Terror has No Shape

The Blob (1988) is a B movie with a big budget. The remake is another 80’s version of a 50’s monster movie. Much like The Thing (1982) or The Fly (1986), The Blob (1988) shows just how gory the concept can get. The remake retains the small town, teenage protagonists, non-believing police, and an unlucky old man finding the Blob falling to Earth in a meteor. Except this version has an 80’s appropriate cynical tone. The Blob is pinker, faster, more sentient, and able to grab people with tendrils. Deaths are horrifying with the dissolving process shown in graphic detail.

Its weakness to cold is the same, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few unexpected surprises. The stereotypical jock is made to seem like the hero until he dies almost immediately. Instead 80’s delinquent Brian is the unlikely hero. A young Kevin Dillon plays Brian and first time “scream queen” Shawnee Smith plays cheerleader Meg who starts to warm up to him. The Blob’s rampage racks up a high body count in familiar places like the movie theater and unfamiliar places like the sewer.

The biggest difference between the original and remake is the origin of the Blob. 50’s audiences accept an alien from outer space, but 80’s audiences need a conspiracy theory (or a reverend professising the end of the world). So the Blob is now a bioweapon gone wrong that the Government is trying to cover up. Men in hazmat suits are just as bad as the creature they created. The Blob (1988) may be in it for the kills, but there is a brain hidden under all that mayhem.

The Blob 1988

The Blob eats

Remake of: The Blob (1958)

The Monster that Ate Everybody

Beware! The Blob is a B movie’s B movie. Even though The Blob ended with a question mark, it took 14 years to get a sequel. I knew about the 1958 original for years, but the 1972 Beware! The Blob is practically lost. The cast isn’t entirely unknown, but the director is probably the most notable aspect. Beware! The Blob is shot by J.R. himself Larry Hagman. Although the budget was increased, somehow the quality feels worse.

The acting is even more bizarre with characters who are only around to get eaten. The plot is a much more 70’s version of the original with hippies running around. The Blob returns when a dimwitted engineer brings a sample back from the arctic. It’s clearly a sequel, even though characters can be seen watching The Blob on TV. The rampage starts up again with the Blob eating flies and cats before consuming half the town.

The Blob itself is bright red and resembles jelly more than it did before. Roles are reversed with teenager Lisa having to convince her boyfriend Bobby of the attacks. Of course no one believes them until it’s too late. This time the final rampage is at a bowling alley and the source of cold that defeats it is an ice rink. The sequel ends with another question mark, but nothing ever materialized. Beware! The Blob is a product of the 70’s.

Beware the Blob

The Blob attacks

Preceded by: The Blob

It Eats You Alive!

The Blob is a B movie that devours the competition. Originally released as a double feature with I Married a Monster from Outer Space, The Blob took on a life of its own. I’ve known about the iconic monster for years, but I never watched the 1958 movie. Mostly because I always thought it was colorized from a black & white version. Turns out the The Blob is just very colorful. It’s a cheesy B movie with a campy theme song, questionable acting, and a seemingly laughable threat.

Yet the Blob is actually more terrifying than it looks. It’s surprisingly based on a true story involving star jelly discovered in 1950 Pennsylvania. The Blob is a red gelatinous mass that falls from a meteor and quickly consumes everything in its path. Nothing can stop it! The more it eats, the bigger it becomes! The Blob is an early horror film centered around teenagers, because it was made for the drive-in generation. Even though newcomer Steve McQueen clearly isn’t a teenager, he does manage to show off his driving skills.

Together with co-star Aneta Corsaut as his sweetheart Jane and a group of friends, Steve attempts to warn the town. The police don’t believe them until things get worse. The Blob first consumes a poor old man, doctors, and random townspeople until it reaches a movie theater. Engulfing an entire diner with the main characters in it is surprisingly tense. The Blob genuinely feels unstoppable until it gets cold. Ending its reign of terror (or does it?). The Blob grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

The Blob

The Blob

Followed by: Beware! The Blob

Be Kind

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a top contender for weirdest movie ever made. The directing duo Daniels was previously responsible for the equally bizarre Swiss Army Man. Everything Everywhere All at Once is just as independent, but it became a surprise hit for A24. The movie seemed to come out of nowhere, even with the Rosso Brothers attached as producers. I didn’t officially become interested until people started comparing it more favorably to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Can you believe it’s more strange than a movie with “Strange” in the title? The multiverse is a concept that’s been continuously exploited in the last few years. Everything from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to Rick and Morty. It’s hard to believe Daniels had their multiverse idea before either were released.

Everything Everywhere All at Once has already been called one of the greatest movies ever made, but I’ll be that one person who doesn’t completely understand why. It does check a lot of boxes in modern Hollywood. Everything Everywhere All at Once is told in 3 parts of the title. Everything is almost indistinguishable from a foreign film. Though intended for Jackie Chan, the lead works better with Michelle Yeoh as a struggling Chinese-American mother and wife who owns a laundromat. Evelyn Quan Wang feels like the biggest role of her career since she’s asked to do things I never expected to see from her. At first I didn’t recognize the actor playing Evelyn’s goofy husband Waymond, but that’s Short Round himself Ke Huy Quan making an unexpected comeback.

Can’t say I was surprised to see James Hong as Evelyn’s disapproving father since he’s literally in everything. You don’t have to be Asian to appreciate the movie, but I still can’t relate to a strained mother-daughter relationship. Newcomer Stephanie Hsu not so surprisingly plays Evelyn’s lesbian daughter Joy seeking acceptance. The few non-Asian cast members include Jenny Slate as a “Dog Mom” and Jamie Lee Curtis as an IRS inspector auditing the Wangs. All the multiverse stuff comes out of nowhere, but feels very reminiscent of The Matrix. Mostly because people from an “Alphaverse” are able to verse-jump in order to tap into other versions of themselves throughout the multiverse by doing something unusual. The unusual actions push the R rating a little too far into gross-out territory.

Evelyn discovers her full potential by tapping into a universe where she has badass martial arts skills. She uses it to fight the surprise villain Jobu Tupaki with limitless power who wants to destroy the multiverse. Evelyn tapping into too many universes is what leads to Everywhere. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a swirl of genres that does take advantage of the creative possibilities of a multiverse. But to avoid spoilers, I’m only going to say random things out of context. Googly eyes, movie star, racoon, Ratatouille, hot dog, fingers, rocks, piñata, anime, and everything bagel. I know the ending makes a majority of people cry, but I’m not crazy about the nihilistic tone. The message to “Be kind” does kind of save it. All at Once resolves every conflict no matter how absurd. Everything Everywhere All at Once isn’t always for me, but I can commend its commitment to originality.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Evelyn does kung fu

I Am for Making Friends

Ron’s Gone Wrong got it right. The moment I saw the trailer for Ron’s Gone Wrong, I thought it was a rip-off of The Mitchells vs. the Machines. I know that’s impossible, but they are very similar. Both are computer animated 2021 movies about the dangers of technology and social media obsession. It can’t be a coincidence that Olivia Colman also happens to voice a character in both films. Even the young black tech creator is basically the same. The difference is B-bots. B-bots are sleek spherical smartphones that make friends for kids and have no plans of overthrowing humanity. The villain is actually an evil corporate businessman trying to cover up a glitch in the system.

While The Mitchells vs. the Machines won me over immediately, I was a little more hesitant of Ron’s Gone Wrong. It’s technically a Disney movie, since 20th Century Studios made it with a new animation studio called Locksmith Animation. Although it looked harmless, I wasn’t sure about the crude animation reminiscent of Arthur Christmas. Ron’s Gone Wrong is similar to other “boy and his robot” movies, but its message is universal. Barney is a socially awkward rock loving middle schooler voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer at the height of his fame. He’s the only kid without a B-bot, but all that changes when his old fashioned father and cooky grandmother from the old country get him one for his birthday.

Ron is a typical defective robot voiced by Zach Galifianakis. Ron’s Gone Wrong is immediately funny the moment he’s on screen. What makes Ron stand out are his computing errors, violent tendencies, and ability to buy alcohol. Surprisingly adult for a kids movie. Barney learns to appreciate Ron’s differences and they eventually grow together as friends. Even Ron’s vlogger crush Savannah and prankster bully Rich learn the value of friendship. Ron’s Gone Wrong doesn’t shy away from the dangers to technology, but there’s a good compromise in the end.

Ron's Gone Wrong

Barney hangs out with Ron

Connected

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is your typical family road trip that happens to include a robot apocalypse. Sony Animation is still very hit or miss, but The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a hit that deserves way more attention. It’s got Gravity Falls writer Mike Rianda as the director, The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller as producers, an all-star comedic cast, and the unique animation of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The latter was apparent the moment I saw the first trailer with the painfully generic title Connected.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a much better title that reflects the film’s creativity. I knew Into the Spider-Verse would inspire similar animated movies, but the comic book style only works for superhero movies. So the animation is more so inspired by internet memes, doodles, pop art, and even a little live action. It’s another heavily detailed work of art that should’ve been on the big screen. Unfortunately, the Pandemic led to its eventual release on Netflix…

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

The Mitchells drive away from the robot apocalypse

The Mitchells vs. the Machines is a perfect combination of original and familiar that feels like it was made especially for me. And not just cause it features songs from random YouTube videos of the 2000’s like “Nyan Cat” or “Numa Numa.” Like me and my family, the Mitchells are weird and quirky. Katie is a college bound teenager who loves niche movies, making funny videos, and wants to go to film school. Abbi Jacobson is similar to her Disenchantment character Princess Bean since both her and Katie are ambiguously queer.

I’m glad the movie doesn’t call attention to it, because the theme can be interpreted multiple ways. Katie and her dad begin to drift apart due to her unusual interests. Rick is her father who hates technology and loves nature. Danny McBride is funny, but he has a lot of range in the more emotional scenes. The movie is mostly about their relationship, but the rest of the family helps them open up. Linda is a supportive mother who encourages everyone with gold stars. I already know what to expect from Maya Rudolph. Linda is also jealous of her seemingly perfect neighbors voiced by real life married couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen.

Aaron is an awkward kid with an obsessive love of dinosaurs. My only nitpick is Aaron’s distracting grown up voice provided by the director himself. Aside from the strong bound he has with his older sister, Aaron also develops a back and forth crush on their neighbors daughter who also loves dinosaurs. Monchi is the weird cross eyed dog who completes the Mitchell family. Unlike most animated movies, Monchi is voiced by the real life Doug the Pug. The road trip is supposed to strengthen the families relationship, but a robot uprising seems to come out of nowhere. Eric André voices your typical hip young tech company owner responsible for a device that everybody owns.

PAL is like Siri or Alexa if she turned on mankind. Olivia Colman has the right kind of trusting British voice for the AI. PAL Max robots are like giant smartphones with a sleek design and the ability to trap people in a force field. The Mitchells are humanity’s last hope as they avoid detection in their broken down station wagon while searching for a kill code. The action is a lot of fun, but the comedy is literally laugh out loud hilarious. Abrupt cutaway gags are hysterical and jokes about tech obsession are both funny and relatable.

There’s also a particularly humorous scene involving feral Furby’s. The funniest characters are a couple of malfunctioning PAL Max robots named Eric and Deborahbot 5000 who side with the Mitchells. Though the movie is longer than most animated movies, it’s all worth it to bring the Mitchells together in the end. The Mitchells vs. the Machines should’ve won Best Animated Feature, but the Academy Awards are still fixated on Disney. Luckily Sony managed to sweep most other major award shows. The Mitchells vs. the Machines is weird in the best possible way.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines 2

The Mitchells walk away from an explosion

Clowning Around

Killer Klowns from Outer Space already sounds like an April Fools joke, but it’s a very real movie that I couldn’t make up if I tried. It’s a true old fashioned B movie that delivers what it promises. It’s goofy in a so bad it’s good kind of way. Killer Klowns from Outer Space features clown themed aliens rampaging a small town. Leaving a small group of over-the-top locals to stop the invasion. Klowns use every clown trick in the book.

Their spaceship is a big top circus tent, they use cotton candy ray guns, balloon animal hunting dogs, a compressed popcorn gun, living shadow puppets, and acid throwing pies. Since the Chiodo Brothers are more known for their special effects work, each klown has a funky design that will probably scare people with a fear of clowns. They all have distinct names, but none of them are able to talk. Just disturbing warped alien laughter.

As a PG-13 horror movie, Killer Klowns from Outer Space does get away with light blood and even a comedic decapitation. Although most of the town is killed or cocooned, almost every hero survives in the end. A sequel was talked about for a long time, but Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a rare horror movie with no follow ups to its name. So it remains a stand alone cult film. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is creepy and colorful at the same time.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Killer klowns from outer space

Falling Off the Roof

Assassin’s Creed assassinated any hope that an adaptation could break the video game movie curse. No matter how promising it seemed. I’ve never played Assassin’s Creed, but I know how iconic it is. The movie had a very long production with Michael Fassbender always intended to star. Although the games usually followed a different assassin, I’m sure creating original characters was their attempt to keep fans from turning on them. Fans are probably the only people who will understand it since the convoluted plot is barely explained to casual audiences.

Cal Lynch is a modern day death row inmate abducted by the shadowy Abstergo Foundation. His body is hooked up to an advanced Animus rig that uses his DNA to unlock memories from his ancestors. Cal’s ancestor Aguilar de Nerha is part of the Assassin Brotherhood who fight the Templar Order during the 1492 Spanish Inquisition. It’s probably a lot more fun to play then to watch. Since all of his memories play out without him affecting them.

All the wrist bladed fights, rooftop jumping, and leap of faith aren’t as exciting as they should be. It doesn’t help that the signature white Assassin cloaks are a painfully dull grey. Not even a respectable cast consisting of Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, or Brendan Gleeson can save it. The horribly cliché plot centers around the Apple of Eden that can affect free will. I honestly forgot most of the movie because it was so boring. Assassin’s Creed has such a unique premise that’s ultimately wasted on yet another video game failure.

Assassin's Creed

Aguilar de Nerha’s leap of faith

The Future Unleashed Everything

The Cloverfield Paradox is a paradox in and of itself. I could accept the vastly different 10 Cloverfield Lane as part of the franchise, because it was done so well. The Cloverfield Paradox on the other hand, is too convoluted, too confusing, and too overblown. Cloverfield worked as a found footage movie with a lesser known cast and 10 Cloverfield Lane worked as a confined thriller with a smaller respectable cast. The Cloverfield Paradox takes the opposite approach with a bigger cast of relatively well known stars set on a space station.

The international crew of Cloverfield Station consists of: Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a British officer who left her husband back on Earth, David Oyelowo as the American commander, Daniel Brühl as the untrustworthy German physicists, John Ortiz as the Brazilian doctor, Chris O’Dowd as an unfunny Irish engineer comic relief, Aksel Hennie as the untrusting Russian engineer, and Zhang Ziyi as an engineer who only speaks Chinese. Their mission is to activate a particle accelerator called the Shepard in order to end an energy crisis. Earth is shown sporadically, but most of the attention is in space. A lot of bizarre things happen when the Shepard sends the crew to a parallel universe.

That’s when Elizabeth Debicki comes in as a secretly evil Australian engineer. It’s not scary, just very random when people come out of the walls and severed arms move on their own. The Cloverfield connection is so loose that it practically felt like what Prometheus did to the Alien universe. J. J. Abrams once again connected it to a totally unrelated script called God Particle. The only clever thing about the movie was its marketing campaign. A Super Bowl trailer revealed the title and the fact that it would premiere on Netflix immediately after the game. Aside from that, The Cloverfield Paradox may have irreversibly affected the future of the sci-fi franchise.

The Cloverfield Paradox

Crew of the Cloverfield Station

Preceded by: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Monsters Come in Many Forms

10 Cloverfield Lane is a different kind of fight for survival. Although sequels to Cloverfield were discussed, I never would’ve guessed this would be the eventual follow up. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a thought provoking psychological thriller with a limited cast set in a confined space. Connecting it to J. J. Abrams’ found footage film actually happened after the fact. The original script was called The Cellar, but filmmakers felt it was too similar to the spirit of Cloverfield. I’m not sure I agree, because 10 Cloverfield Lane is almost too good for the sci-fi franchise.

The set up is almost the exact opposite with characters taking up a majority of the story and anything alien related happening closer to the end. The small cast consists of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. After leaving her boyfriend (voiced by an uncredited Bradley Cooper), Michelle ends up trapped in an underground bunker owned by a farmer named Howard. I didn’t think John Goodman could be scary, but this is one of his all time best performances as the paranoid conspiracy theorist.

He tries to convince Michelle that the air is toxic and it’s never made clear how right he is. Emmett is a more neutral third party who believes Howard’s stories, yet tries to help Michelle escape. They do develop stockholm syndrome, but the movie remains incredibly tense whether aliens are present or not. The writing is so good that I wasn’t surprised to learn Oscar winner Damien Chazelle contributed to it. Despite the title, it is a little jarring to see aliens after all the character drama. That being said, 10 Cloverfield Lane still manages to transcend genre expectations.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Michelle tries to escape Howard’s bunker

Preceded by: Cloverfield & Followed by: The Cloverfield Paradox