Retro Film Nostalgia, Movie Collectibles & VHS Collections – Cult Following Episode #58

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In this episode. Victor, Kirby and Joshua look back at nostalgia and film; how what we were into as kids shaped us as collectors and film fans and we talk about some of the companies turning nostalgia into palpable collectibles today — from Shout Factory to NECA, we talk collectibles, blu rays, VHS and more in this episode.

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Review: The Exhausting, Weaponized Stupidity of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ (2017)

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Two hours into a ‘Transformers’ movie, something happens to me.

It’s like this every time.

Sometime after the fifth giant action sequence and before Optimus Prime makes his speech to the Autobots I start to question everything. Is it hot in here? It’s really hot outside. I know that. 117 degrees. No joke. Maybe the air conditioning isn’t really designed for temperatures like that. Not in a theater this big. Was it this hot at the beginning of the movie? When was the beginning of the movie? One hour ago? Three hours ago? It’s so hard to say. Time doesn’t mean much any more. Nothing much means anything any more. I don’t know if this is ever going to end. I’ve kind of resigned myself to it at this point. That point came way earlier. The numbing complacency usually kicks in sometime after the second slow-motion explode-a-thon and the third incomprehensibly bad John Turturro appearance (He’s in Cuba this time. ) So where was I? What’s happening?

Oh yeah. It’s really hot. Was it this hot earlier? I take off my hat. Maybe that will help. On the screen two submarines are crashing into each other while robots hold on and have an underwater fight. I don’t know which robots. I tried to keep up. I really, really did. (At one point there was one called Nitro Zeus.) Was this guy to my left always taking the whole armrest? Why didn’t I take that aisle seat when I could have? Because the showing is in 3D, that’s why. What are you gonna do? Sold out show. I got there three hours early for the advanced screening. Thought that was enough. It was, but only barely. By the time I got in, only thing available were the first two rows or the third row on the aisle. 3D is so bad on the aisle. I decided on the middle of the second row. Bad idea. Because I can swear this guy to the left of me is taking way more room than he did before. Sold out show. We have no luxuries like buffer seats. No press passes this time. No roped-off area and last-minute arrivals.

Tonight I’m one of the people.

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And why? Why am I doing this? Again.

My buddy is to my right. We have seen every Transformers movie in the theaters together. Well, almost all of them. We didn’t know each other for the first one, but every one since the second one ‘Revenge of the Fallen.’ We always just call it “the one with the really racist stereotype robots.” (After this one, I don’t think we’ll be able to use that anymore.) What’s that famous saying about soldiers? “You fight for the guy next to you?” That’s why I’m here. We started something damn it, and we are intent on seeing it through. And every time we say the same things. We say “never again.” We lament why we wasted our time. We hope in vain that there won’t be a sequel (there will be. There will always be more. I’ve accepted that by now.) When did the last one come out? 2014? Is there some kind of scientific psychological study that says it takes approximately three years for the memory of Transformers trauma to wear off? It’s possible. So much of this film seems designed by algorithm. It’s like an aggregate of Earth’s psyche was analyzed and an advanced AI spat-out a self-replicating bouquet of jingoistic despair and fart jokes.

The guy to my left is definitely taking up more space than he was before. My legs are getting uncomfortable. Left Seat Guy is what they call “manspreading” (I read that in an internet article last week. Makes sense.) So I “manspread” back. I cross my legs. I forgot that I took my hat off. I’d set it in my lap. Now it falls on the ground. I doubt the cleanliness of these floors. There are so many kids here. Kids spill soda. That’s at least 35% of what kids do in movies. I don’t want my hat down there. I look for it. So hard to see with these dark 3D glasses. I take them off. Still can’t see the hat. Damn. I’ll have to wait until the movie is over.

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I look at the screen. Optimus Prime is riding a three-headed robot dragon. He says “I’m Optimus Prime” like… four or more times in this movie. I’m serious. My friend and I can’t stop laughing. He just said it again. Now that’s five times. We know you’re Optimus Prime, dude. That’s maybe the only thing we know any more.

There was a point I thought this might have been a good movie. Stay with me now. I actually kind of liked ‘Dark of the Moon.’ Although I think I mostly liked it because I had just visited Chicago for the first time before seeing the movie. And it’s set in Chicago. So it was really cool seeing a city I sort of recognized being demolished. I even got to see them shooting it a little bit when I was there. I mean sure it wasn’t great, but it also wasn’t as aggressively dumb as ‘Revenge of the Fallen.’ And really at that point my expectations were as low as they could be. Even the last movie ‘Age of Extinction’ wasn’t completely terrible. It had T.J. Miller. He’s always hilarious. And Dinobots.  And I started this one with a little hope. I knew it would be dumb and too long. Still… it could be okay.

And frankly for the first three minutes I thought I might really enjoy this. It starts with King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table fighting off barbarian hordes. Swords clash, catapults explode. I start picturing how cool it would be if Michael Bay directed a medieval movie. Or a fantasy movie. Michael Bay Dungeons & Dragons?

Then it happens. Stanley Tucci playing a drunken Merlin comes on screen and starts belching and making terrible jokes that the audience thinks are just hilarious. There it is. This is a ‘Transformers’ movie. I almost forgot. Then a giant robot introduces yet another artifact of great power which must not fall into the wrong hands and will save the planet.

This movie is monumentally asinine. The plot consistently contradicts itself. There is frustratingly bad writing (Vivian needs to find something in her father’s study. She doesn’t know where it will be, only that it’s a place where only she would be able to find it. Her and Marky Mark tear apart the study, destroying everything – there is a bit about the stuffy British ladies downstairs thinking it’s them getting it on – then after they destroy the study she says “perhaps it’s in my secret hiding place.” Spoiler! It is!)

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One of the most frustrating things about the characters is that they are barely characters at all. Mark Wahlberg’s Cade is an inventor. In ‘Age of Extinction’ he actually invented things. In this film his role is relegated to yelling at CGI robots and being the eponymous Last Knight (which means something I guess. Mostly it means that he uses a giant sword during small part of the endless crescendo of climaxes which make up the unbearable final act of the film.) Cade doesn’t use what he knows to save the day. He uses his connection to a MacGuffin. Same with Laura Haddock’s Vivian (The New Megan Fox Replacement who bears a striking resemblance to a younger Angelina Jolie.) Vivian is a highly-educated professor who is never called upon to know anything. Her job is to wear tight dresses and be related to Merlin so that she can use the other MacGuffin.

But look… You’re not here for any of that are you? This movie is critic proof. You know it’s going to be bad. You just want to know how bad. Well reader, it’s pretty bad. Is it however devoid of merit? Depends of what you mean by merit. Have you ever wanted to see Academy Award winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins in a car chase driven by a brain-damaged butler robot voiced by ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Jim Carter rapping Ludacris’s “Move bitch, get out the way?” If the answer is yes, boy do I have the movie for you. Have you wanted to see a baby Dinobot pterodactyl carry a bottle of Bud Light to Marky Mark with the label facing the camera in an almost satirical example of product placement? How about a robot t-rex vomiting out a car?

The movie has to be almost over. It has to.

This is the seventh climax. I don’t know what to tell you about the plot. What does it matter? What does anything matter? You’re going to see this movie. Everyone is going to see this movie. We never had any chance. Even if you don’t see it in the theater, it will be on Netflix someday. Or it will be playing on hotel room cable. There is no escaping it.

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Why are these movies always so long? I fully believe that if this film were two hours, heck even ninety minutes, it would still make as much money. And these movies can’t be cheap. The Michael Bay machine employs some of the most talented second unit directors and CGI artists in the industry. The money is on the screen. Maybe it’s just the formula. Maybe they’re afraid that without the multiple ending action sequences or the pretty girl who is just there to be pretty or the dumb John Turturro bits or the exact same speech Optimus Prime gives in every film… maybe they feel the magic would be gone. Is it magic? It feels more like dark science. It feels like The Algorithm is laughing at me.

The house lights come up. The movie isn’t even over yet. It’s as if they’re trying to save us. Optimus Prime’s voice over starts. I know this must be the end. It’s bright in here now. I look on the ground and find my hat. Thankfully it’s not covered in soda. The credits start. I start to leave. Over the credits there is a cliffhanger for a sequel. Of course there is.

There will always be a sequel.

My buddy and I will be there. We have no choice any more. We deserve this.

 

‘TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT’ IS IN THEATERS ON JUNE 23RD, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Get Out’ – Secrets, Easter eggs and References from Jordan Peele’s Commentary

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We are currently halfway through 2017 and ‘Get Out’ is still my favorite film of the year. It has remained consistently fascinating and re-watchable. I saw it four times in theaters. I love it. Judging from the 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the massive box office for its budget, I don’t think I’m alone in this opinion. I recently picked up the Blu-Ray which is loaded with special features. There is an alternate ending, tons of deleted scenes and one of the most info-loaded commentaries I’ve ever heard. Jordon Peele is a massive fan of horror film and he filled ‘Get Out’ with homages to some of his favorites. On the terrific commentary he also goes into detailed background on the story. I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I learned. I hope you find this wealth of information as fascinating as I did.

*This article obviously contains spoilers.

I will be quoting Jordan Peele directly throughout the article. It’s awesome that he gave fans the kind of commentary that he would want to listen to.

“I’m going the full director blabbermouth route. In the beginning I was thinking like ‘hey, should I try and leave it like Kubrick so for years to come people are trying to piece together the mysteries of fucking ‘Get Out?’ Or should I just totally nerd out and tell you guys every detail I can possibly fit in?’ Which is exactly what I would want in a director’s commentary. So I did the nerd route.”

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-LORE AND MYTHOLOGY-

THE RED ALCHEMISTS SOCIETY

There is a ton of fascinating information contained in the commentary but my favorite has to do with the lore and myths of the ‘Get Out’ universe. Early in the film we see Jeremy Armitage  (Caleb Landry Jones) attack Andre (Lakeith Stanfield) wearing a metal helmet. This is specifically a helmet of the Knights Templar. The order which the Armitages and the guests at the party belong to is called The Red Alchemists Society. They are descended from the Knights Templar.

“They believe they are destined for immortality and deity status. Over hundreds of years they have worked to figure out through science a way to achieve the power of The Holy Grail.”

One of the symbols of The Red Alchemists Society is the Stag which can be seen above the TV in the basement as well as other places throughout the house.

THE PERFECT BEING

During the tour of the house, Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) tells Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) how his father was a track and field athlete and was beat in the qualifying round of the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Jesse Owens. “Within that we find sort of a motive for why the family ‘has it in for black people’ so to speak. Back in the day, Roman Armitage was physically beat by a black man on the world stage and he never got over it. He became obsessed with this idea that black people have more God-given advantages and that combined with a white man’s determination, you could make the perfect being.”

THE AUCTION

“I wanted to keep the particulars of how this auction works mysterious. What are the numbers? Are they millions of dollars? Billions of dollars? In my particular lore… The Knights Templar who this group are descended from were collectors of antiquities and treasures… They trade amongst each other these relics and artifacts. The numbers he is holding up are the amount of relics.”

THE SUNKEN PLACE

“This is meant to be a construct of Chris’s mind. It is a representation of his own worst fear. This place, this time he was powerless and sort of confined to this constraint and all he could do is watch this TV… The Sunken Place is experienced differently for everyone else. It is a state of mind created by your own brain based on Missy’s sort of latching on to your deepest fear or darkest moment so that Andre, the woman that Georgina is or Walter all live in a sort of marginalized state. They can see through the eyes of their captor but they can’t do anything… Everyone’s room and Sunken Place would look different.”

THE ARMITAGE FAMILY

“So this is all carefully planned dynamic from the family. The whole lore of this movie goes that Rose and Jeremy were basically raised to do this purpose. From a young age they were groomed into these wranglers… So every step here is very calculated. Missy is the master of the plan of how to get them there and how to maintain the illusion. She understands psychology. Dean is the master of the science of the operation.”

Rose/Ro-Ro – Peele calls the evil version of Rose (Allison Williams) ‘Ro-Ro’ and says she is probably his favorite character in the movie. Ro-Ro is a distinctly different personality than Rose, even down to the fact that she wears her hair in a pony tail. Once it is revealed that she is part of the conspiracy and Missy paralyzes Chris, Rose immediately puts her hair in a pony tail.

Jeremy – “I think Jeremy secretly wants Chris’s body. He’s into this idea that he might be able to get that body and become better at jiu-jitsu.”

Georgina and Walter – Peele says that the grandparents are told to stay away from the operation because they are not good at deceit and may give it away. They are offended at being pushed to the side and act resentfully which explains some of their strange behavior.

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-EASTER EGGS-

There are numerous homages throughout the film to some of Peele’s favorite horror and genre films. One film however is a favorite of Jordan Peele’s and referenced many times in the movie:

‘THE SHINING’ REFERENCES

– In the opening scene of the film, Andre says “It’s like a fuckin’ hedge maze out here” which is a reference to the Overlook Hotel hedge maze.

– The opening credits are colored light blue to match the color of the opening credits of ‘The Shining.’

– When Dean Armitage gives Chris a tour of the house, this is inspired by the scene where Jack is given a tour of The Overlook.

– The first time Georgina is seen in the kitchen is an homage to the scene of the Grady twins. The camera comes around the corner and she is patiently waiting for him just like the twins.

– The section of the film which focuses on Rod (LilRel Howery) after Chris is captured by the Armitages is like the section of ‘The Shining’ where Dick Hallorann attempts to help the Torrances (Peele also references another Stephen King story in saying this is like the Sherriff attempting to help in ‘Misery.’) I wanted to have a character on the outside offer some hope. We love Rod, so I felt like in the darkest moment of the movie we can sort of begin a new chapter.” 

OTHER REFERENCES

– The suburban street Andre walks down at the beginning of the film is similar to the neighborhood from John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween.’

– The white Porsche that Jeremy Armitage drives is a few references in one. Peele wanted it to be a faceless monster like the shark in Jaws. Also as you can’t see the driver, he was using the “car as a mask” referencing both John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’ as well as Steven Spielberg’s first film ‘Duel’ in which a man is ruthlessly pursued by a malicious truck with an unseen driver.

– The ‘Behold the Coagula’ video was inspired by the Dharma Initiative videos from ‘Lost.’

– The film is very reminiscent of ‘The Stepford Wives.’ Peele often describes the film as “‘The Stepford Wives’ meets ‘The Help.'” This is most directly seen in the character of Georgina (Betty Gabriel) who is intended to convey the alarming artificiality of The Stepford Wives.

– The title of the film conjures the old Eddie Murphy comedy routine about “The Amityville Horror’ and how a black family would deal with that situation. A voice says “Get out!” and Murphy immediately says “Too bad we can’t stay, baby…”

– The scene of Walter (Marcus Henderson) running at Chris in the dark which prompted countless ‘Get Out challenge’ videos was inspired by the classic plane scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North By Northwest.’ “One of my favorite things is using depth… Somebody running at you just creates a visceral and physical reaction from the audience.”

– The scene where Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener) hypnotizes Chris is inspired by ‘The Silence of The Lambs’ and Hannibal Lecter’s mastery of being able to get into Clarice Starling’s head.

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-OTHER INTERESTING TIDBITS-

– The font used in the opening credits is the same as the ‘Behold the Coagula’ video.

– The composer for the film is first timer Michael Abels. Peele wanted something never heard before. He requested “give me black voices with a sinister sound that’s not voodoo. A disembodied or Satanic negro spiritual.”

– When we first see Chris, he is putting white on his face (as he is shaving.) This is to foreshadow what will be attempted on him later.

– Rose has the same smile at the beginning of the film while selecting pastries as she has at the end when she is using her laptop and looking at photos of men, selecting who her next victim would be.

– Early in the film, Chris says to Rose “I don’t wanna be chased off the lawn with a shotgun.” This foreshadows the end of the film when Rose fires a shotgun at him across the lawn.

– Rose defends Chris when the police officer asks him for ID saying that he does not have to show it as he was not driving. Her real motivation for this was so the cop would not be able to identify him when he goes missing.

– During the backyard iced tea scene, Missy Armitage can be seen laying the groundwork for her later hypnotizing of Chris by clinking the teacup with her spoon as he is talking about his mother.

– The stuffed lion next to Rose’s bed is because “The lion is a symbol of Christ and of course the Knights Templar.”

– When Walter/Roman Armitage is seen out running at night it is because he is training. He believes that with his new body, he could beat Jesse Owens’ time.

– On the closet door in Rose’s room which is continually left open: “In my mythology of this: Rose is so sick and twisted that she always leaves the door a little bit open… That’s part of the thrill of the hunt- leaving a tantalizing opening for Chris to find these pictures. That’s just part of her character. Her sort of flaw is she’s sort of like a cat and mouse.”

– On the cotton Chris uses to plug his ears near the end of the film: “I was intending the irony of picking cotton is what ends up saving this African American from slavery.”

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-RACIAL METAPHOR-

Jordan Peele speaks frankly about the strong racial meaning of the film:

“The Sunken Place amongst other things is a metaphor for the marginalization of the black horror movie audience. We are a loyal horror movie fanbase and we’re relegated to the theater, not on the screen. We don’t have representation of our skin in horror films, nor do we have representation of our sensibilities and our ability to observe trouble before it happens and our ability to excuse ourselves… This movie for me was an answer to the lack of representation. I think as a culture, as a country our lack of ability to talk about race- specifically the prison industrial system complex and the disproportionate amount of black people (mostly men) who are literally abducted, thrown into a hole and tossed to the back of our minds. These people are tossing black men to the back of their minds literally and figuratively. The Sunken Place is a metaphor for that particular marginalization.”

“This movie is sort of meant to be my take on ‘Frankenstein.’ In many ways, The African American experience is this country’s Frankenstein’s Monster.”

 

‘GET OUT’ IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DIGITAL NOW

 

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Review: The Bad Batch (2017)

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A BATCH OF SPOILERS AHEAD

I’m perfectly fine and able to accept a movie that isn’t holding my hand, telling me about just what the heck is going on but, if that’s the case, at least make things interesting for a reason. If someone is building an alternative timeline world for me to accept then I need some footing as well as a little bit of a “wow” factor. Dangle that treat in front of my face and make me beg for more. I don’t need razzle-dazzle over-the-top craziness but marbling fat in all the right places makes things so much sweeter.

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Spoilercast: The Mummy & Wonder Woman – Cult Following Episode #57

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In this episode of Cult Folowing, join Kirby Nelson, Victor Moreno and Joshua Ruth as we do a spoilercast episode with our spoiler-filled thoughts on THE MUMMY and WONDER WOMAN, as well as an in-depth discussion of CULT MASSACRE and retro analog VHS culture vs. modern streaming alternatives and their effect on cult film. We also chat about a few documentaries, including DUMB: THE STORY OF BIG BROTHER MAGAZINE, FUTURESHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000 A.D., plus HEAVEN’S GATE and recent VOD horror including PATCHWORK. Check out our conversation on CultFollowing.co and follow us on iTunes and Soundcloud!

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