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Wicked Wednesday: Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)

I make it no secret that I hate Silent Night, Deadly Night. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it, but the movie makes my hackles rise. But it’s a classic of the holiday genre. Nearly every horror fan puts this series on their list of “must watches” of the season. (Though I did enjoy the 2012 ‘remake’, somehow!)

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve watched Silent Night, Deadly Night. Tastes and opinions can change a lot in that amount of time. But there was no way I was going to sit through the first film again. There are five films in the franchise, and they can’t all be the same, right? Brian Yuzan directed part 4, for goodness’ sake! It took until 2020 for me to finally admit to myself that I should join the rest of the world and just watch the next instalment.

But boy, was that a mistake.

In order to dive into part two, I read through the plot summary of the first movie. It was amazing how quickly the plot came back to me, so I guess that’s saying something.

Though it turns out that was an absolute waste of time. Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 does us a ‘favour’ by giving us nearly 40 minutes of archive footage of the first movie. Never has a film been so insistent that we remember everything from the first film. Is this actually important to any plot later in the movie? Absolutely not.

Indeed, we have to sit through the torture of watching Ricky, younger brother of Billy, talk to a psychologist about what happened when he was younger. After a torturous first half of the film, we finally get into why Ricky is in the sanitorium!

Turns out Ricky is also triggered by Santa-related naughtiness. No explanation why other than his brother and that he really hates nuns. After being adopted, the boy thought he would get a happier life. Only the nuns really freak him out. Instead of studying him and getting him help, his adoptive parents seemingly do nothing about his trauma.

It’s when he’s a teen that he finally makes his first kill. He begins more like a vigilante, killing off criminals and creeps. But when he begins dating Jeniffer, his impulses get a bit out of control. Might be the killer Santa movie that does it, but who’s to say?

Ricky gets his own murderous rampage. But since we only have 30 minutes left the movie, the boy really needs to cram in all the action he can! This is where the iconic “Garbage Day!” scene comes in. And while it was worth a chuckle, I think the scene is much funnier out of context than in the movie itself. That’s absolutely the fault of the movie for not letting any moment here have a breath before the next one.

Pretty safe to say that I hated Part 2 more than the first movie. I had to live through Silent Night, Deadly Night again and deal with a bizarre, jumbled mess. For me, it’s well beyond being “so bad it’s good”. This is just bad. Though I probably only have myself to blame for watching the sequel to a movie I hated.

According to the film’s Wiki, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 was made for $100,000. It really shows. Couldn’t even spring for a string of Christmas lights to make this movie even look remotely like it takes place at Christmas. I do hate when a movie tries to capitalise on being a holiday movie without putting in any effort to set a mood. At least part 1 was superior in that respect.

I can see why this is a cult movie. Everything about this movie is utterly bizarre. But for me, it’s unbearable. When it comes to killer Santas, I’ll stick to Harry Stadling.

It’s my birthday and I’ll not write if I want to

I have been looking forward to my birthday falling on a Wednesday for a few years now. I was really planning on doing/watching something great.

But I haven’t.

In fact, I’m a bit over writing and watching movies in general. Though the voice inside my brain says to keep writing. Even if I am a bit shit and always uninspired.

Anyway. It’s my birthday and I really ought to do something. But watching/paying attention to movies while you have constant headaches is a no-go. So here’s a list of my favourite movies in absolutely no order whatsoever for no reason in particular. Watch one if you feel like worshiping me today.

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) dir. by Fran Rubel Kuzui

2. Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) dir. by Deborah Brock

3. Cosa avete fatto a Solange? (What Have You Done to Solange?) (1972) dir. by Massimo Dallamano

4. Profondo rosso (Deep Red) (1975) dir. by Dario Argento

5. Jackie Brown (1997) dir. by Quentin Tarantino

6. Phantom of the Paradise (1974) dir. by Brian De Palma

7. Black Christmas (1974) dir. by Bob Clark

8. Night of the Comet (1984) dir. by Thom Eberhardt

9. Gremlins (1984) dir. by Joe Dante

10. Labyrinth (1986) dir. by Jim Henson

The work has barely begun

I have tried writing my down thoughts so many times now. Nothing I say is quite right. Everything feels wrong because it keeps missing the mark. But there comes a time where you have to let it go and just write.

It has been over a week since George Floyd was murdered. Why has there only been one arrest? Where is the justice? How many people need to take to the streets until the people WE put in power have a conversation with us?

I’m so tired.

But if I’m tired as a privileged white woman, I couldn’t possibly ever imagine how tired Black Americans must feel right now.

I’ve been too quite this last week. Sure, I signed the petitions and donated money. There were even a few retweets, but enough. I might be 4,000 miles away from home, but I will campaign, protest and FIGHT for Black Americans. Let them hide in their bunkers; they never cared about any of us to begin with.

The blog will be back to normal next week, but the world won’t. Please don’t ever let the world ever go back to that “normal” again. Please help the fight.

It will be all to easy for white people to get bored and move on. But for Black people and other people of colour, they can’t just “move on” from the systemic, institutionalised racism in their every day lives. We must actively make changes in our country, not only when a video makes the news.

So while I don’t have any answers, I do know that you can make changes politically using money and your power to vote.

I also encourage non-POC to diversify what they read and watch. Not just today. Not just while people are looking but always. Don’t do it just for the image, but because you actively enjoy what POC are creating. The more you search, the more you’ll discover.

My lists are just the tip of the iceberg. Please seek out information by better-informed voices. I just wanted to offer up my support where I can.

And to the people of colour on both sides of the Atlantic: I stand with you. Black Lives Matter.

Some places you can donate:

Minnesota Freedom Fun
ACLU
Reclaim the Block
Official George Floyd Memorial Fund
I Run With Maud” – fundraiser for Ahmaud Arbery’s family’s legal costs
Milwaukee Freedom Fund – currently on pause, but has great links to causes specific to WI

Petitions to sign:

Justice for George Floyd
Justice for Breonna Taylor
Justice for Ahmaud Arbery
Ban the use of rubber bullets
Suspend UK export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to USA
Black Lives Matter’s website is a great resource for petitions – especially if you are looking for a specific cause.

Some of the fantastic Black creators that I love:

  • Dean Atta is a poet and author of Black Flamingo, a thought-provoking and gorgeous book in prose about identity and acceptance.
  • Horror Noir: A History of Black Horror This documentary on Shudder is a must-watch for horror fans as it looks into the complex relationship between the genre and Black Americans.
  • Real Queen of Horror – Zena is hilarious and always offers a horror recommendation for something I have never heard of before.
  • Bowties & Books – Jesse currently is protesting in Minnesota. They’re documenting their stories on Instagram and Twitter. Their videos on YouTube cover a spectrum of fun and thoughtful content.
  • Chanelle is a beautiful beacon of hilarity on her channel Chanelletime.
  • Dandy Wellington is a bandleader and just an all-around sharp-dressed man. His style may be from another era, but his politics certainly aren’t.
  • Check out the short films I’ve covered in the past by black female directors like Suicide By Sunlight (Nikyatu Jusu), Searching for Isabelle (Stephenie Jeter) and Venefica (Maria Wilson). 
  • Graveyard Shift Sisters is an incredible resource. Every black-female directed short film I have found was through them.
  • Cantrip Candles makes nerdy D&D themed-candles that I just love. A seriously worth-while luxury buy.
  • Bow & Crossbones makes some of the cutest reproduction vintage jewellery. Every time I buy it’s in bulk because it’s turned into a bit of an addiction.

Riverdale ep. 16 recap “Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Wood”

Riverdale has a lot on its plate. For one thing, its football season seems to last the entire year, which must be a lot of work, and the people seem to be bullet-proof.

Yes, both Midge and Moose are still alive after Moose was shot in the car. Kevin, who was “running in the woods”, heard Midge screaming for help and was able to get them both to the hospital. 

Moose had managed to shield Midge from the bullets, saving her from a hospital recovery like him. But the next attack is enough to push Archie even further to the edge. 

Despite buying a gun previously, Archie decides not to take a violent approach to his revenge. Rather, he’s inspired by an old comic called The Red Circle. He gathers several of the boys in his school and starts a watch group. No violence, no vigiantilism. Just watching. 

And the group works. Archie and Reggie are able to save Ethel when she’s being stalked by a van one night. Honestly, though, if anything happened to poor Barb ever again, I don’t think I could handle it. 

But Archie’s group was also inspired by something else: Hiram Lodge. 

Veronica spends much of the episode trying to win her father’s admiration and love. She and her mother, on the other hand, battle it out. 

When Hiram invites Archie over for dinner, Hermione warns Veronica that it’s dangerous. But her daughter ignores her. 

At the dinner, Hiram takes Archie into his study — the one place Veronica is desperate to be allowed in. Hiram commends Archie for his work with the Red Circle but tells him that Archie needs to start fighting fear with fear. 

And the figure casting fear over Riverdale is wearing a black hood. 

One day, the Coopers receive a package at the house and find a letter from someone calling themselves the Black Hood. The man claims responsibility for shooting Fred, Midge and Moose, and for killing Ms Grundy. He vows to cleanse Riverdale from the evils growing in it. 

The Coopers publish the letter in their newspaper, causing panic in the town. But no one is as panicked as the unmarried girl carrying the children of her cousin: Polly.

Polly vows to run away to the farm that she and Jason were planning on going to. She eventually follows through, leaving Betty behind again.

But Betty’s real problem is Kevin. The “night jogs” just happen to take place in the woods where Midge and Moose were shot.

Understandably concerned, Betty tried to warn Kevin away from the woods. Their relationship quickly deteriorates as Betty refuses to understand things from Kevin’s perspective.

Cheryl Blossom of all people steps in and explains to Betty that Kevin struggles with low self-esteem. Being gay in Riverdale isn’t easy, and there are very few options. 

But one night, Kevin approaches a man in a car, but is scared away by Betty’s warning repeating in his head. When he gets home, his father is waiting for him. 

Sheriff Keller tells Kevin that he wants his son safe, and wants to have more open talks. But while that might seem like a happy ending, it seems to be the end of Betty and Kevin’s relationship. 

Though it seems bigger problems lie in Betty’s future and it’s called Toni Topaz.

As Jughead settles in at his new school, he’s shown the ropes by Toni, who is a Serpent. 

She warns Jughead that if he doesn’t affiliate himself with the Serpents, the rival gang the Ghoulies will “make him their bitch”. 

But Juggie doesn’t listen. He answers questions in class, starts up their newspaper, makes the link between the Ghoulies and the Blossoms’ drug smuggling. 

Which, by the way, is Jingle Jangle.

Toni agrees to be Jughead’s photographer, and when she meets Betty their jealous girl haunches begin to go up. 

Jughead is eventually beaten up by the Ghoulies and he reluctantly crawls back to Toni and the other Serpents for protection. Clearly nothing Betty wants, but ignorance is bliss?

More trouble is definitely looming. But this is Riverdale. 

Archie takes Hiram’s advice and makes a video of the Red Circle threatening the Black Hood. And Veronica asks to have more involvement in Lodge Industries. 

And it all seems to be playing into Hiram’s hands. But what exactly is the man up to? He does feel like someone who is untouchable. The gang hardly seems up to taking down a white-collar criminal.

This is actually shaping up to be another good mystery for Riverdale. And this episode was by far the best looking. A show truly getting into good form. 

Wicked Wednesday: The Scooby-Doo Show “A Menace in Venice” (1978)

As this post goes live, I’ll be lounging about somewhere in Italy. Lord help us all (especially you poor Italians) as my family traverses the country with the Italian-speakings skills equal to that of a Basterd. But I really do love Italy.

So why the hell not do something Italian themed this week? Write about a giallo film? Pass. Finally get around to watching that copy of The Beyond that has been sitting on the shelf since the summer sales? We’ll pass on that too.

Why indulge in something great when you can have The Scooby-Doo Show? Actually a pretty fun episode in a sort of overly-stereotypical sort of way, as most Scooby-Doo is. This episode from 1978 offers all the good stuff: wacky chases, inexplicable trap doors and (of course) pizza.

The gang are in Venice after an invitation from a friend, Antonio, who studies art AND owns a pizzeria! The gang arrive just as a figure steals a medallion from a statue in the opera house.

The medallion, one of four, belongs to Antonio’s family, and have they’ve been passed down for generations. When the gang arrive in the city, Scooby and Shaggy spot the medallion thief, a hooded figure on a gondola by the name of the Ghostly Gondolier.

Scooby and Shaggy and all the luggage end up in front of Antonio’s pizzeria where everyone else is waiting. Greeting them is Antonio, who has one of the triangular-shaped medallions around his neck. He explains to the gang that he had a famous ancestor, Doge Malvolio IV, who had a vast treasure. Only the fortune was lost and all that remained was the medallions.

After receiving the news about the stolen medallion, Antonio takes the group to look at the portraits of his ancestors. He tells them that the only painting missing is that of Malvolio. Velma notes that the people in the portrait all have something in common with Antonio – their green eyes. But Scoob and Shaggy see a painting on the wall and instantly recognise the subject as the figure on the gondola.

Professor Salari, Antonio and his friend Mario’s professor, tells the gang that the figure in the painting is that of the ghostly gondolier. The gondolier was sentenced to life imprisonment during Malvolio’s rule. He vowed to haunt the city forever. With the gondolier’s help, Malvolio’s enemies attacked the city and overthrew him, but the fortune vanished.

Daphne tries on the medallion after hearing the story, and is almost immediately attacked by the Ghostly Gondolier. She’s grabbed and locked in a dungeon.

The rest of the gang plus Antonio and his friend Mario decide to split up and look for Daphne. Velma then finds her first clue in the form of a small canister.

Back at the academy, they decide to look for the missing portrait of Malvolio, which they think will hold a clue to the medallions. During their search, Mario is grabbed, supposedly mistaken for Antonio. After Mario disappears, Antonio does as well, and Velma finds some red plastic on the ground – yet another clue for the only sleuth in the team.

They follow the phantom’s footprints into the basement and find a gondola. They chase after the Ghostly Gondolier in another gondola, but the ‘ghost’ takes his staff and creates a hole in the bottom of their boat. Scooby accidentally goes flying, and ends up through a trap in the wall. He hits the fireplace, turning it around. Scoob finds both Antoinio and Daphne, and portrait of Malvolio is revealed on the other side.

The portrait reveals that the four medallions actually connect to form one piece. The gang also notice that a symbol of the medallion is on a pillar in the painting, pointing the group to the Piazza San Marco.

When they arrive, they see the Ghostly Gondolier running down the steps revealed by the trap door. They gang slip in behind the ghost and see that he’s found the lost treasure, but they’re caught spying when Scooby sneezes.

The Ghostly Gondolier is eventually caught when he is trapped in a deflated inflatable gondola. The hood is removed to unveil Mario, who Velma says is also a descendant of Malvolio, but wanted the treasure all to himself. He hid the family’s signature green eyes with red contacts (for brown eyes), and used CO2 to inflate his inflatable gondola for a quick escape.

After another mystery solved, the gang sit down to eat. Scoob and Shaggy both end up in the canal chasing their food. Just like I probably will – because no one can let a good sandwich go.

I’ve only been to Italy once before and I’ll be in the Northern part, where I’ve never been before. I’ve long dreamed of a trip like this, but I can’t help but worry. Will there be large amounts of thieves and ghosts around? Does everyone in Italy own a pizzeria? As an American, am I only capable of eating cheese burgers and using bad language skills?

Thank goodness we have casual stereotypes to sort us out.

An American’s summer in America

Well, it’s that time of the year again. I’m off to Wisconsin for a few weeks to see my family and friends. I have plenty of content scheduled (including a new Are You Afraid of the Dark? rewatch/recap series), but that does mean that I probably won’t be getting to any comments.

I’ll be back before the end of June, though, ready for some more terrible films and cheesy Canadian television!

But in the meantime, I’ll be soaking up that gorgeous sun that’s evading London and the moment and listening to more classic radio than I probably should.



See all ya’ll in June!

MCM London Comic Con 2017 preview

Friday has become Riverdale day for me. Without it, I feel I great sense of loss. But all good things must come to an end… and thankfully there’s plenty of things around the corner to fill that hole in my heart.

COMIC CON IS BACK, KIDS!

MCM London Comic Con will return to the Excel Centre for another three-days of pop-culture goodness. And this time, the minds behind the con have plenty of great things to see.

For one, the one and only Lloyd Kaufman will be in attendance to help promote the British film Essex Spacebin as well as the video game Victor Vran: Motörhead Through the Ages. It’s always a pleasure to see this man, and well worth meeting even if you’re a Troma virgin.

And to really fill that Riverdale emptiness, Archie Andrews himself AJ Kappa will be in London. And for another show that my heart belongs to, both Tam siblings from Firefly. Considering how dedicated of a fan base Joss Whedon has, their panel is bound to be a highlight (if not a personal one).

But the con continues to have a little something for everyone. Doctor Who companions Billie Piper and Catherine Tate will both grace London. And if you’re a more classic sci fi fan, Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura of Star Trek) will all be appearing all weekend.

New this year is the Forbidden Planet’s author corner, which will be hosting some of the UK’s best science fiction and fantasy writers.

MCM London Comic Con will be May 26 to the 28th. Weekend priority tickets are sold out (and Saturday nearly gone). But you can still purchase day tickets here.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back and we can all breath easy again 

It’s back! 

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, cult favourite TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 is now back and available on Netflix. 

I have to say, as a big fan of the originals (and Rifftrax) I was pretty worried that they they couldn’t pull this off, even with creator Joel Hodgson on board. But after watching the first few episodes since they were made available on April 14th, I’m feeling much more reassured. 

The episodes are good! Hooray! Though I doubt any of the new episodes will crack anyone’s top ten, they certainly have a lot to like. Especially once you get over the more irritating changes (Tom Servo flies, Gypsy has a “normal” voice and Crow’s new body is terrifying). 

For one, it feels modern. And the skits are pretty spot on (certainly much better than the riffing in the early episodes). But things are as silly and nerdy as always. Oh, and the films picked are absolutely hilarious all on their own.

The new cast do a pretty good job, too. Jonah Ray isn’t as easily likeable as previous hosts Hodgson and Mike Nelson, but he does a satisfactory job. I even like Felicia Day in this! I was a bit irritated by decision to cast big names, but it was a decision made to pull in a new audience. And if that means more fans of MST3K, then welcome. 

The premise of the show is hardly changed at all. A man and four robots are stuck on the Satelite of Love in an evil experiment where they’re forced to watch bad movies. Nothing changed here dramatically that could offend fans of the originals. 

It’s a pretty damn good revival. But I’m mostly happy that it’s bringing this show back to the forefront of things. MST3K has always been a niche show, but television today is better than it ever has been for niche. May the future be bright. 

In memory of Mary Tyler Moore

mary-tyler-moore-opening-credits

When I was stranded in Wisconsin during a rather low-point in my life, I had one woman I knew I could turn to: Mary Tyler Moore.

I spent hours sitting in front of my laptop watching episode after episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show being comforted by her smile, her charm and her radicalism.

Mary Tyler Moore has passed away today at the age of 80, and it feels a tiny bit like losing a friend. She was a warm blanket that will live on in her work. I’ll be endlessly grateful for her.

“Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” – Mary Tyler Moore 1936-2017

Happy Christmas from American of London!

Happy Christmas from American of London! Hope you and your loved ones have a safe and happy holiday. I’m enjoying my first Christmas with my family in almost four years. Plus, I’m in Texas for the first time ever which means I guess means that I should be saying things like “ya’ll have a merry Christmas now, ya hear?” Or something.

I’m off to a day full of Christmas cookies and translating my husband’s Yorkshire accent into American and turning Wisconsin into “normal words.”

Merry Christmas, all!