Vittorio the vampire (1)

Vittorio the Vampire

I have read more vampire novels than I’m comfortable admitting to. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with reading about immortal creatures who drink blood (and absolutely do not sparkle, no matter what some authors would have you believe)

What shames me is that I’ve dug too deep—that I’ve continued plumbing the depths of a vampire series long after it should be obvious that there’s nothing in it for me anymore. Continue reading

Escape from Tomorrow - Feat Image

Escape from Tomorrow

The movies of Disney speak to a special place in our hearts. They are our fables, the stories that show us that good can defeat evil and love can conquer all. Though perhaps unrealistic in this depiction, nobody can deny that, at one point or another, you’ve found yourself rooting for Belle to fix Beast, for Mulan to prove her honor to her family, or for Simba to learn how to hope again. Especially as children, Disney movies have always had that power to teach us how to dream, to show how far imagination can take us. The influence of the company, Walt Disney, and his movies have been a staple of Western culture for close to a century and, whether you like their more recent films or not, it is hard to argue that Disney movies will ever stop inspiring every generation to come.

With an intro like that, you might be a bit surprised that I was very enthusiastic to see Escape from Tomorrow. This is a movie that created huge controversy when people heard about it. The reason is that it is a suspense/horror movie filmed in Disneyland… without Disneyland’s permission. What’s more, it casts Disneyland in a twisted light. We watch a family as they spend a day in the famous park. Slowly, disturbing things start to happen. Cartoon faces warp into demonic visages. The laughter of children begins to sound maniacal. Something is deeply unsettling about the park as the family go on one ride after another.

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Escape from Tomorrow promises to subvert our expectations and understanding of Disney in every possible way. Instead of the celebration of Disneyland’s optimistic, colorful, and child-friendly presentation that we are used to, the viewer is presented with a black-and-white movie that seeks to expose a (fictional) seedy and evil underbelly that has been there all along. The premise is completely out of field and, for that reason I will fully admit that, after seeing the totally bizarre trailer, I gleefully looked forward to watching this. So how did it go?

Well, I won’t beat around the bush. This film is perhaps the most titanic failure I’ve ever seen. Seriously; this is BAD.

Now, I could leave it at that, end this here, and tell you not to touch this movie with a ten-foot pole. But I can’t help myself. I want to explore what they could have done better. After some thought, I narrowed it down to two things. Two terrible sins that this movie committed that utterly prevented it from being so much more.

Escape from Tomorrow - Creepy Kid

The first sin is the movie’s failure to execute the premise. This encompasses many problems that Escape from Tomorrow has. The highest among them is the film’s inability to make Disneyland frightening. This can partly be blamed on the absurdly awful blue screen effects. Using CGI to twist a cartoon character’s face into evil eyes and pointy teeth is just silly. There are a number of moments where the main character sees this sort of thing, the visual change of something stereotypically Disney into an unintentionally goofy terror. This problem is compounded by the many scenes where they superimpose the actors over a blue screen. In the background is footage of crowds in Disneyland, but it’s glaringly obvious that they aren’t actually there. Perhaps I should be forgiving of this, given that they were trying to film the movie without Disney’s permission, but it just disconnects the viewer from the premise in a way that eventually becomes irredeemable.

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The second sin is misdirection. I came into this movie expecting my heart to go out to the family as they slowly reveal some horrible secret concealed by the seemingly whimsical theme park. Instead, I kid you not, we follow the main character, the father of the family, as he proceeds to prey on young girls, get wasted, vomit on one of the rides, cheat on his wife, be a whiny man-child, and unintentionally abandon his kids multiple times. This movie should have been named How Not to be a Good Father, Husband, or Human Being. Holy @#$%. And this is the character that we are supposed to like and connect with? That’s what main characters are supposed to do, right? Well, apparently the creators of Escape from Tomorrow were working from a different playbook, because the first half of this movie is Fat Depressed Dad Drags Kid Behind Him As He Stalks Two French Teenagers With Braces. I can’t emphasize enough that this is NOT what I signed up for when I wanted to watch this movie. There’s also this disgustingly weird repressed sexual undertone to the whole thing that, I kid you not, culminates in a scene near the end of the movie where the dad frees himself from handcuffs with lube that squirts on his shirt, on the walls, on posters of scantily clad women (which are on said walls for some unknown reason), all in slow motion. WHY?! Was that really necessary? What possible relevance does that have to the premise I outlined above? It’s an utter mystery, and one which I hope cinematic obsessives do NOT ponder over for the next century.

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So is there anything about this movie that was good? I have to ask myself that as I wrap up. Well, there are a few solid scenes at night time where the crowds are petering out and Disneyland begins to feel genuinely ominous. Really, this is an example of the tone this movie should have been going for. The trick to a great horror movie is not to show the audience what they should be afraid of, but to tap into your fear of the unknown. The reason the scenes at night worked was because I didn’t know what was out there. The power of our imagination to haunt us in moments like these is what makes for the most wonderfully scary movies. And what a magic trick it would have been if Escape from Tomorrow had managed to subvert the imaginative land of Disney into something far darker. Instead we get a puzzling potpourri of failed writing, confused directing, and annihilated premise. Please avoid this, for my sake if not your own.

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A Wolf at the Table

Once we fall in love with a book, we seek out the author similar to going out on numerous dates with the same person. We realize it might not be simply a case of the moment we liked, but the person. They hold many wonderful moments, and we’d like to have more of them.

Augusten Burroughs is well-written and likable in a way that only an ex-adman writing a book would be. I can also attribute him to the reason I watched multiple seasons of Mad Men. He’s aware that he has your limited attention, and with that, he shows you something you don’t only want but need. His words. His new book. Continue reading

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Borgia

Borgia is yet another Netflix original series, like Lilyhammer and House of Cards, except with nudity and sex.

cap1I mean lots of nudity and sex.

cap2Seriously, if you’re surfing a streaming porn site you might be experiencing 50% less boob than if you turned on Borgia. And that includes wrinkly old man-boob.

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I used this pic from Assassin’s Creed Wiki because it’s shockingly more tasteful than screenshots of naked Rodrigo Borgia from the show.

Continue reading

Hearthstone

Hearthstone

When I was in high school, the cafeteria would always have a small handful of tables that were fully occupied. They were always near the corner, far away from the busy food lines and nowhere near the exit. This was where all of the quiet introverts would gather, or those who had no interest in the endless hubbub of high school. But they did not just sit around and gaze away from each other awkwardly. Instead, there was one card game that they would unerringly go to during lunchtime, a fun little escape from the insanity of classes and everyday stresses. That game was Magic: The Gathering. Continue reading

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Metropolis

As a general rule I don’t review classic literature. Better minds than I have pondered for decades what better writers than I have penned. There are also other readers and bloggers to consider– people who have spent their careers pondering the virtues of their favorite books– people who are ready to defend the classics, should a novice like myself raise a question without the requisite thousand hours of preliminary research. And of course there are period-relevant issues to consider; the publishing world at the time the masterpiece was printed, or the nuances lost in translation from the original text. The best I could hope for would be to embarrass myself.

However, I could talk about what my expectations, experiences, and preconceived notions were, going into Metropolis. Continue reading

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DionysusPsyche – Nostalgia Challenge

Several weeks ago, the Inquisitive Loon mentioned to me that Joe the Revelator was going to challenge us to post a movie, book, and game that shaped who we were growing up and crafted the adults (or those who hide behind the masks of adults but don’t feel that way) that we are today. I had all sorts of questions that tIL couldn’t answer, because we were waited on baited breath for Joe to post so we could do likewise.

Finally, the day has come. Here are a movie, game, and book that defined my childhood. Continue reading

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The Inquisitive Loon – Nostalgia Challenge

So a few days ago, Joe the Revelator, scourge of the boundless Internet seas, challenged the other bloggers at this site to do a special little write-up. This is to be a NOSTALGIA CHALLENGE, where we come up with a movie, game, and book from our childhood that helped define us, made us into who were are today, or just some random shit we enjoyed. So, unwilling to say no to ANY sort of (reasonable, doable, and easy) EPIC challenge, here I am ready to blow all your minds. You think you know the Inquisitive Loon? Maybe you don’t know ANYTHING AT ALL!!! Continue reading

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It’s a Disaster

It stared at me in the Netflix queue for months. My husband seemed excited for the potential of this film, but I remained skeptical. Yesterday, It’s a Disaster seemed less serious than all our other film/tv choices at the moment (we’re going through a crime/thriller phase). After an uncomfortable episode of Top of the Lake, I gave in. Let’s do it. Let’s watch that movie. Let’s be done with it. Continue reading

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