeches work for me!" well, then maybe that would be a good opportunity to tell me to get with The Times. But this is not about headaches and/or leeches. I am just saying that I'm old and this works for me, and realizing what works for me has led to my rediscovering and re-falling-in-lovening with movies. You kids keep your instant watch, I'll just sit here, suckin' on a Werther's Original, waiting for a DVD to arrive in the mail.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005, Paul Schrader)

Father Merrin vs Pazuzu, round one! FIGHT!

Two sentences: I knew this would be no Exorcist, but I gave it a fair shot- there's a lot of story to mine, after all, and I do love a possession flick. It started promising, but quickly devolved into laughable nonsense riddled with some of the worst CGI I've ever seen.

The verdict: It shouldn't take the power of Christ to compel you to stay the hell away from this piece of garbage.

Contracted (2013, Eric England)

A young woman is date raped at a party and soon discovers that she's caught something far worse than yer run o' the mill STD.

Two sentences: Fantastic practical FX and a solid lead performance by Najarra Townsend are the highlights of a disappointing film filled with unlikable characters and plot contrivances. Contracted is a fucking great idea hampered by mediocre writing and so-so execution.

The verdict:  Boy, it's way tougher to watch a film that coulda been so damned beautiful than one that's outright bad. I really wanted to love this! Still might be worth checking out, though, particularly for fans of body horror.

Amityville 1992: It's About Time (1992, Tony Randel)

A clock from the original Amityville house ends up in a house in California and look the California house kind of resembles the original Amityville house isn't that weird and all kinds of stuff happens!

Two sentences: There is no universe where this movie makes any sense: not our universe, not a parallel universe nor a perpendicular one. But who needs sense when a demonic clock wreaks havoc?

The verdict: This movie is a wackadoo delight. Like I said, it makes not a single lick of sense, but it is totally enjoyable, off-the-wall crazy schlock. Well, I could have done without the insanely sweaty sex scene, but still. It's surprisingly gory at times, there's a toddler with a mullet, and there's a scene where a girl gets fingerbanged by her own reflection. WHAT THE WHAT.

Amityville: A New Generation (1993, John Murlowski)

A mirror from the original Amityville house ends up in a loft apartment in Los Angeles and look the original Amityville house appears in the mirror isn't that weird and all kinds of stuff happens!

Two sentences: Ah, the 90s- those halcyon days where women wore dark lipstick, bowler hats, and hadn't yet discovered the tweezed eyebrow. Richard Roundtree, David Naughton, Terry O'Quinn...what are you doing here?

The verdict: Okay, I'm not gonna say I didn't enjoy this because I so did. It is a firm slice of 90s time capsule cheesecake (whatever that means) and of course it doesn't make sense. But all the familiar faces (also including Barbara Howard of Friday the 13th Part IV, holla) help transform crap into craptacular!

Sinister (2012, Scott Derrickson)

From imdb: "A true-crime writer finds a cache of 8mm home movies films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s."

Two sentences: What can I say, I'm most afraid of things that go bump in the night and Sinister is full of 'em. It threatened to go off the rails into cheesetown but it stayed the course and finished as one of the best new horror films I've seen in quite a while.

The verdict: I fucking loved this movie because I am totally afraid of noises in the dark, full stop. It's beautifully shot and the power of the soundtrack/sound design cannot be overstated. Sure, it was silly that Ethan Hawke never bothered to turn on any lights...but man, I'm so glad he didn't. I was surprised by how much I dug this. Wicked highly recommended!


Chris Otto said...

Nice set of reviews! ... I'm with you on the physical media. It's the same reason I'll always be a "books" person and eBooks can suck it. I do have a few interesting things in my Netflix queue, including that Shining documentary "Room 237," but it's just not as convenient as DVDs are. Shouldn't new technology be MORE convenient, and CERTAINLY shouldn't new technology be more reliable than what it's replacing. Streaming can be interrupted, it can lag and it can have synch issues. Who needs that? ... So while I don't have the funds I once had to build the Perfect DVD collection, I will still aspire toward that. And I'm also the kind of movie fan who prefers the kind of non-mainstream movies that still aren't available or cost-effective on streaming. And I don't think they ever will be.

Stacie Ponder said...

I've really moved away from buying stuff- I've moved way too many times and I currently have more movies than I have space to put 'em. :D Like I said, I'm not giving up on streaming- that'd be dopey- but there are so many titles aren't available that way. Re-expanding my horizons has been so great!

Unknown said...

Great reviews! This has really inspired me to re-up my Netflix plan to include DVD's again, since Red Box has a very limited horror selection.

Also, that Amityville About Time movie was totally bonkers, and Werther's Originals are delicious.

Stacie Ponder said...

Exactly! After fruitlessly Redboxing and Amazoning and Netflix Instanting, NF DVD is awesome. And not just for horror. Such a simple thing and I'm totally thrilled :D

And thanks!

Chris Otto said...

The bad news, though, is that I've read several articles in the past six months stating that Netflix's DVD service will likely end in the near future. Will another company try to fill that void and will it make sense financially?

Stacie Ponder said...

Don't bring me down, Bruce

AE said...

Yay, you are reviewing!! I will have to check out "Sinister." The title seemed so goofy (why not just call a movie "Creepy"?).

Also, the Madonna article you link to has a very good "Hints from Heloise" column on the facing page. This post wins all around!

Stacie Ponder said...

I was reluctant going into Sinister because I figured it would be another Collector-type deal...not that I've seen it, but you know. I really dug it! I suppose your mileage may vary based on how much, like, scary noises in the dark get to you. But it was A+ for me.

That newspaper is so great. Night Court-My Two Dads-Miami Vice...whatta lineup!

CashBailey said...

I like this format, Stacie. A lot of times I can;t really be bothered reading long-ass reviews.

Schrader's EXORCIST is a mess, but [part of the reason for that (as well as she shitty CGI) is that it's simply not finished. Still, there's things about it I do like.

I like how seriously it takes the subject matter. And it's a mile away from the utter idiocy of EXORCIST II.

I'm still praying they find the director's cut of Blatty's LEGION before he dies. I've heard it's amazing.

Stacie Ponder said...

Thanks! And yeah, I bet that given the time/money/resources it should have had, the FX in Dominion would be so much better. I was on board until Pazuzu kicked in in earnest.

I was going to do a compare/contrast thing between this and Renny Harlin's version, but after sitting through this one I feel that life is too short. :D

Love you avatar, btw, Theo is the best!

Patrick said...

I used to do the Netflix streaming/1dvd thing then got pissed at them when they shifted. For most folks, the shift wasn't a big deal. For streaming/1dvd, the price almost doubled. So I've been doing the streaming thing for the past 3 years or so. One of these days, I'll probably switch up again. 'Til then, it's streaming only.

I haven't seen most of those movies but I actually kinda' liked Contracted. I agree with your review, though. Characters were pretty lame and pace was slow. The ending made it worth it for me.

I wasn't totally sure where they were going with it and when she started biting, I started liking it. I'm not sure what that says about me...but anyway, I thought it was watchable. Not awesome, but watchable.

I still puke a little when I hear the phrase Exorcist sequel...damnit...hold on...

Yep, happened again. Puke-a-rama.

Anyway, by the sound of it, I'll skip the Dominion option, too. It's About Time I'll check out, based upon your review. The "finger-banged by her own reflection" is too classy to pass on. Plus, I'm a guy and therefore easily taken in by such statements.

I'll also check out Sinister if I find it around.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about modern media consumption vs. the old school stuff. I'm like that with books, bigtime, but I...well, I already explained the bit about me being a cheap bastard and Netflix evil.

Thanks again for your ongoing blog efforts. I dig it.

Dead In Hell said...

"My instant watch queue has a couple hundred films in it, but I'll be damned if I ever want to partake in any of them. As sad as it may sound (and it may sound sad sad sad), there have been plenty of times I've gone to watch something, ended up scrolling through my list for 15 minutes, and turned it off altogether. It seems that whenever I search for something specific, it's unavailable to stream. I'm left with stuff that is interesting enough to "add to list", but I'm rarely in the mood for any of it."

This. Forever and ever. I have been wanting to get back my dvd subscription as well. It just seems like the thing to do.

And if Netflix does cancel its DVD service down the line, then maybe that will at least free up some resources to expand the streaming service to include more things that aren't gross. I still think it would be premature to do so at any point in the near future given the extremely limited selection of streaming titles, the very different viewing habits of those using streaming and dvd (they line up with this here, lots of TV and not so much movie watching going on in streaming land) and the horror of the internet (slow speeds, low data caps) in the states.

Anyways, I love these wee reviews. All the greatness of a normal review distilled into bite size morsels.

Dead In Hell said...

Oh and I would gladly consent to have my head cut off by Brad Dourif if it meant that I could first watch The Exorcist III as it was originally intended before all of the damned executive meddling.

Stacie Ponder said...

It just blows my mind that they have every single thing I searched for on DVD, from recent stuff like Sinister to friggin' Kwaidan to I Am Divine. It's just great, and I feel like telling everyone to go back to the way it was, at least in part.

It's ridiculous how Exorcist III STILL gets the short-shrift in this age of fancy, complete Blu Ray releases. If there was ever a time to reissue it, it's now. They can do it at a higher price point than DVD even, geez.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you about Contracted. Really cool premise but poorly executed. I'm hoping that Thanatamorphose, a similarly themed body horror film, plays out a little better.

Jen @ said...

Ugh! The Exorcist prequel was awful. The original is my favorite movie of all time and I was totally excited to see this when it came out but it was a total let down.

And that's rad that you liked Sinister. I thought it was pretty great & super well made. :)

Mark Trammell said...

I really liked "Sinister" as well! I know you slammed "The Collector" a bit, and it's no classic, but the sequel, "The Collection" has one of the best final girls in ages, and a great opening scene. Ditto "You're Next," which has some nice twists, and, dare I say, one of the best final girls EVER. I'm not even kidding. She's smart, savvy, and kicks all kinds of ass. Highly recommended.
With all of you on Exorcist 3: Legion. Shout! Factory, get on it!