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2020 Blogtoberfest Viewing, part one

As part of my own personal Blogtoberfest celebration, I try to ingest at least 31 Halloween-appropriate movies or shows in October and share the list here, for anyone looking for ideas.

I think, given that I’ve already logged 24 spooktastic viewings, reaching 31 this year will be no problem. It’s a mix of new viewings, rewatches, kids’ programming for family time, and plenty of horrors, thrillers, and chillers.

In the parlance of Tik Tok, like for part two. 🙂

*The Last House on the Left (1972) – an infamous seventies slasher. Click here for a break-out post inspired by this viewing.

*The Last House on the Left (2009) – had to watch the remake for full measure. A great retelling; Aaron Paul makes an appearance.

*The Lodge – wintery psychological thriller starring Riley Keough with some strong Hereditary parallels.

*Goodnight Mommy – click here for a break-out post on this film, directed by the same team as The Lodge.

Nightmare Before Christmas – my daughter decided she likes this one, so we’ve been happily watching it on repeat since mid-September.

*The Worst Witch – a series on Netflix that’s also a fan favorite for the younger set. Fun fact — Headmaster Cackle is played by Clare Higgins, who’s been blogged here before.

*The Prodigy – creepy kid horror with a few solid jump-scares.

Friday the 13th parts 2 – 8 – I binged the meat of the franchise in a few nights. Always a joy.

*13 Cameras – Gross abduction and voyeurism thriller with a perfectly horrible villian.

*Child’s Play (2019) – a revised retelling of the original with Mark Hamill on vox for Chucky.

*14 Cameras – More gross peeping-Tomism ramped up for the sequel.

Cabin in the Woods – Always a fun romp with Bradley Whitford.

*Pledge – Illuminati horror that borders on a comedy-horror thanks to some funny writing for frat bros.

*Sinister – Ethan Hawke plays a brooding tortured-artist type – real stretch – and Vincent D’onofrio makes an equally typecast cameo.

*Border – I didn’t have much context going in to this one, and that’s a good way to enter. Just be warned that this Swedish fantasy-thriller-crime-feature gets weird.

*Wrinkles the Clown – a documentary, but unnerving nonetheless.

*Sinister II – Picks up more-or-less where Sinister leaves off. Not as good as the first, but a valiant effort with an appearance by Shannyn Sossamon  — who is considerably less bony than she was in the nineties.

digital illustration of jugsaw, villian from saw movie franchise

*Jigsaw – Basically Saw VIII, but a strong entry into the franchise — if not a little repetitive on theme.

*The Houses October Built 2 – Hard to tell what’s real and what’s fiction in this pseudo-documentary about haunted houses, which should have probably been an actual documentary about haunted houses.

*Denotes a first-time watch

Call for Blogtoberfest Entries!

I always welcome guest posts at The Jump, but I take the collection thereof more seriously from October 1 to All Hallows Eve. The results have been varied and awesome, ranging in topic from witches to zombies to Neil Diamond.

Over the years, Blogtoberfest Guest Post submissions evolved into a full-on contest, with winners, prizes, and the bestowing of appropriate amounts of online glory.

Winners will be decided by readers via an online poll at the end of the month. There’s no length requirement or limit, and posts need not be spooky. October is also the month of harvest, baseball, and Breast Cancer Awareness. It may be that you or your organization has an annual event this month that deserves a little publicity. Whatever the topic – if it says October to you is fair game!

Prizes will be announced soon, and posts are accepted throughout the month, so get writing and send your entries to writerjax -at- gmail.com!

Oo-de-Lally: 10 Favorite Disney Films (animated)

Robin Hood and Little John walkin’ through the forest

Robin Hood

So no one else likes this one apparently? 52% on Rotten Tomatoes? Well, it’s still my favorite, as proven by watching it recently on Netflix with immeasurable glee.

Further, I swore I saw Robin Hood — and a slew of other Disney classics — in theaters as a kid, even though many of them were originally released decades earlier. Sure enough, a quick Google search reveals that Disney did indeed re-release several animated movies in the eighties to keep interest up in the new releases and avoid that pesky VHS fad. This was before they invented that stupid vault.

The marketing move seems to have had a big influence on my list, so read on with a grain of nostalgia.

 

The Little John – Baloo similarities are not lost on me.

 Jungle Book

Easily the best soundtrack of all of the Disney animated films, IMO, featuring Louis Prima and Phil Harris. Also my mum’s favorite, and one of the few animated films able to make vultures work as characters.

 

Fantasia Live at Boston Symphony Hall…

Fantasia

Another controversial pick – the critically acclaimed/panned Walt Disney passion project, a compilation of shorts set to classical scores.

I love all of the films, but what I think many people don’t love is that some sections feature dancing Hippos, while others include dying brontosauri and creepy nuns. I was a weird kid so it all sat fine with me. I understand from some friends, however, that they were emotionally scarred by Fantasia long before it was the name of an American Idol winner.

…it was a whale of a show. Shut up.

Fantasia 2000

The sequel was received a little better, and is a little less uneven. Great to watch in tandem with the original – American Rhapsody and what seems to be colloquially known as ‘the whale one’ are highlights.

 

WFRR was the first time Looney Tunes and Disney characters appeared on screen together.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Why is this – and, for that matter, Song of the South – on the animated films list and Bedknobs & Broomsticks is not? Does it have to do with sheer time of animation on screen? Regardless it’s annoying. But WFRR is still a great movie with a lot of innovation for its time, and enough animated character cameos (Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, assorted dwarves) to keep me happy, and save its spot on the list.

 

An example of the early entourage

Sleeping Beauty

I like the little fairies.

 

I had the Oliver Christmas ornament from McDonalds foreverrrr.

Oliver & Company

Billy Joel as a dog! And you know who else voices characters in this one? Robert Loggia. Bette Midler. Richard Mulligan. I bet they recorded their parts in a smoky steakhouse with red vinyl booths in West Hollywood.

 

To infinity – and aisle seven!!

Toy Story

I was working part-time at KayBee Toys when this movie came out and we all reserved our VHS copies (by now, delivered in puffy plastic binder-sized cases instead of cardboard sleeves) right off the truck. We loved Woody and Buzz until Christmastime, when the sought after toys came out, and every parent on the planet turned into a psychopath. That might be one reason why Toy Story 2 isn’t on this list.

A Bug’s Life: the niche actor insect flick

A Bug’s Life

I remember this being released around the same time as Dreamworks’ Antz, and everyone was all, A Bug’s Life is lame! Antz is where it’s at!

But I always liked this one more. It has the geeks line-up of voice talent: Kids in the Hall‘s Dave Foley, Madeline Kahn, Denis Leary, and a pre-American Beauty Kevin Spacey, while Antz was a weird powerhouse showcase including Woody Allen, Anne Bancroft, Sharon Stone, and Sylvester Stallone. Huh?

A Bug’s Life also includes a ‘blooper reel’ at the credits that I fully appreciate.

 

Finding photos labeled for reuse is often hilarious.

 The Lion King

I feel like The Lion King just sort of has to be on the list. I mean, it was great; I saw it in the theater as an adult. It’s pure animated camp to me now, but at one time, most of us were caught up in the circle of life. Not as much as Julie Taymor though.

Bonus Question: What Disney-movie toys and books do you remember from your youth?

 

 

Geek Salad Tossed Me Another Blog Prompt

In the pursuit of drafting Top Ten Lists — or Top Five, Top 15, Top 132, whatevs — there’s a lot of self-discovery to be made.

It always starts the same… someone, for some reason, asks you to list your favorite albums, movies, books, or sock brands, then slaps a finite number on it. You start out confidently enough, but then the list either hits a brick wall or boards a runaway train, and getting to your assigned ‘number’ becomes panic-inducing.

Such was the case this week as I tried to list my Top 15 movies, as challenged by the folks over at the Geek Salad Radio podcast.

A few film titles flew into my head right away, only to be followed by a litany of questions, starting with What constitutes a favorite movie? Is it one I’ve seen several times? Do nostalgic picks count? What if I love it ironically, a la The Poseidon Adventure? Should I open the non-fictional Pandora’s Box that is my love of the documentary genre? Is it really one of my favorite movies, or do I just think it is supposed to be…My Own Private Idaho comes to mind?

I decided to list all the films with a special place in my heart that I could think of, and whittle down from there, which has its pluses and minuses as list-making tactics go. I still feel like I have completely forgotten about a few that I honestly do love, while at the same time, knew a few I did remember weren’t going to make the final cut in the end. I listed them anyway — it felt like The Bachelor of Top Movie Lists. So here we go … these 15 films get my rose.

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    1. Say Anything… Still my favorite, from age 15 on. What can I say — I’m a bit of a romantic and a sucker for witty banter. That’s what writer/director Cameron Crowe does best, and his work appears on my grand list more than once. Fun fact: I actually referenced Lloyd Dobler in my high school yearbook as my perfect man.5548609273_13e2508e5f_b.jpg
    2. Dazed and Confused There’s a strong nostalgia factor here, but I also just plain love the movie. We started discussing the possibility of outdoor movies on our lawn recently, and decided this had to be the premier showing without a doubt. Even if there are ruffians about.Casablanca,_title.JPG
    3. Casablanca Despite my admission that I’m a little hopeless in the romance department, I don’t actually see Casablanca as a true romance. It’s more of a war film, a political comedy, and even a buddy flick. My favorite scene is the bar spontaneously singing the French National anthem … chills. c104c046ed96e1acf9023aa61745515d.jpg
    4. Closer In my opinion, one of the best written films of recent memory, though not the most uplifting. Excellent ensemble cast, great twists, plenty of character study. Hearing Clive Owen’s pronunciation of the word ‘Lobster’ is a particular high point.
    5. A Fish Called Wanda A fantabulous comedy and another great ensemble cast — although Kevin Kline is my hands-down favorite character. We all know that guy … the dumb guy who thinks he’s smart. Accountant or assassin, they’re all the same.
    6. The Princess Bride As I write this list out, I’m noticing the ensemble cast thread, here … you? This is easily one of the most quotable films of all time (HELLO), but its place in history as one of the best Hero’s Journey movies ever can’t be overlooked.
    7. 28 Days Later I’m a huge horror movie fan, and this one makes my overall favorites list because it sticks to its story so damn tightly it’s nerve-wracking to watch, even  during the fourth or fifth showing. There’s also an alternate ending available that’s just as good as the theatrical release, making it truly a movie you can watch for the first time twice.
    8. Beetlejuice I don’t think I can ever get sick of this movie … I haven’t yet, and it was released when I was 11. It’s still one of the best soundtracks in my collection (Belafonte-heavy) and I always see something on the Other Side that I hadn’t noticed before.
    9. Office Space This is a movie that falls under the ‘I’ve seen it 500 times’ category. I even attended an Office Space-themed party once and won an Initech mug, and years later went to a Halloween party dressed as Joanna at work, complete with pieces of flair. It’s required viewing for anyone with a crappy job, which is pretty much everyone.across_the_universe_strawberry_by_mewax42-d5hivcy
    10. Across the Universe Behold – the musical of the list! This is a Julie Taymor film – a sixties musical starring a bunch of unknowns and two-hours of Beatles tunes. As I recall, the reviews were mixed, but I like the bright, psychedelic look of the movie, its soundtrack, and its fun smattering of cameos — keep an eye out for the guy playing Timothy Leary. You might be surprised.
    11. Four Weddings and a Funeral Poignant and funny, I only waivered on this choice once, in college: my favorite professor deemed it insipid and terrible, and I died a little inside – knowing I’d never become his protege or muse. But a few days later, I decided ‘no, it’s a great flick, and suck it Professor Crawford.’maxresdefault
    12. Pretty in Pink It can be tough to choose just one John Hughes movie, and it’s not that I had to, but I spent an inordinate amount of time weighing Pretty in Pink against other Hughes films; particularly The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The bottom line though is this is the movie I watch on rainy days. It’s the soundtrack I recreated myself because the retail version lacks a lot of the good stuff, and I still want to dress like Andi (and sometimes do).
    13. Trainspotting Choose Life. And choose the fucking sequel, coming soon from Danny Boyle.539615302_5a9d2d9886_z.jpg
    14. The Big Lebowski I think attending Lebowskifest as a journalist puts this on my Top 15 list by proxy. But I can also appreciate the natural, zesty enterprise that is The Dude.
    15. O Brother, Where Art Thou? Great film, great soundtrack, great adaptation of what is one of my favorite books/poems/stories (The Odyssey). Again with that ensemble cast-hero-journey-musically-inclined-movie thing…I think I may have found my niche.

And the Runners-up…

Waiting For Guffmann

Best in Show

High Fidelity
Romancing the Stone
The Never-ending Story
Star Wars: Episode 7
The Fifth Element
Little Women (1938)
Robin Hood (Disney)
Fantasia
Dead Man Walking
Elizabeth
Saw
Parenthood
Memento
Jaws
Seven
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Fargo
The Wizard of Oz
The Birdcage
The Full Monty
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Little Miss Sunshine
Love Actually
Napoleon Dynamite
Young Frankenstein
Clerks
Mommie Dearest
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
Spaceballs
Shaun of the Dead
Anchorman
Brain Candy
The Exorcist
The Sixth Sense
The Last of the Mohicans
Dear Zachary
MST3K
The World According to Garp
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Bowling for Columbine
Super Size Me
Dirty Dancing
My Life
White Christmas
It’s a Wonderful Life
The Ref
Born into Brothels
The Poseidon Adventure
Sixteen Candles

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