Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

This morning, a 7.0 earthquake hit Alaska. I haven’t seen any reports of serious injuries or fatalities but it sounds like Anchorage and the surrounding communities got pummeled with some major infrastructure damage, some TV stations going off air and the airport temporarily shutting down.

Alaska hasn’t had an earthquake since that awful M9.2 quake / tsunami hit the Prince William Sound region back in 1964. Which is exactly why a tsunami warning was issued this time in case aftershocks were powerful enough to form a tidal wave. Thankfully, while there were several aftershocks reported, none of them produced the feared tsunami and the warning was cancelled.

The Anchorage Police Department issued this statement.

The Anchorage Police Department is operational after this morning’s massive earthquake.

 

Our Dispatch center is fully staffed and answering your calls as quickly as they can. Please only call 911 if it’s an emergency.

 

Our officers have been dispatched throughout the area and are handling multiple situations. We are working with our public safety partners to keep you safe. For parents, we are working with our partners at the Anchorage School District to check on your children and make sure they are safe.

 

There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage. Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones.

 

We will keep you updated via Nixle throughout the day.

 

Again, stay safe and off the roads. Call 911 only if it’s an emergency.”

 

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker tweeted that he issued a Disaster Declaration. Now, just so you know - there are two types of Disaster Declarations. First: Major Disaster Declaration, which means the disaster has exceeded the response capabilities of the state and local government and long term recovery is probably needed. The second: Emergency Declaration, which is requested when the state and local government needs help responding to an emergency or disaster; however, no long term recovery assistance is needed.

 

I have not seen one way or another which type of Declaration Governor Walker has requested but I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “Major Disaster Declaration.” It was a 7.0 earthquake, after all.

 

This is a developing story and will be updated as further information is available.

 

House Minority Whip, Nancy Pelosi, was easily nominated by House Democrats in a 203-32 vote to secure her potential return as speaker. That 85% margin is actually much higher than her last time around the block when she won the nomination by a 68% vote facing challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio). But that’s what happens when you run unopposed, as she did this time.

 

Pelosi’s win is not unexpected despite the few dozen “Never Nancy” freshmen incoming congressmen. A few behind closed doors deals here and there and suddenly, most of those Never Nancy folks have changed their minds. All they wanted, obviously, was seat on a committee or a promise for this, or a deal for that. Most of the Never Nancy stuff was nonsense posturing masquerading as politics as usual.  

 

But there are a handful of hardcore Never Nancy folks that still claim they will not support Pelosi in the upcoming January vote when both sides of the House get to vote on the new upcoming Speaker role. This too, reeks of political posturing.

 

The Democrat opposition against Pelosi seems to be spearheaded by Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY-4th district). Rice’s main beef, as I understand it, is twofold. First, that Pelosi has already had her chance and now new (perhaps, younger) leadership should be explored. I’ll quote her for her second point,

 

“...backroom deals represent the establishment-based transactional politics that the American people hate and patently rejected on Election Day (2018) … These tactics also stifle fair and open leadership elections within our caucus and perpetuate the leadership stagnation that has plagued our party for over a decade.”

 

And these are all fine points.

 

But now the Democratic Party has nominated Pelosi to be their Speaker representative for the January vote and common sense and reason tell us all that Rice should back her own party’s nominee, right? She had her voice. She lost. Now - do the right thing and vote for your party’s nominee.

 

Republicans are going to have a nominee as well. But so far, Rice is pressing on with the Never Nancy nonsense. Rice also has 17 other House Reps., mainly incoming freshmen, that claim they will not vote for Pelosi, either. And if you do the math, Pelosi can NOT lose 18 Democrat votes. Because, assuming all other Democrats, outside the Never Nancy 18 vote for Pelosi, and all Republicans vote for the nominee - then Pelosi will lose and the Republican nominee will actually win the Speaker role - even though Democrats control the house.

 

This is not something the Democratic party will stand for. Trust me. If the Never Nancy rebellion goes so far as to get a Republican Speaker nominated when the Dems control the house, well, the Never Nancy folk can kiss their political careers goodbye.

 

Besides, there is a furious push from powerful, influential Pelosi supporters up to and including John Kerry and Barack Obama. I’m sure you’ve heard of those guys. In fact, the Never Nancy crew was actually significantly higher until recently. Pelosi and her team have flipped more than a dozen Congress-folk from the Never Nancy movement to Pelosi’s side.

 

Of course, they all changed their minds, as I mentioned above, during closed door meetings, which is precisely what Rep. Rice is talking about. So, there’s that.

 

But still, the time to rebel against your own party is - not, bloody, now. I suspect most of the Never Nancy crew will fall in line before that crucial January House vote. There will be a holdout or two, for sure. But threatening to not vote for your party’s nominee and allowing the opposing party to keep the Speaker role - that way lies madness.

 

And we’ve had enough madness these last two years.

 

Last week in Kansas City, MO state health inspectors stopped several non profit all volunteer groups from feeding the homeless. By poisoning all their food. You read that right. And if you think this sounds like something out of a bad young adult sci-fi dystopian novel, I agree. That's were you should expect such scum and villainy. But no. It’s real.

 

I thought to myself, “the moron that came up with the, “Let’s dump bleach in the food” regulation should be immediately fired.” I was saddened to hear that it’s “standard operating procedure” in many states.  

 

So, what actually happened?

 

A local Kansas City all volunteer non profit group called Free Hot Soup KC went out to multiple parks on Nov. 5th to pass out free food. Mainly, home cooked soups, chili and foil-wrapped sandwiches. In fact, the group has been doing this twice a week for about a year.

 

Their events draw approx. a few hundred homeless, per park and they usually visit several parks. According to multiple sources, their food events are the highest attended park gathering at all of the parks they frequent. The problem is that neighbors complained about all the homeless people "invading their parks." So they complained.

 

A lot.

 

After about a year of complaints, city officials and the cops crashed multiple Free Hot Soup KC events. The problem being, Free Hot Soup KC doesn’t have a permit to distribute unregulated food to the homeless. State officials make the case that the permit is free and that the state provides free training on how to prepare, package and deliver food to the homeless. So … just take the free classes and sign the free permit, right?

 

Seems like a no brainer.

 

And here’s where I think the folks at the Free Hot Soup KC are being a little pompous about the entire ordeal. They are calling their events “picnics” and claim that they don’t need a permit to have a picnic in a public park with their “friends.”

 

Unless, of course, you invite the public. In which case it’s no longer a private picnic with you and your friends. It’s obviously, a non profit providing food for the homeless. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s quite commendable that they do this. Just get the free permit and take the free classes on safety and food prep. Problem solved.

 

But no. People need to be difficult. Like, all the time.

 

Anyway. Yes, it’s true I think Free Hot Soup KC is acting a little self righteous BUT they are still clearly in the right here. I mean, let’s break down what the city officials claim and then do.

 

  1. They show up to a food event that has been safely giving out food to homeless people for at least one year. With no problems. The city officials make sure to bring lots of cops. You know, in order to make everyone feel “more safe.”  
  2. Then, city officials tell the organizers, “You can’t invite the public and hand out free food without a permit and without some very minor safety training because there might be a possibility of food related risk.”
  3. The volunteers refuse to stop serving food and, ridiculously claim, “We’re just having a picnic with our friends.”
  4. The health department officials then - pour bleach into the soups and all over the food to prevent the group from serving it!  

 

Ugh. And just when I was having like a, “Well, I can kind of see their point. It could pose a health risk. It probably wouldn’t, but, it might. I think a small amount of regulation is fair.”

 

And then the state officials offered a triple whammy of dumb. They:

  • Claim this is for the public good. They have to make sure the food is safe.
  • But since the volunteers do not obey orders - now they have to poison the food as standard procedure. Again, to make sure everything is safe.
  • Then they throw the poisoned food into a plastic bag and leave it at the park! You know, for any unsuspecting homeless person to find. And eat. And choke & die because it’s covered in bleach.

 

Um, sorry city official. Your argument of “we’re just trying to make everything safe” just went out the window. You clearly don’t give a rats ass about safety.

 

Folks on the left and the right were, understandably, pissed off about this story. A common sense and reasonable op-ed appeared a few days later in the Kansas City Star. It said:

 

“The Health Department could agree to send at least one food safety inspector to Free Hot Soup events, free of charge, not as an enforcer but as an adviser. Those city employees could oversee food distribution, alerting volunteers when food might not be safe.

The Free Hot Soup volunteers would agree not to serve food that hasn’t been prepared and handled safely. Citations would not be issued.

Then, during the next six months, a handful of Free Hot Soup volunteers would take free food handling courses offered by the Health Department. At the end of that period, every event would have to include at least one certified food handler, or face cancellation.

Other volunteers would not need permits. The events organized by Free Hot Soup or any similar coalition could proceed, with at least one person providing trained food safety oversight.”

Thankfully, the following week, as Free Hot Soup KC went out to deliver food - the cops were not there and the food went out as usual. Hopefully, that will be the end of it.

 

But probably not.

 

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RIP: Stan Lee

Stan Lee, age 95, has died and with him goes a portion of my heart. Born Stanley Martin Lieber, he apparently always wanted to be a storyteller. And he worked a few odd jobs until finding himself an assistant at Timely Comics. He worked his way up at Timely Comics which, in 1950 rebranded as Atlas Comics. He worked his way up at Atlas Comics which, in 1961 rebranded as Marvel Comics. And from that point on, as you know - history was made.

Stan received his first writing assignment in 1941 for a Captain America comic and used the pen name - Stan Lee. He said, at the time, that he wanted to use a pen name for comics and his real name for novels. As it turned out the novel career never quite got off the ground. Regardless of that, I believe his storytelling prowess was put to fine use.

And then, after decades in the comic business Stan, “The Man” Lee became Marvel’s first Editor-in-Chief and he really did revolutionize comics. In 61’ there were a host of comic heroes we recognize today; a lot of the DC core folks from the Justice League - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc, etc. But DC comics, and comics in general, were mainly marketed to children. Lee pushed Marvel founder Martin Goodman, and publisher John Nee to market to an older audience. And they listened. And so Lee and his co-plotter and artist Jack Kirby turned in Fantastic Four #1. According to wikipedia:

“...broke convention with other comic book archetypes of the time by squabbling, holding grudges both deep and petty, and eschewing anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status. Subsequently, Marvel comics developed a reputation for focusing on characterization and adult issues to a greater extent than most superhero comics before them, a quality which the new generation of older readers appreciated. This applied to The Amazing Spider-Man title in particular, which turned out to be Marvel's most successful book. Its young hero suffered from self-doubt and mundane problems like any other teenager, something with which many readers could identify.”

Lee, along with Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and John Romata created many of the comic book legends we recognize today: Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thanos, Doctor Doom, Red Skull, Loki, Green Goblin, Magneto. The list goes on and on.

Personally, I was a huge Spider-Man fan. I don’t quite recall exactly my first Spider-Man comic but it was sometime around kindergarten so - 1977? Which means, I probably fell in love with Spider-Man the exact same year I fell in love with Star Wars.

Actually, I think I just found it. Spider-Man #168, “Murder on the Wind,” featuring little seen since villain Will-o-the-wisp. In fact, I believe he died in that issue. But, it is Marvel comics so he probably came back, eventually. I would certainly not suggest that was the best Spider-Man comic in history (in fact, it’s not that good) but it certainly captivated my heart and soul and from that moment on I was hooked. Pretty sure I still have the comic.

I would even go so far as to suggest that much of my young morality was shaped and formed by Spider-Man’s struggles, actions and choices. “With great power comes great responsibility.” To coin the famous phrase by Peter Parker’s uncle. To me, Spider-Man and Peter Parker will always be the greatest of all super heroes.

And that’s all because of Stan Lee. I know there was controversy about ownership of some of the characters and the historic lessening the roles Ditko, Kirby and a few others played. It’s true. A lot of it played out behind closed doors and in legal corners. I hope it all worked out but I honestly don’t know. But for more on that, I will leave you with these very fine and true words by author Lance Parkin who tweeted, “There's a time for cynicism, there's a time for a more jaded, footnoted, analysis of Stan Lee's contribution and impact.

Today, though:

One of the great creative powerhouses of our era is dead. One of the great creators of children's characters is dead. One of the most important, influential and talented editors and publishing promoters of all time is dead. An artist whose audience, for over half a century, has been measured in billions is dead.”

Stanley Martin Lieber, the scrappy Jewish writer from NYC was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame (1994), the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame (1995), given the National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush (2008), nominated for a Hugo Award for Iron Man in 2009, and given Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Saturn Awards (2002), the Visual Effects Society Awards, and the Producers Guild of America. May he rest in peace.

Excelsior!

 

 

'Nuff said!

 

 

 

Thirteen people were killed and two are still missing (and presumed dead) after an irate female passenger attacked a bus driver. The driver hit back but lost control of the bus. It veered into oncoming traffic, smashed another car and plunged off a bridge into the Yangtze River in China.

Police released dash cam footage from another car that caught the moment the bus went off the bridge, as well as footage from inside the bus right before the crash. The video is as crazy as it is sad.

Witness that got off the bus before the crash, told investigators that the woman was angry because she had missed her stop. The bus driver advised her to get off at another stop and walk back. She refused. A fight ensued which led to the crash.

The video is intense. I mean, this is (probably) an accident. A negligent accident to be sure, but probably an accident. But if you watch that video it really, really looks like the driver just turns the wheel to the left and takes the bus off the bridge. Most likely, he was distracted by the woman slapping him in the face with her cell phone, but still, I can’t stop noticing the driver actively cranking the wheel to the left. And then, he doesn’t appear to be shocked when the bus goes off the bridge.

The woman, identified by her surname of Liu and the driver with his surname of Ran were both thought to be alive at first and authorities said they would prosecute both of them for endangering the lives of the passengers. Now, we know that everyone on board died including the irate passenger and the driver.

As a really odd aside, the crash brought out a wave of sexist comments. Notice if you will, the red car that gets hit by the bus as it swerves. Well, that specific red car was driven by a woman. And police and media received a large amount of complaints that the woman driving the red car - caused the accident. And therefore all women drivers should be banned.

 

WTF?  

Anyway. The woman driving the red car suffered from minor injuries, was taken to the hospital and released. The police, obviously, do not think she did anything wrong.

Chinese police didn’t really comment on the sexist attacks on the innocent driver but released the following statement about the crash: “Fifteen fresh lives have vanished and the lessons are extremely painful. May the dead rest in peace and the living be warned.”

The crash in China made me a little depressed and so I searched the web for good stories about buses drivers. And I found one. Over in France, a bus driver pulled up to a stop where a man in a wheelchair was waiting. The man in the wheelchair has been identified as Francois Le Berre, who has multiple sclerosis.

Anyway, the bus pulls over and the driver turns to the other passengers and asks them to make room so he can get Francois on the bus. But every single passenger on the bus refused to make room for the man in the wheelchair. So the bus driver stood up and told everyone to get the F off his bus. A few folks grumbled about it but they complied and got off the bus. Then the driver said to Francois, “You and your helper can get on the bus. Everyone else can wait for the next one.”  

And that’s what happened. The French driver is universally being praised on social media. And I have to agree. Well done.  

 

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Midterm elections are upon us

This is your friendly neighborhood reminder to go out and vote. I will not push for one candidate, or one party. You’ve already made up your mind. And you probably wouldn’t want to take my advice, anyway. I have been of voting age for the past seven Presidential elections. I have voted in every race. Only three times has my candidate actually won the election. If I was an NFL team I would be 3 - 4 and probably on my way out of the playoffs.

 

Not only that but in my home state of MN I am 1-2 for Governor (I didn’t vote for Governor in 98 because I hated them all) and 5-3 for Senate. So, my entire Presidential / Governor / Senator win loss record added together would be 9-9. Fifty lousy percent. Nothing to write home about.

 

And while, it’s true, I used to be one of the many folks who said that there are only a few major differences between the two major parties; but mostly they are identical. As in, a win for either side is a win for - the rich, big corporations, big money in politics, lobbyists, the military industrial complex, patriarchy and the status quo never changing.

 

Boy o’ boy, I do not feel that way any longer! I’ll bore you with those details some other time.

 

Today, I plan to go out and actually do something about it. And that’s vote. Hopefully, you will too!



Where to find your voting location.


What to do if you are turned away at the polls.

 

With a crucial midterm election on the way, early voter turnout is breaking all sorts of records here in the US. Multiple sources are reporting that, as of Wednesday Oct. 31st, the early votes had exceeded 24 million. By comparison, the 2014 midterms had approximately 13 million early votes.

 

According to this NBC News report, it looks as if the early votes are fairly evenly split - 43 percent going Republican and 41 percent going Democrat, which is almost identical to the 2014 numbers. But remember, early voting doesn’t show exactly which candidate has been voted for, only how many voters have cast ballots and what their party affiliation is. So it’s reasonable to assume that if you’ve registered as a Democrat then you’re probably going to vote for the Democratic candidate. But technically we don’t know for sure. Vice versa with Republican early ballots.

 

Lots of folks seem to be stumping for their political allies. Which is fine. President Trump is on a whirlwind tour of something like 15 states pushing for conservative candidates. Former President Obama is stumping for Dems all over the country. Oprah Winfrey’s pro voting / pro Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) was apparently so good that even Fox News panelists raved about it. I haven’t heard the speech but I’ve read multiple quotes, including this awesome gem:

 

“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family,” Winfrey said.

 

Yeah. I agree.

 

Even Taylor Swift got into the action when, for the first time ever, she used her social media platform urging her fans to register to vote and vote. She spoke out heavily in favor of, and has already cast her early votes for her hometown candidates Phil Bresden (Senate) and Jim Cooper (House), both Democratic candidates. Her fans listened too and she got 65,000 people to register within 24 hours of posting her “go vote” Instagram. If Tennessee miraculously turns blue, Taylor Swift is probably single handedly responsible.

 

So, just where can you vote early, anyway? Well, all voters have at least one location where you can vote early with an absentee ballot and those locations vary, depending on where you live. You can check out Vote.org’s very own “Find your early vote” calendar here.

 

Election day is Tuesday, November 6th.

 

Another day, another lunatic. Many sources have reported multiple gunshot fatalities at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. At least 12 people were shot, eight appear to have been killed. Multiple officers were injured while exchanging fire with the shooter, who eventually surrendered.

The shooter, Robert Bowers, was an active poster on “alt-right” sites, especially, Gab. A site I’ve never even heard of. Anyway, his Gab profile was quickly disabled after he was named the shooter. But images captured from his profile before it was deleted show that a few days before the shooting Bowers wrote about the “kike” infestation, “the overwhelming Jew problem” and this about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in.” And then he picked up his AR-15 like rifle and attacked a Jewish synagogue during a baby naming ceremony.

Why he chose Tree of Life specifically is so far unclear. You know what’s particularly scary about his attack? He marched right up to the third floor to begin shooting. You know what is usually happening on the third floor of that building on Saturday mornings? Children’s classes.

So, it’s kind of looking like crippling insecure man baby Robert Bowers knew that children were going to be up on the third floor so he went up to massacre them. Thankfully, earlier that morning, all the children’s classes had been canceled (for some reason but presumably, for the baby naming ceremony). Bowers then shot up the synagogue killing several people - here are the names of the victims.

Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life congregation, spoke with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and told them that, at any typical Saturday morning there would be approx. 100 - 150 people from multiple congregations holding simultaneous services in the building.

Police believe he acted alone and that there is no further threat to the community and are treating this as a hate crime.

 

This is a developing story.

 

Another day, another lunatic. Multiple sources have reported that federal authorities arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man, in connection to sending possible package bombs (or suspicious looking packages) to prominent Democrats / Trump critics including (but not limited to):  Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Joe Biden, John Brennan, James Clapper, Cory Booker, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Eric Holder, the offices of CNN and Robert De Niro.

The packages all looked exactly the same. Manila envelopes all with multiple misspellings and the same return address: Debbie Wasserman “Shultz” (also misspelled) the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. A few of them even had “postage due” stamps on them suggesting the package went through the entire mail system before being discovered as “suspicious.”

The folks over at CNN actually opened the package, not knowing what it was and uncovered the bomb. They partially evacuated the building and the bomb squad came and ended up destroying the pipe package bomb (which is standard procedure).

It should be noted that none of the bombs exploded. Which means they may or may not have been working bombs. Which is mind numbingly stupid. I mean, don’t get me wrong - I’m not suggesting to send working bombs through the mail. I’m suggesting that the culprit put together fake bombs to scare and / or make a political point and now, that he’s caught, will be prosecuted as if he sent real bombs.

What a moron. (Editor's note: The FBI now says the bombs were real. It's fortunate that, but unclear why - none of them exploded.)

I’ve already read the conspiracy sites too. They are up in lunatic arms. “False flag attack. Bummer Obama and Killery Clinton are behind it all!” They claim. *sigh*

I don’t need a conspiracy to answer this basic question, “Do you think someone, in this day and age of hyper partisanship, is crazy enough to send pipe bombs to political figures he despises?”

The answer is - yes! I do!  Obviously! I mean, it seems to happen a lot. Death threats. Online harassment. Partisan fucking hatred.  Gunmen go after republicans. Gunmen go after democrats. Gunmen go after kids. (Note: The Sandy Hook Massacre was NOT a false flag attack!). Gunmen go after folks hanging out in church.

Point being: There are lunatics everywhere. And some of them are violent. When you hear “lunatic man sends pipe bomb to prominent Democrats” your first thought should be, “Another fucking lunatic man terrorizing political figures” and not, “It’s probably a Killary / Obummer false flag plot to stifle conservative voices all told through the fake news narrative of the CIA controlled media.”

No. It’s not.

It’s probably just another lunatic man sending pipe bombs through the mail. That’s probably what it is. And I hope he goes to jail forever.

This is a developing story.

 

Spooky, spooky, scary, scary!

 

It’s that time of year again - where pumpkins are carved up, gutted and massacred. Where kids dress up and beg for candy - from strangers! And let’s not forget - Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without at least one news site running a, “Watch out for razor blades in those apples” story.  (Hint: You’re more likely to get mauled to death by a goat then you are to get a razor blade in your apple).

 

And that means there will be an inevitable flood of lists of movies to watch for Halloween! Hell, even I wrote one last year called Underappreciated Horror Films for Halloween. I took the idea that most such lists have all the usual suspects: take your pick of a franchise - Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play, Paranormal Activity, Scream, Friday the 13th, Saw, Halloween, Hellraiser, [Insert Random Name] of the Dead, etc., etc. Throw in the obligatory mention of The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Shining, add another Stephen King adaptation for good measure, class it up with some vintage black and white: Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula, Frankenstein and toss in whatever is currently hip and popular with the cool kids these days, such as -- It Follows and Babadook.

 

Great! And done!

 

But, also, kind of boring.

 

And so I’m back with another list of underappreciated horror films for your Halloween viewing terror! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of movies in the aforementioned list that I adore. But there are a lot of great horror movies that slip under the radar. If you are a true horror film aficionado there probably won't be much here you've not heard of. But for most movie folk this should be a nice list of underappreciated horror films you may dig.

 

The trailers were meticulously screened to avoid spoilers. No, seriously. I watched multiple trailers for all of these movies and selected ones that were cool but vague and non spoilerific!

 

Also, I just recognized that this year AND last year - most of my film selections were written by men, and all of them were directed by men. Hmm. I'll make sure future lists have more diversity. So, I'll work on that.

 

With that being said, some of my new favorite underappreciated films -- presented alphabetically:  

 

Better Watch Out (2016): The movie's tagline says it all: On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it's far from a normal home invasion. So, very true. =) Better Watch Out is a delightfully sinister Christmas horror film! The three young, unknown (to me) actors: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould are all well cast and will probably go on to bigger and better things (a quick IMDB search tells me they have). The film was mildly loved by critics but largely ignored by audiences. I haven’t found a trailer that didn’t ruin some of the film’s surprises so I would ignore them all if I were you.

 

The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2016): Often described as a "slow burn of a film," a phrase I typically dislike, because most folks equate that wording with, “Boring, but kind of interesting.” Instead I would describe The Blackcoat’s Daughter as a dark atmospheric exploration of loneliness. With some devil worship. The ending appears to have been largely misunderstood by critics and reviewers alike and without spoiling anything, I will say that any other interpretation other than, “holy fucking evil tragedy,” is wrong.  All three of the female actors Emma Roberts, Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton do fine work but I would say Kiernan Shipka pulls off an extraordinary take on the affected, especially since I always found her younger years as an actor on Mad Men, fairly inconsistent (she played young Sally Draper). Originally released as, “February” the film has been renamed for streaming and DVD.  Official HD trailer for the Blackcoat’s Daughter.

 

Bone Tomahawk (2015): Kurt Russell. Sweet mutton chops. Western. Bloody vengeance. You read that right! Bearing the same badass mutton chops he flaunted in Tarantino's (kind of overrated) Hateful Eight, Russell steals the show as hard as nails Sheriff Franklin Hunt. The over all plot will certainly be familiar to anyone who’s seen a western before, but the tone of the film works well and carries the story to an effective, brutal ending. Nominated for and winner of - multiple indie / horror awards including the Independent Spirit Award, the Saturn Award and the Fangoria Chainsaw Award where Russell won for Best Actor. Official trailer #1 for Bone Tomahawk.

 

Compliance (2012): Based on the shocking true story, Compliance is a fairly accurate recreation of truly fucked up events that unfolded in the back of a Kentucky McDonald’s. Much like 2011's Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene the film is a non supernatural psychological thriller but, in essence - is a real horror film. There doesn’t have to be a supernatural presence, or a murder, in order for a movie to be down right chilling and horrific and Compliance is both. The premise of the film: A man, claiming to be a police officer, calls a fast-food restaurant and convinces the manager that one of her employees is a suspect and that the manager must strip search the employee. She complies. It gets worse from there. Compliance premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was … controversial to say the least. Audience members walked out because they found the movie too disturbing and then there was some kind of screaming match during the film’s Q&A all about the nature of compliance. Ann Dowd, as the manager in question, was nominated for all sorts of acting awards - winning the National Board of Review.  Official trailer for Compliance.

 

Creep / Creep 2 (2014 / 2017): Writer / actor Mark Duplass, arguably the king of all fucking independent films in the last fifteen years (though he did not invent mumblecore films with The Puffy Chair in 2005 as many have implied, that was Andrew Bujalski with Funny Ha Ha in 2002). Anyway, Duplass pulls off another charming mumblecore-esq role as - the creep? Or is he? Also, this is one of the rare gems where the sequel might be better than the original. Both are found footage films with all the pratfalls that entails but are relatively short at 80ish minutes each and can be watched in one creepy evening. Official Trailer for Creep. And hey now, don’t go watching the Trailer for Creep 2 until you’ve finished Creep!

 

Hereditary (2018): Okay. I will go out on a limb and tell you that Hereditary is the greatest horror film of the last decade and might be my favorite horror film of all time. Criminally underappreciated actress Toni Collette turns in a powerhouse performance as artist Annie Graham. Her mother has just died and Annie inherits an enormous amount of emotional baggage the threatens her family and her very existential existence. Both Milly Shapiro and Alex Wolff, as her children, are equally mesmerizing. Ann Dowd, mentioned above in Compliance is as universally great as she always is. Hereditary drips with imagery & symbols and heavily explores themes of the title of the film - inheritance. A simple enough premise but executed with unbelievable skill in front of and behind the camera. I hesitate to use the word “masterpiece,” because the word is so over used, especially in film criticism. But, use it I shall because Hereditary is a domestic nightmare, horror masterpiece. Official trailer for Hereditary.

 

Green Room (2015): Like many movies on this list Green Room was a critic’s darling that underperformed at the box office. Staring the late, great Anton Yelchin and the crazy talented chameleon Imogen Poots. Seriously, I could not believe she was the same woman from the perfect Fright Night remake. The movie is about a punk rock band, the Aint Rights, who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after accidentally witnessing a murder at the skinhead’s club. And who plays the leader of the skinheads? Patrick Stewart, naturally. No, seriously, I don’t know what convinced him to play the role of a skinhead Nazi but the movie gods should be thanked that he recognized the greatness that was about the become the film Green Room! And it’s really, really great. Official trailer for Green Room.

 

Thoroughbreds (2017): The movie that made me ask, “Um, who the hell is that actress? Because in the next ten years she’s going to be recognized as one of the greatest actors of her generation.” The woman in question - Olivia Cooke. You fine folks might be all like, “Oh, the girl from The Bates Motel - and Ready Player One, yeah, she’s great!” Well, at the time I saw Thoroughbreds Ready Player One had not been released and I had not seen a single episode of Bates Motel - but you can be sure I binged it in the next few months. (And, it’s okay. Cooke's character is very under written and she's underused which is okay since she's not the lead, and the two leads are great in Bates Motel - but that’s another story). Anyway, Thoroughbreds is more of a super dark comedy than a traditional horror film, but they often go hand in hand. I mean, it is a film about murdering one of your parents but, like - in a hip, non trite way. #amiright? As much as I love Angela Bettis in May and Robin McLeavy in The Loved Ones, I think Olivia Cooke’s sociopathic Amanda is the new big girl on the block. Official trailer for Thoroughbreds.

 

And there we have it. Another list. Hopefully, you’ll see something here that interests you. If you like a lot of films on this list, perhaps check out my list from last year, linked above. More of the same - underappreciated gems.

 

This years tally of horror: An on screen body count of approx. twenty four but maybe as high as eighty (hard to keep track of as some of the serial killer movies are deceptive about victims). Three movies with decapitations. Two about demons. Two with bad parents. One about Christmas. One on tour. Three, perhaps four (number debatable) about serial killers. Four with female leads. Two found footage. One with Nazis. One based on a true story. And one starring Kurt Russell and those glorious mutton chops.

 

Happy Halloween!

 

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Better Watch Out (2016), an Australian Horror Comedy film directed by: Chris Peckover and written by Zach Kahn and Peckover.

 

The Blackcoat's Daughter (2016), an American Canadian supernatural psychological drama written and directed by: Oz Perkins, son of late Anthony Perkins.

 

Bone Tomahawk (2015), an American western horror film written and directed by S. Craig Zahler.

 

Compliance (2012), an american thriller drama written and directed by Craig Zobel.

 

Creep / Creep 2 (2014 / 2017), American independent found footage horror film directed by Patrick Brice and written by Mark Duplass and Brice.

 

Hereditary (2018), an American supernatural horror film (masterpiece!) written and directed by Ari Aster. His first feature film.

 

Green Room (2015), an American horror film written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier. Also - fuck Nazi’s.


Thoroughbreads (2017), an American black comedy thriller written and directed by Cory Finley. Starring crazy, madman genius young actor Olivia Cooke.

 

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