Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dolly's Gone Haywire!

Dolly Parton is easily my favorite living celebrity, an entertainer with enough cheerful spirit and musical talent to make Tennessee a worthy vacation destination (I’m heading there for the third time this spring). Hence, when the South’s favorite blond was line dancing back to the big screen, it seemed a natural recommend for my other favorite below Mason Dixoner, T.L. Bugg.

That’s right homefries: The Lightning Bug’s Lair is brimming with Joyful Noise, so hitch up yer horse and gallop on over for Zack’s what-I-imagine-must-be-rave-review. On my end, the Bugg sent me out on a covert mission to see Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. There’s less gospel singing and more ass kicking, but balance is important in this day and age. Just ask Dolly’s bras.

Quick Plot: Mallory Kane (MMA star Gina Carano) sits down for a cup of tea in an upstate diner when the boring guy from the only bad Step Up movie comes in to talk and fight. REALLY fight.

Winning round 1, Mallory enlists the aide of a curious customer with wheels and speeds away on the snowy road, telling her story to him and more importantly, us.

See, Mallory has one of those jobs that we only know about because of movies like Haywire. She’s a covert operative something something, an esteemed professional who negotiates and executes super duper dangerous plans around the world. Her last mission in Barcelona—to grab a journalist that had been taken hostage—went so well that she now gets a quickie job in Dublin via her boss and ex-lover (the young Obi Wan Kenobi) to pose as the wife of fellow operative/hot person Michael Fassbender. When a few details become suspect, Mallory finds herself back in combat and on the run.

Steven Soderbergh is easily one of modern cinema’s most interesting directors, both behind the camera and away from it. In terms of technique, he’s created some genuine marvels (Traffic, The Limey) and plenty of worthy experiments. As if flicking on a light switch, he can seemingly shoot out a commercially appealing mainstream vehicle without pandering to a less arty audience, only to turn around half a year later with a made-for-peanuts indie that butts any theater formula. Oh, and he’s currently working on a film based on Channing Tatum’s experiences as a male stripper.

Why aren’t more people as shocked/fascinated by this as I am?

Anyway, Haywire falls somewhere in between Soderbergh’s experiments and crowd pleasers. It’s an action film, to be sure, but one clearly crafted by someone with ambition and more importantly, creativity. We’ve seen badass hot chicks in hand-to-hand combat, but Soderbergh stages his battles in a way that lets you actually SEE them, pulling the camera back and stopping the music to let each punch and bang resonate. Thinking back to my annoyance with the well-received Crazies remake (which I disliked for its close quarters-with-no-context fight scenes) makes me appreciate the patience and trust someone like Soderbergh has in his work.

And yet American audiences seem to essentially hate Haywire, awarding it a cinemascore of a D+ and spending their cash instead on George Lucas’ Lando apology or Kate Beckinsale’s leather workout. Did moviegoers feel victim to a bait ‘n switch, expecting ‘splosions and shootouts only to be insulted with storyline and a smidgen of dialogue?

I don’t understand the odd venom for Haywire because you know what? I rather liked it. Gina Carano isn’t an Oscar ready actress, but you know what? She doesn’t have to be. She’s believable, likable, and most importantly, great to watch and that in itself keeps Haywire as a film to care about. The supporting cast is overflowing with Soderbergh vets (Michael Douglas!), personal faves (Bill Paxton!) and underrated stars playing against type (sleazy Antonio Banderas!). While the storyline occasionally feels a tad more complicated than it has to be, it tracks back easily enough once we reach the third act.

Maybe the ending wasn’t big enough for some audiences? I can imagine some viewers may have felt like each fight follows the same beats, meaning the ending (no spoilers) doesn’t satisfy in the more obvious Big Boss Battle route would have. It’s a fair criticism if that’s how you felt, but sit back to consider the fact that this is probably how these fights WOULD flow, and just because MacGregor knows how to use a lightsaber does not mean we should see some Jedi mind tricks in a stylized but reality-based action film. Plus, the final line of the film is kind of hilarious in a simple and wraparound way.

High Points
Ewan MacGregor. Bill Paxton. Antonio Banderas. AND Michael Fassbender?

Apparently Steven Soderbergh has the same taste in man as me.

One of my main irks with the action genre is the cold blooded ambivalence it generally has towards civilian bystanders, giving the audience minor laughs or thrills as random passerbys get caught up in gunfire or used as human shields (I still love you though, Total Recall).  While some unlucky folks do find themselves in the way, the character of Mallory actively tries to prevent them from being killed, whether it’s warning some proud state troopers, non-fatally putting down some Spanish officers, or guaranteeing the safety of her game driver

Low Points
Channing Tatum, I understand that you have physical appeal and a weird muse-like hold over your new bestie Steven Soderbergh but please, for the love of all your muscle tees, OPEN YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU SPEAK!

Lessons Learned
Never let an enemy order hot coffee when sitting across from your face

iPhones might have their charms, but nothing says superspy like a burner Blackberry

Don’t forget about the deer. NEVER forget about the deer

See/Skip/Sneak In
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Haywire on the big screen, but my $11 could easily have been spent on the latest Paracinema Magazine and a few rolls of toilet paper (I ran out). It’s a good film and more importantly, a genuinely special action movie so if you have the time and means, use that cash to make a point about what kind of cinema you’d like to see studios make. Or go see Joyful Noise because Dollywood could always use a new rollercoaster. The choice is yours, but you know what’s not? The freedom to choose which website to visit next. That answer is right here.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

2011 Awards, Emily Style

Hey, not every movie can be awards chloroform like The Artist or Hugo. Some need a little help, even if they already have Mickey Rourke's badass headgear Nicholas Cage's non-accent-in-a-period-film to help them out. Hence, head over to the Gentlemen's Blog to Midnite Cinema for my very own version of the Emily Oscars. There will be clowns, there will be brazen bulls, there will even be Muppets, but sadly there will never, never ever never, be enough dinosaurs.

Go figure out what I mean.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Bloody Gaekkebrev

Abandoned mines! Ouja warnings! Zombie attacks! Funny accents!
Eh, we’ll leave the intro right there.
Quick Plot: A nineteenth century pre-credits flashback tells the tale of Andries Martiens, a child killer with a thing for heads-on-stakes. 

It’s pointy.
Flash forward to the present day, where a young woman named Kristel wants to take time off from school against the wishes of her historian father. After partying with her not great, not awful friends, Kristel gets a ride home with dad only to end up in a fiery collision that kills him. Survivors guilt is on its way.
To close down some business, Kristel teams up with her okay enough pals for a road trip to a Belgian mine, home to her late father’s final manuscript. What begins as something I would consider an awesome after hours haunted tour (there’s a cheap animatronic and EVERYTHING) turns into disaster when the gang,  plus enthusiastic tour leader are stuck underground with the saucy spirit of a 200 year old murderer who can possess dead or dying bodies with zombie-like urgency.

Having based what I knew about Slaughter Night simply on the quick recommendation of my Girls On Film cohostess Cristina and Netflix’s basic description, I was expecting a breezy slasher about pretty Europeans getting face axed, something along the lines of the good, if rote Cold Prey. I *kind of* got that, but Slaughter Night actually offers a lot more. The backstory of the killer is fairly gruesome, and setting the film in a My Bloody Valentine-esque mine (complete with the danger of methane explosions) offers plenty of natural potential. More neatly, the fact that instead of one big lug wielding sharp objects on our young pretty heroes is replaced by the victims rising with glowing eyes and bitey teeth...now that’s new.

High Points
Much like the aforementioned Norwegian Cold Prey, Slaughter Night utilizes excellent gore effects, making head rip-offs wet, juicy, gross, and realistic. Not that I’ve ever SEEN one, but I have my ideas
Low Points
While the teens of Slaughter Night are certainly an improvement over the last few young people in peril films viewed here, they still don’t really register as anything overly special to root for, especially when the seemingly endless supply of blond boys never seems to dwindle

Lessons Learned
Spirits are lousy at spelling

Nothing like popping a pill down a mine!
Having an adverse effect to drugs is never fun, but having an adverse effect to drugs when trapped in a haunted mine is a sure way to kill your buzz

I was more than pleasantly pleased by Slaughter Night, an excellently made slasher with a clever and well-executed zombie twist. The film won’t change your life, but it’s a great way to kill 90 brutal minutes with some great jumps and even better gore. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 28 Best Movies I Reviewed In 2011. Also, Happy Birthday This

Don't worry folks. I still have another seven days before I cross a very big milestone in my own count of years (code: I turn 30 next week) but in the meantime, allow me to wish a very happy third birthday to the Deadly Doll's House! As is tradition, I like to take this anniversary to lavish praise upon some of the better films I watched and wrote about this past year, linking to each review via the title. 

Let the countdown commence!

Filmmaking team Adam Mason and Simon Boyes annoyed but intrigued me with 2006’s nihilistic Broken, so it was refreshing to see a followup that further developed their strengths. A mental patient (cleverly played by Andrew Howard) leads a team of psychiatrists to an abandoned house where the titular furniture provides a gateway into a Silent Hill-like dimension of brutality. Filled with terrifying imagery, strong performances and surprising twists, it's a great argument for the continued fight that Modern Horror Is Not Dead (it's just sitting in a chair).

By no means a masterful film, the third installment of this never-been-great franchise takes Warwick Davis' Irish scamp to Las Vegas where the expected Elvis impersonations ensue. On paper, there's not a whole lot to the pint-sized villain's exploits, but in the hands of genre vet Brian Trenchard-Smith, Leprechaun 3 becomes something truly joyous, a fun but not cloying ride into controlled goofiness. Sometimes the act of enjoying a film is enough to make it number 27.

26. Pieces

What a terribly ridiculous collection of awesome, a 1982 slasher that uses everything from chainsaws to kung fu to tell the story of a college killer being hunted by a geek, a tennis pro, and the most useless batch of police officers since Plan 9 From Outer Space. Pieces is an awful, awful film, but one that exists in that wonderful realm of so-bad-it's-laughably-amazing, a realm I like to call heaven.
25. Pin

If V.C. Andrews had a mannequin fetish, she might have written Pin. Instead, it turns out her future ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman had a mannequin fetish and wrote…Pin. Quirky but not cute, Pin tells the story of a doctor (Terry O’Quinn!) who confuses his children’s understanding of sexuality, thus leading to a promiscuous daughter and repressed son who would rather spend time with a medical dummy Dad used to break bad news. It’s not perfect by any means, but Pin is also something truly unique and special enough in its weirdness to make this list.

Thought I didn’t see the universally panned remake, I have my doubts that 1980’s Jamie Lee Curtis disco fest was THAT much better than its PG13-rated reboot. Despite the presence of Leslie Nielson, Prom Night was a mediocre slasher that had one excellent stalking scene amidst a sea of blandness. Imagine my surprise to discover that the 1986 sequel was actually FUN, a self-aware slasher that incorporates wacky kills with high school humor and, hold your breath, Michael Ironside. 

Released around the same time as the goofy (but great) Rumplestilskin, the straight-to-VHS Pinocchio’s Revenge never had much of a positive reputation. I sat down to it expecting a Child’s Play ripoff and silly doll kills. Well, the movie IS a Child’s Play ripoff, but not in the way you think. Instead of a pint-sized fairy tale stabbing ankles around him, Pinocchio seems to put the dirty work in the little hands of his owner, a troubled little girl who might be using the guise of a toy to take vengeance on bullies and would-be stepfathers. Or maybe he’s possessing her. Ambiguity is hardly something I’d associate with ‘90s killer doll films, but this one has a little more ambition in its beady blue eye.

Horror anthologies tend to offer the very best and worst of the genre. On one hand, the concise format allows for simple scares or twists. On the other, it can sometimes lead to undisciplined shortcuts or lazy and trite been-there campfire tales. Drive-In Horrorshow takes the anthology and juices it fully with five unique stories that range from clever comedy to dark body horror. Like any anthology, some tales work better than others, but combined in a tight runtime and framed with a groovy post-apocalyptic drive-in setting, this 2009 indie does it right.

"I like people."
"Yes son, but they don't like you."
That exchange has stayed with me ever since I sat down to watch Simon Rumley's horrific little drama about a schizophrenic (an incredible Leo Bill), his broke but aristocratic father, and sweet but cancer-ridden mother, all living in a decaying mansion isolated from modern times. Rumley gets a little too eager to boggle his audience's minds with his surreal experimentation, but this film remains a powerful portrait of a failing family unit. Both this and the soon-to-be-mentioned Red White & Blue show Rumley as an exciting new filmmaker who's willing and able to create characters that are too interesting to be classified as good or bad, and all the more tragic for it.

When it comes to zombies in the 21st century cinema, there are really only two paths to take: 1. Use them as background or a means to explore a deeper topic (Deadgirl, Dead Set, They Came Back) or just tell it like it is REALLY GOOD. Hence, the French action horror The Horde, a fast-paced, fast zombie siege film that does nothing new but everything right.

Misrepresented as a new entry into savage Santa cinema, Rare Exports is something much more special and, well, weird. Part fairy tale and to a lesser extent, horror movie, this yuletide treat keeps you truly surprised with which direction it will take, a rare feat in modern cinema.

I’m often baffled by the lack of war-set horror films, and seeing something as good as Michael J. Bassett’s Deathwatch does little to curb that. Set in the already terrifying trenches of WWI, Deathwatch follows a crew of British soldiers (including Love Actually’s Kris Marshall, Billy Elliot’s Jamie Bell, and Gollum himself, Andy Serkis) as they face impending evil. It’s tense and genuinely scary, marred slightly by cheap-looking CGI but ultimately effective straight down to its final reveal.

One of the most pleasant theatrical surprises of 2011, James Wan's low budget ghost story (of sorts) actively engages in horror cliches and flicks them away for a good hour. Haunted house? Move out! Lurking figure? Turn the lights on! Evil gnomish demon? Have him dance to Tiny Tim! Yes, it doesn't carry that brilliant energy into its last act, but for almost 75 minutes, Insidious is a scary and strangely funny tale that finds new ways to tell an old story.

While many of my peers gush over the very mention of blood, boobs, & black gloves, the giallo genre has never done much for me. Unnecessarily complicated plots that try to cover up a contrived mystery killer no intelligent person could ever solve? No thanks. Yet when my blogging cohort  T.L. Bugg assigned Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling, I was hugely surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The cast is top notch ‘70s stars and the killings come from a definite place of motive. Most importantly, however, Don’t Torture a Duckling features the most awesome use of a dummy stunt double in the history of mankind.

Larry Cohen doesn't make seamless films, but nearly all the ones I've seen soar with a rare sense of fun present in every frame. Q the Winged Serpent is pure Cohen using his favorite tools: a dingy '80s era New York City, over the top effects, and most importantly, a classically insane Michael Moriarity. Less disturbing than something like God Told Me To and not quite as bombastic as The Stuff, Q makes for the kind of watch that is simply entertaining in a big ol’ monster kinda manner.

My bias must be confessed: big bugs kick ass. Infestation is a gleefully intentional B-movie about a likable mixed bag of survivors who awaken to discover...big bugs. Spider people, flying beatles, and you know, big...really big...bugs. Like a more fully realized Eight Legged Freaks, Infestation revels in its cheese in a so much smarter-than-you-think style. We can only pray to our giant aphid overlords that a sequel scurries our way soon.

Perhaps one of the most pleasant surprises of 2011 for genre fans, this go-crazy-in-the-woods horror movie proceeds with echoes of everything from The Blair Witch Project to The Wizard of Oz yet still manages to be its own original and genuinely surprising treat. The cast of mostly unknowns is universally believable, while the script toes dangerous lines between black comedy and visceral scares. Although the ending doesn’t quite satisfy the strengths that came before it, YellowBrickRoad remains a scarily good trip into modern horror.

George Sluizer’s infamous 1988 thriller is every bit as intense and nail-biting as its reputation leads you to believe. Even if you know the big surprise of an ending (as I did), the film remains a fascinatingly stark look at both obsession and sociopathy. Skip Sluizer’s own American remake (complete with Jeff Bridges speaking like his mouth is stuffed with marshmallows and a token Hollywood happy ending) and save this original dark tale for the kind of day when you need to remember there’s evil in this world.

Less horror than...philosophy? magical realism? It's hard to say. This French film begins on a perfectly novel idea: one sunny summer day, the dead return to life not to eat the living's flesh, but to just...sort of...be there. Your late fiancee now lays in bed next to you not sleeping. Your tragically killed child now sits in a park...not playing. Tax collectors get confused. City councils meet in frustration. They Came Back could be considered a metaphor for a lot of things--the grieving process, immigration policy, local administration--and that's kind of its beauty. This is a quiet, thoughtful film that opens itself up to questions with no easy answers.

When accepting movie recommendations, one could do worse than following the advice of Martin Scorscese. 1964's The Innocents has long topped those lists of forgotten horror classics, often being overshadowed by the better known The Haunting. It's a shame. Starring an effectively cold Deborah Kerr as a frigid governess, the film adapts Henry James' The Turn of the Screw into chilling gothic black and white horror. From the eeriness of British children laughing to the masterful use of shadows, The Innocents represents subtle horror at its best.

Legendary is my love of the pseudo sequel Class of 1999, but this youth-gone-wild punk rock trip is a surprisingly strong piece of ‘80s Canuxploitation. Director Mark Lester imbues his film with grand energy, from the kicking score to over the top costume design and most importantly, fully committed performances from the likes of a baby-faced Timothy Van Patten and a brilliantly losing-his-mind Roddy McDowell. 

If I could give an award for Film That Most Improves The More You Sit Back From It, Red White & Blue would be wearing a tiara and cup waving from on high. Director Simon Rumley already demonstrated a harsh sense of filmmaking bravery (as well as a strong hold on performances) with the aforementioned The Living and the Dead, and with this 2011 followup, he takes horror to a new level. Three strangers--fantastically played by a terrifying Noah Taylor, complicatedly likable Marc Senter, and astoundingly understated Amanda Fuller--find their lives tragically intertwined through an endless cycle of disease and violence. I wouldn't dream of spoiling this film, and while it's not for the weak of heart (or stomach) and won't make you want to smile (ever again), it's a feat of filmmaking and--broken record alert--more proof that genre cinema is doing just fine.

Sion Sono is easily one of the most unique filmmakers working today,a former poet who now uses his camera to explore everything from true love to adolescent angst to parental incompetence and, when in doubt, crazy religious cults. Cold Fish is one of his more disciplined journeys through these kinds of places, following a timid tropical fish store owner/frustrated father through a terrifying friendship with an enigmatic serial killer. It's as funny as it is twisted, and while it doesn't necessarily blaze new trails in the way Suicide Club made viewers rethink schoolgirls on subways, it's still a juicy ride somewhere you've never thought to go.

The fact that Michael Ironside headlines this film was already enough for me to endorse it as a hearty recommendation, so the fact that it's actually A REALLY GOOD FILM is just gravy on the mozzarella cheese fries. This recently rereleased Video Nasty (Brits are such squares) immediately became one of my all-time favorite slashers boasting a formidable villain (sociopathic Ironside with mommy issues galore and pleather tanktops in his closet), strong final 'girls' and a superbly haunting hospital setting. A true hidden treasure of the 80s.

I imagine--and hope--that I'm not alone as a cinema fan in finding true joy when I get to watch enthusiastic filmmakers grow and improve with each project. Director/writer Jim Mickle and actor/cowriter Nick Damici's Mulberry Street showed incredible promise, but it's their epic post-apocalyptic vampire yarn that demonstrates the goods. Much like Mulberry Street, Stake Land's biggest strength lies not in its cast, but in the filmmakers' castING. Most horror films--low budget indies in particular--grab the nearest nubile bodies and slap them with sexy clothing and bland backstories. But let's face it: when the apocalypse hits, there will be as many able-bodied soldiers as there are middle-aged nuns, 40something men with weathered skin and scrappy orphan boys learning the trade. Stake Land makes its wasteland environment all the more believable because its occupants are people we know. As its heroes wander through a hell filled with supernatural cannibals and murderous religious fanatics, Mickle and Damici ground their tale in its survivors, pausing to remember life's treasures before vampires are dropped on top of it.

The essence of A Simple Plan is--forgive me--quite simple. A good man's soul can be corrupted by a bagful of money if he lets it happen. In the hands of Sam Raimi and his able cast, it's a great thing that said good man is Bill Paxton, his wife, a Lady MacBeth in the making Bridget Fonda, and brother, an incredibly sympathetic Billy Bob Thornton. The film flows like a modern Shakespeare tragedy about everyday folks who allow themselves to dream too high, only to then become all too ready to do what it takes to make those dreams come true. 

I've never been the biggest Dracula fan, making the fact that Werner Herzog's 1979 adaptation (don't let the title fool you) landed the top spot of my year-end list all the more impressive. From Klaus Kinski's shivering vamp to Isabelle Adjani's haunting expressions, Herzog zeroes in on his instruments' strengths and amplifies them to his own tune. Along the way, we get breathtaking imagery from every direction and even, just for kicks, a full plague subplot. It’s the equivalent of drinking the best cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever had, complete with fluffy marshmallows, the world’s finest whipped cream, elite chocolate shavings grounded fresh from Willy Wonka’s factory, and stirred with a decadent cinnamon stick. The only catch is that it might have been made with read dead rats, but hey, everything has its price, and great cinema is rarely not worth it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lessons Learned: The 3rd Year Edition

It’s that time of the year again Doll’s Houseguests! In the penultimate post before this here li’l blog’s third birthday, I (as always) like to celebrate the REAL reason I watch movies: education. From British sleepwear to the real horrors of stoning, I’ve compiled an extensive cheat sheet culled from a full year’s worth of reviews. Read on to learn about a variety of subjects that will make you a more smarter person and click on each title for the full review.

Glasses and bun not included

Culinary Arts & Fine Dining
Unlike burgers or a fine Ver-sace gown, Alien baked brownies do indeed suck--The Unhuman

You can always count on a diner waitress to be named Midge. Also, for her to burn people alive--Dead and Buried

Creepy backwoods preacher men aren't particularly interested in your newfound decision to go vegan--Children of the Corn: Genesis

Wieners don't have to be boring, you know--7 Dwarfs

Never send a diner burger back to a Texas kitchen--Red White & Blue

Beans is good. Just heat ‘em up and they’re good to go*

*Ancient Iroquois wisdom --Skeleton Man

Rules of the Road
There’s an art to a good convoy, and it apparently includes introducing yourself awkwardly at rest stops--Amusement

When choosing one's vehicle for vampire hunting in the post-apocalypse, always consider the mechanics of the trunk--Stake Land

Doctors notes for claustrophobia do not get you out of wearing your seatbelt--The Vanishing

If planning on speeding through Paris in a car chase to escape murderous/carsick goons, always be sure to pack the right high energy mixed tape--Subway 

Math Class Is Hard
If you use your rifle to secure every door you close behind you, you will eventually run out of rifles--The Horde

Counting down from 100 by 7s is hard at any age--Pin

English Grammar & Vocabulary

The definition of a Las Vegas penis: heat sinking moisture missile--Leprechaun 3

The word ‘crap’ is quite tacky--Holiday In Handcuffs

Sometimes an apostrophe can go wherever it wants, whether it belongs there or not. Hello, Dream Model’s!--Birdemic

In flight attendant speak, engaged does not equal dead. In horror movie speak, it just means not dead until 30 minutes into the film --Quarantine 2: Terminal

Small Town Matters

Too much riff-raff will give a town a bad name--Trog

Small towns are often victim to plot points that involve unread faxes--Christmas Caper

Town dumps are generally closed on Thanksgiving--Alice’s Restaurant 

Campus Life
In order to keep your enjoyable teaching job, remember to occasionally go to school and teach--Ghost Story

Sororities aren’t all that bad. They just make you do horrible things to test your loyalty--The Initiation of Sarah
The best way to seduce a sexy coed is to slowwwwwwwwwwwly take your shirt off and let her stare at your chest for approximately 45 seconds--Silent Scream
If going on a coed camping trip with a bunch of college students, expect that every attached male will be aggressively hitting on every attached female--The Fear
Frat houses tend to keep a ready inventory of industrial strength waterproof glue on hand, perhaps to ensure football trophies can always be safely put back together in case of accidents--Drive-In Horrorshow

When filling out your college housing application, don't forget to make a special note that you're allergic to theater majors--Red Hook

Global Studies
In Norwegian, “This is going to hurt a little” translates as “This will cause searing pain that will make you wish you were dead”--Cold Prey

You're never too old to play with dolls, at least not in Lapland--Rare Exports
There are no black people in snowglobes--Snowglobe
If you’re from the Valley, you are also not smart--Haunted Boat
No one goes without a hat in China--Tremors 4
African blonds get incredibly offended when no one will sleep with them. They also dress in the kind of Sexy Policewoman costumes generally reserved for Halloween stores or adult shops--Snake Island

Diener is German for servant...and there’s nothing weird about a white doctor pointedly telling that to his black assistant--April Fools

In the 1970s, Korea was home to many statues of tiny cows--A*P*E

Animal Care
After future pet DJ Chocolate Thunder, my next cat will be named Claws Kinski--Crawlspace
Low down kai-oats are responsible for most problems in the world--The Terror of Tiny Town

Parenting & Child Rearing
Small children shouldn’t have pillows--The Nanny

James Brown is almost as good as Daddy--Call Me Claus

When giving birth, one can expect the following:
You’ll push and push
There will be a little head
Then you push again
Then something emerges, just like a baby dolphin
Oh, and finally, you’ll cut the cord yourself--Baby Blood
In addition to producing vitamins and soreness, breastfeeding might provide you with a brand new sense of Shakespearean villainy--A Simple Plan
The best way to show your unhappy psychic teenage daughter that you love her is to send the kid four thousand miles away for the next year of her life--The Spell

Much like those hungry Cabbage Patch Kids form the late ‘90s, feeding a tree bark baby will run you the risk of having your ponytail eaten as dessert--Little Otik

You know you have an absentee dad when only the butler knows how you take your steak--Cancel Christmas

Always dress your child in bright colors, particularly if you’re going to be chasing her around in the dark woods for the bulk of your story and a shimmery yellow raincoat improves visibility tenfold--Wake Wood 

The Human Body
After being stabbed in the gut, the best course of action is to drink water and dab the wound with a fluffy towel--Blood Games

A piece of tattooed flesh will last several weeks when safely stored in a Ziploc bag--The Fan
A bullet in your gut won’t kill you, but one in your upper left breastbone six inches away from your heart will do so instantly--Blood Harvest
Skin-melting acid will not harm your body if you immediately remove all clothing as soon as it touches you--Roller Blade

Getting stabbed in the neck with a pen kind of hurts--Cold Fish
When a bullet grazes you, it also knocks you out and makes you bleed profusely to the point that in no way could you possibly be mistaken for alive--Halloween: Water

The human heart has four chambers and if you don’t know that, Roddy McDowell will blow your face off--Class of 1984 

Modern Medicine & the Healthcare Field
An allergy to anesthesia can be a pain, but if you happen to have a fetish for that kind of thing, it's also really convenient--Oral Fixation
Always read up on whatever hospital you’re admitted to. It’d be a shame if you end up in one where no nurses ever stop by to check your life support system’s status--Pinocchio’s Revenge
The biggest limitation of the medical profession is that you can’t write a prescription to fight evil--The Devil Within Her

The Best Rest
If you’re having trouble sleeping after a traumatic event, perhaps setting an evil-looking doll facing your bed is not the best idea, particularly when said evil-looking doll was delivered to you mere moments before said traumatic event--Dead Silence 



Real survivalists pack extra double AAs--Infestation

When your clown dolls tell you to stop asking questions, stop...asking...questions--Shattered Lives
Never underestimate the importance of glow sticks. Never.--Vanishing On 7th Street
Morse Code: Learn It. Love it. Live It.--Maximum Overdrive
Choosing to live or not to live just depends on you...and those orchestrating a lethal and secluded game of amateur paintball--Paintball
Do not, for the health and happiness of all, mess with Armand Assante's breakfast routine--Dot.Kill

History Lessons
1980s era blonds were allergic to bras--Bloody Birthday

Contrary to popular belief, Romans did not keep pet dinosaurs--The Lair of the White Worm
Breast implants, tattoos, and hoop earrings were popular choices for 1880s saloon prostitutes--7 Mummies
Any movie made in the ‘90s that featured pregnancy as a major plot point was required to culminate in multiple babies being frantically born on the same stressful evening (see Father of the Bride Part 2, Nine Months)--Junior
In 1964, the price for a slightly used life was precisely three times a regular salary--The Flesh Eaters

The Awkward Shimmy rivaled The Charleston for popular dances of the 1920s--The Nutcracker In 3D 

Humanitarian Efforts
You know, there are starving children in China who would kill to eat those grapes. (Note: this comment is directed towards vampires who seem to thrive on wasting decadent banquets)--Nosferatu

Fashion Sense
One would assume skin-tight leather pants are a poor choice when planning on engaging in street battles with talented martial artists. One would be so very, very very, very wrong--Gangland 
Always get two purses in the same design (make one beige) so you can sneak out the window when scared of midgets--Unborn Sins
Oversized sweaters with full body bald eagle prints will drive the male mall crowd WILD--The Kiss
What's in for goblin style in 2010: Assless chaps, Grim Reaper hoodies, and bone earrings--Goblin
So long as the snow is falling in an elegant manner, there’s no need to ever put on a sweater--Red Riding Hood
It is possible to look good in a green lame three-piece suit. It’s possible, but not easy for mere mortals. Not easy at all...--Rockers
Stink + satin = bad times--Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2

Afterschool Activities
One can learn how to play the drums in the same short amount of time it takes to learn rough conversational Portuguese--Love Actually


Hair Tips
Corn rows flatter no white woman--Stuck

In death, your hair will grow to appropriate J-horror ghostess lengths--Phone

Bad bangs are often a sign of a bad soul--Blood Gnomes

Pompadours don't look any more normal on gothic children than they do on Korean dictators--The Innocents

It’s wrong to steal (it’s in the Bible and it’s one of the 10 commandments)--Black Devil Doll From Hell

British people have odd ideas of pajamas, unless skeleton t-shirts, white riding pants, and boots are actually comfortable--The Devil’s Chair

Matching your pajamas to your family members is really just asking for a demon thing to come take one of you away--Insidious
Sleeping in the nude can be slightly inconvenient, especially if you're babysitting small children or expecting a serial killer to break in--Visiting Hours

Military Intelligence
The typical uniform for a S.W.A.T. team member involves a comfortably loose-fitting t-shirt--Are You Scared
Mimes can make surprisingly effective--and silent--spies--Q The Winged Serpent
Criminal Justice
Never kick away evidence at a murder scene when the ominous score is so clearly telling you not to--Don’t Torture a Duckling

You can’t break a cop’s wrist! (except you totally can)--Witch’s Sabbath

In prison, being someone’s bitch means you have to help sneak in their drugs. And that’s just about it--Dangerous Worry Dolls

Avoid trusting police officers with questionable diamond earrings--Nite Tales

Undercover policing is strictly volunteer--Pieces

When describing a killer to a cop, be sure to list his size, whether he has a chain, and if there's a hole inside of his head. Most law enforcement employees will nail that one on the first try--See No Evil

Instincts don’t solve cases--Exte

Like so much else in Italy, policeman pants are exceedingly sexy--Spellcaster

The best way to unite warring youth gangs is to make them band together in an effort to battle Hyena People--Hyenas

Much to the chagrin of eager cleaning ladies, one cannot just dust around fingerprints at a crime scene--The Blob 
Responsible Ownership
A cell phone’s place is never in the bathroom. Really people, you’re in a horror movie set in the 21st century. Don’t give the Laws of Getting Rid of Phones any leeway--I Spit On Your Grave

Before activating your apocalyptic vampire relic, you should really consider reading that owner’s manual--Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Love & Dating
"I say we just go back to your house and make out” might SOUND sexy in your head, but saying it out loud will most certainly lead instead to a group date--House of Fears

Telling folks that your dad is Mick Jagger won’t get you chicks, but it will get you a free round of fancy martinis--Gossip

You should know you’re on a date from hell when your gentleman caller earnestly asks “Tell me more about your mother”--Starved

Post-coital secret sharing only works when you or your partner enjoy the coitus--Forest of Death

Post widowering, one shouldn’t talk about setting down, but GETTING down--A Christmas Wedding Tail

A great way to meet an eligible bachelor? Fight off a rapist down the hall--Scissors

The best way to rekindle romance is to be impregnated in the back by a Native American medicine man--The Manitou

The Feminine Mystique
Bitches always keep their last names--5ive Girls 
Arms & Weaponry
Rocket launchers are surprisingly lightweight--Karoake Terror

Chekhov’s Law: If a homemade mace is introduced in the first reel, you best use that homemade mace by the fifth--Deathwatch

A samurai is also known as a hobo with a sword--Doll Graveyard

The longbow is quicker to load AND farther in flight. Take THAT buck of tar!--Black Death

The greatest war tactic of all time might indeed involve unleashing your secret weapon upon the enemy, and by secret weapon, I am of course referring to a clown armed with a machete--The Last Circus
Office Relations
Before you can confess your sins to your employer, you must first be friends--Attack of the Puppet People

Any red-blooded American would climb up an elevator shaft--The Falling

When the going gets tough, the tough order pineapple pie with ice cream on top --Day of the Animals

Family Dynamics
Slutty sisters let their toenails grow insanely long--Trilogy of Terror

A daughter who has to pee is a great ticket out of a dull conversation about your work--Beware! Children At Play

In the 1970s, fondling your sister was one way to make a living--The Sentinel

Biology 101 
A shiv is not the recommended weapon when facing a grizzly bear--Grizzly Park

Sharks love seals (and really, who doesn't?)--The Reef

Sensory Pleasures
Pop is the sound of Gary Coleman bursting your bubble--A Carol Christmas

Introduction to Anthropology 
People who feel like outcasts and spend the majority of their lives whining about the world on the Internet are generally much more in shape and attractive than the majority of happy well-adjusted members of society--The Hanged Man
American accents are a recessive gene--Melancholia

Bathing & Hygiene
Stoning completely ruins your makeup--Christmas With a Capital C

Taking a bath when cast in a horror film is one of the dumbest things a woman can do--The Sitter
Having your face shoved in tropical mud on a weekly basis can do wonders for your complexion--Boot Camp  

Real Estate For Dummies
Your first mistake in obtaining a haunted house: purchasing your home from a mall-stationed real estate agency and a man with a shiny ponytail--The Baby’s Room
And there you have it students! I guarantee that at least one of these lessons is on its way to making you a happier, smarter, braver, talenteder person than five minutes before reading this. Don't forget to come back Wednesday for the Doll's House OFFICIAL 3rd birthday, where we party hard by remembering the best films I watched here this year.  In the meantime, celebrate your newfound smartness!