Riverdale ep. 28 recap “Chapter Twenty-Eight: There Will Be Blood”

After last week’s abysmal fan service episode, Riverdale came back in style with “Chapter Twenty-Eight: There Will Be Blood.”

Mayor McCoy will always be Mayor McCoy to me. Neither Ms McCoy or Sierra do her any justice. So for my sake, she’s still Mayor McCoy. Only she’s not ever since she stepped down from office to avoid her scandalous relationship with Sheriff Keller being revealed.

But the mayor stepping down triggers a special election. And the Lodges have picked their next candidate: Fred Andrew. Fred and Archie discuss Fred’s interest on their way home from a dinner at the Lodges. Fred admits that he had actually wanted to be mayor ever since he was a little boy (seems strange, but it’s Luke Perry so it’s fine).

Archie immediately knows that his father is just going to be a puppet for the powerful family. So he turns to Jughead for help by revealing that Pop’s Chock’Lit Shoppe was bought by the Lodges on the sly.

Jughead’s suspicions of the Lodges turn out to be true. He realises that all the land that Hiram has bought had been devalued for various reason: Southside High and the ‘meth’, Pop’s and the shooting, the Serpents and the drive-in. But when Jughead confronts Pop Tate, Pop admits to the selling but asks Jughead to keep quiet until the death of Pop’s mother. The shop had been in the family for 80 years, and he was the one to break the line. Juggie, in a moment of true compassion, agrees to keep the secret.

Only Pop doesn’t keep his visit from Jughead quiet. When the Lodges realise Jughead is hot on their trail, Hiram begins to look someone to point a finger at. Veronica takes the blame for Archie, lying by claiming she told Jughead herself to get him off the trail of the Lodge’s real project.

Jughead’s story has seemingly hit a dead end, having no more sources to contact. FP tries to help is son by admitting that the Serpents were paid by Hiram Lodge to devalue the drive-in land (which, I thought everyone knew on purpose, but whatever). Before Jughead and grasp that, he receives an anonymous call.

Jughead goes to the bus station where he has a conversation with his “Deep Throat” – Smithers, the Lodges’ ex-butler and driver. He gives Jughead one piece of information: that Hiram was in contact with people from Shawshank Prison, which was not the prison that Hiram did time in.

In fact, Shawshank is where FP did his time. And he uses his connections to dig information about the Lodges. And finally, finally the Lodges’ big plan is revealed: to build a prison where the old Southside High was and to turn the rest of the development into the housing for the people working there.

When the Lodges realise their time is limited (they too have insiders in the prison), they call Fred Andrews to tell him of their plans. But poor, innocent Fred is angry and tells the Lodges that he will not run for mayor for them anymore. But poor, stupid Archie decides to side with Veronica and her family. He even does a blood oath and burns his notebook containing all the information he had kept notes on about Hiram’s doings.

So who better to take Fred’s potential place than Hermione fucking Lodge herself. But while it’s fun to watch her parade around and prepare to rule the world, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Fred Andrews in the world. The people who only want to better their towns for everyone, not just themselves. It, again, probably has to do with the fact that Luke Perry’s eyes…

But Jughead’s story? No one will publish it, and the news of the prison remains the Lodges’ best-kept secret.

Speaking of secrets: the Blossom family. And the Cooper family.

But first: the Coopers. Hal tells Alice that he wants a divorce. Letting Chic into the family edged Hal out. But to sweeten the deal, he tells Alice that he will thrown in 50% of the sales of the Riverdale Register. And Alice falls for it.

Cheryl learns that a secret will of her late father has been discovered, and that a will reading will take place the following day. Hal, Betty and a fresh-from-the-farm Polly all go to the reading.

It’s revealed that part of Clifford Blossom’s assets will be divided in half: one half to his children, and the other half to be divided up between any one in Riverdale who can prove that they are a Blossom by blood (meaning the Coopers). Alice crashes the will reading, saying Hal only wanted a divorce so he could keep the money to himself. And it’s glorious, old Alice.

But Alice somehow isn’t the most dramatic thing about the will reading: it’s the return of Clifford’s long-lost twin brother. Uncle Claudius.

Claudius explains that he fled the family after Clifford threatened to kill him. It’s all very disorienting, but he’s clearly up to no good. I feel like the evil twin thing is a bit of a cop out, but I’ll let it stand if this leads to more devious Blossom shenanigans. Things clearly are not looking good for poor Cheryl.

Betty and Polly both get blood tested so they can receive their inheritance. But Chic, supposedly their brother by blood, refuses. He says he doesn’t want “blood money” but it makes Betty instantly suspicious. Thankfully, she’s been catfishing her brother thanks to Kevin’s help. But she eventually snoops and gets the DNA she needs from from dental floss.

In a not-so-shocking but still satisfying reveal, Betty learns that Chic isn’t who he claims to be. Which can only mean one thing: he’s not a Cooper but only Alice’s son (meaning he could still be FP’s son, which is a popular fan theory).


Chic is working with the Black Hood, who is still alive! The Black Hood is the REAL Cooper brother and is using Chic to do his dirty work while he lies low. And they are working together with Claudius who is the Riverdale Reaper (even though he’s too young – whatever).

I NEED MORE DRAMA, RIVERDALE! You’ve given me a taste of blood, and I’m wanting more.

Riverdale was actually fun to watch this week. The silly twin plot twist, the devious deviousness, and the Alice Cooper insanity all made it feel like Old Riverdale again. It wasn’t a perfect episode. For one, I still find Archie’s reasoning for following the Lodges really weak. I get he wants to clean up Riverdale, but a prison isn’t exactly going to help that, is it? But still, this was an enjoyable episode to watch. Which is something I haven’t felt about this show in three very long months.


Wicked Wednesday: Scream, Pretty Peggy (1973)

One of the things about horror films that is simultaneously amazing and painful to watch is golden-era Hollywood icons “lowering” themselves to the genre.

Case and point: Bette Davis. While originally known for her great dramatic roles, her later career was marked with much more horror/thrillers such as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? But the last decades of her life had her in over a dozen TV movies.

One of them is the 1973 thriller Scream, Pretty Peggy, which originally aired on ABC.

Scream, Pretty Peggy follows young art student, Peggy (go figure). Desperate for a job, she takes work as a house keeper for the wealthy Elliott family. When she arrives at the house, she’s turned away by the elderly Mrs Elliott (Davis), but her son Jeffrey stops her and invites the student in.

Bright, perky Peggy gets herself the job, and even manages to earn herself more money in the negotiations. Charmed by the weird girl, Jeffrey allows her to even bother him while he work on his sculptures. But she has one rule: stay away from the rooms above the garage.

During her first day, Peggy sees a photograph of a young woman, who Mrs Elliott explains is her daughter Jennifer. She claims that Jennifer is in Europe.

Each night she heads back home from work, Peggy notices that she’s being followed by a car. She eventually confronts the man, who says he is Thornton, father of the last girl who worked for the Elliotts. He explains that he hasn’t heard from his daughter, but Peggy is unable to help him. When he arrives at the Elliotts’ house, they claim to know nothing either.

Peggy eventually moves in with the Elliotts with Mrs Elliott injures her leg. Her first night in the house she awakes to the sound of a banging door and spots that the garage door is open. When she goes to investigate, she sees a figure in a white gown go up to the rooms above the garage.

When she confronts Jeffrey about it, he admits that Jennifer is not in Europe, but living above the garage. She’s insane, but the family couldn’t bare to lock her up. Peggy then becomes determined to make friends with Jennifer, despite being warned away by both Jeffrey and Mrs Elliott. Mrs Elliott continuously warns Peggy away, but the girl (increasingly enamored with Jeffrey) refuses.

Peggy finds an item with Thornton’s name on it, and decides to try and contact him. The place where he’s staying inform her that he hasn’t been seen in a couple days. And upon investigating, Peggy sees the man’s car locked away in the garage.

Knowing that something is not right, Peggy tries to hunt down Jeffrey. While in Jeffrey’s studio, she’s attacked by the figure in the white dress. Peggy manages to escape and finds Mrs Elliott in her room. She tells the woman what has happened, saying that it was Jennifer. But Mrs Elliott only tells Peggy, “It’s all your fault.”

Jeffrey is finally found, and Peggy tells him about Jennifer’s attack. He goes up to Jennifer’s rooms above the garage to confront his sister. Peggy and Mrs Elliott watch from outside.

Jeffrey emerges and informs them that he has killed Jennifer. She tried to attack him, and she fell on her own knife. When Peggy tries to call the police, she’s ordered not to.

Frustrated and confused, Peggy goes to Jeffrey’s studio and tries to talk to him. Only Jeffrey isn’t there – it’s Jennifer. Or rather, ‘Jennifer’ in Jeffrey’s mind (basically Jeff wearing some shit make-up). ‘Jennifer’ tries to attack Peggy, but is shot by Mrs Elliott.

Mrs Elliott neatly wraps up the story, telling Peggy that Jeffrey killed Jennifer when she tried to leave for Europe to get married. He hid her body in one of his sculptures, and ‘Jennifer’ began to take over his mind. Each time he was with a woman, the Jennifer part of his brain became jealous and violent.

So basically, don’t killer your sister.

While the ending is an exposition dump, it doesn’t detract too much from the movie overall. Scream, Pretty Peggy is a great film, TV movie or no. Honestly, Davis is such a scene-stealer. Completely magnetic with even the most mundane lines thrown at her.

While the twist is by no means original, it’s still fun. And Scream, Pretty Peggy have some great, subtle spooky moments that I loved. Peggy is quite an unusual character for a horror film. She’s resilient and bouncy, and a touch obnoxious (but I liked her anyway). I say give this piece a go. If anything, it’s just a joy to see Davis on screen.

Riverdale Ep. 27 Recap “Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Hills Have Eyes”

Oh Riverdale you beautiful, beautiful mess. What the hell is going on with you?

“Chapter Twenty-Seven” was complete shambles. The show has slowly reached so-bad-it’s-kind-of-good territory. What started as a tongue-in-cheek, smart show has escalated to fan service and boring plot lines.

Much of this week’s episode focused on our four core characters as they travel to the Lodge lodge for a weekend away. Hiram invites the kids up himself. He tells Archie in an aside that he plans on gathering the families from New York to ease the tensions from Papa Poutine’s murder. Hiram also tells Archie that their chauffeur/body guard Andre will be hanging around incognito.

Of course nothing can go smoothly. As soon as the kids arrive, Jughead gets a call from Cheryl. In retaliation to not being invited to their couples get-away, she tells him about the kiss Betty and Archie shared during their Black Hood adventures.

Though he initially says he is “fine” with it, Jughead harbours some resentment against his ginger “best friend”. But B&J talk it out. They do argue, though, about Jughead’s persistent questions about Hiram’s business practices. Getting the wrong end of the stick, Veronica assumes the couple are arguing about the kiss and invites everyone into the hot tub. Jughead and Veronica kiss each other to “level the playing field”.

And I’m using so many sarcastic quotes it is making my head hurt.

That following morning, Veronica catches Archie talking to Andre in the woods. Veronica becomes angry, considering her father had promised that they would be left alone that weekend.

Veronica takes her anger and Betty shopping, leaving the boys to bond with each other. These scenes (while incredibly brief) were at least nice because at least we got to see proof that these kids are actually supposed to be friends. When was the last time we saw them doing anything fun together?

When the couples are reunited, Jughead receives another phone call. This time from FP. His dad gleefully tells him that Hiram has bought the trailer park, but has allowed everyone living there to stay. While this should be good news, Jughead sees only cynical, suspicious intentions. Betty gets a phone call, then, from her mother, saying that Hiram has bought The Riverdale Register, a pretty shady move. This sparks an argument between the two couples.

But during their argument, they hear the glass shatter and masked men enter the house to rob them. Veronica realises that one of the robbers is a shop assistant who helped her that morning in town. She agrees to go with him to get her wallet. But before she passes it over, she discreetly bumps a panic button.

Before the men can steal anything, the alarm sounds, telling them that they have 30 seconds before security guards arrive and shoot on the spot.

The men flee, but Archie chases the shop assistant. But before he can do anything, Andre shows up, telling Archie that he will “take care of it”. As Archie walks away, he hears the gunshot confirming that the Lodges are ruthless.

And yeah, there are a lot of subplots in this one. The affair between Mayor McCoy and Sheriff Keller. Cheryl coming out to Toni. Kevin dealing with his ‘relationship’ with Moose. And really, none of it feels very consequential.

Which begs the question, where the hell is Riverdale going? It’s kind of cute that the show is giving so many winks and nods to fan ‘ships’ but the show seems to sidetracked doing that to actually remember that there is supposed to be a plot here.

This show has been floundering. The show needs to have something bigger, and Hiram’s plans are just too ambiguous to be compelling. We need another Jason Blossom or Black Hood. I don’t mean another murder mystery plot, but just something that makes you think “I can’t fucking wait until next week.”

Ultimately, I think Riverdale meant to make something momentous happen. But it didn’t. Cheryl’s coming out moment was completely ruined with the worst segue ever. Seriously, this plug for Love, Simon movie is one of the worst things I have EVER seen in anything ever. Dear Lord, please make it stop.

At least they were drinking jalapeño  margaritas. Those are my favourite.

Wicked Wednesday: Invitation to Hell (1984)

“What I want, Matt, is some power.”

Welcome to year two of Made-for-TV March where the movies are cheap and contain lots of lightning!

I love made-for-TV movies. The more I watch, the more I grow fond of this sort-of sub-genre. Watching Invitation to Hell only solidified all my opinions.

Directed by Wes Craven, Invitation to Hell is a horror sci-fi thriller that first aired in 1984 on ABC. By this point, Craven was well into solidifying his name as an icon of the genre with his early classics. A Nightmare on Elm Street was released just a few months later in November of that year. It was well clear that this project was in the hands of a man who really knew what he was doing.

The Winslow family move to a new town for father Matt (Robert Urich) to begin his new job. The family have led a mostly lower-middle class life, waiting for Matt’s work as an inventor to blossom. His new job is seemingly a step in the right direction.

The family learn that “anyone who is anyone” belongs to the local country club. Like all good 80’s suburbanites, their neighbours all comply with the expectations. But for the mostly-poor Winslows, they stand out with their shabby furniture and car.

But Matt is reluctant to join, and instead focuses on developing his technology for an astronaut’s suit. The suit allows the wearer to enter extreme temperatures, and the helmet is able to detect is something is human or non-human.

One day, the family are nearly in an accident when their car is cut off by another. When Matt goes to confront the driver, out pops Jessica Jones (Susan Lucci), the director of the club. She immediately takes a shine to Matt, and encourages him and his family to join their club.

Matt’s disinterest in the club continues, while it only increases for his wife Pat (Joanna Cassidy) and their kids (Bastian and Punky Brewster). At work, Matt begins to notice something strange going on. His secretary, Grace, keeps trying to slip him information that he walks away ignorant from. His friend and co-worker Tom gets promoted to a cushy job after joining the club, despite not mentioning any hint of a promotion before.

Jessica invites the Matt and Pat to have a tour of the club, and Matt agrees. During the tour, Matt wanders alone when he hears crying coming from the other side of a large, ominous door. Weirded out, Matt declines yet again to join the club.

But Jessica usurps Matt, and invites just Pat and the kids to join, which the gladly agree to. And after their ‘initiation’, things begin to get worse for Matt.

Soon Grace is replaced, and disappears. He receives a call from Grace’s husband, a vet, and is informed that Pat tried to have the family’s beloved dog put down, seemingly without good reason. When Matt confronts Pat, she snaps at him. And Matt later learns of his ex-secretary’s death.

Though not an idiot, Matt begins to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Pat’s personality changes from warm mother to yuppie bitch, and his kids become increasingly violent. And during a bit of research, Matt learns that all of the promotions in the last number of years have happened only to members of the country club.

With everything in place, Matt sneaks into the country club to do a but of sleuthing. He learns that beyond the ominous doors, the temperatures are well over 300 degrees Fahrenheit. He breaks into his lab and steals his astronaut’s suit to wear as a costume to the club’s Halloween party.

The suit allows Matt to go beyond the doors, where the temperatures reach well about 2000 degrees – a literal hell. But as he searches for his real family, he’s pursued by Jessica in her devil’s costume. Despite her begging, Matt jumps off a cliff inside the room when he hears his children begging for his help.

When he lands, Matt awakes to find himself in a sort of alternate-dimension of his world. When he enters his house, he sees Pat at her piano, seemingly unable to stop playing piano. Jessica catches him up, and insists that he has no way of defeating her or saving his family.

But Matt realises that Jessica is just a straight-up liar. A devil without any real powers. And upon understanding this, Matt reaches for his family and is able to save them all from hell.

As the family wake up back in their real home, they learn that the country club has been on fire for almost the entire night – seemingly destroyed.

Invitation to Hell is on many levels, a bit standard. But the writing, direction and acting really elevate it to something special. One thing the 80’s always got right was creating believable families. Each member of the Winslow family was so likable, it made it all the more enjoyable to see their spiral into possession.

There were several plot gaps, but for something that had to be under 2 hours (with commercials), it does a good job of creating a great supernatural feel. Like Invasion of the Body Snatchersthe movie makes you feel uncomfortable with suburban conformity and that sensation that you can never be too sure who to trust. Incidentally, Kevin McCarthy has a role as Matt’s boss, and he’s fantastic.

Craven went on to direct several made-for-TV movies (Invitation to Hell was his second following the also excellent Summer of Fear). I won’t spoil myself by watching all of them this month, though. But watching this just made me miss the man more than I already do. Invitation to Hell is a movie that a full-heartedly recommend, and I personally can’t wait to watch it again.

Wicked Wednesday: Sorority House Massacre (1986)

When choosing my last film for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to pick something that sounded a bit fun. When I saw this was another Roger Corman produced movie from the Slumber Party Massacre era, I thought this would be a great pick.

Unfortunately, Sorority House Massacre hardly offers up anything memorable.

Beth is a young university student who is spending the weekend at a sorority where her friends live. She spent her life living with her aunt, who had recently passed away, leaving Beth alone. As most of the students are away for the weekend, Beth and her three friends have the whole house to themselves.

When Beth first arrives, though, she begins to have some strange visions inside the house. They’re flashes of dreams or memories of the house being decorated in a different way, and a man appearing at times.

The girls agree to have a party, and as they receive the decorations, their boyfriends arrive. The kids settle in for what is definitely their last night on earth.

Meanwhile, somewhere else on that earth, a man named Bobby is spending his time as a patient at a mental hospital. He also begins to have visions, which make him act erratically. After being studied by his doctor, he manages to escape the hospital and steal a knife from a local store.

One of Beth’s friends tells the kids about the “ghost story” of the house. In a very Ronald DeFeo Jr way, a man murders his entire family one night, seemingly for no apparent reason. The story scares the pants out of Beth, who leaves the room and eventually falls asleep to have another nightmare. In this nightmare, she dreams of a stabbing.

When her friends wake her up from her screaming, she tells them about the dream. She takes them to the fireplace where she says the killer hid his knife. Though they’re reluctant to believe her, her friends do find an old knife hidden away in the bricks of the fireplace.

This is when, of course, the kids begin to get knocked off one by one. As she continues on unaware of the murders, Beth slowly realises that she has a connection to the murders that occurred in the house years before.

Bobby eventually gets in the house, and only Beth, Linda and Sara are left. But Sara gets herself killed when the girls are cornered in the back lawn. Before Bobby attacks her with his knife, though, he begins to call her by his another one of his sister’s names.

As Linda and Beth hide away, Beth admits that she thinks she’s Bobby’s sister. Bobby keeps calling her Laura. Laura being her real first name, and Beth her middle.

Unfortunately Beth and Bobby never really get that heart-to-heart siblings need to work things out. Bobby kills Linda after a few fake-out deaths, and Beth kills Bobby just as the police arrive.

Beth sees another vision of Bobby as she’s in the hospital. I think it’s meant to imply that Bobby might still be alive.

I mostly think she’s just a little stressed out. Maybe she should have taken that weekend to get away.

Sorority House Massacre was written and directed by Carol Frank. This being the only writing and directing credit to her name according to IMDB. There are some moments I did appreciate in this film, but I do have to acknowledge that Frank wrote some solid female friendships here. The girls actually felt like they wanted to protect each other in the end, and I really appreciate that.

But there wasn’t much originality in this. As mentioned, the back story was lifted from Amityville Horror with the sibling survival story from Halloween. Plus the visions of death very similar to Nightmare on Elm Street. If it’s going to be derivative, I’d at least expect some interesting little spin. But there isn’t here. No drill-guitar wielding demon from your dreams, either.

The psychic connection between brother and sister reminded me of Laurie Strode and Michael Myers. But I wish that this connection would have been more explained or explored further. I dunno. Just because she survived doesn’t really mean much to me. I think the film got sidetracked by throwing in a sorority (though there was very little sorority going-ons in this one).

I can see why this is a bit of a cult thing. For one, the script can be pretty bad. (“Do you think this place could be haunted?” “I think you’re haunted.”) But it also seems to have a bit of heart. It didn’t work for me, but such are things.

Also, at this point I’ve surely watched ever sorority-themed horror movie. Right? How could there be any more?

Those answers next time on Women in Horror Month.

Wicked Wednesday: XX (2017)

I’ve been wanting to watch XX since I first read the festival hype around it last year. But I was a good blogger and persevered and saved this baby for Women in Horror Month. Needless to say, there was a lot of anticipation here.

Unfortunately, I have to say that this wasn’t worth waiting for.

XX is an anthology film directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Annie Clarke, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Karyn Kusama with Sofia Carrillo directing the framing story.

The Box

The first segment was directed by Vuckovic, whose short film The Captured Bird I watched for last year’s Women in Horror Month. And really, she’s made great strides. Her shots were great and the cast was charming. Unlike The Captured Bird, though, this short was based off a short story by the late horror writer Jack Ketchum.

“The Box” begins when a woman’s son takes a peek at the inside of a stranger’s Christmas present. After seeing what was inside, the boy stops eating. His sister follows suit within the week. And when his concerned father asks him what’s wrong, the father also begins to starve himself. One by one, the woman’s family starve to death, leaving her alone to endless search for the man and his box.

It’s a haunting story, but ultimately, it’s a little too open-ended to feel satisfying. It’s a pretty tricky thing to get right with a short film. Sometimes there is such a thing as too much mystery. Perhaps it works for the more philosophical of us, but I personally felt that it didn’t dig enough.

The Birthday Party

This quirky short was filled with plenty of kitsch charm. Directed by Clark, and co-written with Benjamin, “The Birthday Party” begins with a mother getting ready for her daughter’s birthday party. She’s determined to make perfect, but her plans are derailed when she finds her husband dead in his study.

Not wanting to spoil the party, the mother hides her husband’s corpse in a panda bear suit bought off a party performer. And while the guests look on, the dead body is accidentally knocked into the cake. And when the panda head is removed, the guests (including the children) all see the corpse beneath.

It’s a cute piece, but again doesn’t explain enough of its imagery. Shelia Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) plays the nosy nanny dressed in stark black. It certainly looks good, but there isn’t enough of her character to make sense of it.

The performances from Vand and Melanie Lynskey are great, but I don’t think enough development was really given to either. If this short meant to make a statement, it missed it. If it was trying to be cartoonish, it didn’t go far enough. But Clark’s style was certainly cute enough to make me want to watch more of her future work (even if short went weirdly music video-like half-way through).

Don’t Fall

“Don’t Fall” is easily the weakest of the four shorts. It’s unimaginative and sloppy. Four kids go out into the desert and camp in a protected land. An ancient evil awakes and possesses one of the girls. She kills the friends off one by one. With really basic creature design.

I’m not sure Benjamin was trying to do with this. Unless I missed something subtle, I didn’t understand why she made something so cliche. The girl who becomes possessed is made fun of by her friends. So I don’t know? Push a bitch too far and she’ll get possessed?

Bonus points for Angela Trimbur. She’s hilarious in The Good Place.

Her Only Living Son

The final short was from Karyn Kusama, who showed off here as the writer and director with the most experience. Single mom Cora lives with her son Andy. As his 18th birthday approached, Andy becomes more violent and evil. But most people around them seem to be very forgiving. Many people even tell Cora that they’ll do anything to protect him.

On the night of his 18th, it’s revealed that he is the spawn of Satan. But unwilling to give up her son to the Devil, Cora asks Andy to choose staying with her instead of taking his place with the Devil. When he chooses her, they embrace, and they are crushed to death by an evil force.

Kusama’s story is ultimately about a mother’s determination to keep her children safe and loved. Throughout the short, Cora gets it both right and wrong. She tries to be supportive, but at times becomes invasive. While the story is extreme, in many ways the relationship between mother and son makes it feel very real.

Some of the effects seemed cheap, but it can be easily overlooked as this is by far the strongest story.

With a title like XX, I was expecting some female-driven stories. While women actors feature as mains in every short, the film never seemed too interested in exploring more complex female experiences. Half of the shorts didn’t seem interested in saying anything at all.

Horror is a fantastic genre to use when trying to tell stories from a female perspective. It can be gross and insightful. It’s possible to do it, as seen in work like Anna Biller’s shorts and Jill Gevargizian’s The Stylist. 

That’s not to say that female directors always need to tell a female story, but I do feel slightly misled. When you have the platform and make such a big deal about being all-female, then maybe someone should have had the nerve to try something more gutsy.

I did, though, love the theme of family that ran most of these films. It’s an underrated asset in horror. But none of these films tackled sisterhood or even female friendship to any sort of degree. There’s plenty to explore without doing the same basic tropes (or maybe that was the point?).

This anthology felt like four short films that were made separately. Then someone decided they should throw them all in together as an after thought. As stand-alone films, I think they would almost fare better. But I guess this does defeat the notion that women are stronger together.

I do recommend watching XX. I was more let down by my own unnecessary anticipation and expectations than anything. It’s a good, solid anthology. If only a bit frustrating.

RiffTrax live at the Prince Charles Cinema

Last night was a real treat. For the first time ever, RiffTrax were in the UK performing their riffs live at the Prince Charles Cinema. The guys were hilarious, sweet, and there was a genuine feeling of excitement and joy in the cinema.

The RiffTrax crew had two shows in London. The first being the classic Plan 9 From Outer Space, followed by Samurai Cop. Plus the bonus short of The Calendar: How to Use It, which simultaneously still has me laughing while giving me nightmares.

For me personally, I had been wishing for this event to happen ever since I emigrated to the UK. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a staple of my childhood, and ultimately my adulthood. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbet were always my favourite team of robots and host on the Satellite of Love.

Since it was their first time riffing in the UK, the guys made some of their jokes more Anglicised. But to this Midwestern girl, the best jokes were still the ones that hit home. I’m cracking up even now recalling a great zinger about cold ham sandwiches at Lutheran funerals. Thankfully both jokes seems to hit home with both the Americans and the Brits in the audience (and everyone in between).

My stoic, Northern husband was even jubilant after the show, recalling his favourite jokes of the night. This was by far one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. So thank you, RiffTrax. Thanks for making me hurt and cry from laughing. Please return soon.