Category: TV


Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

The setup is classic and intriguing: Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials, Luther) plays a hospice nurse tending to elderly horror author Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss, The Stepford Wives), who comes to mistake her for the main character in her most famous novel—the ghost of Polly Parsons.  Parsons supposedly haunts Blum’s historic Massachusetts home and once dictated her own dark tale–save for its ending–to Blum.  In writer/director Osgood Perkins’s hands, this classic setup turns into a dark study of isolation and mystery, and showcases the range of Wilson’s talent as an actor.  Netflix’s 2016 original production I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House might make for good Halloween viewing for some fans of spooky, atmospheric, and cryptic ghost stories.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Star Wars in pictures.  It’s something fans of the franchise have gotten excited about now for 43 years running.  From the first publication of Ralph McQuarrie’s earliest concept art, fans want more.  So it makes sense we’re going to see three books are concept artwork this year for the first season of The Mandalorian, the best thing to happen to Star Wars since the original trilogy (OK, and one or two “Star Wars story” movies).  The first of these behind the scenes books is Titan Magazines’ The Mandalorian: The Art & Imagery, just released in three versions, one via newsstands, one via comic shops, and a hardcover version you can pick up here at Amazon and brick and mortar bookstores.

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Although it wasn’t renewed for a second season, streaming service DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was the 2019 adaptation of a comic book series that stood apart in a year where every other series seemed to be based on a comic book.  On the small screen, from The Umbrella Academy, The Boys, and Watchmen, to the last seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher and Jessica Jones, plus new seasons of Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Gotham, and Legion, and new Batwoman and Doom Patrol series, 2019 meant a lot of comic book adaptations that either looked the same or they fought hard to try to be grittier and different.  And that’s great–that means there’s something for everyone.  But none compared to Swamp Thing.  For our money, if you’re looking for fun, creepy timed for Halloween and not cartoony, soap opera-ish, or comic booky, and a series that earned its way to be one of the top 10 comic book adaptations of all, give Swamp Thing a try.  Moving from DC Universe to the CW network where anyone can watch it, the first episode of Swamp Thing begins again tonight at 7 p.m. Central.

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Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins is a reboot of the Hasbro G.I. Joe movie series (2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA and 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation), intended to be part of a shared universe of features based on Hasbro properties including a host of familiar characters and toys, all coming to the big screen: G.I. Joe: Ever Vigilant, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, M.A.S.K.: Mobile Armored Strike Kommand, ROM: Spaceknight, and Micronauts.  Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe: Origins will star Henry Golding (The Gentlemen) as Snake Eyes, Andrew Koji (Fast & Furious 6) as Storm Shadow, Samara Weaving (Ready Or Not) as Scarlett, Úrsula Corberó (The Broken Crown) as Baroness, Iko Uwais (Wu Assassins) as Hard Master, and Peter Mensah (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Blind Master.  Unfortunately most of these films are still in pre-production, but Snake Eyes–G.I. Joe Origins currently has a tentative release date of October 22, 2021.

But while you’re waiting for your Snake Eyes fix, check out this preview for G.I. Joe–Snake Eyes: Deadgame, a new IDW series by Rob Liefeld.

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We often critique a series for its inability to get off the ground running.  Perhaps no television series excelled at that (both literally and figuratively) than the one and only original 1969-1970 animated series, Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  The entire series is airing this month on Boomerang.  The cultural impact of “those meddling kids,” the Scooby Gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their Great Dane Scooby Doo, cannot be overstated.  The pop song introduction, the 1960s van, the clothes, the cameraderie, mix with the first shake cam most of us ever noticed, cool colors, and a laugh track telling us we weren’t the only ones in on the fun.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some mysteries will never be solved.  That assertion is the subject of a smartly directed six-part series adaptation of Australian writer Lady Joan Lindsay’s 1960s historical Gothic mystery, Picnic at Hanging Rock, a 2018 Australian production with Amazon Studios, streaming now on Amazon.  Inspired by Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, Lindsay’s story is a mix of fantasy and reality, an indictment of intransigent Victorian mores and class strictures, and this version is a vast improvement on director Peter Weir’s 1975 infamous film adaptation.  Blending ethereal pastoral settings with dark terrors, via tight writing, impeccable historical settings and costume recreations, and a cast of intriguing, strong women, this is a must-watch for fans of British mysteries looking for something different.  It’s also a good way to catch some of your favorite young actresses in unique performances.

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October is almost here!

Your annual list of scary, ghostly, spooky, creepy, slashery, and generally monstrous films is back.  The goal?  Not to miss your favorite Halloween movies in October, and maybe find some new favorites.  You’ll be able to find many staples of the holiday season.  Need even more recommendations?  Check our borg lists of past recommendations here–Halloween doesn’t arrive each year until we’ve watched The Watcher in the Woods and Silver Bullet.  Below we’ve provided hundreds of movies scheduled to air–hundreds to choose from with a mix of classics and modern fare.  Syfy′s “31 Days of Halloween” is back, along with Freeform′s “31 Nights of Halloween.”  AMC has its “Fear Fest” again, and as with last year you can get caught up on The Walking Dead airing throughout the entire month (you’ll have to check the AMC website for the last few days of the month, as the network doesn’t release its listings this far in advance).  Best of all, TCM hosts a day of monster movies on October 12 and 23, plus movies all month featuring Peter Cushing.  You’ll find this year all the usual suspects: Stephen King, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kruger.  Disney channel will be releasing its listings for Monstober later in the month so you may want to check the Disney website for updates.

New for this year–check out the new remake of Hitchcock’s Rebecca, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Ratched, the brilliant zombie series Kingdom, the monster-filled October Faction, The Babysitter, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and Enola Holmes on Netflix, The Vast of Night on Amazon, the horrors of love on Soulmates on AMC, Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island on Starz and Vudu, or 2019’s Ready or Not on Vudu.  If you missed 2018’s Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, or Get Out, find them streaming on Vudu and other services–it’s not to be missed (and you can catch all the past entries in the series on AMC).  Also, if you missed Netflix’s latest seasons of Stranger Things or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, now’s a great time to catch up.  (Note: AMC and Syfy’s listings don’t always mention which versions of the movies are being aired (original or remake?), so your guess is as good as ours).

All month long on streaming services and premium channels like Netflix and Starz you can watch horror movies including The Sixth Sense, The Lost Boys, The Boy, Cloverfield, Coraline, Children of the Corn, Cult of Chucky, Van Helsing, John Carpenter’s The Thing, They Live, and Ghosts of Mars, Young Frankenstein, Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, Underworld: Blood Wars, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Zombieland, Life, Scream, Amityville: The Awakening, Sleepy Hollow, Hollow Man, The Craft, and many more, plus series like The Twilight Zone, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Requiem, Bates Motel, and The Frankenstein Chronicles.  Everything you see in AMC’s listings are offered via their on-demand services, so watch those whenever you’d like.  If all else fails, you can find your favorite ghost story or other horror classic on Vudu and Amazon Prime, where you can buy or rent recommendations like The Fog (both versions), The Birds, The Shining, Orphan, Let Me In, The Others, The Woman in Black, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Ring, Grimm, and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (all these are highly recommended, and you can catch many of these airing this month, too).

So take notes and put your watch list into your DVR now so you don’t miss anything, especially useful for many of the marathons, which often play in reverse order (?!).  We’ve bolded some of our recommendations.  All times listed are Central Time:

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

You could have guessed from the trailers that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island would cross the original 1977-1984 series with Black Mirror, but could you have guessed it’s also a sort of mash-up with The Dark Crystal and The Hobbit?  Bloodshot, Kick-Ass 2, and Bates Motel writer Jeff Wadlow directs an unexpected twist on the original series, proving such a reboot that respects the source material and takes advantage of a big movie budget can be successful, even without original show staples like Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize.  One of the stronger attempts and biggest successes at remaking a classic TV series, Fantasy Island is now streaming on Starz and other platforms.

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A year after he directed an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, Alfred Hitchcock would direct his adaptation of an even more memorable du Maurier novel, Rebecca His 1940 film would be the only Hitchcock film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.  It is a Hollywood classic, a perfect Gothic romance masterpiece starring Joan Fontaine as the mousey Cinderella-esque Mrs. de Winter, opposite Laurence Olivier as the controlling but dashing Maxim de Winter.  There’s a dark secret at Maxim’s sprawling estate called Manderley.  The great future dame Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers, creating one of those screen villains in that club of scary, loathsome manipulators that includes The Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent, Dolores Umbridge, Mrs. Emerson, and Nurse Ratched.  Now 80 years later, relatively unknown director Ben Wheatley (Doctor Who, Free Fire) is bringing his own adaptation to Netflix next month.  So who is being cast in the key roles this time?

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Two of television’s best genre actors are soon going to be donning superhero garb for the two major comic book movie franchises.  First, earlier this month Disney+ announced Emmy-winning Orphan Black lead actress Tatiana Maslany will be expanding the realm of the Marvel Universe as She-Hulk in her own series.  Then today Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson announced Leverage co-star Aldis Hodge will be joining him to fill bring into the fold one of the last members of the classic Justice League of America to have a major series or movie role.  Hodge will play Hawkman in the Black Adam movie.  Both will be live-action shows.

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