this review is overdue because i had thought i would wait to see who the official, undisputed president of the united states would be.

i get that this feels like a pretty flimsy excuse given it’s now the end of the month and i’m at the point now where i have put this off for so long that it’s ridiculous but it did seem like it was going to be a relevant fact in a movie that truly feels like it’s from an ancient age. to be upfront, i like krampus. it was pitched to me by a patreon donor, a frequent flyer (repeat offender?) who sends me bad movie suggestions that i pretty much have mostly loved. this is a rare one where i straight up said i wouldn’t add it to the bad movie book but would prefer to write a glowing review of it to celebrate what i loved about the deliberately hammy atmosphere of this movie that works in service of its stupid premise and execution.

and then i watched it. and my desire to write a glowing review dropped a few degrees. just a few.

it’s not the movie’s fault. that’s part of why this review has taken such a long time to do: i’ll have to actually think about how i’m going to address this movie’s themes that have since carbon dated it as from the Before Times. there is a balance i want to strike when i try to discuss this. if i’m too aggrandizing, i’ll come off as smug and patronizing. if i’m too blasé, i’ll look like the kind of person who swerves into animals on the road.

i think there’s a vital distinction to be made between something that is 80s inspired in the way that something like “stranger things” is and something that is 80s flavored the way that krampus is. it assumes we, the audience, have a few shreds of dignity lying around and want to maintain, so instead of pounding us over the head with fists whiles crying “remember this thing from the 80s?” so you can receive the nostalgia brain chemicals, it tries to evoke the aesthetics and tone of movies such as gremlins or child’s play indirectly. krampus pulls from the rarely drawn well of that sort of tongue-in-cheek, campy, self-aware horror that doesn’t sacrifice the soul at the core of it’s conception in pursuit of what it thinks might be a good joke.

in spite of the modern day setting almost no trace of modern tech exists in this movie. outside of a brief scene where the sister uses something skype-ish to talk to her boyfriend, this movie could have taken place at any point between 1980-2015 (and absolutely no later than that, because the right-wing people depicted in this movie no longer exist). it’s a movie that’s dated only in the hamfisted and stereotypical politics that seem quaint by today’s standards.

there are some odd dips and swerves in the ability to maintain the 1980s monster movie pastiche. the adherence to the form is admirable when it comes to the practical effects and the movie suffers drastically when stuck to wallow in the CGI swamps. the monsters the ransack the attic benefit enormously from the audience being able to perceive them as something tangible, something that has some fucking weight to it. most horror movies in the modern day are made or broken by whether or not the audience will be able to be convinced of the authenticity of the monster. they don’t need to be convinced that it is a 100% living and breathing (or…you know. just animate) creature, but that it is an organic and natural part of the world it occupies regardless of physical limitations.

uhh for example: e.t. is just a bunch of vulcanized rubber some puppeteers are wiggling around in ways that could be construed as lifelike, but its the way the world around them reacts to its physical presence that makes that little son of a bitch seem like an actual part of the world he is occupying instead of something that has been clumsily overlaid onto it. the aim is to maintain the illusion of seeming life-like, not necessarily “real”. 

in comparison, the cgi gingerbread feel weightless and cheap. they float through their scene ineffectively feeling like a bad phone filter or oddly specific ghosts. the sheer mass and volume of the previous monsters that caused them to feel as though they were overflowing or bursting wildly out of the screen is totally absent here in spite of the attempts to capture some manic giggling energy. it’s not the same!!

it’s a little odd that a movie about the physical manifestation of disproportionate retribution for a year’s worth of childhood mischief decided to take a staunch liberal political stance but it’s only odd in hindsight, i suppose. thinking back to when i saw this movie in 2015, i don’t remember blinking an eye at the spoon-feeding of what are essentially “the daily show” jokes that were left on the cutting room floor and given new life by being clumsily stitched into this script. max, the protagonist (who is 7 years old or maybe 15. it’s literally impossible to tell), comes from a family comprised of affluent, attractive, sensitive liberals while the visiting in-laws are poor, dumb, ugly rednecks. if you were expecting nuance and subtlety from krampus don’t hold your breath. its evoking the 1980s after all.

but if krampus had anything substantial to say with these jokes and character archetypes it more or less squandered them, although i have to be clear, i’m not really bothered about the inclusion of these characters in the sense that i think their depictions are harmful or too alluring (since it seems evident that the audience is intended to jeer and pity them as slaves of their ignorance). instead, i found myself roiled with a flurry of contrasting emotions when watching this movie in 2020: nostalgia, longing, weary resignation and the horror inherent in the gradual dawning realization that this movie is accidentally one of the last of a forgotten time. the attitudes present in this movie today were, as hard as it is to believe, once the mainstream. i wish people were this normal again. god take me back. we could fix it. take us back!! take us back!!!

given what we have collectively experienced over the past 4 years, i have no doubt that the smug liberal viewpoints coming from the primary protagonists and the fact that the moral of this story is “learn to co-exist with your vile republican side of the family” has the potential to get under people’s skin. consider this: we are living in a world bad enough where a movie from 5 years ago is now so politically irrelevant that we have to preface it with the warner brother’s problematic content warning lol. alright obviously nothing is even remotely that bad. all of the awkward dinner conversation and offensive shit talk is comparatively mild to literally anything that gets aired at 6am on the morning news now. but now it is legitimately fascinating to go back and look at krampus, this fucking christmas goat movie, as a accidental political piece because it incidentally captured the zeitgeist of a country on the tipping point of madness. 

see, now this is the paragraph where i would have compared and contrasted our future based on the election results that happened during the first week of this year, but i can’t do that because democracy has failed. it does seem like the gears are finally inching forward for biden. to be honest i wish i knew what this meant, but i don’t. if it were trump it would have meant more of the same: the violence, the terror, the waking up every day wondering if this is the one where you finally can’t take it anymore because you’re tired seeing a steady stream of misery in your eyeballs 24/7. with biden, my fears are the same but with one difference: the return of the smug intellectual superiority that permeates the extended family’s introduction clouding the senses of everyone who was seemingly radicalized to the left after realizing how broken the systems are for everyone and not just the tiny bubble they were entrenched in for decades.

anyway, the movie is good. it is a time capsule in layers, as both a love letter to the 80s and as an accidental snapshot of a time when the national political discourse was so radically different that it makes this movie feel like it fell out of a different dimension. in spite of my review here it is a light watch (VERY light, no blood at all and only 98 minutes) and has some of the best audio design in a movie i’ve heard in a while so if you can hear it on a good sound system you’ll be pleasantly surprised. throw it on mid-december and let it ride while you laze on the couch surfing on your phone and dreaming of a better world.

It’s extraordinarily uncommon for me to turn off a movie and not know how I feel about it. Even when I turn to the person sitting next to me and go “huh!” usually there’s a tinge of intonation that sways one way or the other so the only ambiguity is what I did or didn’t dislike about the experience. “Miracle Mile” has me scouring the internet for reviews trying to step into t he shoes of people who liked it to understand what’s wrong with their brains to make them feel that way, yet at the same time I can’t bring myself to feel any sort of way for it other than baffled. This movie exists. This phrase is a total cop-out, I know. People tend to say this when they don’t want to confront the movie at all or feel frustrated by it or bored or confused; I think I’m the latter. This movie thought it was saying something and it didn’t. It’s like trying to make filet minion out of a Lunchable: you don’t have the ingredients. It was never going to coalesce and so the end result is the most jumbled tonal mish-mash I’ve ever seen. 

Our hero is a pretty typical late 80’s guy named Harry (Anthony Edwards). You probably recognize Edwards as one of the nerds from “Revenge of the Nerds”. You will not recognize him in this get up as “Goose” from “Top Gun”.


Our heroine is Julie (Mare Winningham) who I guess did something to piss off the hairdresser because they cursed her with what can only be described as a mullet. Time has not looked back fondly upon this haircut. Harry only squeaks by without being heckled by me, the cruel audience, because he is extremely unremarkable in every conceivable way.


I don’t think the narrative realizes that Harry and Julie are the most annoying people on planet Earth. Over the course of like 3 hours at the La Brea Tar Pits (which, I’m not sure if you know this, smell like absolute shit due to being full of dead garbage), they madly in love with each other, as seen through some scenes where they flirt obnoxiously by quipping jokes about fossils to other people’s children (?). Their weird scenes being so heavily focused around children lead me to believe that Harry was a museum employee and she was a teacher on a field trip, but no, he’s a trombone player and she’s a waitress. There’s absolutely no reason for these two to be talking to random stranger’s kids and using them as means by which they demonstrate how cute they are to each other. It gave me the same weird douche chills I used to get watching people become twin flame soulmates via public forum chatrooms just by posting rapidly back and forth at each other back in 2008.

Harry is literally, immediately introduced to Julie’s family which is apparently composed entirely of her grandparents who haven’t spoken to each other in 15 years. The scene in which we meet them is about 30 seconds long and exists only to introduce this plot point which never really amounts to anything and its inclusion only makes the day-long courtship feel like it’s been going on for much, much longer. The scale of time in this movie prior to the phone call the kicks off the actual plot is completely incomprehensible. Is it intentional? Are we supposed to feel like they’ve known each other forever even though it’s been like 6 hours? After the phone call, the movie proceeds in real time, which is legitimately interesting and works pretty well. But everything before that feels like it takes place out of time.

They agree to meet for a date, but a bird with a cigarette burns the power lines to Harry’s hotel room (??) so he wakes up 3 hours late. He rushes to the diner they were supposed to meet at in the hopes that Julie will return if he makes enough desperate calls from the pay phone outside (but she’s completely zonked out from a Valium, she’s not on this planet). One thing about this scene that’s totally inconsequential in the grand scheme of the plot is that in order to indicate how late he’s slept, the TV is blaring the national anthem and playing that filler they used to play late at night. Remember when TV used to end?? There was a point during the day where there was no more TV. Never mind I don’t care about this anymore. Harry just hit a palm tree and like 5 rats fell out of it onto his car. I only care about this now.

The movie now does something terrible, which is that it really, truly believes that it is a strong character driven story and thus introduces a plethora of characters all at once, all of which are either cliche (the crazy homeless man, the career driven 80’s business woman) or exaggerated caricatures of people we might know in real life but exacerbated to such a degree that it feels like Harry is ordering food from the comfort of a diner in Toontown and not L. A. It is odd that the movie bothers to introduce these characters and flesh them out to what little degree it does and then toss them away after the diner scene entirely. I had thought they would return at some point, as narratives typically work that way, but I think this movie is under some delusion that its operating from some basis in reality and in real life these people would enter your life briefly and leave forever because that’s how life works. But this is a movie in which a cigarette smoking bird causes a power outage.

Harry calls Julie and instead of getting a call back from her, the voice on the other end of the payphone is a panic-stricken young man in a missile silo babbling about how nuclear war is on our doorstep. Kid’s got the wrong number; this was supposed to be for his dad. I had the pause the movie here though because the voice on the phone sounded REALLY familiar and I had to look into it. Well, lo-and-behold. Who could it be but Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic’s Carth Onasi!

It is vital that you see this.

After a family death, I got extremely into Star Wars media as some sort of shockingly unhelpful coping mechanism and this ugly motherfucker was the guy Bioware inexplicably decided was what girls of the early 2000s wanted to slurp on. With his late-80’s Dicaprio hair fringes and clothes that make him look like an anthropomorphized peach pit, playing as a female character in a game has never been so much of a detriment to a game play experience. Hearing his nasally voice wafting out from the phone socked me right in the mouth. I’ve never been so blindsided by a voice performance in my life. I was suddenly back in my old apartment wondering what happens at the moment of death and if our consciousness remains in some fashion so that our time on Earth isn’t completely wasted while this asshole belches misogynistic quips directly into my ears and eyes.

Anyway Harry has an hour and 10 minutes to prepare for nuclear annihilation.

Harry takes a solid amount of time trying to convince the people in the diner of the impending doom, but the 80’s business lady is the one who confirms that world leaders are fleeing to Antarctica for safety and plans to follow suit with the diner denizens. Harry initially joins them and then decides to go back for his girlfriend of 6 hours (who he stood up) after failing to force the driver to stop by holding a gun to his head. They make him jump during a turn because no one cares enough about his girlfriend he’s had for less than a workday and he bounces on the pavement. He doesn’t even crack his glasses despite them flying off his head.

This flick makes sure to touch on every possible genre and aspect of movie making there could ever be, which is why at this point in the movie it makes sure to introduce a racist character: Wilson, the black car stereo thief. I have seen no review that acknowledges or mentions this. I’m not sure why Wilson has to be a literal thief in this script; it’s character dressing that serves nothing and dregs the lowest portrayals of black men in 80’s cinema for what appears to be literally no reason. There is a scene where his race is relevant because he and Harry are hassled and harassed by two cops specifically because Wilson is black and it’s late at night in L.A. I think, and I loathe to say it, this aspect was written in so the audience, in theory, wouldn’t feel so bad when he dies. In truth, I only do not feel bad when he dies because it means he no longer is subject to Harry and Julie’s whims and is free from this hell on Earth.

Harry and Wilson stop to get gas in a scene that takes approximately 10000 years in which they are accosted by the gas station owner (no 24 hour pumps!) who levels a shotgun at Wilson while Harry makes a bunch of boring phone calls that amount to nothing in the long run. Cops show up, Wilson sprays gas in their faces and when one fires her weapon they both go up in flames. BBQ pork. Check out this dummy work ahahaha.

Harry and Wilson jack the cop’s car and bail to go get Julie. Harry then breaks into Julie’s apartment when she doesn’t answer the door and watches her sleep (normal!). Wilson rightfully decides he can’t put up with this shit anymore and leaves to go save his sister from certain death, making him the smartest character in the narrative for leaving it when he had the chance. The grandmother and grandfather reconcile just because one broke the silence that’s been hanging between them for 15 years. I understand that the suggestion by the script is how absurd it is that nuclear annihilation was the only thing that would force these two together again but as an audience member I couldn’t care less. Both of these characters had two lines each prior to these scenes. They were barely people to me. This makes me sound like an incredibly cold, evil person but a movie is not real life!! I know these aren’t real people and I need to be convinced that they are like real people and why their long silence is so effecting to the other characters who should also feel like real people!! Otherwise who cares!

Harry, Julie, Julie’s grandma (name forgotten by me due to disinterest) and Julie’s grandfather (same) head to the building where a helicopter will take them to Antarctica. Julie wakes up and inexplicably decides they are going on a balloon ride based on absolutely no information at all. I mean literally none. She’s just like “oh boy a balloon ride 🙂 sounds like something you would do! (how would she know?)” right after she wakes up. The grandparents bogart the car because they’ve decided they want to die together. Julie still has no idea the world is ending and Harry doesn’t tell her so she doesn’t actually have a conversation with her grandparents before they leave forever to become Pompeii skeletons.

Finally, they go to the helicopter, but there’s NO PILOT!! This is where the plot becomes so deliriously infuriating because Julie is incapable of staying still. I hate to say “she should just follow directions, from the man” but 90% of this movie would not have happened if she hadn’t wandered off like a toddler in a JC Penny. Perhaps they should have coordinated some kind of plan together and utilized the fact that there are two of them to cover ground faster. Maybe she should have been given a bigger role than “object to chase” by the director/writers, but alas, she is merely akin to Baby Mario in the hit 1995 Super Nintendo Entertainment System game “Yoshi’s Island”. Just floating away, inconveniently.

Meanwhile, Harry is literally running all over town desperately trying to find someone who can fly the helicopter. He finds a piece of beefcake at the gym with a boyfriend (played as a joke!) who can fly the copter but Julie is off eating dandelions in the outfield so now he has to go and wrangle her again. Wilson returns to the narrative by driving the cop car directly into the building near them so they can waste more time in the plot. Wilson’s sister is dead from the crash and he furiously points out it’s been an hour and nothing has happened. What if…It was a prank…? (It’s not, but the movie would have been better if it was.)

Cops surround the building. Wilson dies with his sister in his arms. Harry and Julie have a very symbolic conversation in a clock section of a department store. Just as Julie attempts to face the cops with her hands up and explain the situation to them very calmly (white-ly), the cops fucking bail. Like they just pack up and dash off. It’s happening baby!!  Harry just wastes more time calling the panicked soldier’s dad to confirm he has a son before the streets descend into chaos. There’s a coyote in the diner now.

After some more random stupid shit happens, they finally make it to the top of the building. But not before they have what I can really, truly, only describe as a conversation not unlike two thirteen year olds trying to discuss mortality and morality during thelongest elevator ride in the known universe. “People will take care of each other, right Harry? The survivors?” Julie pleads. “It’s the insect’s turn,” Harry says indifferently as though the restaurant they’re at has Pepsi and not Coke.

On the roof, the only person remaining is the assistant to the 80’s business woman who is allowed to have a drunken/high rampaging shirtless rant as the first missiles cross the sky. The helicopter arrives to save our two heroes, albeit not for long. This is the point where the movie starts to test my ass because it thinks its “Threads” or “Barefoot Gen”. As the nukes hit, the assistant’s eyes apparently melt (it is impossible to see this in the video I was watching but reviews mentioned it so I guess I have to take their word for it) and the electromagnetic pulse kills the helicopter’s engine. We end where the movie began…At the La Brea Tar Pits. Wow…screenwriting.

As they sink into the goop, Julie rightfully freaks the fuck out. Harry, in his most throttle-able moment yet, attempts to placate her in their final moments by reminding her the world is a scorched wasteland with no hope and the best thing is to simple roll over and die (probably true, okay) and that someday scientists will find them in a museum or they’ll be hit directly and incinerated so thoroughly they’ll be turned into diamonds. If I were Julie I would be force feeding him tar at this point but she seems enamored with the idea of turning into a diamond or a museum exhibit. It ends with a big boom. Then credits.

No one makes it out alive. No lives are sacred in nuclear holocaust. The most successful movies about nuclear warfare have made this their central point in order to sway the hearts and minds of people whose only motivation for avoiding war is “me?? I could die as well?? ME?? The Hero of Life?”. “Miracle Mile” perhaps is not the movie best suited for doing this; it presents a world where I want everyone in it to die. I am indifferent to some at best. The worst people you are forced to repeatedly interact with in the movie are the protagonists and they are exactly like people making out furiously while you’re trying to eat a sandwich at the park but they keep making eye contact with you even though you’re not even remotely trying to look at them.



Maybe I don’t like this movie, actually.

The public perception of the American Western is inexorably intertwined with a specific concept of masculinity that- no, stop, don’t click away you asshole. I’m making a point. I’m not here to blow smoke up your ass, but if we’re going to have an honest conversation about the media that the National Film Registry has determined comprises the cultural fabric of America we need to talk about how and why without mincing any fucking words. The western genre was made with a very specific image of men in mind and, we need to be honest here, was broadly made for a very specific audience of men. This is probably why for a large chunk of my life, I stupidly, ignorantly, wrote off the entire genre as a loss. 



The perception of the big swinging dick American male is diametrically at odds with both the protagonist, Dan Evans, and antagonist, Ben Wade. Neither is a grizzled, cigar-chomping Man-With-No-Name or a swaggering John Wayne-type. In lieu of that, there is a softness to both of them; distinct from one another but both of their edges have been sanded off to create men who do not conform to the mold I (and maybe you!) believed men of the wild west had to adhere to in order to survive. The starkest difference between the two is Ben Wade is not unwilling to kill when pushed to it, but he also does not go around murdering as he pleases with his little gang of ruffians. Ben Wade is, apparently, a gentlemen who chooses to be a lout. Dan Evans is a man who lives so rigidly within the confines of “the rules” that he is being strangled by himself and taking his family down with him. In all the ways that two men can be so seemingly diametrically opposed, the ways in which they are human and honorable in spite of the harshness of the world outside are more meaningful measures of their character.



The movie has a…look in…in 2020 the movie has a…a vibe. It has a…Hey, why do they keep Ben Wade locked in a bridal suite for like 40% of the movie with Dan? Why specifically a bridal suite? I’m certain at the time they were not intending for any homoerotic subtext but. I might have to make my big post about what “death of the author” actually is so I can explain why seeing this movie as a bisexual in 2020 is so drastically different than in 1957. It seems difficult not read into Ben Wade bouncing suggestively on the bed and wondering absentmindedly “how many brides…”? Ben Is flirtatious and flattering to everyone he meets, from the barmaid to Dan’s wife to Dan himself, preferring to solve his problems by oozing charm and greasing palms than firing shots.



Dan, conversely, is charmless but reliable. He is nothing if not true to his word and it’s evident by the end of the movie that Ben deeply admires his character when he saves Dan’s life. Poor Dan is a failure and he knows it; his ranch being on the verge of financial ruin is why he’s volunteered to escort Ben Wade in the first place. But Wade pushes all of Dan’s buttons and picks and pulls at all the threads keeping together the only thing he has left: his integrity. 

It’s a strange kind of bond that forms over the course of 24 hours that ends in one man willingly going to jail for the other even though he could have easily slipped away. But Ben Wade saw something he liked in Dan. Maybe his complete refusal to succumb to Ben’s temptations, like everyone else who crossed Wade’s path. In turn, Ben chooses to rise to Dan’s level. rather than Dan stoop to his. There is no bloodied shootout. And really, no justice. But an equilateral exchange and a torrent of hope as the train leaves the station.



I know for a fact there are plenty of the archetypal westerns on the list, making “3:10 to Yuma” unique in its execution. Shed your preconceived notions about what the genre should be and join me in exploring more of it. 

Assorted thoughts:

  • The first thing said in this movie is “Now see here, I’m Mister Butterfield!” which is the most western thing ever.
  • Though it must have been an ordeal to film on location in Arizona in 1957, the film’s setting makes the southwest look better than it does in reality (a shithole).
  • ITS BULLSHIT MOVIES DONE HAVE THEIR OWN SONGS ANYMORE…what was the last movie to do this? “wild wild west”?

Despite human reasoning and every fiber of my being screaming out against doing such a thing: I am finally, after many years, rebooting my project in which I watch as many of the movies on the National Film Registry as I can get my filthy little hands on. There is no reason to do this. It benefits no one and wastes my own precious time on Earth I could be spending doing anything else on watching hundreds of hours of movies in which there is a 75% chance at least a little racism happens. But since the first time I tried to conquer this almost 5 years ago, my understanding of how exposing myself to a wider variety of film intersects and intertwines with my life and has vastly improved how I approach plot and character writing. My brain also works better now, so that also helps. I think this could be a good thing. We could broaden our horizons together, you and I.

what is the national film registry?

In 1988, the Film Preservation Act established a board whose goals were to “ensure the survival, conservation and increased public availability of America’s film heritage”. Every year the board picks 25 new films that it feels are significant to the American historical or cultural landscape for safekeeping and preservation on the registry.

why are you doing this?

My intent is to review these films with the steely, dumb-ass gaze of your modern, average American and determine these things:

  • Does the film remain culturally (or historically, technologically, etc) significant?
  • Is the film entertaining by modern day standards?
  • What are the themes and messages being put forward by this movie?
  • Should anyone watch this? Who is it for?

I am also doing it because I am stupid and have bad ideas.

first up: the “a”s

I’m not going to go into excessive detail with each of these in this pre-review rundown but I did conquer this section in my first attempt at this gauntlet. The thing is, I don’t remember most of these movies enough to give them a fair and impartial review today. They deserve a second chance with a better functioning brain. And frankly I wouldn’t say no to re-watching half of them anyway. Here are some scattered thoughts before I sign off:

  • Remembered favorites on this list: 3:10 to Yuma, 12 Angry Men, All about Eve, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, The African Queen, Airplane!, Alien, All The King’s Men, Anatomy of a Murder, The Apartment
  • The Apartment and Abbott and Costello are probably my favorite on this list. Possibly in the world.
  • Is Asphalt Jungle the one with Marilyn Monroe’s first role? (yes first big role apparently)
  • I thought All the President’s Men was boring as hell the first time around so we’ll see how it goes this time. I also remember greatly disliking All That Heaven Allows because I kept waiting for something to actually happen but instead its just about a cougar who bags a hot stud. 90% of 2001: A Space Odyssey is boring to me too. Not that I think that it’s bad, I understand why it is good. It just does absolutely nothing for me. You might as well just hit me on the head with a claw hammer for 3 hours, its the same experience.
  • [ages 30000000 years thinking about when i have to write about Annie Hall] shit

Well, see you soon. 

One of the most persistent genres of children’s fiction is “oh no! I’m a little creature!” in which the protagonist of the work is suddenly chucked headfirst into a situation that requires their cunning and determination to work their way out of since they have been robbed of the advantage of their opposable thumbs and physical form. Typically these stories revolve around a lack of physical agency and loss of control over their understanding of their personhood (an unsurprisingly popular plot given that puberty is right around the corner) usually at the hands of an outside force or as some kind of cosmic punishment for child crimes (rudeness to parents, disobeying god, not washing hands, etc). These plots are the backbone of both pretty much every single Goosebumps book ever made (when the plot was not “I found a weird thing!”) and also the story of Roald Dahl’s “The Witches”.

The 1990’s movie adaptation of “The Witches” offers a lighthearted horror story about escaping and defeating adults whose only goals are to hurt you (and people like you) and inflict bodily damage upon you for no reason other than inherent cruelty. In execution, the horror of the subject matter is a reasonable amount of terrifying instead of deeply scarring; it is terrifying to realize that there are people in the world, possibly near you or who claim to care for you, who take pleasure in causing you to suffer for something over which you have no control. But to know that you can conquer and work to repair the damage these people can attempt to drive into the world is the message that children suffering at their hands, whether briefly or daily, deserve to hear and take to heart. I love horror stories intended for children; they tap into some extremely primal part of our brains that can be understood by everyone no matter your personal experience. Horror for children is meant to be simple, uncomplicated and straightforward.

It’s been ages since I’ve read “The Witches”; I must have been in elementary school so I can’t attest to the accuracy of the movie to the classic Roald Dahl book outside of the fact that the ending is wildly different. In fact, I think the point of the ending has been warped so badly that it obliterates an incredible message (more on this later). At least I can say that the tale presented to you in this BLESSEDLY trim 91 minutes is pretty pleasant and shines with a cast of extremely british actors giving some extremely hammy (except for Rowan Atkinson, who is the straight man for whatever very mysterious reason) performances that rise to match the ridiculousness the roles of cackling child-hating witches calls for.

The kid actors are uh…well. I’m overly harsh on kid performances in general so my opinion needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Kid performances are very rarely good and usually fly all the way to “nails on chalkboard” levels of cloying faux-cuteness due to terrible directing and writing by people who haven’t interacted with kids for over 30 years, but in this case one of the actors is just kind of a dud. Jasen Fisher in the role of the protagonist is actually pretty great. The other kid, who is dressed like a 40 year old New Jersey mechanic but talks like a chimney sweep is pretty terrible.

The kid actors are doing the best they can and both of their voice acting is much better than the physical direction they were given. Speaking of which, the puppetry is, unsurprising given that it’s the Jim Henson Company (the last movie before Henson’s death), is fantastic. It’s hard to imagine what this movie would have looked like in less capable hands when it came to the practical effects or the directing. I’m actually not familiar with director Nicolas Roeg’s other work, but a quick glance at his filmography reveals this movie was a heck of a turn for him content wise. 

I’m pretty sure everyone who follows me is like me and a huge sucker for a great practical effect and my favorite in this movie is that dang ol’ mouse puppet. I cannot believe how CUTE the mouse is. The most jarring part of the movie is when it switches between using a real mouse and using the little cartoony but so very endearing little fucker. It should have stuck with the puppet the entire time and thrown out using live mice entirely. THIS is a puppet I love and want to succeed in life. This is a puppet I long to see thrive. 

There is one example of some seriously impressive editing where the head witch (Anjelica Huston, with maybe the intentionally worst french accent in history) appears to put her fake rubber face back on without an obvious cut (it’s hidden by a woman in the foreground briefly moving in front of the camera, but appears as one seamless action). The makeup work to transform Huston into the Grand High Witch looks like it must have been absolutely tedious to have been subject to, but creates a very memorable looking hideous visage to shock and stick in a younger audience’s head. However, the best effect hands down is when the Grand High Witch casts a spell which is visually represented by laser beams exploding out of her eyeballs to cause the offending member of her coven to erupt into flames.

Plot spoilers to follow, if you don’t want to be spoiled for a 30 year old children’s movie.

After being introduced to the concept of witches by his grandmother (who lost her childhood friend to a child-hating witch), the protagonist, a young boy named Luke, is turned into a mouse as part of an evil plot by the Grand High Witch to destroy all the children in England. The witches of England have gathered under the guise of attending a dinner for “The Royal Society for the Prevention Of Cruelty to Children” at the same time that Luke and his grandmother are attending the same hotel while on a vacation for the grandmother’s health. He and another boy, Bruno, are used to demonstrate a potion that transforms children into mice so that they will be killed by exterminators, predators or the children’s own parents. As mice, the boys work with the grandmother to steal the potion from the grand high witch’s room to pour into the soup they will eat at that night’s celebratory dinner. They succeed and all the witches of England are transformed into mice in a delightfully terrifying transformation sequence which causes the whole ballroom to fall into chaos.

The messaging of Dahl’s books have always been a bit muddled; they flit between modern Brother’s Grimm-esque morality tales where the protagonist is put through repeated trials to come out stronger in spite of the troubles they’ve traversed but hinge on lazy stereotypes that no longer hold up to scrutiny under the lens of the modern day reader/film watcher. There is always a hapless fat child who acts a foil to the good thin child, or in this case a cabal of evil, ugly childless women who cause a boy to distrust the entire gender. The movie has deliberately softened the blow of the sexist undercurrents (I believe it’s much more overt in the original book) by introducing, in the last 20 seconds of the movie, a witch who was slighted by the Grand High Witch who now uses her powers for good instead of evil. Does this fix the narrative’s central misogynistic problem? Not entirely, and what it might attempt to solve completely obliterates the most important line, and message, of the film. Please understand that this is a book (and really, an author) who I feel explicit cognitive dissonance toward. I like many aspects of this story, but dislike much of it as well. I find myself excusing the worst parts of the story to uplift the parts that speak the most to me. Because of that I am asking you to indulge me when I discuss the final scene of both the movie and the book and why the change, while understandable, does the message to children a disservice.

In this movie, Luke is turned back into a human by the aforementioned good witch (which kind of raises some questions about Luke and his grandmother’s future plans to kill every witch in America next; what if they’re decent or can become decent?). The movie is a simple adventure story where the protagonist overcomes a trial. It’s good fun and I can’t fault it for that. In fact I liked this movie a lot! It’s silly and scary! But… 

In the book, he remains a mouse. Luke is permanently changed by the experience and no matter what he cannot go back to the child he was before he was hurt. But by the end of the book he has embraced it and refused to let the experience change who he is as a person…er, mouse. Explicitly in the text of the book, Luke is likely only to live another few years because of his transformation, but he is comfortable with this fact, as he does not want to outlive his old grandmother.

A refusal to be defined by your suffering because you are buoyed by the love of someone who understands it is the bittersweet ending that this movie (understandably) lacks. And yet, “The Witches” is a totally pleasant movie that would be good for brave or horror seeking kids looking to dip their toes in the genre. In the end, at least, the best and most poignant line of the book is preserved:

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.”


Also, who doesn’t want to be that little mouse puppet. Come on.


Okay, there’s actually one more thing I need to address in this review but there’s no organic way to fit it into the above paragraphs but in the movie, when Luke is a mouse, he gets cut by a chef’s clever and a piece of his tail gets chopped off. How does this translate to when he gets turned back into a human?! Is it like a finger or is a piece of his butt missing?!? The fact that this was NOT addressed in any way has kept me up at night. This is really the greatest mystery of the whole movie.

Welcome to the wonderful world of working or simply being stuck at home for the unforeseeable future! I have volunteered myself to be your guide into this foreign and strange situation we, collectively as a society, have found ourselves in. For the last 6 years, I have been a work-at-home broke fuck who must scrounge in the Youtube and internet mines for entertainment on a budget that can only afford me better-than-average potato chips as a rare and wondrous indulgence. Today, I am opening up my treasure trove of various internet goodies that you can subject yourself too when you start to feel like Jack Torrance.

If you don’t like what I post then go fuck yourself.




Jacob “The Carpetbagger” has been traveling across the U.S.A. on a personal mission (born from a genuine love of kitsch and Americana) to visit as many unknown, small time, lesser appreciated or outright abandoned tourist traps of many flavors. From museums dedicated to the concept of failure, to pop-up art installations, to (as seen in the above video) abandoned Flintstone theme parks covered in various bleached animal bones, Jacob only wants to take you on a journey to the stranger parts of the American landscape. I appreciate his compassion for the creators of these endeavors and for his sincere respect for the artistry on display in all of his videos. I have long been a proponent of demanding people pay more attention to the bad art in the world and to give it more credit that just something to laugh at. Behind all of these oddities are stories and Jacob will do his best to fill in the blanks for you when he does have that information available.

If you like his work, you can support him on Patreon where $3 will get you a postcard.

watch “TheCrafsMan” – youtube



Voiced by a man with the most gentle, soothing and pleasant southern accent every emitted by a human being, The Crafs Man Show is a DIY instructional video series on how to make anything from toys to movie props to jewelry and anything in between. The titular Crafs Man is seen as only a pair of hands and a homemade puppet that do their best to guide you step by step on things you really can do from home. Er, not right now though. Unless you have a lot of silicone laying around.

But the videos are soothing and entertaining. Perfect for when you’re trying to lull yourself to sleep or just quell an anxiety attack or throw on in the background while you work on something else. It’s hard not to become enamored with the kind and encouraging host; he seems to have a deep respect for his audience and their abilities to do as he does and ends each “episode” with a kind word to you, the viewer.

If you like his work, you can support “TheCrafsMan” on Patreon.

read the works of Øyvind Thorsby – webcomic

Someone once described the work of Thorby as “just good enough to get the general idea across” and that’s the perfect description of a comic that you may look at and go “I’m not reading this shit”. Well guess what, you judgmental freak? This is probably one of the best comics ever made and you’re missing out on it because people turn up their nose at amateur MSPaint art.

I have been evangelizing about the works of Mr. Thorsby for years and “Hitmen For Destiny” was my entry point to his specific, unbelievably strong brand of humor. Each story is a comedy of errors or a Shakespearean farce filled with bizarre monsters whose intricate and alien biology is almost always central to some sort of horrific mishap the main characters are going to fall into. The plot is a long burning chain reaction in which every possible thing goes wrong. There’s plenty of other comics to read, but my personal favorite is, and will always be, “Hitmen for Destiny”, a story about a woman who stands at the center of a series of prophesies that will save the world and the two extra-dimensional g-men (?) who are supposed to keep her on track without revealing themselves. They fuck it up on the first page. Get reading!

watch “riverdale” – Netflix/Hulu

This is the only thing I’ll add to this list that you’ll have to pay real human money for (unless oh well, you know. You can find a lot of things online is all I’m saying.) and you’re already probably driving to my house to pick me up and dramatically hurl me through a window for even suggesting it. I am telling you right now, from the bottom of my heart, “Riverdale” is the only thing I look forward to in this shitstain of an Earth. Everything about this show is wrong. The tone, the clumsy attempts by adults to try to write characters that are 1/4 their age, the overwrought acting, the ridiculous plots; this is a show that is so bad it wraps back around to good. You cannot predict a single thing that will happen in this show and nothing that happens makes sense or is normal. This is a show made by space aliens. That’s the only conceivable way that this show could exist.

Instead of trying to continue to convince you, I will just list some minor things that happen in this show:

  • Archie accidentally creates ISIS
  • A cult leader dies wearing an Evel Knievel costume next to a rocket he was planning to fly away in to escape police custody
  • Veronica starts a speakeasy for underage teens under Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe.
  • Betty joins a biker gang by doing a pole dance.
  • Archie fights a bear twice. It is not clear if it is the same bear. This happens in two non-consecutive episodes.
  • A Dungeons and Dragons-esque game sweeps through the town plunging it into chaos because teens start committing satanic murders to play the game.
  • Archie has a sexual affair with Mrs. Grundy.
  • Betty and her mom dispose of a body.
  • Jughead dies.

Please watch “Riverdale”.

listen to “We Hate Movies” –

Bad movie podcasts are a dime a dozen now, but these self-described “fat guys from New York” have been in the game longer than most and have a special place in my heart for being able to consistently make me laugh and giving me something to look forward to every week. Regular episodes are up to 2 hours of content in which the boys take their time slowly ripping apart movies that range from terrible to good bad to the classic category of “you can watch this hungover”. Foul, yet not offensive, the boys dig into movies you forgot (or wish you forgot) from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

If you want a good starting point, hunt down literally any of the mailbag episodes in which readers share the most hair-curling stories I have ever heard in my entire life. I cannot believe people experience these things but they absolutely could and that is the most terrifying prospect of all.

You can support “We Hate Movies” on Patreon where they have a huge onslaught of bonus episodes for you to peruse. My favorite is the “Gleep Glossary”, a deep dive into little known and very dumb Star Wars characters.

watch “found footage fest” :


An enormous trove of carefully and lovingly clipped snippets of VHS movies found in thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets, Found Footage Fest is a love letter to the period of time when anyone could record anything they wanted on a reasonable budget with batshit insane results. There was, in real life, a period of time where there was a market for instructional videos on how to solicit and enjoy cybersex. People once received videos of eligible bachelors being as uncomfortably frank as humanly possible about their personal quest to find their goddess. This is real human history we have to cling to lest we forget that every moment in human history has been weird as hell. Every video is a little grotesque time capsule and snippet of the collective id of humanity. Everyone has been weird, forever, and we can and should celebrate the incredibly niche markets that we could only be privy by the grace of god preserving these tapes. There is nothing but good stuff on this website. Make good use of it. Learn somethin’.

play “space funeral” – thecatamites

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how there’s an entire generation of artists, writers and game creators out there who can credit an enormous amount of influence to the works of thecatamites who spent the entire first half of the 2010s sculpting and tapping into a sense of humor that resonated with a bunch of weirdos (myself included). “Space Funeral” is equal parts despairing, hilarious, dark and shameless. The deliberately garish landscape and grotesque protagonists use the basic, no-frills RPGmaker game systems. The music is as eclectic as the game’s visuals (Japanese noise rock, 1960s electronica, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) and deeply vital to maintaining the dream-like structure that the rest of the games exudes. The game system keeps it grounded and gives you something familiar to tether yourself to, but everything is, and remains, one of a kind and novel almost a decade later. There is nothing in the works directly inspired by it that captures the same, sincere essence of a pure love of making things that appeal directly to you that “Space Funeral” represents.

“Space Funeral” is free, but thecatemites other games are inexpensive and equally wonderful.

Okay that’s it. Get the fuck outta here.