Monday, October 28, 2019

'TIS THE SEASON: 31 Horror Movies That Are A Must-See For Halloween

written by Michael Barry


We're just a few days away from Halloween. For me, Halloween is no longer about dressing up for costume parties. I dress up every day for work, so it has kind of run its course on me. It is also no longer a time for me to go trick-or-treating. I think I'm just a tad bit too old (For all of those who try to tell me that "you're never too old to go trick-or-treating": time to grow up!). I've never really been one for pranks, and as a Christian man, I am definitely not about summoning any demons or spirits.

If you're anything like me, Halloween is a time for movies! Currently we are seeing what I would refer to as a "horror renaissance," where filmmakers are not just pumping out the usual gory, sex-filled cash-grabs that we were used to for so long. We are seeing less B-list sequels, and more quality remakes. The screenplays are becoming more unique and inventive, more direct in the message they wish to send, and they are no longer succumbing to the tropes of their genre. 

But still, sometimes you have to admit, they don't make them like they used to. Even now, some of the best-made horror films of the past can still give you a scare that most modern horror movies can't.

But, not all films have to be horror films to be the perfect Halloween movie. Here is a list of movies that I think are a must-watch for the Halloween season. If you haven't seen this yet, GET ON IT! You've only got 4 days left!

1.) HALLOWEEN (1978)


Halloween, starring Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis, is John Carpenter's best film to date for me. The story of Michael Myers is definitely the most intriguing of the cinema slashers. Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Pinhead: they don't hold a candle to the cold, calculated stalking of Michael. And the music... the soundtrack for many people's nightmares. This my all-time favorite Halloween movie (I even love most of the sequels), which is why this needs to be at the top of everyone's lists!

2.) YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974)



Just because it is a comedy does not mean that it shouldn't be on your list. This comedy classic, written and directed by Mel Brooks, stars the inimitable Gene Wilder, queen of comedy Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, and the late, great Peter Boyle as the monster. This film has some of the most iconic lines in all of comedy, and also serves as one of the greatest parodies of classic horror films that you will ever see. This film will be having you scream "FRAU BLUCHER!" all Halloween night!

3.) BEETLEJUICE (1988)



To me, this is the best Tim Burton movie. You just can't possibly top Michael Keaton in his performance of the titular character. I don't just want to watch this movie every Halloween, I NEED to watch it! This movie has the perfect mix of comedy and creeps. If you haven't seen it, or you think that "The Nightmare Before Christmas" can't possibly be topped in Tim Burton's canon, do yourself a favor and watch this movie. JUST DON'T SAY HIS NAME THREE TIMES!

4.) HOCUS POCUS (1993)



I'll be honest, it's been a while since I've seen this, but I knew that it just had to make my list. When I was a kid, I would watch this movie on repeat with my brothers. I don't know what it is about this movie, but for some reason this movie has become near and dear to many people. Many people swear by it. I don't know if I agree with ALL the hype, but it is a pretty great movie, and absolutely should be a must-see.

5.) THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991)



This movie is one of the best movies to watch while getting ready for Halloween. I would say that I like the sequel more, Addams Family Values, but I would consider that more of a Thanksgiving movie than a Halloween movie (you'll have to see it to get what I mean). The key to this movie is the casting, because everyone is perfectly cast in the roles that they play. Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd and Christina Ricci are all perfect and the standards for these roles. So, enjoy your Halloween prep with this family classic.

6.)  NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)



Of course this classic is on my list. George A. Romero basically wrote the book on zombies, and his flagship film has been such an influence to the horror genre itself. This film is not only terrifying, but it also has a strong message to tell. This is the first film to ever feature zombies, and should absolutely be on all your Halloween lists.

7.) THE EXORCIST (1973)


To me, this is the scariest movie of all-time. It was the first horror film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. It is one of the only movies that I refuse to watch alone. Everyone always points to the spinning head and the projectile vomiting as the scariest moments of the movie. While those moments are terrifying, the scariest moment for me was the crab crawling scene. I encourage you to definitely get your biggest blanket to cover your eyes before you see this one, but watch it.

8.) GET OUT (2017)



This film was seen by the Hollywood Foreign Press as a "Comedy". I don't know about all that, this movie was one of the most talked about suspense films of the past 20 years. This was Jordan Peele's freshman film, and it earned him the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Whether you consider it a comedy or a horror film, you should definitely consider it as part of your Halloween repertoire. 

9.) IT (2017)



Now, many might want to put the original TV special on here. You can certainly do that, too. But I believe that Andy Muschietti's version is a far better film. Bill Skarsgard plays Pennywise, the Dancing Clown. His portrayal is one of the creepiest performances I've ever seen. But the dynamic of the kids in this movie truly makes this movie so great, and better than it's predecessor. Sorry, Mr. Curry, but I have to go with Mr. Skarsgard on this one.

10.) CARRIE (1976)



"THEY'RE ALL GONNA LAUGH AT YOU!" But this film is no laughing matter. This movie is one of the most iconic Stephen King adaptations in horror history. This movie should make you never want to bully someone ever again. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie give stellar performances in this one, and it is good for several great scares. Give this one a go before you go trick-or-treating, just make sure to check for buckets of pig's blood before you open the door for your candy.

11.) THE SHINING (1980)



This movie is one of my favorite Stephen King's film adaptations, even though he absolutely hates it. Regardless if you prefer the book over the movie or not, you can't deny that Jack Nicholson is absolutely amazing. This is definitely one of those career-defining performances, and the movie has become such an icon in horror. I'd say that you should definitely watch this movie on Halloween, but I think that this should be seen any time of the year. If you haven't seen this movie, brace yourselves.

12.) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)



A classic in the slasher genre, A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of the creepiest and most terrifying horror films, largely due to the dynamic performance of Robert Englund as the iconic Freddie Krueger, the dream demon with the burnt body and razor glove. It also stars an incredibly young Johnny Depp in his first big break into film. This is Wes Craven's most iconic horror film, and should definitely be included in your Halloween all-nighter sleepover because you definitely will NOT be falling asleep! 

13.) HALLOWEENTOWN (1998)



This is a Disney Channel Original Movie starring Debbie Reynolds as a grandmother who accidentally reveals that she is a witch to her grandkids after they stumble into the magical town of Halloweentown, and learn that they come from a family of witches. This is a really fun movie that I used to watch all the time as a kid, and is great for the whole family. If you can find it, I would highly recommend you add this to your list this season.

14.) WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)



I know. You're probably wondering why this movie is on here. But it's a movie about a candy factory that is run by an eccentric-but-creepy recluse who is complicit in the disappearance of children from said factory. If you think about it, this is the biggest dark horse on this list. IT'S ALL ABOUT CANDY! I think that makes it the perfect choice for your Halloween screenings!

15.) THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982)



When I first saw this movie as a child, I thought, "OOH, JIM HENSON! I LOVE THE MUPPETS! THIS MOVIE IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!" Haha, boy was I wrong! This movie is one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen, and it is one of the only movies that refused to watch for a long time because it scarred me for life. The Skeksis are some of the creepiest things ever put on screen, which is why this movie is perfect to watch on Halloween!


16.) GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)



This is one of my favorite comedies of all-time. It doesn't matter what time of year it is, I can watch this movie on repeat all year round. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as the famous paranormal exterminators. As a kid, the Gate Keeper and Key Master actually scared me, and who wouldn't be terrified by a 200-foot tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man? Who you gonna call?


17.) PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998)



This one I just recently saw for the first time last Halloween. I'll be honest, I'm not a big fan of rom-coms, but I think this movie is a perfect movie Halloween movie for all those who do. It stars Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock as a pair of witchy sisters who are being tormented by one of their former love interests... FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE! This movie is also one of the best movies to curl up on the couch and watch as the leaves are falling and you're drinking hot apple cider.


18.) COCO (2017)



If you're anything like me, you can't help but cry every time you watch this movie. It is one of Disney's best and most emotional Pixar films to date, and is perfect for the Halloween season, as it deals with themes of death and the afterlife. It may not be scary, but since it is literally about Dia De Los Muertos, it is perfect for anyone's watchlist. If you haven't seen it, grab the box of tissues and do yourself a favor!


19.) ALIEN (1979)



"In space, no one can hear you scream." This Ridley Scott classic is one of the most intriguing sci-fi films that I have ever seen. I am clearly not alone, which is why we have all of the sequels and prequels to go with it. People wanted to know more about not just the Xenomorphs, but everything within this world. It may not revolve around Halloween in particular, but it is definitely frightening enough to watch. Just don't watch it with the lights off.


20.) E.T.: THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL (1982)



This is a classic film, and one of Steven Spielberg's best works. And I would argue that, while it doesn't really deal with Halloween themes, it should still be considered a Halloween movie purely because it takes place around Halloween. It's the same argument people have about calling Die Hard a Christmas movie. So, if you wish to continue arguing the Die Hard is a Christmas movie, you must also consider calling E.T. a Halloween movie.


21.) MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN (1994)



This movie is perfect for the Halloween season. This movie is the truest telling of the Mary Shelley classic, starring Kenneth Branagh and Robert DeNiro as Frankenstein and his monster. Despite the well-deserved criticism of this movie, I still enjoy it. If you haven't seen it, give it a chance this holiday season.


22.) THE OMEN (1976)



Of course this movie had to make my list, and I hope it makes yours, as well! This classic stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, but the true star is the young Harvey Stephens as little Damien Thorn, the literal Antichrist. This film is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. I think anything that is demon-related really gets to me. Go ahead and give this a go this season!


23.) WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)



It took me awhile to finally get around to seeing this, despite many people telling me for years that I needed to see it. But, I'm really glad I finally did. This mock-umentary about a group of vampires who live together is one of the most original comedies out there. I've never really liked the vampire story, which makes this movie perfect for me. Everyone should give this movie a go, and don't wait like I did. Halloween is only 4 days away, so get on it!


24.) US (2019)



This is the most recent film on this list, so chances are you will not be able to watch it this Halloween season. The sophomore film from Jordan Peele is far creepier and scarier than his first movie, and makes for a great film for the Halloween season. Starring Lupita N'yongo and Winston Duke, it is sure to give you plenty of scares, and will also give you plenty of introspective moments to talk about with all of your friends.


25.) IT FOLLOWS (2014)



This was one of the most clever horror films I've ever seen in a long time. There aren't many jump scares in this one, but the terror is slow-building. This film tells the story of a curse that follows you anywhere you go. It never runs, but consistently walks. You could run away from it all your life, but it will always follow you. The only way to get it to stop following you is to pass it on to someone else by having sex with that person. What happens if it catches you? Well, you're gonna have to see the movie to find out! This movie will be perfect to watch right before you go to any Halloween parties this year. It may make you think twice about your intentions.


26.) SIGNS (2002)



I absolutely love this movie! A lot of people will point to The Sixth Sense as M. Night Shyamalan's best movies. You may be right, but this one is my personal favorite. It stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, and a young Abigail Breslin as a family that have been chosen to be the victims of an upcoming alien invasion. It has some of the scariest moments, with plenty of frightening jump scares to give you nightmares. Again, not entirely a movie that you need to watch around Halloween, but it definitely wouldn't hurt.


27.) FRANKENSTEIN (1931)



This classic 1931 film changed the game for horror movies, and also gave us our contemporary depiction of Frankenstein's monster. No matter how hard other films have tried to be inventive with their look of the famous monster, Boris Karloff is still the standard people go by. This film may not be an accurate depiction of Mary Shelley's classic, but it changed the game for horror movies, and Halloween in general. Always a good go-to for any cinefiles like myself.


28.) PSYCHO (1960)



Of course this movie has to be on your list. When you think of horror movies, the first name you think of is Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense. He was innovative in his filmmaking, and knew exactly how to scare people. Psycho is one of the most iconic horror films of all-time. You will never be able to go into the shower without double-checking first. Not only will the movie itself creep you out, but the simple soundtrack of the shrieking violins will give you chills for years.


29.) THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)



This movie may not exactly feel like your typical Halloween film, but it absolutely should be considered for your viewing pleasure this season. There are plenty of creepy moments in this film, but the biggest takeaway from this is the performances of Jodi Foster as Clarice Starling, and Sir Anthony Hopkins as the iconic cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. With only about 15 total minutes of screen time, he was still able to win the Oscar for Best Actor. His performance was so intoxicating, it will have you thinking about it for years and years, like me. On top of that, the movie won Best Picture, and I do believe it is the only movie on this list with that distinction. So, give it a watch.


30.) CORALINE (2009)




I just recently was made aware of this movie. I'll be honest, I put off watching this movie purely because I thought it was a Tim Burton movie. While it certainly feels like a Tim Burton film, it is actually not him at all! Once I did, I was delighted at how much I loved it. It is one of the creepiest children's movies I have ever seen, and according to those who have read the book, it is also one of the most accurate portrayals of a book there is. I think Halloween is the perfect time to watch this film. So give it a go, and see what I mean.


31.) PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)



I only saw this movie once, and never watched it again. I watched it with all of my college friends huddled around a laptop with the lights off in the middle of the night. Once it was over, I couldn't sleep. This film is one of the best found-footage films there is. Their use of practical effects just goes to show that you don't need CGI to scare people. Also, the sequels that followed were all released around Halloween, which makes this a perfect movie to watch. Just don't do it the way I did, and you'll be fine.


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I know that there are plenty of movies that I do not have on this list, but I hope you find this helpful if you don't know where to start. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

REVIEW: "Joker" Brings A Dark New Chapter To The Bat-Verse (SPOILERS)

⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of 5


The highly anticipated film "Joker", written and directed by Todd Phillips (director of "The Hangover" and "Old School") and starring Joaquin Phoenix ("Her", "The Master", and "Gladiator") was released just a few weeks ago amid quite a bit of controversy about it's depiction of mental illness. But, despite the controversy, it still came in at #1 at the Box Office for 2 weeks in a row, and it's still drawing plenty of people to put their butts in those seats, with many people (including yours truly) going back for multiple viewings.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you have not seen the movie, stop scrolling NOW!



The film tells the sad-but-tortured life of Arthur Fleck, a freelance clown-for-hire in the city of Gotham whose lifelong dream is to become a stand-up comic, and to one day appear on his favorite late-night television program "The Murray Franklin Show". He lives with his mother Penny in a rundown 1-room apartment, who you find out used to work for the billionaire Thomas Wayne but now lives in the slums and awaits for Thomas to help her and her son. It is revealed that due to some severe mental trauma, Arthur suffers from a rare condition of uncontrollable laughter, causing him to have random laughing fits that usually come at inappropriate times. This seems to not only cause problems with his coworkers, but also impedes him from having any sort of normal relationship with anyone. His illness has left him alone and paranoid.

After being fired from his job as a party clown after bringing a gun to a children's hospital, he finds himself in the middle of an altercation on the subway between several young businessmen and a woman. His laughter causes them to turn their attention to him, and he is brutally attacked. As they drunkenly continue to beat him while he's down, he shoots them dead and flees the scene.

This incident onboard the train has sparked a lot of the people of Gotham to protest the rich, including Thomas Wayne, who is in the middle of a mayoral campaign. This gives him a new sense of confidence and clarity, leading him to finally go up on stage and perform his stand-up comedy at a local comedy club. when suddenly, after reading one of the letters his mother was going to send to Thomas Wayne, he finds out that Thomas Wayne and his mother had an affair 30 years ago, and Thomas Wayne is his father.

When he confronts Wayne at a charity event, Thomas denies these claims, and tells Arthur that his mother was fired from the family not because of the affair, but that she had paranoid schizophrenia and adopted Arthur. Confused by all of these startling revelations, Arthur decides to head to Arkham Hospital and find out the truth. After stealing his mother's psychiatric records, it is revealed that Thomas was speaking the truth all along, and that Arthur was the victim of severe abuse from his mother and her boyfriend. This causes him to realize that many of his life moments, including his girlfriend and comedy career, are all just delusions that his schizophrenic mind has concocted in his own head. 

After receiving a call from The Murray Franklin Show, he finds out that his failed comedy routine that Murray played on his show has actually gained some popularity among viewers, and Arthur is requested to appear on the show. Arthur decides to take that opportunity to reveal his newfound alter-ego to the whole city of Gotham. During the interview on live TV, he admits to the murder of the businessmen on the train, and that he was the one causing all of the riots and protests around the city. He is sick of all the rich people of Gotham ignoring all of the downtrodden and broken people, treating them like clowns and jokes. He ends his tirade on TV by pulling out the same gun he used to kill the young businessmen and killing Murray Franklin for all of Gotham to see.

This causes the protests outside to turn to riots in the streets, and Arthur, now known as "Joker", is Gotham's newest anti-hero. The movie ends with Arthur locked up in Arkham, and he quite literally has the last laugh as the curtains drop.



Firstly, Joaquin Phoenix was absolutely mesmerizing as the Clown Prince of Crime. The subtle nuances of his slow descent into madness was a work of art. He truly captured the psychotic side of The Joker, different from the anarchy of Heath Ledger and the crime boss of Jack Nicholson. For a character who historically has not had a backstory, he provides a believable one for comic book fans and non-comic book fans alike to enjoy. If he doesn't get a nomination, it will cement my belief that the Academy truly hates Phoenix and will stop at nothing to screw him over.

Secondly, we must talk about the controversy the movie brings with it. Many people are protesting this movie because they believe that the movie sheds a bad light on mental illness. The argument is that not all mental illness leads to violent acts, which is what this movie apparently suggests. Not to be insensitive, but to those people I ask: what did you expect? It is a movie about The Joker, one of the most iconic and sadistic comic book villains of all-time. I mean, we're talking about a character who is historically known for skinning someone alive, eating the country of China, poisoning cotton candy, and blowing up a school. It HAS to be violent! Anyone who walks away from this movie thinking that The Joker is a typical case of mental illness is missing the point entirely.

We must also acknowledge the fact that while not ALL mental illnesses lead to violent tendencies, some of them do. We cannot ignore the fact that mental illness has been a factor in many of the mass shootings that have happened in recent years. Performance art, at its finest, is supposed to be a reflection of reality that evokes emotions, passions, and strong feelings. I think that this movie, and most importantly this performance, does just that. It is certainly not done in a way that glorifies the violence, but it shows what some people are capable when pushed to the edge of society and have been beaten down to the point of having nothing left to lose. It is an important message that we as a nation need to hear.

All-in-all, I give the movie 4 out of 5 stars, and I highly recommend seeing it. I even recommend seeing it again, as I have done! GO SEE THIS MOVIE!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

TOP 10 GREATEST MOVIE VILLAINS

Throughout cinema's history, one thing that carries a great story is conflict. There are many different forms that conflicts can take, but the most visceral and memorable conflicts are the ones between 2 people, or groups of people. Of course, we all want to route for the good guys. We may not come out and say it, but we all want the hero to win by the end of the film. The most obvious ones are the comic book movies. Most people who watch these comic book movies are rooting for the good guy to beat the bad guy.

Sometimes, however, you get movies where the good guys DON'T win. Sometimes, in very rare situations, you find yourself rooting for the bad guy. That is when you know that you have a great villain on your hands. I really appreciate it when the villain in the movie is always 3 steps ahead of the good guys. It brings a fearing sense of realism to the character, and it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I love that.

In today's day and age, we are starting to see a lot of posts talking about how great these bad guys are. Now, I think that we should always keep rooting for the good guys to win, but here's a list of the greatest villains ever written for the silver screen. 

10.) BIFF TANNEN



Biff Tannen, played by actor Thomas F. Wilson, is the lead protagonist in the blockbuster Back to the Future trilogy. He is one of those guys that I'm sure everyone who grew up in that time period(s?) recognized. It seemed as though no matter what Marty McFly did, he could never escape the bullying wrath of Biff Tannen and the rest of the Tannen family. He wasn't the smartest tool in the shed, but he always seemed to put himself in the right situation to ruin everything for Marty.

9.) HANS LANDA




This guy is a relatively newer villain that was created in the Quentin Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds. His ruthless interrogation tactics as a Nazi officer sent chills down my spine. His sinister smile made me hate him even more. What made him the scariest was the fact that he was so smart. There was never a point in time (until the end) where he was not 10 steps ahead of the Basterds. I think that Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson should always do Tarantino films because I have never seen 2 actors who read his scripts as perfect as them. 

8.) MR. POTTER







Mr. Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore, is the main antagonist in the holiday classic It's A Wonderful Life. If you are like me, You have watched this movie every Christmas season with your family, and every year, I not only walk away with tears of joy, but also an ever-growing hatred for this man. As George Bailey puts it, he sits there and spins his little webs like a scurvy little spider. He makes it his personal vendetta to destroy all of the good that the Bailey family creates in the little town of Bedford Falls. There really is no redemptive quality to him. He is just a "warped, frustrated old man," which is why he has made this list. 

7.) NORMAN BATES


Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, is the psychotic serial killer that murders everyone who comes and visits the Bates Motel in the Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller Psycho. His calm and cool demeanor gives us a very unsettling feeling in the pit of our stomachs. Also, the fact that he dresses like his dead mother (who is still in his basement) and kills people is also very unsettling. I've only seen this movie once, and I think that is enough for me, thanks to Norman Bates. That is why he has made this list.

6.) NURSE RATCHED





Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, is the cold and manipulative antagonist in the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this film, and deservedly so. She gives a bad name to nurses everywhere. I think the reason for why she made this list is her deadpan delivery of her sentences. She would be so conniving and cruel, but she wouldn't change the level of her voice. She is a heartless and cold woman.

5.) MICHAEL MYERS




You can never look at a kitchen knife the same after seeing Michael Myers. He is the evil, psychotic murderer out to kill his entire family in the famous Halloween franchise. John Carpenter tried to create the series with a different story for each film, but people refused to watch it if Michael Myers was not in it. Now, I know that some people might prefer Freddy Krueger as their favorite slasher villain because of his humorous jokes, but there is nothing that raises the hairs more than the silent stalking of Michael. That signature theme music will always make me look over my shoulder, and that is why he has made my list.

4.) THE JOKER



Now, when it comes to The Joker on the silver screen, you have 2 (soon to be 3) clear options to choose from: Jack Nicholson's gangster version, or Heath Ledger's anarchist version. I figure, since there is a constant argument as to which Joker people prefer, I might as well go with both. The Joker is probably the most recognizable villain from any comic book series, Marvel or DC. He has no superpowers, which is why he is so fascinating. Whether you want to look at Jack's version as a Gotham City gangster or Ledger's psychotic anarchist, you get the sense that this could actually happen in the real world. That is why The Joker has made my list.

3.) WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST




Even to this day, people are still frightened by the Wicked Witch of the West from the classic film The Wizard of Oz. If you have read other blogs that I have posted, then you know that I love this movie, and love to talk about it. The Wicked Witch of the West had to make my list, but I don't think a lot of people would disagree with me. The Wicked Witch is the essence of pure evil in the merry old land of Oz, and she would do anything in her power to destroy Dorothy and get those magical ruby slippers, even if she has to drug her with heroine (the poppies). 

2.) DARTH VADER



Of course Vader had to make my list. He is the main villain in Episodes 4, 5, and 6 of the epic Star Wars saga. Of course, he redeems himself when he kills the emperor in Return of the Jedi, but I don't think that quite makes up for slicing his own son's hand off, killing Obi-Wan Kenobi, and, oh yeah... BLOWING UP AN ENTIRE FREAKIN' PLANET! His sinister delivery, provided by the wonderful voice of James Earl Jones, has been imitated for years by children and adults everywhere. Any time you hear that signature symphonic march, you know he means business. Don't get on his bad side, because he will force choke you into submission. He is one bad dude.

1.) HANNIBAL LECTER



Never in my life have I ever seen a more compelling character than Dr. Hannibal Lecter. You know what's the funny thing about him? He's not even the bad guy in The Silence of the Lambs. But no one remembers Buffalo Bill because all people want to talk about is Hannibal. Sir Anthony Hopkins received the Academy Award for Best Actor, and he was only on screen for 16 MINUTES!!! That's how scary he is! His calm and collected demeanor and sinister smile will always haunt my dreams, but it makes me want to watch this movie over and over again. You wouldn't think by looking at him that he actually eats people. He is so smart and so calculating, he has been put on the very top of my list as the #1 Movie Villain.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • AGENT SMITH - The Matrix Trilogy
  • BILL THE BUTCHER - Gangs of New York
  • ANTON CHIGURH - No Country for Old Men
  • HANS GRUBER - Die Hard
  • THE SHARK - Jaws
  • JACK TORRENCE - The Shining
  • KEYSER SOZE - The Usual Suspects
  • AURIC GOLDFINGER - Goldfinger
  • KHAN - Star Trek Franchise
  • JIGSAW - Saw Franchise
  • EMPEROR PALPATINE - Star Wars Franchise
  • JOHN DOE - Se7en
  • OZYMANDIUS - Watchmen
  • LEX LUTHOR - Superman Franchise
  • FRANK COSTELLO - The Departed
  • GORDON GEKKO - Wall Street
  • SAURON - The Lord of the Rings
  • GOLLUM - The Lord of the Rings
  • LOTSO - Toy Story 3
  • MALEFICENT - Sleeping Beauty
  • CRUELA DE VIL - One-Hundred and One Dalmatians
  • SCAR - The Lion King
  • GASTON - Beauty and the Beast
  • VOLDEMORT - The Harry Potter Franchise
  • COL. TAVINGTON - The Patriot
  • KING EDWARD LONGSHANKS - Braveheart
  • SHOOTER MCGAVIN - Happy Gilmore
  • JAFAR - Aladdin
  • THE TERMINATOR
  • HAL 9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • ALEX DELARGE - A Clockwork Orange
  • MAGNETO - The X-Men Franchise
  • MEGATRON - The Transformers Franchise
  • PRESIDENT SNOW - The Hunger Games Franchise
  • COMMODUS - Gladiator
  • DET. ALONZO HARRIS - Training Day
  • TYLER DURDEN - Fight Club
  • REGINA GEORGE - Mean Girls
  • MIRANDA PRIESTLEY - The Devil Wears Prada
  • JUDGE DOOM - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?






Saturday, July 18, 2015

TOP 5 BEST MOVIES vs. TOP 5 FAVORITE MOVIES

Hey, everyone (and by everyone, I mean all 6 people that probably still check this thing.)

It has been quite a long time since I have posted a blog (August 9th, 2013, almost 2 years!) on this site. I feel that it is time to resurrect the ever-popular MIKE'S FAVORITE THINGS segment of the new and improved: Stealin' The Spotlight with the Real Mike Barry!

And, of course, this one will be all about something that I love, MOVIES!

So, over the years, people have often asked me what my favorite movie of all time is. It used to be a very simple answer for me. But, the more that I have thought about it, the more I have come to realize that it is not quite as simple as it used to be.

Now, those of you that know me are aware that I go and see quite a lot of movies. In fact, for the past 3 years, my wife and I (Oh yeah, did I mention I got married?!?!) have made it a point to go and see every single motion picture that is nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Of course, we don't limit ourselves to just those movies. We do go see other movies, but we do hold the films we go to see to a high standard. Every once in a while, we'll go slumming and see a movie that we know will be bad, but we just want to see it anyway because why the hell not, right?

I guess you can say that we are both movie snobs. I like to think of us more as movie enthusiasts.

But, there are certain movies out there that, despite what critics and moviegoers may say, make me want to watch over and over again. I know that some of them are not great movies. I know that. But for some reason, I find them to be awesome.

That's when I realized that there IS a difference between the best movie that you have ever seen, and your favorite movie of all time. They may coincide with one another, but they are 2 separate yet equally important opinions.

So, first I am going to post a movie that is on my list of Top 5 Greatest Movies That I Have Ever Seen, and then I'm going to follow it with a movie that is in the same spot on my Top 5 Favorite Movies Of All Time list. So here it goes:

GREATEST MOVIE #5: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST



For those of you that have never seen this movie, it is an adaptation of a novel by the same name written by Ken Kesey. The story is centered around a prison inmate by the name of Randall P. McMurphy whose sentence was commuted from a work labor prison to a mental hospital. Basically, he wanted to slide through his prison sentence without doing any hard labor, so he pretended to be mentally insane so they would move him to a place where he wouldn't have to do any work. He immediately starts trouble with the establishment, particularly with the manipulative and hard-hearted Nurse Ratched, and rallies the other inmates to rise against her and the rest of the hospital. The film was released in 1975. It was directed by Milos Forman, and was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning 5 of them, including Best Actor (Jack Nicholson, Best Supporting Actress (Louise Fletcher), and Best Picture.

Not only was I incredibly impressed with the acting performances in this movie (particularly by Jack Nicholson), but I was also moved by it's story. It's incredible to see how one man could get more out of those patients in just a few months than the nurses and doctors could in several years, just by treating them like they are normal human beings. I feel the best scenes in the movie are the scene where Mack is denied access to watch the World Series games, so he decides to pretend like he's watching it and gets all of the other patients involved, and the scene where they steal the school bus to on a fishing trip.

FAVORITE MOVIE #5: THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION



This film, based on the novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption written by Stephen King, is all about the hard times of Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) while serving a prison sentence at the Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover, which we find out later he did not commit. The film was released in 1994, and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Actor (Morgan Freeman) and Best Picture.

Now, this movie might also be on a lot of people's greatest films of all time. It's not in my Top 5, but definitely in my Top 15. I absolutely love watching this movie. The reason why I love watching it so much is because for people who have never seen it before, the ending is AMAZING! It takes you completely by surprise (unless you read the novella). It's one of those movies that has reached marathon status on AMC. Now, some people may get sick of that after awhile, but I sit and watch it every time, and every time I always enjoy it. That's what it means to be a favorite movie, and not just the best movie.

GREATEST MOVIE #4: PULP FICTION



Now this film was also released in 1994, and it centers around 4 different tales of crime, violence, and redemption, and how they are all woven together in the gangster streets of Los Angeles, CA. The plot jumps around between these 4 stories, and does not go in chronological order. This brilliant film nabbed the Oscar for Quentin Tarantino for Best Original Screenplay, along with several acting nominations from its tour-de-force cast (John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman) and a Best Picture nom.

This film is very close to making my Top 5 Favorite Movies, as well. I love this movie. I used to be able to quote most of it, but I haven't seen it since my movies got stolen from me when I was in college. I also am a huge fan of Quentin. He may be an arrogant S.O.B., but he sure knows how to make great movies, this being the best one, in my opinion. What I admire most about his movies is that they are original. So many movies and story plots are so unoriginal, but he, even to this day, makes tells such unique and amazing stories. I will watch any movie that he makes. I haven't seen them all, but I've seen most of them.

FAVORITE MOVIE #4: FORREST GUMP



Of all the films that came out in 1994, this movie walked away with the Best Picture win, and rightfully so. We all know the story by now of old Forrest Gump. It is the fictitious story of a man who, through blissful ignorance and purity, winds up getting mixed up in some of the most iconic historical moments of the second half of the 20th century. It is also the story of his never-ending love and devotion to his beloved Jenny, and how he will stop at nothing to make sure that she is happy. The filmnot only won Best Picture that year, but also gave Tom Hanks his 2nd Academy Award win for Best Actor, making him one of only 2 male actors to win the award back-to-back years. Some might even say that it is Hank's crowning achievement.

I have been watching this movie for as long as I can remember. Not only has Forrest Gump become such an iconic movie character in my household, it has also provided my family with many laughs and tears over the years. It is one of those movies, for me, that can should be considered timeless. Some people say that it is dated because of all of the historical references that are made. But I think that since they will always be in our history books, people will still know about them, and hopefully they will continually watch this movie as I do.

GREATEST MOVIE #3: JAWS



This movie gave many generations nightmares about swimming in the oceans around Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. Based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley, It is about one town's nightmarish encounter with a Great White Shark off the coast of Massachusetts and the 3 men attempting to end that nightmare. It is arguably considered to be one of the most influential films of all time, destroying the box office records of it's time. For anyone who is scared to go swimming in the ocean, this film is probably not for you.

Now, this film is also on my Favorite List as well, which you will see in just a moment. My dad used to show me this movie when I was a kid, and ever since then I have always been leery of swimming at the beach. It used to scare the crap out of me. But when I grew older, I started to appreciate the story of it so much more. What puts it on my list of Greatest Movies is the fact that this movie had such a cultural impact on our society. It not only was the basis for so many more shark-related horror films to come, but it also was a major reason for the Great White Shark population to drop in the 70's and 80's. IT LITERALLY ALMOST COMPLETELY WIPED OUT AN ENTIRE SPECIES. That's how impactful this movie was. Also, John Williams created one of the most terrifying scores in movie history as the sweet cherry on top.

FAVORITE MOVIE #3: JAWS



Like I said, I told you that this movie would make this list as well. I have seen this movie so many times in my life. There's really only one other movie that I have seen more, and it is the at the top of this list. I have seen it so many times, I even created the rules for the drinking game to this movie. Not only is it full of quotes, but it was also filmed in my home state of Massachusetts, which is just an added bonus. So yeah, it is also one of my favorites.

GREATEST MOVIE #2: ROCKY



Now, I am not referring to the rest of the movies in the 6-part (soon to be 7 part) saga. Only the original movie could make my list of Greatest Films I Have Ever Seen. Released in 1976, our country's bicentennial, it is the Cinderella story of one man from Philadelphia who gets the chance to change the course of his life with one opportunity to show the world that he has what it takes to be a champion boxer. Apollo Creed gives him the chance of a lifetime to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship in his home city. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and also snagged some nominations for a few of it's performers (Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young).

The original movie is one of the best movies that I have ever seen. I mean, Stallone has done some really horrible flicks over the years, and they have unfortunately defined his career, but I will always remember him as Rocky Balboa. Let me put it this way: Philadelphia built a statue to Rocky Balboa which stood on the top of those famous steps for years... A friggin' statue! To a made up character! You know, Joe Frazier, former World Heavyweight champion, is from Philadelphia! But still, this movie is a movie that has inspired me over many years, especially during my athletic high school years playing football. That signature theme song will always play in my heart.

FAVORITE MOVIE #2: THE WIZARD OF OZ



This movie has proven to be a timeless classic. It was released in 1939 as an adaptation of the L. Frank Baum story. I'm not going to explain the plot to you because you should know it by now, or at least have a general sense of what it is about. It was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, and only won in the music categories because, unfortunately, another timeless classic, Gone with the Wind, came out that same year and won Best Picture. It launched Judy Garland's career, and is one of the most iconic movies of all time.

I'm not afraid to admit it: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS MOVIE! It has been a staple in my family home for as long as I can remember. Not only have I seen this movie, but I have also been able to live out my dream of playing The Cowardly Lion in a production of the staged musical back in 2011. It holds a special place in my heart. My wife and I saw it in 3D when it was re-released a couple of years ago, and it is remarkable to see how well it still holds up, even in today's modern age. If I ever have kids, this will be one of the very first movies that they will see because I never want the magic of this movie to fade.

AND FINALLY...

GREATEST MOVIE #1: THE GODFATHER



Talk about iconic. This is arguably considered to be the greatest movie ever made in a lot of critic's eyes. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo, it tells the story of Michael Corleone, a man who never wanted the life that his father, Vito, and his brothers had of being in one of the most powerful mafia families on the east coast of the US. Due to some circumstances, Michael gets brought into the mob world when his father was attacked by another rival family. Before he knew it, Michael would end up rising to power and taking over the family business. The film came out in 1973, and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning only three, including Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Best Picture.

The first time I saw this movie, it took me many years to watch it again. That wasn't because I didn't like it, and it wasn't because it scared me, or anything like that. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I loved the movie so much that I was afraid to watch it too much. I was afraid that I would get sick of the movie if I watched it too many times. I didn't want to ruin this movie. I have really only seen the movie in its entirety about 3 times. In my mind, this is the greatest movie that I will ever see. I have never seen a more perfectly made movie in my lifetime, and probably never will in the future. From the acting, to the cinematography, to the story itself, it will always be the greatest movie of all time, in my mind.

FAVORITE MOVIE #1: INDEPENDENCE DAY



This film, directed by Roland Emmerich, was released in 1996. For those of you that have yet to watch this movie, the plot is about a worldwide alien invasion on the weekend of July 4th, Independence Day. That's it. That's all you need to know. Simple as that. It stars Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, Harry Connick, Jr., Harvey Fierstein, and aliens. It didn't win any of the more notable Academy Awards, but it did win for Best Visual Effects, obviously. If you haven't seen it yet, please do.

Now, a lot of you are probably thinking that this is coming out of left field compared to the rest of my lists. But, those of you that know me well know that couldn't be farther from the truth. You can go ahead and make fun of me all you want for my love of this movie. Go ahead. I will never change my mind. My feelings for this movie go beyond love. Love just doesn't cut it. I know this movie, basically, line for line. Every time this movie is on television, I will watch it, regardless of what my plans are for that day. I have also created the perfect drinking game to this movie, and have played that game more than any other. I have seen this movie more times than any other movie. I really wish that they had this movie on HBO because I wouldn't mind if they showed it 400 times in a row. I would watch it each and every time. I don't care. So go ahead with your comments. I can take it. They do not bother me at this point.

... AND SCENE!

So, there you have it, folks. My first blog post in 2 years. Hopefully, I can have more opportunities to write more blogs and keep it updated for you all. If you would like to share your opinions of this list, or if you would like to post your own Top 5's, please do so. I look forward to reading what you put down.

Just remember, at the end of the day, this is just one man's opinion. Don't take this as FACT or that I'm telling you that what you think is wrong. That's what makes this country, and this world, so great!

Friday, August 9, 2013

SHARK WEEK 2013

It's my favorite time of the year...

SHARK WEEK!




Boy, do I LOVE Shark Week on The Discovery Channel! It's almost like Christmas, only it's better because you don't have to get anyone gifts, and the holiday lasts an entire week! It's that special time of year when everyone can snuggle up on their comfy couches and watch 3,000 pound Great White Sharks rip the shit out of some seals.



Okay, so I may be over-exaggerating this a little bit. It is pretty cool, though. I would say that after the Super Bowl, this is my favorite television event. I have watched it every year ever since its beginnings. The one program that really caught my attention was the popular series called AIR JAWS! I think that is everyone's favorite program to watch during Shark Week. Since it is already Wednesday of Shark Week and they haven't shown it yet, I am going to assume that they are saving it for last. It better be impressive!


Like I said, we are about at the halfway point of Shark Week 2013, and this whole week has got me thinking: Why don't they do weeks with other animals? My friend Jenny from England brought this up to me yesterday. You see, over in the other countries, they don't get Shark Week (I know; pretty depressing, eh?). Anyways, she asked me why don't they talk about other animals? Why is Shark Week such a big deal?

Well, first of all, sharks are awesome! Second of all, I think it's because The Discovery Channel wants people to have a better understanding of sharks, particularly the Great White. They want people to realize that these animals can be dangerous, but as long as you have a general respect for them, they will leave you alone. We are in their home, and we should respect their territory. When the film Jaws was released, the Great White Shark population decreased dramatically. People were so scared, they went out in hoards and started hunting them all down. The Discovery Channel decided to make this week to try and keep these sharks protected.

But Jenny got me thinking: what other animals would make a great week of television? And so, I figured I would give you a list of my top 5 choices for animals that would make a great week of television. HERE THEY ARE:

5.) BIG CATS


You see, The Discovery Channel has done a lot of shows about lions. I think that you should do ALL of the big cats in the animal kingdom. Lions are not the only interesting big cat out there. You very rarely see shows about mountain lions. I think the mountain lion is my favorite big cat of them all. Then, of course, there are tigers. Tigers are always fascinating. You could also talk about cheetahs, panthers, jaguars, leopards, and bobcats. I think you could make a whole week about this. You could do slow motion video of these big cats taking down their prey. I think what would be really cool would be watching a mountain lion take down a moose. THAT WOULD BE EPIC!

4.) BIRDS OF PREY


I think that doing a Birds of Prey Week would really be entertaining. I would love to see a collection of Hawks and Eagles and Falcons grabbing fish out of the water. Also, you could do a program called Falcons: No Holds Barred, and it will be a collection of Falcons and Eagles and Hawks fighting with one another in mid-air! I think this would make a very entertaining week of television. With birds of prey, along with all of my other ideas, you can make the week very informative and educational, as well. I feel that doing an entire week of nature's most ferocious birds would be pretty cool.

3.) SNAKES, GATORS, and CROCS

     

I think that these animals would really make a very interesting week of television for The Discovery Channel. Alligator hunting seems to be a very popular trend with the television audience. So, we already know that's going to work out just fine. But no one ever does anything on snakes! I was thinking of trying to add all of these animals onto my list, but since it is only 5, I figured, "Why not just combine them all together in one week?" That is what I decided to do. I don't think I need to explain this one any further. Everybody knows deep down that this would be a great idea for a television week.

2.) WHALES


Whales are definitely a very interesting creature. Most whales are harmless, but other whales, like the Orca (or killer) Whale, are known to be extreme killers. I think that having a Whale Week on The Discovery Channel would actually be incredibly entertaining. One of the Orca's main diets is the seal, much like the shark. One of the programs that you could have could be Air Willy! I can see it now! Anyways, whales, much like sharks, are very misunderstood animals. Whales have been hunted down and killed for hundreds of years. You could do a segment on all of the old whaling communities around the world, and talk about the history of those towns and the stories that accompany them. Being able to do a full, all-inclusive, week-long study on whales would not only be informative, but also entertaining. 

1.) BEARS


I think the bear might be my favorite wild animal. It is also one of those animals that people have a lot of theories about; theories about how to avoid being attacked. A lot of people get attacked by bears all over the country, which leads a lot of people to believe that they are a dangerous. Well, they are. But if you treat them with respect, they will leave you alone. They are actually afraid of you, believe it or not. If you make a lot of noise and try to make yourself look bigger, they will actually turn around and run away. Anyways, I will let the experts tell you all the different ways to avoid getting eaten by bears when they turn this into a television series! One of the greatest things about bears is that they are one of the most ferocious beasts in the animal kingdom, but most of the time, it's pretty chill. I think my favorite bear might be either the Polar Bear or the Black Bear. Unlike sharks, they also produce really cute babies. Sharks have the unfortunate curse of looking scary. I think bears are one of the most fascinating animals in the animal kingdom, and they would make the best week of television (other than sharks) on The Discovery Channel.

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Tell me what animals YOU think would make good weeks on The Discovery Channel!