Monthly Archives: April 2020

Movie Review: Vivarium (2020)

Vivarium (2020)

Premise: A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

In concept, Vivarium (Latin for “place for life”) has all the makings of a mind-bending sci-fi thriller that should be rich with character development and social commentary. The film features an ominous set design showcasing an empty and endless housing development in which the film’s protagonists become trapped. It’s an idyllic, yet monstrous prison of suburbia and the only inkling of hope they have toward being released is to raise a bizarre alien child that appears in a box on the street.
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Ben’s Column: The Midnight Gospel (2020) Season One Review

The Midnight Gospel (2020)

Premise: Clancy, a spacecaster with a malfunctioning multiverse simulator who leaves the comfort of his home to interview beings living in dying worlds.

It’s hard to imagine what TV’s cartoon landscape (outside of Fox’s primetime lineup) would look like today without Cartoon Network’s already-classic Adventure Time. The show may not have been the first cartoon aimed at children that adults could appreciate, but was one of the longest-running and most unique offerings, thanks in no small part to the vision of its creator, Pendleton Ward. Ward left the critically acclaimed show after the fifth season and has now returned on Netflix with The Midnight Gospel, a nuttier, decidedly more adult-friendly version of what he started at Adventure Time. While the two shows share nothing in common beyond a colorful aesthetic, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider them in the same universe, so to speak. Continue reading

The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 314 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Days 20-38 (Sci-Fi Showcase) – The Adjustment Bureau, Next, Minority Report, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Code 8, Vivarium, The X-Files, and Devs (Guest: Ben Sears)

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OV314 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Days 20-38 (Sci-Fi Showcase) – The Adjustment Bureau, Next, Minority Report, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Code 8, Vivarium, The X-Files, and Devs (Guest: Ben Sears)

In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival Days 20-38: Sci-fi Showcase (April 6-24, 2020). For the spotlight review, frequent guest ad contributor Ben calls in to talk about Alex Garland’s Devs with me in a non-spoiler and spoiler review.

Runtime: 1:54:18 Continue reading

Movie Review: Son of Frankenstein (1939) – Universal Classic Monsters 8

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Premise: One of the sons of Frankenstein finds his father’s monster in a coma and revives him, only to find out he is controlled by Ygor who is bent on revenge.

Son of Frankenstein finds Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) traveling to the village in which his father’s monster wreaked havoc many years after the tragic events transpired. The young baron brings his bride Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and son Peter (Donnie Dunagan) to the Frankenstein castle where Wolf is set to collect his inheritance. In the village, the Frankensteins are met with hostility while, in the castle, the Frankenstein patriarch faces off with the heavy shadow of his father’s legacy.
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Movie Review: Dracula’s Daughter (1936) – Universal Classic Monsters 7

Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

Premise: Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of a noted psychiatrist, hoping to free herself of a mysterious evil influence.

The Universal Monsters’ second direct sequel, 1936’s Dracula’s Daughter, takes a different approach than Bride of Frankenstein before it. Like Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter begins immediately after the events of its predecessor. However, there is no retconning to be found here. Dracula is dead. Long live Dracula. This sequel examines the fallout of the events of the first film through Van Helsing’s (Edward Van Sloan) interactions with the law and the introduction of Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska (Gloria Holden), who is seemingly possessed by the re-deceased Dracula.
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Movie Review: Werewolf of London (1935) – Universal Classic Monsters 6

Werewolf of London (1935)

Premise: The juice of a rare Tibetan flower is the only thing that keeps Dr. Glendon from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.

Though it underperformed commercially compared to the success of The Wolf Man six years later, 1935’s Werewolf of London has the distinction of helping to create much of the mythology that is still associated with werewolves today. Prior to the film, transforming into a werewolf involved witchcraft, did not involve a full moon, and bites were not transformative to humans. Thus the legacy of Werewolf of London is indelible even if the film itself is slightly uneven and muddled with too many protagonists.
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Ben’s Column: Trolls World Tour (2020) Movie Review

Trolls World Tour (2020)

Premise: Poppy and Branch discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder.

Dreamworks Animation made history by adapting to the rapidly changing circumstances of the novel coronavirus and, instead of postponing its release of Trolls World Tour, the studio gambled by making the film the first to forego any kind of theatrical release by dropping it for home viewing on the same day it was scheduled to hit the cinemas. The strategy honestly makes perfect sense for a family-friendly film like this: rather than wrangling the kids, finding a babysitter for the siblings that are too young, shelling out major dollars for marked-up snacks, and all the other hassles associated with taking kids to a movie, families can sit down and watch the film at their own leisure, even having the luxury of pausing for a bathroom break. Just make sure your home internet connection isn’t more reliable than that of yours truly. Continue reading

The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 313 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 16 (Netflix Spotlight) – Unicorn Store, The Little Hours, Search Party, and Tiger King

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OV313 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 16 (Netflix Spotlight) – Unicorn Store, The Little Hours, Search Party, and Tiger King

In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 16: Netflix Spotlight (April 2, 2020). For the spotlight review, Tiny calls in to talk about Tiger King with me in a spoiler review.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive Vlog: COVID-19: Vlog 2 – TV Shows in Quarantine & I Can’t Grow a Beard – March 30, 2020

Runtime: 1:16:45 Continue reading

Ben’s Column: Blow the Man Down (2020) Movie Review

3.5 stars

Blow the Man Down (2020)

Premise: Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly attempt to cover up a gruesome run-in with a dangerous man. To conceal their crime, the sisters must go deep into the criminal underbelly of their hometown, uncovering the town’s darkest secrets.. Continue reading

The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 312 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 6 (Mike’s Picks) – The Head Hunter, Little Monsters, Horror Noire, and Freaks

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OV312 – cOVid-19 Film Festival Day 6 (Mike’s Picks) – The Head Hunter, Little Monsters, Horror Noire, and Freaks

In the midst of a global pandemic and stay at home orders all over the country, I am coping by watching movies and podcasting about them as if they were part of a Film Festival. Here is my coverage of cOVid-19 Film Festival day 6: Programmed by Mike White. For the spotlight review, Mike calls in to talk about Freaks with me in a mostly non-spoiler review.

This week’s stinger comes from our Patreon-exclusive Vlog: COVID-19: Vlog 2 – TV Shows in Quarantine & I Can’t Grow a Beard – March 30, 2020

Runtime: 1:13:57 Continue reading

Movie Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – Universal Classic Monsters 5

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Premise: Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

The first direct sequel in the Universal Classic Monsters chronology is also the final one to be helmed by James Whale (after Frankenstein and The Invisible Man). Bride of Frankenstein is replete with themes of creation and destruction amidst subtext involving identity politics, nature vs nurture, and a healthy of dose of homosexual undercurrents thrown in for good measure. The film builds upon what was previously established in Frankenstein by introducing a more menacing mad scientist character and further humanizing Boris Karloff’s monster. It also pays homage to the woman who created the monster and brings some light religious commentary to the forefront as well.
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