By now I’m assuming most fans of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things are likely already caught up the entire fourth season of the show, so hopefully no spoilers can be found here for anyone. This season truly was a gift to fans of the series, and even though volume two consists of just a couple of episodes, there’s so much compacted in it it’s almost overwhelming.
The numerous storylines all feel like small movies that could stand alone themselves. Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) isfinally forced to come into her own once the secret government facility she’s been regaining her “powers” at is ransacked and officially put out of business for good, leading to a tearful goodbye with her “Papa” (Matthew Modine).
Meanwhile, Eleven’s extended support system is broken off into three separate groups, each trying to fight the evil that’s threatening mankind, while making it back to each other. Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will (Noah Schnapp) make their way across state lines to get to her, while Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) and the rest plot to take on Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) himself head-on. Lastly Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour) escape their way out of Russia after fighting their own demons.
Each specific plot leads to its own satisfying conclusion, with enough twists and turns to make your head spin, often with emotional results. But what makes these characters so endearing is the ability to relate to them on a human level, which is ultimately a reflection of well-crafted writing. Thankfully, the door is left ajar again for another follow up, which all of us already engulfed in this little world created by the Duffer Brothers are already waiting for with much anticipation.
It speaks volumes for a show to still be as captivating as Stranger Things is four seasons in, and yet somehow this series only gets better with time. Within seconds of it starting, you’re instantly sucked into its world, and forgot about everything and anything else going on around you, the ingredients of not only great, meticulous writing, but flimmakers who actually care about their art.
This latest season contains so many subplots, I’m not sure if I can even sum it all up accurately without giving too much away. Long story short, a new evil in the form of a demon named Vecna is threatening Hawkins, and after the popular school cheerleader (Grace Van Dien) is killed in the house of local metal head and leader of the local D&D club, Eddie (Joseph Quinn), the kids get wrapped up in solving the mystery while trying to stay alive.
Meanwhile, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who has since lost her powers and struggling to adjust to living a “normal” life, is brought back to a facility by Dr. Owens (Paul Reiser) to help regain her strength back. And while all this is going on, Hopper (David Harbour), who survived the events of season three but has since been imprisoned in a Russian hell, is plotting his escape while Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Murrary (Brett Gelman) get tangled up in a kidnapping while attempting to free him.
While the show has always paid homage to ’80s films like E.T. – the Extra-Terrestrial (among many others), this particular season has a strong influence from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, with dream-like sequences similar to those from said franchise (there’s even a brief appearance from Freddy Kruger himself, Robert Englund). And the tributes to such metal bands as Dio and W.A.S.P. via the Eddie character are a nice touch as well.
Since the show first started in 2016, it’s caused an unprecedented pop culture phenomenon, and rightfully so, considering the care and attention to detail put into Stranger Things is immaculate. There’s an artistic integrity often not found elsewhere these days, and I find myself wanting to go back to revisit the earlier seasons each time a new one emerges. There’s a simple reason why we respond so strongly to ‘throwbacks’ like Stranger Things; maybe it just reminds us of a time when the world – and life itself – was just a simpler place.
I really wanted to like Netflix’s attempt at appealing to the metal community with this new teen comedy/drama. But while the film is harmless enough, I couldn’t help but shake the feeling there was just something missing from it the whole time.
The plot follows high school outcasts Kevin (Jaeden Martell) and Hunter (Adrian Greensmith) as they navigate through bullies, parents, and trying to find a bass player for their would-be metal band in order to play their school’s “battle of the bands” contest. They eventually find some camaraderie via an equally awkward social misfit (Isis Hainsworth), but not before some predictable “but she’s a girl!” arguments first.
While the music is spot on and the metal references are heavy, nearly everything feels driven by cliche and predictably. Not even some cameos (and some fairly bad acting) from metal greats Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Kirk Hammett (Metallica) and, um, Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) can save things in the end.
Is Metal Gods a bad movie? No. But is it really anything we haven’t already seen before? Not really. In the end, it really is “just there,” and the world would not miss a beat with or without its existence.
My interest in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise as a whole has steadily been waning for years. But this latest incarnation/wanna be direct sequel to the original (Tobe Hooper already did that in the mid-’80s, and much better at that) is almost as painful to watch as that last sorry excuse for a Halloween movie.
Never before has a franchise film felt like such a waste of time, with characters I could not care less about. The weak storyline involves a bunch of (surprise!) obnoxious influencers going to small town Texas to shoot some videos or something, and of course they unwittingly come across good ol’ Leatherface (who looks more like Wrinkles the Clown this time around), and Sally Hardesty (originally played by the late Marilyn Burns, but this time by Olwen Fouere), the lone survivor from the original film.
It’s also annoyingly obvious what audience the filmmakers are playing towards here (should have just called it The “Woke” Chainsaw Massacre), and nearly every scene is cliched and predictable. The writing is lazy, and there’s nothing of redeeming value here. What’s left of any menace from the Leatherface character at this point is long gone, too.
The problem with shameless “retcons” like this, that ask you to forget all its other sequels that came before it, is there’s absolutely no artistic value to them. The people who make this kind of trash are literally counting on you, the audience, to be stupid, and not care about the fact they’re using cheap gimmicks to appeal to your emotions (Think, “If we use an already established franchise, who cares if it’s actually any good or not, these morons will keep coming back for more, because we TELL THEM TO.”) Save yourself the time; this is one pitiful excuse for a film that should not even exist (give it a few more years and I’m sure they’ll just retcon and redo this garbage again soon, anyway).
When I was a kid growing up in the ’80s, my first impression of a serial killer wasn’t the likes of John Wayne Gacy or even Ted Bundy, who were both before my time. Yet I can vividly recall seeing the 1989 TV movie Manhunt: Search for the Night Stalker, and always remembered the ending where an angry mob takes down and catches the so-called Night Stalker (I can even remember thinking in my young mind, “so that is what happens to serial killers.”). Ever since then, my idea of a serial killer, of pure evil personified, has always been – and always will be – Richard Ramirez, a.k.a. the Night Stalker.
Netflix has compiled a stunning, four-part documentary series, detailing the crimes and footsteps taken by Ramirez during his 1985 California killing spree. But don’t get it wrong, the purpose here isn’t to glamorize Ramirez’ crimes, but rather give voice to the actual victims, family members, witnesses, reporters, and several other key figures linked to the rampage at the time. But it’s the firsthand accounts from the likes of Gil Carrilo and Frank Salerno, the homicide detectives assigned and closest to the case at the time, that truly offer the most gruesome insight. Hearing many of these horror stories at times are as heartbreaking as they are disturbing.
It’s safe to say that shows/mini-series like these are not for everyone’s tastes. But those who have the desire to get inside of and learn more about the mind of a truly disturbed individual such as Ramirez, will no doubt be able to do that here. It’s a fascinating, albeit harrowing road to go down, that’s not for the faint of the heart.