More HORROR, Please!

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I went grocery shopping on Thursday to get a jump on all the assholes getting ready for the “big storm” we are supposed to be having here in Seattle. But like a true Seattleite, this storm just couldn’t be bothered to be where it said it would. So I cooked chili and have a list of horror to watch and no storm. Not really. I mean, it’s windy. It’s grey. It’s been raining off and on for two days. But this is Seattle.

So, while my fella catches up with GLaDOS, I’ll give you a brand new list of horror movies. Movies I haven’t listed before! I’ve made a few lists of horror movies. I’ll link them here for you. https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2010/10/24/boo-25-best-movies-for-halloween/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2013/07/05/top-10-horror-satires/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2012/10/13/3213/https://alicia-prague-blog.com/2013/10/01/the-scariest-ghost-movies-of-all-time/

Since some awesome movies have come out in the past few years, and I have overlooked a few, I thought it was the right time for another list. Enjoy!

Lake Mungo, (2008) – I’m putting it first so you don’t miss it. This is by far the scariest film on the list. And I do NOT scare easy. If at all. This is a documentary style horror film that leaves you wondering if it really isn’t true after all. It makes Blair Witch look like the footage my mom found of our camping trip to Lake Tahoe in 1988. I don’t want to say anything else. If you see one of these movies, make it this one. You’ll be sorry in all the right ways.

From the Dark, (2014) – I put this in the “survive the night” category of horror movies. All they have to do is make it until the sun comes up. That’s all. A couple who has… car trouble… finds a creepy house to take shelter in. Stupid.

Antichrist, (2009) – All of Lars Von Trier’s films should be classified as horror. I’m just saying. But this one… THIS ONE! Let’s just say you haven’t seen a “couple in a cabin in the woods” movie like this one before. Known only as HE and SHE, the already terrifying Willem Dafoe, and the always in need of a hug or a valium Charlotte Gainsbourg play the couple. If you have the stomach for it, this is a fantastically horrifying film that even seasoned horror fans like myself had trouble sitting through. A fucked up movie. It’s violent. It’s gory. And again, it’s directed by Lars Von Trier.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, (2014)large_sgkw6ifftakwlqy2olfdq4ubxv0I love horror movies in black and white. Maybe it’s a sentimental thing, but every shadow is creepier in black and white. This movie takes place in the aptly named Bad City, where darkness, death and loneliness are your new neighbors. It’s also about a skateboarding vampire badass bitch. It’s an Iranian film written and directed by a woman named Ana Lily Amirpourhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WSMrSucjGA

The Vanishing (Spoorloos, 1988) – This movie fucked me up for a few days. Psychological terror is worse than a guy with a knife any day. This movie deals with that feeling of needing to know… A woman is abducted from a truck stop. Years later, after dedicating his life to finding her, he receives a letter from her abductor. An utterly devastating movie.

Wolf Creek, (2005) – My favorite way to begin any movie: BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. Ah, yes… Backpackers on a road trip. Does it ever end well for them? Not onscreen. Without giving too much away, this one deals with three Australians in the outback who run into some trouble and go looking for help. This movie is disturbing and it feels like someone is breathing over your shoulder the entire time. You’ll hate every second as much as you love it. A remake is due out this year, but see this first!

Dead End, (2003) – As the title suggests a family makes a really bad decision on their way to a family Christmas dinner. This is low budget horror at its best. And that’s all I’ll say about it. I don’t want to give anything away.

The Bad Seed, (1956)bad-seed-1956-patty-mccormackAn oldie but a goodie. The original Kiddie Killer is still the creepiest. Played to perfection by a young Patty McCormack, Rhoda Penmark is the perfect little angel. Most of the time. She just gets real upset sometimes. Another movie in black and white, this 1950’s film breaks from the monsters of the time and gives us something far more horrifying: CHILDREN.

Grace, (2009) – Speaking of fucked up children, have you seen Grace? I guess this is more of a fucked up mom, but still. After a tragic accident kills her husband and unborn baby, Madeline Matheson insists on delivering the baby to term anyway. And as you might have guessed, this baby doesn’t want Mother’s Milk. It’s gross and disturbing and pretty much perfect for mom’s to be.

Bug, (2006) – I’m still pissed at my friend who told me to watch this. This movie messed me up for like… six years now? It stars Ashley Judd and the always frightening Michael Shannon as two lonely losers who find solace in each other and a shared delusion. It’s insane. It’s scary. I took a shower after.

Movies: 10 Best Food Movies

big-nightI just saw John Favreau’s new film Chef. While it was fun and enjoyable to watch, it wasn’t anything special. Here is a film that had every opportunity to say something about food, food culture in America, “food bloggers” and other dilettantes in the industry. But instead of taking a stand they took us on a road trip… in a food truck. Eh. In the end it was just a pretty movie filled with missed opportunities. I was disappointed. Here are ten that hit the mark and made me hungry.

  1. Big Night (1996) – Stanley Tucci co-wrote, co-directed (with Campbell Scott!), and starred in this beautifully crafted, delectable little film about two restaurateurs who hope Louis Prima will save their family business. Aside from Stanley Tucci being an all around badass, this movie makes italian food look so good, so delicious, that’ll you leave wanting to eat like an Italian, drink like an Italian, and just BE Italian. My brother saw this back in 1996 and he’s been pretending to be Italian ever since. I’m so not kidding.
  2. Chocolat (2000) – armandes-party3Take the beautiful and talented Juliette Binoche, (as a single mother who moves to a tiny French village in the 1960s) add a pinch of Johnny Depp, (as a sexy riverboat-dwelling drifter) stir in a little Alfred Molina (as the towns moral compass), and of course a certain sweet, cacao-based quintessence that will open the closed hearts of the suffocating villagers. The cast is full of greats like Lena Olin, Carrie-Anne Moss, and the great Leslie Caron. Oh, and Dame Judi Dench as a grumpy grandmother who curses and tells gore filled stories to little kids. It’s a charming movie that will make you happy and hungry in equal measure.
  3. Ratatouille (2007) – imagesThis movie captures the Foodie attitude perfectly. An adorable rat (who loves to prepare and eat good food) enters the human world where good tasting food is only for those who can afford it. Yes, fine dining with a rat. I can’t think of a better way to give the finger to food snobs than this sweet little movie. Good food should be for everyone, not just industry professionals and foodies. Oh, and an evil food critic named Anton Ego, voiced by Peter O’Toole. Yes please!
  4. Like Water For Chocolate – (1992) 3112406_origSex and food. Love and Death. These are the things that make life worth living. And these are the things worth living for in this delightfully sensuous Mexican film based on the novel by Laura Esquivel.  (Directed by her husband Alfonso Arau.) This movie is an aphrodisiac. It’s hot and spicy, sweet and salty. It’s the perfect balance of food and story.
  5. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994) – Ang Lee draws from his own life as he tells the story of Chinese master Chef Mr. Chu, his three daughters and their Sunday night dinners. It’s a heart warming movie that looks at generational clashes and how families grow apart as they grow older. And the food? Wow. Just… wow.
  6. Julie & Julia (2009) – julie and julia2Meryl Streep as Julia Child. Stanley Tucci as Paul Child. Jane Lynch as Julia’s sister, Dorothy. Directed by the late, great Nora Ephron, this movie tells the story of a struggling writer who decides to cook the entire French Cooking cookbook that Julia Child wrote. The movie weaves in and out of present day NY and 1960’s France seamlessly. And Meryl Streep is a joy to watch. Even when she’s just chopping onions.
  7. Food, Inc. (2008) – This movie blew the lid off of corporate farming in America. It shows viewers the reality of processed foods and how those foods are made. Not only is it ruining life for animals, it is harming the humans who farm them. It is an eye-opening film that deserves to been seen by anyone who eats. Yes, that means you.
  8. Mid August Lunch (2008) – static.squarespaceThis movie is about a guy who doesn’t have to do much. He’s a slacker who loves food. His only real responsibility is taking care of his mother. When his friends ask him to look out for their mothers over a long weekend, we get treated to great laughs and fantastic looking food. Four italian mothers at one dinner table = greatness.
  9. Hot Coffee (2011) – In 1994 Stella Liebeck filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s after spilling a hot cup of coffee on her lap. She was an elderly woman when it happened, and the case quickly became a joke for every late-night talk show. But the facts surrounding the case are not as frivolous as they sound. In this movie you get to see the photographic evidence of the injuries she sustained. And it’s bad. If this was YOUR grandma, you’d be pissed. Director Susan Saladoff offers a glimpse at the PR machine a fast-food behemoth like McDonald’s has at its disposal to maintain a positive public image. (Amazon, does this sound familiar? Hmmm?)
  10. The Trip (2010) – The-Trip-007Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in the hilarious movie as fictionalised versions of themselves on a restaurant tour of northern England. As is the case in most road movies, the trip becomes an occasion for philosophizing, and talking about real life. It’s a journey inward and out as the friends banter and joust – improvising and entertaining each other. We are even treated to Coogan’s hilarious, spot on imitations of Michael Caine and Sean Connery. They also eat. They eat often and they eat well. They dine in restaurants with incredible views and service, and in places where the dishes are extravagantly conceptualized and prepared.

Film: Top Ten Time-Travel Movies

esq-future-xlg-40192385It’s one of the oldest cinematic devices. It’s been used in comedies, dramas, science fiction, and even romance movies. I’m talking about time-travel. It’s been twenty-five years (this month!) since Bill and Ted hopped in that phone booth and rounded up history’s most famous folks for a class assignment, so I decided to round-up my own famous folks for this list. In honor of Marty McFly and the rest, I give you what I think are the best (and my favorite) time travel movies. In no particular order as usual. Enjoy!

  1. Planet of the Apes (1968) Planet_of_the_apes_Varese_VSD_5848By far one of the greatest “twist” endings in movie history happens in this Heston classic. Heston (who eats every scene he is in) travels to a distant planet only to discover it is inhabited by apes. Apes who walk and talk and have british accents. By the end of the film we discover along with The Hest, that he hasn’t travelled through space, but through time. Oh, and do yourself a favor and skip the horrible 2001 remake.
  2. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) titleThe only film on my list where you just aren’t sure if anyone has actually time-travelled. And that’s why I love this movie so much. It’s time-travel done the “Quirky Indie” way. Aubrey Plaza (Indie’s IT girl) stars as a young woman who answers an ad asking for a partner in (you guessed it) time travel. Is the guy crazy, or has he really found a way to travel through time? You tell me.
  3. Midnight in Paris (2011) urlBy far one of the best films Woody Allen has made in the last twenty years. It stars Owen Wilson as Woody Allen a screenwriter who takes a trip to Paris with his horrible fiancé and her family. While he is there he stumbles into 1920’s Paris and meets all the literary Who’s Who of the famed Expat community. A fantastic movie that reminds us how often we romanticize the past. And how much I miss living in Europe.
  4. Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)  Peggy_Sue_Got_Married_2 Francis Ford Coppola directed this comedy starring none other than Nic Cage. It’s really hard for me to make a list and not include him somehow. And he sings in this movie, which of course makes me even happier. Anyway, the film centers around Kathleen Turner, (the title character) a forty-something housewife who is dissatisfied with her life and her no good husband. She wakes up one morning to find herself as a teenager, living at home with mom and dad. How would you deal with dating the man who you know later in life you would come to divorce? Jim Carey and Joan Allen also have small roles. Great, funny film worth checking out again.
  5. Somewhere in Time (1980) – Christopher Reeve time travels again, but this time he isn’t a super hero. It’s simple. He falls in love with a picture of Jane Seymour and travels back in time to woo her. Self hypnosis is amazing.
  6. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) ST-IV-The-Voyage-Home-Behind-the-Scenes-star-trek-7879787-1000-690I struggled with which Star Trek movie to use since the two that deal with time travel are the best, and I went with the first. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but that’s what I like about it. Seeing the Enterprise crew walking the streets of a mid-eighties San Francisco is just too much fun. They are trying to save the humpback whale from extinction (naturally) and wear really awesome “future” clothes while doing it.  Look to Spock for some quippy one liners.
  7. Time Bandits (1981) – I saw this movie in the theater when it came out. I was seven and I didn’t understand much. Years later in Prague I re-watched the movie and realized I understood it fine. It was just a Terry Gilliam movie. It’s absurd, funny, raunchy, over the top, and everything you might expect from a Gilliam film. Not for everyone, but it sure is weird. And I like weird.
  8. Twelve Monkeys (1995) tumblr_llo94gIddG1qk59nyo1_400And while we’re talking about Terry Gilliam time-travel movies, I might as well add this one. It stars Bruce Willis as a convict who is sent back in time to find out how the virus that has devastated the earth got started. Brad Pitt steals every scene he is in as the (maybe) crazy inmate Jeffery.
  9. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) tumblr_kti1veVoBU1qa55fxo1_400Special effects. Explosions. Time-traveling. Motorcycle riding. Badass babe. A cyborg made from liquid metal. What’s not to enjoy here?
  10. Back to the Future (1985) – Duh. I’d have to slap myself silly if this classic didn’t appear on the list. The all time best time travel movie ever. Hands down. End of discussion.

Honorable Mentions: Star Trek: First Contact, Time After Time, Groundhog Day, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

The Scariest Ghost Movies of All Time

drag-me-to-hell-610x354It depresses me greatly to think about how far from scary Halloween has become. People don’t seem concerned about looking scary, or having a good scare. Halloween seems to be about sex and candy. Two things I am all for by the way, but Halloween should be scary. So, if you are planning a Halloween party, or you just want to get in the spirit of the holiday, try these oh so scary Ghost Stories.

Drag Me to Hell (2009) Sam Raimi excels at horror. He also excels at dark comedy. When you put those together you get classics like Army of Darkness, and this little gem. This is the story of a young loan officer who denies a really gross old lady a loan, and therefore gets gross old lady evicted from her home. Then gross old lady attacks Sweet Young Loan officer and puts a curse on her. The rest super fun so I won’t spoil it. But… there is a goat possession. That’s right. GOAT. POSSESSION.

The Others (2001) A fresh take on the Haunted House genre starring Nicole Kidman as a woman who lives in a huge house with her two weird kids who are sensitive to light. There are creepy caretakers, and odd nannies, and there are even cool, twisted memento mori photographs scattered about to keep the spooky vibe. I saw this in the theater when it came out and left happy. It’s a good one.

being possessed is hard work

being possessed is hard work

Amityville Horror (2005) I’m not usually a supporter of horror remakes, but in this case I’ll make an exception. The 70’s version just doesn’t stand the test of time. It’s hard to take a haunting seriously when James Brolin is brooding under six tons of facial hair. It’s much easier to take a haunting seriously when the unhappy ghosts want to inhabit the incredibly chiseled body of Ryan Reynolds.

Ghostbusters (1984) Ok, so Ghostbusters isn’t really scary. But, when I was ten years old seeing it on a big screen, it was pretty close. While it offers a few jumps and jolts, the most frightening parts of the film involve Rick Moranis trying to flirt, Zuul’s dogs, and a giant marshmallow man which terrorizes New York. It still holds up after all these years.

The Haunting (1963) I read The Haunting of Hill House in high school. I loved it. It was the first book that ever scared me. The book has been made into a movie more than once, but this is the best version. A doctor is researching the existence of ghosts in a really creepy old mansion that has a lurid history of death and insanity. The always amazing Julie Christie plays Nell – the young psychic who has a really hard time dealing with crazy.

The Shining (1980) the-shining-snow1The Grandfather of all ghost stories comes from the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Many people complain that the book is scarier than the movie. Whatever. Learn that film and literature are two different mediums, and that those two mediums work in two different ways. It’s like comparing apples to a steak. Anyway, Jack Nicholson is a writer with the worst case of writer’s block, like ever. He takes his family to The Overlook Lodge in order to work as the caretaker over the winter. Things start going spooky almost immediately. Look for Scatman Crothers as the Chef with the shining. Watch this together with Room 237 if you want to spend four hours in terror.

The Sixth Sense (1999) You all know the big secret of this movie, but knowing the secret doesn’t make the movie any less scary. Bruce Willis plays a shrink who is trying to help a cute little boy who thinks he sees ghosts. Angry ghosts. Mean ghosts. Ghosts who like opening cabinets… and not shutting them!

The Devil’s Backbone (2001) A movie directed by Guillermo Del Torro and produced by Pedro Almodovar is a movie worth seeing. Carlos is a twelve-year-old boy who stumbles upon an orphanage in the midst of the Spanish Civil war. He soon discovers the schools dark secrets, and its ghosts. This movie is awesome.

915852_originalThe Frighteners (1996) Long before Peter Jackson was gallivanting around New Zealand making gay hobbit porn, he made movies like this one. (And Dead Alive. And Meet the Feebles) Michael J. Fox plays a man who recently lost his family in a car accident. He soon discovers he can communicate with the dead and make a living as a phony paranormal expert. Not to be confused with a real paranormal expert. This is a pretty scary movie for young viewers, and the special effects are still pretty awesome.

Top 10 Misfit Documentaries

littleedieI’m a documentary junkie. I’ll watch a documentary about history, true crime, art, science, society …whatever. I realize that I have included many documentaries on past lists, but I have never made  best documentaries list. I’m calling them “misfit documentaries” because these movies don’t really fit into a category. They are strange and peculiar and wonderful each in their own unique way. Hopefully you’ll find a few new films to add to your movie que. (I didn’t include obvious films like “Grizzly Man”, or “West of Memphis” because I really wanted to find a few gems most of you haven’t seen.) So, without further ado – My Top 10 Misfit Documentaries.

  1. Marwencol – This movie moved me in ways that I still think about years after viewing the film. It tells the story of artist and photographer Mark Hogancamp who survived being beaten, nearly to death, by five men outside of a bar. He spent nine days in a coma, and forty days in the hospital before being discharged with brain damage so severe it left him with little to no memory. At all. The film shows his recovery through his art – photographs of dolls and action figures that tell the story of his “previous life”. Or at least what he wants his life to have been. It is an amazing movie of survival that makes you appreciate your life and those you care for. 
  2. King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters – This movie will speak to your inner kid if your inner kid liked to play video games at the local pizza joint or arcade. This movie follows a group of competitive Donkey Kong players. It’s a race for the high score to beat all high scores. The movie is fun and entertaining til the end. It gives you a good guy and a bad guy and an all around happy feeling by the end. 
  3. Winnebago Man – This movie is bound for cult status. It is an incredible and very touching story of a man who was known for, well, getting really pissed off. If you look up “Winnebago Man” on YouTube you’ll find a video of a man trying to get his lines right for a Winnebago commercial. He became an internet sensation and a couple of film makers set out to find this guy, and see what happened to him. What they find is more than just a foul-mouthed man. His story is awesome. 
  4. Stories We Tell – This follows director/actor Sarah Polley’s search for truth within her own family. The film uncovers the secrets and lies that all families have and brings them up front and personal. It’s a brave movie that makes me like Sarah Polley even more than I already did. 
  5. Monster Road – I love watching movies about creative people like underground artist Bruce Bickford. We get to see what makes them tick and what their process is. In this movie we not only get to meet the artist, but we are also treated to his father who is just as eccentric. Bruce Bickford is pretty famous in the underground art world and did a fair amount of collaboration with Mr. Frank Zappa. He’s pretty rad. 
  6. Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple – This story has always captivated me. What would lead over 900 people to follow a man to their deaths? The term “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” came from this story. I like this movie because it starts at the beginning, and we get to see what attracted people to Jim Jones in the first place, and how very manipulative he was. 
  7. Kumaré – While we’re on the subject of false prophets, I thought I would mention the mind splitting awesome Kumaré – a film that explores Americans need for a guru, a spiritual leader. This guy decided to just become a Guru… and it worked! People followed him! It shows how the lie affected the people who followed him, and how it affected him and his life. A great little lesson in this one. 
  8. Grey Gardens – I can’t make a list about misfits and not include Little Edie. I know most of you have seen this movie, but if you haven’t then you get the joy of seeing it for the first time. And you won’t believe what you see is real, but it is.  Grey Gardens tells the story of the Beales – Former socialites, a mother and daughter who live in an old mansion with too many cats, and no running water. Little Edie was the first cousin of Jackie Kennedy and fancied herself a singer, dancer and entertainer. She failed to find “a suitable husband” and moved in with her mother Big Edie in her home in The Hamptons. What you get is a sad story of how the need for fame and fortune can ruin a person. Or save them. 
  9. Stop Making Sense – Still one of the all time great music documentaries. It’s no coincidence that David Byrne has something to do with it. In 1984, well before filming bands was cool, Jonathan Deme filmed one of the best concert documentaries of all time. Stop Making Sense captures The Talking Heads in all of their weird, quirky glory. It shows you first hand the artistry that went into their shows and their music. And we get to watch David Byrne dance in an oversized, boxy suit which is nothing short of delightful. 
  10. Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred Leuchter – This is the guy who invented the modern day electric chair. His father was a corrections officer, and when Fred was a young boy he witnessed a few executions. As he grew older he saw the chair as ineffectual and unsafe and he revamped the model. Oh, and he denies The Holocaust ever happened. 

Best Feel Good Movies

ANCHORMANSometimes life just grinds you down and makes you want to lay on the sofa eating humus and pita chips. Maybe you feel sad or bored or mad or… just plain old bummed. I’ve put together a small collection of some of my favorite movies for getting me out of a funk. If you want to be in a better mood, then try watching one of these movies. Everyone needs an escape now and then.

**Please note that not all of these movies are your typical “feel good” movies. It sometimes makes me feel really good to watch a bad guy get his ass handed to him. Other times it makes me happy to see Adam Sandler yell at a golf ball. It just depends on my mood. This is just a short list and by all means not comprehensive. I’ll try to sprinkle a little variety on top for ya, but feel free to leave your own favorite Feel Good Movies in the comments.**

  1. Anchorman – No matter how many times I see this movie I still end up laughing. Of all the silly Will Ferrell movies, this is my favorite. Steve Carrell is hilarious.
  2. Julie & Julia – This movie features Meryl Streep as Julia Child. That should be reason enough to see it. But, if you are looking for a movie that just makes you happy, this is it. Great performances and it is based on a true story. A woman blogs her way through Julia’s famous cookbook. While doing so, we are treated to flashbacks of Julia’s life in France and how she got started cooking. A really fun movie.
  3. The Princess Bride –
    PB reunion shot

    PB reunion shot

    This is the definition of “Feel Good Movie”. Pirates. Battles. Sword fights. Andre the Giant. Mandy Patinkin. Christopher Guest. R.O.U.S’s. And yes, there is kissing. But we can skip that part if you want.

  4. Stick It – I watch this movie when I am feeling lethargic and like eating all of the ice cream. Watching a bunch of super fit athletes (they used real gymnasts in the film along side the actors) workout makes me feel like working out. Sometimes it works! This movie is like “Bring it On” but with gymnastics and Jeff Bridges instead of cheerleading and Kirsten Dunst.
  5. The 40 Year Old Virgin – I had this movie on DVD when I moved to Prague. I must have watched it at least 100 times that first year. It was the only movie (in english) that we had access to. It was funny every single time.
  6. Romancing the Stone53romancing-the-stoneThis one  is perfect to watch when you are feeling like life is boring and blah. Nothing can kick-start my need for getting out-of-town like this one. I love watching Joan Wilder outwit crocodiles, drug smugglers, evil kidnappers and Danny DeVito. It’s super campy and 80’s and that’s why I love it.
  7. The Shawshank Redemption – There isn’t much I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said. It’s great. The idea that a man can stay true to himself and be awesome under the worst of situations is why we go to the movies. We want to see Red get of jail and find his friend Andy waiting for him on the shores of a Mexican beach. We want to believe that we can do better. If this movie doesn’t make you feel a little happy then maybe you should try harder.
  8. Grosse Point Blank – I love comedy mixed with explosions and gun fights. I love shoot outs that involve mini-marts. I like Jeremy Piven and John Cusack together. This movie has a little something for everyone. It’s funny, violent, sweet and it features Dan Aykroyd as a professional assassin and a super badass soundtrack. What’s not to love? 
  9. Little Miss Sunshine – Much like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” got me through Prague that first year, this movie got me through living in Mexico. I was fairly  isolated there, and I didn’t have a car. And I didn’t have any money. (Teachers in Mexico make even less than teachers in Prague) I spent a lot of time in my little apartment amusing myself by watching movies. I couldn’t get reliable internet there so I was limited to DVDs until my neighbor and fellow teacher/friend got a Blockbuster card. Whoo hoo! Until then I had just a handful of movies to watch. I watched this one a lot. It made me happy every time.
  10. Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior – I love old school kung-fu movies, and karate movies. Sure I liked Crouching Tiger, but seeing people flying on wires doesn’t impress me as much as watching badass dudes do amazing things physically. I think that’s why I like watching Ninja Warrior. Tony Jaa performs all of his own stunts in this movie. It’s crazy good. The story doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that you get to see beautiful shots of Thailand and watch Jaa do crazy things with his body. It’s beyond impressive. 

Top 10 Horror Satires

ghostface_in_scream-HDSATIRE – The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices

“Horror” is a broad genre. It has more sub-genres than I care to keep track of. Horror gets a bad rap because it recycles the same plots and stories over and over again. I mean, how many Friday the 13th movies are there now? (answer: 12) Somewhere in the mid 80’s Hollywood began spoofing horror movies, or making out right horror satire. I like when a genre can make fun of itself, especially when that genre is horror. So, in no particular order, the top 10 horror satires (or spoofs) …in my opinion. MANY SPOILERS AHEAD!

  1. Scream (1996) Not the first, but arguably the best of the horror satires. Scream was a breath of fresh air in the mid-90’s when horror movies were at an all time low. It was original, funny, and smart. Not since Alfred Hitchcock killed off Janet Leigh in the first act of Psycho has a horror audience been so surprised at an on-screen death. Drew Barrymore dies a grizzly, bloody death all before the credits roll. Scream also managed to make fun of itself and horror movies in a way that let us all in on the joke. There are nods to Wes Craven throughout, and of course the famous “Horror Movie Rules” monologue. I’ll be right back… 
  2. Heathers (1988) dish-091212-heathersUsually grouped in with movies called “dark comedies”, Heathers is a perfect example of a satirical horror movie. Heathers takes an extreme look at high school life through the lens of two teen lovers who accidentally (?) start killing all of their obnoxious friends and staging the murders to look like suicide. It’s awesome. I have so many favorite lines from this movie that I’d be hard pressed to choose just one. It stars Winona Rider and Christian Slater before they became intolerable. And Shannon Doherty as one of the Heathers. Think “Mean Girls” but meaner. Way meaner.
  3. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) I know. By no means is this a “horror” movie. But, it is a spoof and I will take any excuse to put a Don Knotts movie on a list. This one is my favorite. If you have kids, they will love it. Don Knotts plays Luther Heggs, the afore-mentioned “Mr. Chicken”. He has to spend the night in a haunted house. You get it. It’s a cute movie that is one part “horror” (lite!) and one part comedy. The comic timing couldn’t be better. I still watch this movie and smile. And here is a little “Easter Egg” for you. Listen throughout the movie for a voice saying “Attaboy, Luther!” multiple times in the film. Anyway, it’s a great little movie. (Start at about 2:00 for the speech) 
  4. Cabin in the Woods (2012) cabin_in_the_woods_posterOne of the most recent, and quite arguably one of the best of these movies ever made. I don’t want to say too much about this one because I would hate to ruin any of the surprises in this little gem. But I will tell you this: The screen play is by Joss Whedon. That should be enough for you, but here are the bare bones – a group of super hot college kids go to a secluded cabin in the woods. From there you can guess what happens… sex, drugs, nudity. Yep. But… what happens next? You’ll have to watch to find out.
  5. Young Frankenstein (1974) young-frankensteinWhen I think satire, I think Mel Brooks. And this one is his best. It’s the story of Frankenstein… as told by Mel Brooks. That means you are going to get a lot of slap stick comedy, a few song and dance numbers, and all of these awesome people – Terri Garr, Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn – and even a few sight gags. (Keep an eye in Igor’s hunch) The movie is smart and very funny. It pays tribute to the Horror Classics while pin-pointing the absurdities and cliché’s of the genre.
  6. Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) If you like horror, and you haven’t seen this yet, then stop reading this and watch it. It is fantastic amounts of fun. This film takes your fear of red necks and turns it on its ear. That’s right, the red necks in this movie don’t have lampshades made of human skin, they aren’t collecting girls in the basement, and they don’t have a crazy inbred family or a meat hook at their disposal. They are just a couple of nice guys who happen to look creepy to the wrong bunch of college kids. 
  7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)  You’ve seen this one, right? It’s awesome. I know a lot of people have OD’d on Zombies, and I hear ya, but this film stands alone. It takes the “Zombie movie” and attacks each and every cliché and trope with hilarity.
  8. Zombieland (2009) amazon-will-produce-a-tv-show-about-zombies Speaking of Zombies… This movie is part Road Trip, part Apocalypse and of course, part Zombie movie. And for a “funny” horror movie, it’s pretty gross. But in a good way. A group of survivors take to the open road in an attempt to find sanctuary…someplace. This one is a lot of fun – all the characters have places for names (Tallahassee, Wichita, Little Rock) and well, Bill Murray is in it, and you just can’t beat that.
  9. Bubba Ho-tep (2002) BUBBA_HO_TEPI have two words for you: Bruce Campbell. Not enough? Ok, how about Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley living on the down-low in an old folks home in Texas? The film also stars Ossie Davis as Jack, a black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy, stating that he was patched up after the assassination, dyed black, and abandoned. In Texas. It’s brilliant. The two team up to defeat an ancient egyptian mummy, and address themes like aging and growing old in a culture (and country) that only values the young.
  10. Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992) MV5BMTcwMzY5MTYxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTUwOTc4._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_Before Peter Jackson decided to dedicate his life to nerds everywhere and make Hobbit movies, he was a super cool horror movie director. This movie is so badass, I don’t know if I have the words to describe it. But, I’ll try. It’s all starts with a young man and his mother… and his monkey. A Sumatran rat-monkey to be exact. This cute little fella bites his mom. She gets sick and dies, then comes back to life eating nurses, dogs, neighbors, friends – she’s not really picky. And to be fair, she wasn’t that nice when she was alive. It’s really funny, really dark and really, REALLY gross. And, it’s the only movie where you’ll hear these words “I kick ass for the lord!”

The Worst Journeys Ever

LaunchingTheJamesCaird2To say that I have been excited about our up coming road trip is an understatement. I can’t wait to get out of Austin and get out on the open road. I can’t wait to start hiking and camping and seeing some nature. I’ve been mapping, plotting, making lists (of course) and watching anything and everything that could be motivational or inspirational. I know that a lot of people get awesome ideas and those ideas go on the back burner for a few years. Some folks even let the burner go cold. I keep myself inspired by watching movies or reading about people who have made adventure a lifestyle.

But I also know that not every trip is going to be perfect. When I was a kid my family tried several times to take a “Family Vacation”. To say that these ended up in disaster would be kind. These trips began disastrous and pretty much stayed that way until we returned home. The Grand Canyon Trip is the shining star in the galaxy of bad family vacations. Our luggage flew off of the roof of the station wagon. My mother got stung by a scorpion. My toe nails had to be pulled off. We lost most of our group due to illness within the first days of hiking. It didn’t really go the way my mom had hoped.

Even the best laid plans will encounter some difficulties. Since I have already made my list of the Best Travel Movies, I thought I should give some time to the journeys that didn’t go so well. Sometimes things just don’t work out but that doesn’t mean you have failed. So this list is a salute to the spirit of adventure, the old college try and just doing it. Here are the worst journeys, trips and adventures. Better luck next time!

  1. Lost in La Mancha (2002) – Poor Terry Gilliam. The man is a creative genius but no one wants to work with him anymore. He is his own worst enemy. And after the disaster of La Mancha people were more than hesitant to work with him. From day one the project was littered with hurdles. Things like fighter jets flying overhead, storms, no actors and no money. Terry Gilliam likes to film all the time so all he had at the end of the day was footage of his vast failure. From the ashes rise the phoenix. The film “Lost in La Mancha” shows the reality of filming a movie when nothing goes right. The film (Don Quixote) never did get made, but at least we have this. 
  2. The Donner Party (1886) – You all know the story. 80 or so settlers head to California with wagons full of dreams. Of course they never made it because the Sierra Nevada Mountains got the better of them and their silly dreams. Their journey ended in death and cannibalism. It kind of doesn’t get any worse than that. Period. And it was bad before folks had to eat cousin Sue. Their guide was a crazy person who lead them far off trail and into a desert. Also, a bunch of Indians attacked them and their animals. They never stood a chance. 
  3. 127 Hours (2010)220px-127_Hours_PosterOf all of the “I am such a fucking idiot – I deserve to amputate my own arm because don’t have enough common courtesy to leave a note” movies, this one is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. It was well done and yay James Franco yay, but none of it ever had to happen. All he had to do, the real dude, is leave a fucking note. Or call. I have no sympathy for folks like that. Or that man child who went to Alaska to commit suicide. Alone. And never phoned his family to say where he was. You can hate folks all you want, but don’t cause worry. That is just mean. Anyway, “Into the Wild” isn’t going on this list because he was an insensitive, selfish dude who didn’t have to die.
  4. The African Queen (1951) – Again, great movie about a horrible trip. This has been one of my favorite films since I was a little girl. Hepburn and Bogart have great chemistry and you care about what is happening. Directed by John Houston, you know the film is full of real shots of real animals in real jungles. They have to endure leeches, enemy fire, missiles, waves, mud… you name it. That little converted steam boat get them where they need to go, giving them just enough time to fall in love. 
  5. The Endurance Expedition (1914) – This shit is crazy. Ernest Shackleton sets off for Antarctica in 1914. Before long, his ship becomes trapped in packed ice. The crew is forced to journey across the ice to the only solid ground for miles: a lonely mass of rock called “Elephant Island”.So Shackleton did what he had to do. He organized an expedition to the island: 800 miles north, straight into horrific storm ravaged seas. For reals. Shackleton “reported waves bigger than any he’d seen in two decades of sailing“. It took fourteen days to reach their destination—and the journey wasn’t over yet. I think that’s all you need to be intrigued enough to watch this badass documentary. It is narrated by Liam Neeson for extra badassness. 

My Favorite Film Assholes

Here is a list of my all time favorite movie Assholes. An asshole is different from a villain. e.g. Dr. Rene Belloq is to an asshole what Darth Vader is to a villain. If you haven’t seen these movies then don’t read this. Spoilers ahead!

  1. Bill (Kill Bill trilogy) – david-carradine03You know how you would feel really uncomfortable if your ex came to your wedding…with a crew of deadly assassins hell-bent on killing you? Yeah, me too. Bill takes the (wedding) cake for on-screen assholish behavior. He kills everyone she knows because she wanted to leave him. Dick. On top of that, he’s been raising their daughter and kept it a secret while she was in a coma. I mean, come on. 
  2. Steff (Pretty in Pink)tumblr_m6f2h8IlQe1qctynro1_500This is probably my all time favorite asshole. I actually kind of like Steff.  He’s a straight shooter who tells it like it is. I can respect that. Played to perfection by James Spader, Steff plays the foil to Andrew McCarthy’s sad and whiney Blane. This guy smokes in school hallways, spits on the floors, wears suits to school, treats his friends and family like shit, and you wouldn’t believe the things he says. When his drunk and equally bitchy girlfriend is getting in Blane’s face, he turns to her and says,”You really are worthless.” When Blane is sad about his life and his problems are many, Steff simply gives him this advice:”Why don’t you go take a shower, you look like shit.”
  3. Hardy Jenns (Some Kind of Wonderful)craig-sheffer-some-kind-of-wonderful-criminal-minds-photo-GCBecause of this movie, whenever my BFF and I came across a total asshole in High School we would look at each other and say, “…with TWO n’s…”. Hardy Jenns was that special asshole who had money, money and good looks and a nice car and then some more money. He hits all the major asshole points: He wears blazers to class, drives an expensive car, wears sunglasses all of the fucking time, and he dates and mistreats the hottest girl of the 80’s. He calls his girlfriend his property, and when he gets caught in the girls locker room, he tells the teacher to relax – there’s nothing he hasn’t seen before. Hardy Jenns. With TWO n’s.
  4. Richard Vernon (The Breakfast Club) screenshot-lrg-09While we are on the subject of John Hugh’s assholes… I give you Mr. Vernon! Again, he is the uniting force in the movie. The one thing that all of these kids from such super really totally different lives have in common. He’s the asshole principal who makes them come to detention on Saturday. A Saturday! As if that’s not bad enough he asks them to write a paper explaining who they think they are. Seriously? You give a high schooler that assignment and you don’t expect a sarcastic paper? Bitch, please. You mess with the bull you get the horns.
  5. Carter Burke (Aliens)paul_reiser_aliensI remember seeing this in the movie theater and people stood and cheered when Paul Riser met his match. Basically he is the quintessential company man. He is greedy, mean, dishonest and condescending. He takes a ship full of marines to a deserted planet knowing full well that there are scary fucking monsters out there. Then, when all hell breaks loose he tries to impregnate Ripley and Newt with alien babies. This guy!
  6. Iceman (Top Gun)IcemanYeah, Iceman will get all up in your face! That’s right. Then he’ll just snap his teeth at you all freaky like. Why? Because you are dangerous. Val Kilmer took the fairly small and definitely subplot character and had fun with him. He gave Iceman a cocky attitude, a buzz cut and pecks to die for. Iceman can spike a volleyball and then spin it on his finger. What an asshole. He’d probably do it right in front of your girlfriend just to make you look bad. But who has the last laugh Iceman? Huh? I’ll give y’all a couple of seconds to google current pictures of both Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. It pays to be nice.
  7.  Mr. Blonde (Reservoir Dogs) – tumblr_mgsadvGxml1rpyah3o1_1280To be fair, you could pick just about any character from a Tarantino film and put them on this list. But, I am singling out Mr. Blonde for special dispensation. For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, too fucking bad. you should have seen it by now. It is awesome. Mr. Blonde takes a bad situation (a robbery gone bad) and makes it worse (takes a cop hostage). Everyone leaves the room and Mr. Blonde is left alone with the doomed cop. He doesn’t kill the cop outright. He teases him, cuts off his ear, does a little dance and doused him with gasoline. I told you. Asshole. 

    CAREER ASSHOLES

William Zabka – This man made a career of playing douchy asshole rich kids in the 80’s. He was awesome as Johnny in karate kid, chasing poor Daniel-san around the school. Never has a skeleton costume been so intimidating. He played a variation of “Johnny” in European Vacation, Back to School, and Karate Kid II. Here he is kicking ass. 

William Atherton10.thornbergIt is hard to choose a favorite asshole role of William Atherton. They are all so very good. You could go with the sleazy TV journalist Richard Thornberg from Die Hard. I know my boyfriend is partial to his portrayal of Walter Peck in Ghostbusters. My personal favorite is Dr. Jerry Hathaway in the over looked comedy classic Real Genius – with Val Kilmer. I also enjoyed him as a “different but totally the same” asshole doctor in Bio-Dome. But I enjoyed everything about Bio-Dome. (Fun Fact: William Zabka and William Atherton create the perfect asshole storm when they appear together on the TV show “The Equalizer”.)

16 Best Travel Movies

roadto1I have travel on the mind. Maybe it’s the call of the wild, or the open road. Maybe it’s the boring city. Maybe it’s the fact that I was born a wanderer. My daddy used to tell me I was left on the doorstep by gypsies, and I am starting to think that he was telling the truth. Here are the best, and some of my favorite movies about travel, and a few that inspire travel as well. Be it adventure, romance or crime – movies about travel take you places.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

  1. Lost in America220px-Lost_in_americaMy inspiration. I saw this movie when I was 11 years old and I think it had a big impact on me. A husband and wife in their 30s decide to quit their jobs, live as free spirits and cruise America in a Winnebago. Of course it doesn’t all go as planned, but it still tops the list of travel films. Did I mention that it stars Albert Brooks and it is hilarious? If you are a fan of laughing, then this movie is for you.
  2. The Brothers Bloom – I love this movie. And not just because it showcases Prague. Okay, that’s a big portion of it. But the movie is really fun. The film is about hot con men trying to make the last big con on a equally hot con woman. The con movie that takes place in beautiful European cities –  It’s a fun ride to take. 
  3. The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara decided to travel via motorcycle to figure out this crazy thing called life. This movie is a lesson in taking risks. If you don’t risk anything, you won’t gain anything.  Che gets sick, starves, and even a few brushes with death, but he keeps on truckin’.
  4. Thelma & Louise – Just two ladies and the open road. And a few cops. And a dead rapist, a lousy husband, and a shirtless cowboy played by Brad Pitt. Let’s keep going…
  5. A Map For Saturday – This movie is the closest thing I have to tell you the way I feel about traveling. It’s a lifestyle. And when you come “home” after being away it can feel like a prison. 
  6. Darjeeling Limited – A family road trip – Wes Anderson style. They are supposed to take this trip to heal as a family, and as brothers. They bicker, fight and make up just the way real siblings do. This movie will make you happy and want to travel to India. Great scenery, and do I even have to mention the outstanding soundtrack?
  7. Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Every girl dreams about traveling to a beautiful foreign country and meeting a handsom stranger. That’s what this movie is about. Except that the handsome stranger has a crazy ex wife and he sleeps with your best friend. Actually, that sounds about right for living abroad. This movie reminds me why I loved living in Europe.
  8. Encounters at the End of the Worldencounters_2Werner Herzog is a gifted and talented film maker. He is also brilliant. He is also crazy. All of these things make his films engrossing and entirely entertaining. This movie is like traveling to another planet with Werner Herzog narrating the trip for you. Awesome. Here, check out Mr. Herzog talking about chickens. It is one of my favorite things. Ever. 
  9. UP! – The major theme in this awesome animated movie is – it’s never too late for adventure. Until it is. I was balling after the first twenty minutes of this movie. But I recovered to find a sweet movie about the big, wide world just waiting to be explored by a true adventurer… like you!
  10. Under the Tuscan Sun – Ok. So it isn’t the best movie, but it does a great job of showing what it is like to just up and move to another country. It’s a little cheesy, but you don’t mind too much because the scenery is so amazing. Another movie with the theme “it’s never too late to live your dream”.
  11. Revolutionary Road – A cautionary tale for those with an adventurous spirit. The depressing as shit movie centers around a couple who seem to have it all. But underneath the great job and the perfect house is simmering resentment, fear and jealousy. The couple dreamed of moving to Paris and living their life differently. Instead, they folded under pressure and suffer for it. This movie is like watching my worst nightmare
  12. L’auberge Espangnole (The Spanish Apartment)B0000C9JFOAnyone who has ever lived abroad and had to find flatmates can relate to this movie. It’s funny and sweet and awkward – just like a new flatmate. It shows how opening your eyes to the world, other cultures, and other people is a life changing experience.
  13. The Endless Summer – The first and best surf movie around. It’s simple: Two surfers travel the world in search of the perfect wave. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
  14. The Beach – The opposite end of my worst nightmare: Traveling to an island that is awesome until you find out it is inhabited by psycho killer cult freaks. Both the book and the movie are fun for folks who like exotic locations – the book is better than the film, but the film is still a good time.
  15. The Way – A Hollywood father and son team up to make a heart tugging father son adventure film. Dad (played by Martin Sheen) heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago”. He then decides to take the pilgrimage himself. The film is directed by the other star of the movie Emilio Estevez.
  16. An Idiot Abroad (Television show – stream it online free or Netflix) – This is quite possibly the best travel show ever made. “Karl Pilkington has led a sheltered life. Not having done any traveling, he enjoys living within the comforts of what he knows, basically that being what is purely British. As such, his friends, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, decide to send Karl to various parts of the world to experience unfamiliar cultures. Stephen believes that travel is a life broadening venture, and hopes that Karl will indeed feel like his life is enriched by these travels.” Of course he is not as open as one might hope. It is a hilarious show.