Welcome to Haddonfield, Illinois: Halloween

So yeah SiriusXM has this horror channel Scream Radio whose programming includes popular mainstream hits (Thriller!), beloved sound effects and of course scary score music like the iconic Halloween theme song.

I drop by the channel every so often because tis the season. Today though I caught the beginning of Carpenter’s Halloween theme song. At first I was like oh hell no and I reached out to the dial but I paused before switching away.

Then I pulled my hand away.

Partly to face my fears: tis the season right?

But really I was driving and I’ve never heard that song while driving. Driving defines a lot of popular music: there’s something about that action of getting in your car even if you’re just driving to the dentist that makes a song truly pop. Especially in the Summer…windows down system up.

Sometimes when I hear a brand new song I think it’s fun but I wanna hear it while I’m driving. Driving is like melted cheese. I dunno why but it just makes it taste better. And road trips are of course synonymous with playlists.

So feeling as dumb as the big breasted chick in a tight white tank top going down to investigate that strange sound from the basement I left the Halloween theme song on.

Only I was driving through suburban neighborhoods. Through 2 school zones which meant slowing down. This chilled wind sailed through the trees plucking Fall tinted leaves so they swirled in the air in large sweeping circles like a drunk Superman. A young lady was out for a walk with her dog…it was all normal and yet so eerie…cruising. Driving slowly through the hood.

It felt way too menacing.

Fun Fact? “John Carpenter showed Halloween to an executive before it was finished. He showed the movie without the music. The executive didn’t find it to be scary at all. After the film was released, and she saw it, she changed her mind, an indication of how much Carpenter’s score adds to the film’s atmosphere.”

Nah man that was unsettling like eating slightly spoiled Subway. I now understand why a tagline for the 78 original was: “everyone is entitled to one good scare.” Indeed. Never doing that again even if it’s tis the season.

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

A Child’s Play With His Father…

Watching live TV: My Dad came across Chucky TV show commercials…he’s never been a fan of magic or ventriloquism or horror. He sighed.

So I RSVPed this opportunity to make him feel better: “Oh: it’s not ventriloquism! Chucky is a doll imbued with the maniacal soul of a serial killer.”

A beat.

As we go through life we all have moments where we say things out loud we wish we could take back. Sometimes even as we’re saying em. I misread the situation…this was clearly NOT a teaching moment.

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

Will Venom’s Carnage be PG as in…Pretty Good?!

According to Film Ratings a movie called Venom: Let There Be Carnage is rated PG-13 and not hard R. How is that logical? How much Carnage can you pull off with PG?

Mainstreaming Venom like it’s the MCU is weird.

Venom is not gonna sell happy meals. Economics due to the budget perhaps?

Spider-Man can’t go R; understandably that makes sense but Venom? That’s a weird choice.

Butts in the seats? Perhaps. The first Venom was also PG-13 and hauled more than $854 million worldwide on a budget of $100 million. So economics says PG-13 is good business but the box office of Joker and Deadpool for example say otherwise.

(Considering the success of Deadpool and the failure of Suicide Squad I’d bet a hard Rated R for Right On Batman movie would work.

If Twilight-Sparkle Batman isn’t rated R then any talk is about being raw or dark or grim or violent is just cheap marketing talk. Buzzwords.)

Oh and The Suicide Squad. Though The Suicide Squad shoulda never been on HBO Max in the first case: such a bad call. Still what was a good call was dumping David Ayer’s wretched Suicide Squad what tragically was rated PG-13. DC went soft…again. No guts no glory.

So for James Gunn’s super dope The Suicide Squad they went hard R and it worked…the violence made sense; as did all the jokes. The movie benefitted from that R-freedom (“drug use, brief graphic nudity, language throughout, some sexual references, and strong violence and gore”); it’s lots of fun. (Not as much heart as Guardians of the Galaxy but that was expected; still excellent soundtrack as always.)

Or…Yo Joe!

If the studio was serious about making Snake Eyes more like a proper G.I. Joe movie and less like a Nicolas Cage/Brian De Palma remake aim for Rated R for Ruckus: ninjas, Storm Shadow, motorcycles, guns, Cobra: so much goodness to play with. Wouldn’t that make a better movie? And a better movie “brings all the boys to the yard.”

Mash It Up, Mash It All. Snake Eyes was rated PG-13 and still bombed: it rolled the dice and came up Snake Eyes: the economics play or butts in the seats didn’t work out.

Just something to contemplate as you consume your Venom Happy Meal, right? “Oh…I got Carnage! What did you get?”

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Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.

Rick Rubin Is So Not Stay Puft

Wow! Found Ghostbusters the good one…the original 84 on a movie channel (almost right at the start!!).

And I just noticed that the comedy/vibe of this movie mirrors the Beastie Boys Sabotage video with a dash of Intergalactic’s uniforms.

The vibe/style overlap:

Mike D is Bill Murray/Venkman

Ad-Rock is Dan Aykroyd/Stantz

Adam Yauch is Harold Ramis/Spengler.

Right?!

If you wanna toss in Kate Schellenbach you got Sigourney Weaver. (I am not in any way suggesting Rick Rubin is Stay Puft though he has been a giant in music.)

It’s the same humour; same sarcasm, same foolishness…Ghostbusters is a 2 hour Beastie Boys video. Yo! Think about this and get back to me.


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Metrocenter Faces The Music

Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix, Arizona is closing as another coronavirus casualty. (Kinda…the mall was already dying.

This is one of the few shopping malls we’ve all visited: it’s where Bill and Ted took all the historical figures for an Excellent Adventure.

?No word if the Circle K is still there or not (hopefully it is…strange things will be happening again when Bill and Ted 3 opens in August.)

After 47 years in business the mall closes on June 30. That’s not…excellent.

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#CouchWorthy: 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic

I never clued in that Rocky wasn’t a gifted fighter.

His actual X-Men ability was to withstand punishment contrasted with his deep hunger. He could tolerate a middle class life—or lower middle class—because that’s extremely punishing. Rocky had a high pain tolerance so if it wasn’t for his hunger he’d still be trapped in a cold Philadelphia ghetto.

As Stallone put it he’s fighting for an ideal:
“The character was not supposed to be a gifted fighter..he was gifted in other ways. He just could take an incredible amount of punishment and he was fighting for an ideal. He had no illusions that he was a winner; he just wanted an opportunity.”

That’s a quote from 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, a “winsome” tribute to the timeless movie and iconic character. From director Derek Wayne Johnson whose previous work includes John G. Avildsen King of the Underdogs. (Think of this as a sorta-sequel to that doc.)

A broad mixture of previously seen footage and unseen footage is deftly stitched together: home movies, behind the scenes footage, and rehearsal footage shot by John G. Avildsen, as well as on-set footage all narrated by a goofy and somewhat embarrassed Sylvester Stallone. It was the late 70s so style was not ah…common.

It’s Rocky.

You know him…you’ve spent so much time with him. As the title suggests 40 years of Rocky easily means a Survivor scored montage of all the Rocky moments in your life. And how they’ve been good moments. There’s an entire 80s generation addicted to getting off the mat with their dukes up bloody yet determined to still fight. (There’s also an entire 80s generation terrified at getting soft…of letting success dull the hunger and becoming satisfied. Rocky III is one of the best 80s horror movies. That movie still gives me nightmares.)

The past month has given us powerful and potent documentaries on Michael Jordan and Bruce Lee. Now it’s Rocky’s turn: the GOAT trilogy. Cue Robert Teppers’ No Easy Way Out:

“We’re not indestructible
Baby better get that straight
I think it’s unbelievable
How you give into the hands of fate
Some things are worth fighting for
Some feelings never die…”

Indeed. What an astonishing run that started with a movie that started with Sylvester Stallone’s 3 day writing marathon.

40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic is available on Amazon and iTunes on June 9. Highly Recommended.

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Trailer Alert: You Don’t Nomi

Are you ready for this?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Of course that’s Charles Dickens’ historical novel A Tale of Two Cities. Thing is even though that book came out in 1859 that could have easily passed as a snooty review of the 1995 movie Showgirls. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” indeed.

Showgirls followed the same notorious path as Office Space and Fight Club. Box Office bombs with recognizable talent only to suddenly find new life through cable and ironic enjoyment? (I don’t understand hate watching either.)

You know we used to have things called guilty pleasures. We possessed far more nuance in how we categorized the pop culture we consumed. Lately it’s become ALL OR NOTHING like a tragic identity war and sometimes a movie/comic is just meh. It’s not bad it’s just meh.

Yet there’s a lot of peer pressure to be right; otherwise you won’t be socially accepted. So as odd as it is Showgirls’ flop to cult status journey is a commentary on our taste. That I could drop Charles Dickens to comment about Showgirls is clearly evidence of that. (Plus it works doesn’t it?)

As if that wasn’t enough this Trailer Alert made me lol!! It’s a Showgirls documentary.

You Don’t Nomi (great title!) is available on Demand/Digital on June 9.

Here I’ll “show” you the trailer…hah!

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#SetTheVCR: Basketball County: In The Water

Man Friday, May 15 is a busy night for streaming TV.

Crave is airing Ready or Not really wanted to see that movie back in the cinema (Samara Weaving is coming along she was darkly funny in Mayhem), Netflix has Magic for Humans: Season 3 (my phone is off the hook all weekend…show is so good!) and Showtime has Basketball County: In The Water at 9pm. (Technically for us in Canada that’s also Crave.)

Showtime has quietly built up a fantastic NBA doc-corner lotta docs All The Smoke podcast: good stuff.

You can tell they hired somebody a few years ago and this go-getter is just cranking out the goodness.

This is a Prince George’s County documentary and that hood’s NBA contributions: Kevin Durant, Victor Oladipo, Michael Beasley, Quinn Cook etc.

(I dig Durant’s media offerings…he’s been decent so far. Q Ball is on Netflix if you haven’t seen that. Media wise Durant has been better than LeBron. LeBron is remaking House Party, Space Jam 2 think it’s all been shot…Shut Up and Dribble was another doc he made last year. I’ve said this repeatedly he’s trying to tie himself into the culture and say: “look guys I’m cool!” LeBron’s the new Jerry Krause via The Last Dance. “Sit down LeBron…stop dancing.”)

Anyways here’s the trailer for Basketball County: In The Water (9pm on Showtime):

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#SetTheVCR: LA Originals

We lost Kobe on January 26, 2020.

Thankfully there’s a few hours of Kobe Bryant just sitting there in editors’ rooms from all the docs he’s been in. Wonder what’ll happen to it now?

His next appearance is in the doc that dropped today on Netflix: LA Originals. (I was already in before the Kobe connection. He’s listed in the credits for this doc but he’s not in the trailer. So I suspect he is probably not in this all that much. Still, it’s a powerful LA story so of course, LA stories go through Kobe. Kobe’s next appearance is in the upcoming Jordan doc The Last Dance in about a week or so. That I cannot wait for!!)

So for true: there’s a handful of hours of Kobe in docs just sitting around editing rooms. Dude’s gone but he hasn’t left.

Thus enter Netflix’s latest documentary: “An exploration of the culture and landmarks of the chicano and street art movement that cemented Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol’s status as behind-the-scenes hip hop legends.”

LA Originals is indicative of a powerful skill set that we rarely discuss or acknowledge. (And thankfully many of my friends have this skill set.)

I don’t even know what it’s called which is why I don’t think It gets acknowledged.

Those guys (and we) are passport people. We hang out with gang members and drug dealers and Trump voters and filmmakers and stand-up comics an incredibly broad range of distinct characters. But through it all we remain our unique selves within these different cultures. That’s how you get exposed to radical ways of thinking; nobody said anything about agreement. George is different than Kramer and Kramer is the opposite of Elaine but it all works right?

One day in LA my friend J Rock and I hit up the Magic Castle hanging out with magicians; then the next day we went to a picnic with some friends who’re editing and shooting and doing all kinds of fantastic LA filmmaking; the day after that we went to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Completely distinct cultures of science and nerds and magicians and filmmakers. Yet we’re comfortable and we’re at home if not at all of those places with all those people even though those are not our cultures.

And that to me that is one of the hallmarks of an incredible documentary: how broad the culture is. LA Originals has Ryan Phillippe and you wouldn’t expect him to show up with Kobe and oh Brian Glazer…Blink-182 and finally Cypress Hill. What?! Those guys should never be in the same room together yet clearly because of the people involved in this doc they’re all connected. That’s amazing. Passport People for the win.

Check this documentary out. Highly Recommended.

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#CouchWorthy: James vs His Future Self

James vs His Future Self is now available on iTunes & VOD in Canada and starting on May 15, 2020 will be on Crave. It’s coming to Sky TV in the UK on April 27 and to the US on May 1.

Directed by Jeremy Lalonde James vs His Future Self is all about time. In the present, James feels like he is running out of time and in the future, James knows he doesn’t understand the value of time. S’kinda why we consume time travel books and movies so we can be reminded about the worth of time.

We talk about time the exact way we talk about money: you can save time and you can spend time. You can waste time. You’ve run out of time.

That’s the hinge of James vs His Future Self… If your future self came to you saying it’s high time to make dramatic changes and if you’re successful you could still make up for lost time. Would you listen to the warnings from your future self in the present?

When the movie opens James is a hyper focussed slightly obsessed I guess scientist or physicist or something…some kind of egghead and he’s determined to solve time travel. Which sets up this…is paradox the right word? I’m not sure but what’s it called when a man who is so focussed on time travel doesn’t value the time that he does have. He’s so busy creating time travel to get to the future he doesn’t live in the present.

He has delayed grieving his parents with his sister; Tommie-Amber Pirie who plays his sister is super annoyed by that. A fellow physicist slash egghead (played by Cleopatra Coleman) who fancies him is often ignored and rarely a priority. James is bad; he takes her for granted. Oh Oh.

Typically when somebody’s on drugs they need an intervention but when time travel is involved that requires a time traveller intervention.

Which is how Daniel Stern factors in. You gotta figure if you’re going to cast a time traveller whose mission it is to come back to past all older and wiser based on hard earned reflections that Daniel Stern as the astute Wonder Years narrator would be ideal to cast.

Though as Daniel reveals when he visited My Summer Lair this isn’t a hardcore sci-fi movie or even a time travel movie about trying to reunite your teenage parents at the Enchantment Under The Sea Dance.

James vs His Future is a sweet comedy firmly set in the present because these truly are our Wonder Years. These are the only moments we’ll have; these happenings will be the ones that we reflect on when as we get older: fun, laughter and the people that we choose to love and people who choose to love us back. In an odd sort of way, love is often at the heart of almost every single time travel tale.

Second Chance Opportunities and hope and love and time run through James vs His Future with feverish energy. No different than Daniel Stern as a manic time traveller.

If you’ve seen him in Home Alone or Rookie of the Year then you know he provides his classic comedic shenanigans. Think of Kramer from Seinfeld as a time traveler whose came back to the present with a warning that’s kind of like what Daniel Stern is like…just with better facial hair. And in the end, is it enough? Does present James heed the warnings?

Well, I suppose I could tell you but that’s not as fun as finding out for yourself so at the risk of my future self coming and preventing me from telling you how this movie ends you could see for yourself.

Can’t decide what genre you’re in the mood for? See em all. It’s a totally fun movie if you just want to chill and not think too much: solid mix of romance and sci-fi so you get a couple of solid genres in there.

What would you want your future self to come to your present to warn you about?

Or tell you? Do you believe in spoilers from time travellers?

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