Finally Watched It – Challenge Edition: “Martyrs” (2008)

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In yet another movie that is touted on many lists for being super disturbing and graphic, Martyrs features two women who were at the mercy of a cult trying to create martyrs by having them survive supreme pain to transcend or transfigure to see God. The movie starts with Lucie, seeking revenge on what was done to her with the help of Anna, who hopes Lucie will move beyond the pain she went through.

Is it wrong of me to say this isn’t that bad? I mean, it’s violent and terrible. It opens with gruesome murders and features beatings and torture but… Ok, for me, a movie has to cross a line even within the narrative to ‘offend’ me or make me want to tap out of it. But this didn’t. Granted, I winced, I was shocked, it was gut-wrenching to watch the ‘chosen’ woman break over time but it wasn’t too much for me.

My bar for tapping out is ‘Serbian Film,’ however. And I’ve seen ‘Salo.’ This movie does not come close to either of those in terms of giving up on it.

I do have one kinda spoilery question… Not that I want these heartless bastards to get away with what they’re doing but if you have a cult of murder torture that you don’t want people to find out about, WHY would you set your torture den in the bunker of a house that you plant a family in THAT WOULD HAVE THEIR SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS END UP IN A NEWSPAPER!? Wouldn’t you want some people that were super low key and average? Someone that would take a while to notice if they were missing and not star students in the local school who would absolutely attract attention if they suddenly didn’t show up ever again? That just really bothered me as something a super fancy evil cult wouldn’t overlook. Especially when it’s revealed that they had a bunch of old rich people who probably could pull off the “quirky old person who lives alone now” type of person.

Ugh, but that irksome plot point aside, this was a super bloody movie that’s shocking but it didn’t get me so bad that it’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. I’m kinda glad I was able to scratch this off my list. It was well shot and acted. If you can take it and like horror, I’d check it out!

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Finally Watched It: “Hellbound: Hellraiser 2”

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The first Hellraiser was one of my favorite horror movies growing up but I had never really taken notice of the sequels. Either I just assumed they would be terrible or it just passed me by but I finally decided to take a look at the sequel.

To start off I love how this is a DIRECT sequel with a recap in the beginning. It gave just enough backstory to make you excited to see what’s coming next. While I did enjoy this movie overall, there’s something off; like they’re trying so hard to be the first movie but coming off a bit sloppy in the execution. But I gotta give it credit. It’s scary, unique, and Tiffany is a true MVP. We hear about Pinhead all the time but we don’t hear much about how badass Tiffany – as well as Kirsty – is in terms of horror movie female leads.

Eventually, I’ll check out the rest of the series but I hear they get pretty bad after 2. We’ll see.

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Finally Watched it: “Rick and Morty” Season One.

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Yes, I have finally caved into peer-pressure and plunked my ass down to watch this show. It was also a sobering thought that my daughter has already seen this (gosh, thanks Internet), so I wasn’t about to allow myself to remain ignorant of this.

And well… I get why people like it. I had some laughs and felt entertained but I’m still left with the feeling that I didn’t so much ENJOY it if that makes any sense. And if you’ve read my blog over time, you know it’s not because I’m easily offended by raunchy, crass, or bloody media. Hell, there are things I like because they push me outside my comfort zone. I like the dimension-hopping allowing for infinite plot possibilities but after some thought, it was just how casual the death was that got to me. Not much, but it did. It’s a similar reason to why I dropped Game of Thrones; it’s hard to care if anyone can just get killed whenever. It felt senseless and left me wondering why I should keep going if I can’t see a story arc come to fruition.

It’s also hard for me to relate to any of the characters. Maybe the mom a little bit but I will freely admit I am more of a Grunkle Stan than a Rick. I absolutely understand his attitude: when you have literally been everywhere and done everything, regular finite concerns don’t exist. It’s all white noise.

And there is where I keep watching. What does a man who has been everywhere and done everything have to motivate him for four seasons of this show? I guess we’ll see because that’s the question I want to be answered. Time to take a deep breath and dive into Season 2.

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Finally Watched It: “Tower”

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Using a combination of rotoscope animation, real testimony, and historical footage, this documentary goes into harrowing detail about the day a gunman opened fire from a clocktower on the University of Texas campus on August 1st, 1966.

I don’t pretend to be a hard ass so I have no problem admitting I openly wept several times during this film. The parts that are reenactment are so well done, you would hardly know it wasn’t as real as the life video spliced into it. The narrative centers on Claire Wilson, who was 8 months pregnant when she was shot and the continuing barrage made it so nobody could get to her and she lay in the hot Texas sun for hours unable to move. We hear also about a child who was injured, a woman who did only watch from inside, the police officers who finally killed the shooter along with help from a civilian. This even ends with interviews from actual survivors.

Even how the news was relayed around town and summed up afterwards was just brilliant. Even though even to my 80’s baby mind, it was frustrating to see communication break down so quickly as opposed to now when every one has a phone in their pocket. Absolutely amazing. I highly recommend it.

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Finally Watched It: “House” (1977)

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Having seen this movie mentioned dozens of times on crazy movie lists, I finally had the chance to check it out.

We have our set up of a bunch of high school girls (I have nicknamed them The Sailor Scouts) all go to this old woman’s house and of course, shenanigans ensue. Typical right? Hoooooo boy, ladies and gentlemen, this movie I have to come right out and say is either the scariest funny movie I’ve seen or the funniest scary movie I’ve ever seen. Everything feels otherworldly and off kilter even when things are “normal.”

When it starts, all the main characters are so damn happy and go lucky all you can think is “well, hey there, Cannon Fodder. I’m sure nothing will go wrong here.” But even as old as this movie is, gods is it refreshing to have a cast we actually root for instead of a collection of unlikable assholes you WANT to die. You actually feel for the characters as they go through all this horrific shit; all done with effects that are creepy in some parts, and ‘pause the movie because you’re laughing so hard’ parts. If done with skill, I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie remade with updated effects! As it is, I’m half tempted to watch it a few times just because it was so much fun. This movie BEGS to be watched with a bunch of friends and booze if you got it.

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Finally Watched It: Ringu

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As if this even needs a summary, this is the original Japanese movie about a woman who is investigating a cursed videotape that kills you a week after you’ve watched it.

This movie is damn creepy. It may not have aged very well in some ways but, yikes. There were plenty of moments that freaked me out. And it certainly made me feel old because heck, who has video tapes anymore?

Now that I’ve seen the original, I actually find the remake to be on par with it. They’re both creepy, both have this great tone and lingering uneasiness. I can’t say definitively one is better than the other. I like them both. It’s a shame it took me so long to get to watch this one.

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Finally Watched It: Handmaid’s Tale Season One

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In a dystopian future, any fertile woman is trained to be a handmaid and bear children for the upper classes of America.

Before anyone asks, yes I have read the book. And like the book, this pissed me off more than I thought it would.

The show is good. I like the way the story is told by showing you the present and then how our characters came to be where they are. The acting is top notch; basically all the stuff the critics have been saying is spot on so it’s hard to find new things to talk about.

For me, I had a special connection to the music. I think the songs chosen are a great mix of genres and fit with the show. I can see myself buying the soundtrack.

I do have to say though, this is not something I think I can re-watch. What you’re seeing is so rage inducing or heart breaking; I don’t want to watch it more than once despite binging the season like an addict and immediately running to the internet after to find information about the next season. I love it but I hate it.

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Finally Watched It: “Class”

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I’m a fan of Dr. Who so obviously, this spinoff piqued my interest. Centering around a group of high school students dealing with some very Whovian misadventures, this series is fun to watch, well written, and decently acted. I like the characters and the stories are fun but there’s something about it that makes it cool but not as cool as Dr. Who.

Speaking as a fan, I say give this show a shot since I am glad I watched it. For me, I felt it was a better use of my time to wait till a few episodes had passed and watch a few all at once while I was working out or something. I didn’t feel that driving NEED to plunk down for the premiere of each one as it airs. Would I be down for a second season? Absolutely. I can see real potential in this show.

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Finally Watched It: “13 Reasons Why”

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Everyone and their mother was telling me to watch this so I took a deep breath and dove in.

This series is about teenager Clay Jensen, who receives 13 audiotapes from his friend and not so secret crush, Hannah Baker, after she killed herself. I have read reviews before writing this – good and bad – and here’s my take on it. I found this series intensely compelling and triggering for me in the same turn. Having grappled with depression, suicide, and bullying in the past; I could identify with a lot of what Hannah was going through. I have heard that this series glorifies suicide and makes Hannah out to be some tortured special princess because she killed herself and selfish for taking out so much time and effort to make those tapes in the first place. To that I say; you missed the point.

To write her off as selfish for making the tapes is on the same level of dismissive as the people who disrespected and ignored her feelings to put her in this situation in the first place. “Oh, she just wants attention.” Well, DUH she wants attention! She wanted help and people failed her! And how many people sadly take Hannah’s path and leave people asking why? The whole point of the show is to SHOW WHY. It’s like Juno: if she doesn’t do this, there is no show.

As for glorifying suicide? To me, the entire show just ached with the loss of this girl. The gnawing sadness of Hannah’s death doesn’t seem beautiful to me. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen plenty of manga and anime that have the same kind of thing (Suicide Island, for one) and tackling this subject is never going to be pretty or easy. It’s like movies about rape; you’re not going to make any one comfortable or happy and they shouldn’t be (take Irreversible for example… But I refuse to watch it for the graphic scene because I can’t take it). I will freely admit, I flinched at Hannah’s final scene and turned away. I just couldn’t…

That being said, I do have a couple complaints. How many fucking adults with no brain cells are around this girl!? Kids are kids; sometimes they just don’t wanna say or can’t say what they feel may be going on but if all of a sudden my kid lopped off all her hair, I would have some damn questions! Along that same vein, what gypsy did Hannah piss off to have so many terrible things to go wrong so fast!? (That’s a Thinner reference for those who don’t get it…) It may sound insensitive of me but WOW. It’s like they used the character of Hannah to bullet point every single bad thing that could possibly happen to a Caucasian teenage girl in America. What I would have liked to see is SOME of these things addressed and if the show got another season, have ANOTHER girl (or boy) have other things addressed. There don’t always have to be 13 tapes, there could be journal entries, blog posts, paintings, songs; all sorts of ways a kid could express their reasons why. Hell, I say throw an adult in there, too. If there will be multiple seasons of this, there are so many ways this concept can be explored.

All in all, I’m not sorry I watched it but it took an entire Thomas Sanders playlist to cheer me up in order to sleep well. It’s the kind of thing that, as a parent, all I wanted to do was hug my baby close to me. But to say I wasn’t triggered would be a lie. It touched off feelings I battle with every day but I guess it’s best to face those feelings head on and deal with them. And if the show can do that? It must be doing something right.

And if you disagree with me? Remember, this is my OPINION. If you feel motivated to reply, try to do so with some tact and politeness.

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Finally Watched It: American Pop

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If I were to describe this movie, it would be a sad but loving send up to music and musicians. This movie uses music to tell the story of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family in order to show how American music changed and grew in the 20th century.

I can’t believe I missed this one but it did come out the year I was born and is NOT intended for children. There is rampant drug use, war, sex, murder, and hell, even the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire! I was able to pick out some of the rock stars Bakshi was inspired by to create some of these characters; the most obvious to me being Janis Joplin. Between the music and the gorgeous animation (which holds up fairly well, in my opinion) I was absolute awe. It’s one of those movies that really leaves its mark and I am SO glad I made time for it. Heck, I may buy it so I can watch it whenever I want. If you’re a fan of animation, great storytelling, and awesome music and you haven’t seen this? Check it out. You won’t be sorry.

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