It wasn’t until I finished the series that I found out there was a movie, oh boy. The gang is back together, so who knows where this takes place chronologically. Terrorists have a sort of Dreamcatcher/Prometheus plot to grow the nanobots up in the water supply, killing the world, and only our heroes can put the pieces together in time. The movie’s focus on sub-Garbage 90’s technopop music or visual fx is never impressive, but the compositions and characters always are.

“The effort of everything to become language…” Audrey unpacks in a hotel to church music, reads family letters in a library research room, then explains the nature of correspondence to someone unseen at a bar – more than halfway through the movie we’ll finally see this person, Audrey’s translator, who has a different take on the letters. Aunt Anya has a different take on Audrey’s entire project, having donated the letters in the first place, apparently without permission, and saying Audrey isn’t a proper curator. After the relative stillness of the previous films, this disagreement counts as a major action scene.

Revelations in the Cinema Scope cover story: Campbell was improvising some of the stories about her grandmother to the unseen translator. Nayman frames it well, the hook being that Canadian films don’t have sequels, then building up to the evolution from Never Eat Alone through Veslemøy’s Song to this one.

Campbell: One thing that I’m really excited about is that in the next film with Audrey we’re going to give her a friend.
Bohdanowicz: She needs a friend.


Also watched her short The Hardest Working Cat in Showbiz (2020). Dan Sallitt doesn’t have as good a narrator voice as Deragh Campbell, but tells a good story, tracing the film appearances of a cat who appeared in Tourneur’s Stranger on Horseback and supposedly many other movies over decades.

Kalat says this was the sixth Mabuse movie, a combination sequel and remake. It has some typical sequel behavior, taking its villain backstory too far by explaining that brain abnormalities cause his evil power. Other than this, it’s a pretty good movie, much better than the 60’s Fantômas update.

Inspector Gert Fröbe (fresh off Fritz Lang’s own 1960 Mabuse movie) knows only one criminal mind could be behind a counterfeiting ring, but Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss, also from the Lang) is secured in an asylum, so he visits the place and discovers that a doctor (the prolific Walter Rilla, who started out with Murnau’s Finances of the Grand Duke) is being hypnotized into passing along the mastermind’s messages. Corrupt cop Flocke tries to atone by getting into Mabuse’s gang, but is killed… Boxer Johnny joins the gang then finds he and his girl are trapped… the doctor apparently survives to appear in the next two movies.

Harmless Mabuse scribbles away while Gert reviews his notes and the bowtie doctor observes:

Trapped boxer:

Mind-controlled doctor takes a drive:

“In case you’re wondering I’m essentially an infinite me.”

They finally did it. I haven’t rewatched the originals since their premieres, but all essential backstory is dutifully repeated here. I love that in all their possible messed-up futures, Bill and Ted are still together – it’s never even dreamed that they wouldn’t be together. Their daughters Billie and Thea, traveling through time collecting famous musicians like in the first movie, are clearly being set up as the actual chosen-ones who will play the song that heals all of time and space – so clearly that the actual reveal is less of a “whoa” and more of a “yeah finally” – but maybe this was designed to distract us from the movie’s real twist, that the perfect song Bill & Ted spend all movie (and half their lives) looking for doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter what they play, as long as they all play it together. This… should not have made me cry… and I’m not saying it did… but it’s been a heavy year, huh?

From the original writers and the director of Galaxy Quest. Thea is from Three Billboards, Billie from Action Point, Kristen Schaal replacing Rufus (who appears briefly as a hologram), and they’ve got the original Death. NoHo Hank from Barry plays a robot assassin, and I love this guy in everything. Brittany Runs a Marathon star Jillian Bell is couples therapist for Bill & Ted and their princesses (who have been recast to be younger: Erinn Hayes of Childrens Hospital, and Jayma Mays of American Made). Kid Cudi is most excellent as himself.

“Running away from myself, I guess.” From the moment Ghost Scatman appeared to dump exposition, we know this is gonna be a big obvious movie. This was my token stinker of the month, which I watched in segments while falling asleep after having watched a proper movie… most of my notes consist of the timecode where I left off, and variations on “movie is so bad.”

“I know that head of yours is like a radio sometimes” – nice True Stories reference. Shining-era flashback actors are recast, and present-day Danny (Ewan McGregor) teams up with his 12-step sponsor (Cliff Curtis of M. Night’s Last Airbender) and a young psychic named Abra. Meanwhile, King turns this into a mini-Stand, the villains also gathering. We get an intro to Rose The Hat’s vampire gang who feeds on shining-kids when Rose (Rebecca Ferguson of the Missions: Impossible) recruits Snakebite Emily Alyn Lind (who was in Enter The Void when she was six, oh my) outside of the Plaza Theater (!) and we meet the others, led by Carel “it is happening again” Struycken, who soon dies of shining-starvation.

Billy dies when our heroes ambush the baddies, killing most of them, then Danny leads Rose to the Overlook to trap her somehow. He chats with Lloyd the bartender doing a mild Jack impression, played by the E.T. kid (another Spielbeg-Kubrick crossover so soon after Ready Player One). Danny blows up the hotel (what, again?) to kill the vengeful ghosts that killed Rose, I guess. Think I heard a Dark Tower reference… definitely noticed one house address was 1980 (ugh). Real TV-movie energy with very talky villains – the actors seem game, so I’ll blame this on King and Flanagan.

Child’s Play (1988, Tom Holland)

First off, the baddie is known as The Strangler, but he has a getaway driver – what strangler has accomplices? He’s also a powerful satanist, and when cornered by a cop in a poorly staged toy-store shootout, he pours his soul into little Chucky, which our boy Andy’s mom buys from a “peddler” in a back alley (I dunno why I find it funny that they use the word peddler so many times).

Chucky kills mom’s friend the babysitter first, which is investigated by the guy who shot The Strangler – he’s the only cop in town, and doesn’t do a useful thing in the whole movie. Then Chucky takes Andy on some adventures into the city, first to blow up the house of his getaway driver (who escaped from police! the police not coming off great in this film) then to his voodoo guru’s house. Chucky rightly points out that gurus shouldn’t tell their clients where their own voodoo doll is hidden, then kills the doll after getting the vital info that he can only soul-transfer into the first person to whom he revealed his identity, so, Andy. Standoff ensues, finally mom and Andy and the fuckup cops killing the hell out of the killer doll. I’d forgotten how great Chucky looks in these – some real attention paid to the effects.

Holland directed Fright Night, and a Whoopi Goldberg action-comedy that I’ve somehow never heard of, even though in the late 80’s I definitely tried to watch all the Whoopi Goldberg action-comedies. Writer/creator Don Mancini has stayed involved in the whole series. Andy’s mom is Catherine Hicks (whale scientist of Star Trek IV). Brad Dourif, undistinctive as the human killer but next-level as the doll’s voice, has been in a ton of things, always best when he’s playing crazy. The cop had just played the evil prince in Princess Bride, was later the voice of Jack Skellington. Poor Andy would mainly keep playing Andy.

Dourif opens a locked door the way you do in movies: by firing a glancing shot a couple inches from the deadbolt:

Andy’s mom checks out the Mighty Damballa:


Child’s Play 2 (1990, John Lafia)

Chucky’s skull is salvaged by toy company, a great idea! The Mike Pence-like boss wants the thing investigated as part of a relaunch of the doll line, and it’s not a great sign when a chintzy electrocution effect throws a company engineer through the window. Andy’s mom is off recovering in an institution, so the kid is set up with a foster family: two bickering parents and a cool motorcycle chick, while Chucky slaughters the company flunky who took him home (hey, finally some strangling from The Strangler).

Since everyone loves a mass murdering doll, the movie is trying harder to be funny and quippy… Chucky complaining about “women drivers” while the chick is trying to shake him of her car is a low, but foster-home manager dying on a photocopier is cute. This is the one with the memorable ending back in the toy factory, where Andy and the chick kill Chucky in six different ways.

Chucky fashions himself a Terminator 2 knife-hand:

Lafia was a writer on part one, also directed an Ally Sheedy dog horror. Grace Zabriskie (appearing in Twin Peaks at the time) played the foster-home manager. Walkabout star Jenny Agutter is foster mom, Beef from Phantom of the Paradise is foster dad. The motorcycle chick is Christine Elisa, who was in Body Snatchers with Meg Tilly, sister of Bride of Chucky star Jennifer Tilly.

Great scene: three people here know this is a hostage situation, Grace is oblivious:


Child’s Play 3 (1991, Jack Bender)

Years later, we’ve reached the limits of young Andy as an actor, so he’s recast as a teen in military school. At the toy company, Mike Pence is back, arguing with an Ebert-type that the dolls should be rebooted again, and this time the resurrected Chucky kills the boss himself.

Stop putting police and military shit into my killer doll movies. Hardly anything of interest here, the military school providing new friends and enemies for Andy before Chucky leads them off-campus to a carnival. It’s jokier than ever, and goes against its own mythology in a desperate attempt to keep going. Chucky kills a garbage man, the barber, replaces their paintballs with live ammo before a war-game, then waves a gun around inside the carnival haunted house until he’s dropped into a giant fan.

The barber!

Bender would later direct a significant chunk of Lost episodes, and a couple of well-regarded Stephen King TV series. Very happy to see Kirsty’s dad Andrew Robinson making the most of the barber role – he would later be a regular on Deep Space Nine. New Andy is Justin Whalin, soon to be a TV star on Lois and Clark.

Sorry other actors, I only care about the barber:

Part one was the masterpiece that I remembered, and part two… well, it’s a sequel, it’s fine. Maybe losing Stuart Gordon (who was filming Robot Jox instead) was a real problem, or maybe it’s just sequelitis, or I should relax, since this is still quite good.

Dan has no self-respect, is still palling around with the clearly mad Herbert, who is doing gruesome experiments in an unsupervised warzone before returning to the hospital of part one, where he claims he’s doing important work but mostly fucks around reanimating whimsically-joined body parts.

Curious Dr. Graves (Mel Stewart of Shirley Clarke’s Cool World) awakens the evil psychic head of Dr. Hill. As before, emotionally fragile Dan tries to have a love life (Fabiana Udenio of the second Austin Powers) and West accidentally kills someone (this time a cop!) whom he has to resurrect to get out of trouble. And sure as shit, they go the full Frankenstein, making a Bride out of stolen body parts, causing a love-triangle problem for Dan, who chooses life, so the new creature tears her own heart out.

World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime (2020, Don Hertzfeldt)

Hertzfeldt comes up with his biggest horror yet: embedded-HUD popup ads. A future Emily backup clone contacts a past David and sends him on a disfiguring journey to retrieve secret messages about the clandestine between-time assassinations of various Davids by other Davids. It’s twisty! And excellent, and full of more wonderful quotes, and I’ll be watching these forever.


Stump the Guesser (2020, Maddin/Johnson/Johnson)

The Odenkirk-looking Guesser (The Editor from The Editor) is renowned for his abilities, but when he runs out of guessing milk, things go bad and his guessing license is revoked. But during this time he falls in love with his long-lost sister, spends some time scientifically disproving theories of heredity in order to marry her, but things go badly at the end when he has to guess which door she’s behind. Some fun leaps of logic and distorted visuals here, but I wasn’t feeling it as much as other Maddin films.


Accounting for some other things watched recently… The Mads from MST3K have been doing monthly live shows. I checked out Glen or Glenda, a movie that’s so busy explaining itself that it never gets to the movie, and told Neil:

That was… really fun. That’s the most I’ve enjoyed a MST3K-related thing since the end of the sci-fi channel years. I don’t know if it’s because of their obvious affection for the material, or if I’m just in the right mood. I’d never seen the feature either – shame on me, after digging the Tim Burton version for 25 years now (oh you just tried to watch it, is it cringey now? Is it Johnny Depp’s fault?) and the Mads nailed it in their intro when they said this movie has everything, but it also has nothing.

Next was The Tingler, which I already just barely remember (also explainy, features Vincent Price)… then the truly baffling, tensionless version of The Most Dangerous Game called Walk The Dark Street. I think the guy from The Rifleman played the baddie. Then some shorts I should track and name, but am not gonna.


Hannah Gadsby’s Douglas is her stand-up comedy special to follow Nanette, which was the special to end stand-up comedy, and yet she pulls off the follow-up by creating another perfectly-constructed show and this time being breathtakingly funny. That sounds like a cliche, but I had to pause the show to catch my breath.

And Katy and I watched something called Australia: Land of Parrots, which is everything you’d dream it would be, and I should just play it on a loop.