Monday, January 28, 2019

Best of the Year: YEAR 10

Another year has passed here at the Doll's House, and tradition dictates that I spend it celebrating my favorite films covered here over the last round of the Acatemy Awards wall calendar.

What, you don't know about the best wall calendar to ever be bestowed amongst lowly human kind? You're welcome for making your world better...purrrfect, even.

Anyway, here it is:

onfused for a good movie, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a blast of ‘80s cheese, served up via bear traps and a leather jumpsuit by none other than a perfectly permed Linda Blair. Yes, it’s problematic, and yes, it doesn’t always make sense, but when you’ve got as stylish, sassy Blair shooting a crossbow at rapist bullies, what more do you really want?

At 36, I’m someone who falls just between the cracks of millennial and Generation X (which makes me what I like to call a Generation MilleXial). As a result, it’s a weird, weird experience to recognize the tics of a generation that is absolutely not mine. Bad Match plays like a more accomplished Lifetime original in its storyline (boy meets girl on hookup app, girl becomes obsessed with boy, boy’s life goes haywire, violence ensues) but feels so specific to the younger generation that I found it weirdly fascinating. It helps that lead actress Lili Simmons (also great in Bone Tomahawk and The Purge TV series) gives a genuinely interesting performance as a young woman who might not quite be what she appears to our (anti-) protagonist. Bad Match is hardly a new classic, but it’s a quick, focused little thriller that does its job well.

Mark Duplass returns to bring his uncomfortable energy to a new victim but this time, he’s found a far more interesting match. As a documentary filmmaker named Sara, real-life independent filmmaker Desiree Akhavan makes for a fascinating friend/foe to our complicated serial killer. Creep 2 unfortunately botches its ending, but for the first 78 minutes, it’s a quietly chilling ride well worth your time. 

Imagine George Romero’s The Crazies with even more crazy, and you come fairly close to David E. Durston’s gonzo gore-fest. When a gang of satan-worshipping hippies brings their LSD-infused violence upon a small town, a local boy decides to wreak his vengeance by poisoning their meat pies with rabies. Things go about as well as you’d expect, complete with an angry jazz score and ridiculously clean beheadings. A fun time for all!

There are few things greater than whatever the hell is living on Linda Blair’s head in this made-for-TV (BY WES CRAVEN) chiller. As a plucky farm girl whose happy existence is being destroyed by her mysterious cousin, Blair is almost as lovable as her gigantic curls. The movie is far from good or scary, but it’s so loaded with Blair (and for some added fun, Days of Our Lives’ MacDonald Carey and a baby Fran Drescher) that it sure is entertaining. 

On a personal note, this summer was not easy. Some family health issues hit hard and in a terrifying way, far scarier than anything in the movies on this list…especially the low budget, CGI-fueled The Sand. But you know what? When life is hard and the temperature high, sometimes the goofy horror fan in me wants nothing more ambitious than a gore-filled under-80 minute horror flick about, you got it, killer sand. The Sand is fast and dumb, and it gave me pure giddy enjoyment when I needed it most. I can’t imagine it made many—or any—best-of lists, but this movie was everything I wanted with the added bonus of, you know, killer sand. 

I didn’t expect much from a rather randomly timed sequel to 2008’s The Strangers, particularly since I was underwhelmed by director Johannes Robert’ 47 Meters Down. What a pleasant surprise it was to have Prey At Night bring such pronounced style to its rather simple home (or in this case, trailer park) invasion. There’s some efficient storytelling in laying out our protagonists’ family woes, but the movie wastes no time in sending in our memorable trio of masked sadists. Smart production design and photography goes a long way in imprinting the film with its own unique cinematic language. 

liked Proxy so much that within two weeks of seeing it, I rewatched it to talk more about it on my podcast. Director Zack Parker had wowed me a few years earlier with Scalene, and Proxy shares a similar DNA mixed with ambiguous morality. To say almost anything about the plot is a spoiler, so take that as your marching orders to head to Hulu and give it a watch. It won’t make you feel great about the world, but it will feel like a worthy challenge.

You know zombies have reached new levels of acceptance when Glen Close shows up. Adapting his own (very good) novel, screenwriter Mike Carey and director Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All the Gifts brings a fresh take on the fairly tired genre with a new mythology and more importantly, a whole lot of heart. As the titular character, Sennia Nanua gives an incredibly charming performance that pulls you deep into a story you’ve seen told time and time again. With actors like Close and Gemma Arterton Pertwee rounding the cast, TGWAtG was certainly on a higher playing field than your typical straight-to-streaming undead flick, but the entire film rises with its parts to be smart, scary, and oddly moving. 

Rape revenge is so much more satisfying when served by a shape-shifting robot. Steel and Lace is a gloriously bonkers tale of vengeance dished by a sexy blond can shred, decapitate, and shoot lasers at those who wronged her creator’s departed sister. Director Ernest Farino is my new hero, and Amazon Prime, my new eden.

Fueled by Kickstarter, Viet Ngyuyen’s Crush the Skull is the perfect example of how heart and enthusiasm can more than compensate for a lack of funds. This horror comedy treads no new ground, but its game (and refreshingly diverse) cast demonstrates such smart and unique comic timing that you won’t even care that you’ve seen the story told dozens of times with more blood and budget. Yes, it gets bonus points for hitting many of my personal sweet spots (kind protagonists, a Step Up 2 reference) but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is indeed something special. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Lessons X

Next week, the Deadly Doll’s House will celebrate its tenth (Xth!!!) birthday, meaning we’re now officially a decade old. That’s double digits, Jason-goes-to-space levels of blogging and since my Canadian rocket is still in the shop, I guess we’ll have to follow tradition and celebrate with another compilation of the most important lessons gleaned here over the past 365 days. Break out your pen and get ready to learn!

Corporate Speak
A regional manager should never be confused with a murderer

Stay Informed
Tattoo artists who want to know what's going on read the newspapersProxy

International Cuisine
Monkey meat is positively delicious — Jungle 

Track & Field
For goodness sake, when being chased, already remember a simple tip: Serpentine! Serpentine! — The Strangers: Prey At Night 

See the World
When traveling abroad, consider choosing your lodging based on its proximity to the nearest mental asylum and bicycle supply — Jeruzalem 

Sea the World
I know some adults have their reasons, but considering this planet is 70% water, shouldn't we all learn how to swim? — The Abandoned 

Dying sucks, but dying with a penis drawn on your face sucks more -- The Sand 

What Is Love?
True love means not being freaked out to discover a photograph of yourself framed in your teacher's bedroom on your very first dateStalked By My Doctor: The Revenge  

True love means choosing your girlfriend's new boobs over a trip to Mars -- Crush the Skull

Being a good girlfriend in high school means more than just allowing your boyfriend to have sex with you  — Party Night 

Totally Useful Parenting Advice From a Non-Parent
Always keep the sharpest object of your home in your toddler’s sock drawer — Anger of the Dead 

Name your son Marco and life is a constant game of wanting to shout “Polo!"Shock 

The Legal Profession
Public attorneys are not paid to leave voicemail Bad Match 

The first day of a murder trial is a less than two-hour ordeal, and the hallways have incredibly reliable wifi — Deadly Daycare 

Self-Care 101
Being stalked will burn a ton of calories (as that's the only way I can understand how Claire Foy stays so fit despite eating a double egg/cheese/bacon sandwich on a roll with has browns EVERY MORNING) — Unsane 

Never reveal how happy and content you are with your life and marriage out loud, unless being kidnapped and forced to build a doomsday device was on your list of things to do -- Doomsdayer 

Unlike peach brandy, ice cream gives you zits — Savage Streets

Medical Professional FAQs
Junk drawers of '80s era psychiatrists were typically stocked with scotch and loaded revolvers — The Dead Pit 

Genetic experimentation companies invest a lot in training employees in hand-to-hand combat — Morgan 

Surgeons do not perform well under the pressure of blindness — Day of the Triffids 

Just because a horror movie coroner isn’t seen eating a sandwich doesn’t mean he won’t immediately request one, preferably with bacon — Terrifier 

Does the Dog Die?
When watching any post-apocalyptic thriller, do yourself a favor: never get attached to the dogIt Comes At Night 

American Geography
There are no decent restaurants within 2 miles of Capitol Records Steel and Lace 

Heartthrobs & Hunks
Never underestimate the appeal of Peter Tork to late '90s punketteParanoia 

American Etiquette
If your cousin is from a rural region, it's totally acceptable to have a crush on her -- Summer of Fear

The Body Human
Surviving a series of life-threatening acts will do wonders for your fertility -- Tiny House of Terror

The birthing process is like an NBA game: nothing happens until the last two minutes — The Temp 

There's no place like taking a pregnancy test than a poop-filled toilet in a dirty rest stop — Starve 

The Brain Human
Short-term memory loss may take away your name, but it will not impede your ability to read Latin — Open Grave 

Secrets of Law Enforcement
Having a sheriff come to your aide during his early dinner time is an actual crime Final Exam 

Chasing split tail is for firefighters, not detectives — Gone 

Surviving Religion
Never go to a Staten Island church sermon without a fulls supply of liquor — The First Purge

Fashion: Then, Now, & Forever
Some things never go out of style, be they class medals or little pink electric chairs — The Bad Seed 

Sexy modeling is all about showing no emotion — Fatal Fashion

The standard uniform of high end babysitting agencies in the 1980s combined an unflattering nurse-cut romper with a weirdly inviting easy-access front zipper

First Impressions
Strong sensible people don’t put sugar in their coffee Let’s Be Evil 

Technology Is Incredible
Velcro is equally as impressive to zombie children of the future as it is and has been to a generation of living kids who couldn't tie their shoes — The Girl With All the Gifts 

When trying to understand why your husband’s brother has become your husband, there’s really no better source than a yahoo search engine — Possession 

Technology Is the Devil
Burgess Meredith may have terrified the visually challenged regarding the fragility of glasses, but The Open House confirms my own spectacle-wearing fears that contacts are far from murderous psychoproof — The Open House 

Money Matters
You have to watch tech stocks closer than the restThe Book of Henry 

Home Appliances
Death by blender should never be ruled out for execution — Creep 2 

The mark of a good machete is one that can sever a head from its body in just one swing


You Can Do It!
Never let a silly thing like being stabbed in the gut slow you down  Friend Request 

Motivations For Major Life Choices
Really, we just need one that would have solved the entire issue: never make important life decisions with the sole factor being, "will my ex-boyfriend see these pictures on social media and change his mind about our relationship status." That's how you end up stuck in the ocean with hungry sharks blocking your path to survival. -- 47 Meters Down