Dark Web Returns! Summer memories, Pac Man, Nerf and more!

in this episode I talk about HBO Max and whether or not it’s worth a shit. I share my Pac-Man memories as the character turns 40 years old. I watch the four Alien movies and I talked about them and rate them. I share some memories from my childhood regarding going to the swimming pool and some other summer activities I also share some of my Stephanie memories. I talked about a specific Nerf thing and I get into some Nintendo stuff too. I talked about the CW shows. and I have a toy topic or two. stay cool.

Tomorrow is the day! Getting ready to check out HBO MAX

Before the internet I was a big fan of cable TV. In fact I am such a fan of television in general that my life long dream was to work at a commercial TV station. That is why I studied broadcasting and now am working as a TV producer for a local station.

Then the internet came along and Netflix sort of replaced basic cable for a large number of Americans, myself included.

I am happy to report that since I expanded my streaming options I have had even fewer reasons to log into old faithful less and less. Starting tomorrow I will be diving into the newest premium streaming service to launch.

Now when it comes to old cable people seem to forget the cable companies basically have a monopoly in whatever town you live in shutting out competition. Unless of course you count satellite which is a fair alternative. But when it comes to streaming those same people seem to be okay with a monopoly and despise choice. I don’t get it.

Anyways enough of the ripping on people. Let’s dig into what excites me about it.

I am one of the more choices is better people. I recently discovered a ton of FREE and yes LEGAL streaming options such as Crackle, Pluto and Stirr, among others. I even signed up for Shudder (still need to do a full review of that) and now I am excited to try out HBO Max.

I preordered for the discounted price in order to get  ahead start. I spent some time this weekend checking out HBO Now, which will be replaced on my tablet tomorrow.

The first thing I noticed about HBO Now is, yes it does have far less overall content than Netflix or even Hulu. But, I was still more than satisfied with the movie selection. Where Netflix often has a handful of Hollywood movies and tons of B-movie and direct to video (streaming) crap, HBO lives up to its name which, in case you forgot, stands for Home Box Office. The whole point of HBO was always to deliver a Hollywood experience in the home, and to that end even the simplified version delivers.

It reminds me of when Netflix used to have a deal with Starz years ago, only not quite as extensive of a catalog so far.

Now the first thing I am going to check is not just the Hollywood movies from the Warner and family vault, which if lists I have read online are any indication will still provide me personally with plenty of favorites to revisit to keep me busy.

The next thing I am going to dive into is the catalog of TV shows. Sure HBO itself has a decent assortment of top notch content,  however it is somewhat limited in scope. You basically have the best adult oriented shows around, there isn’t much else. This should be different as the new combined service is supposed to bring in favorites from the entire Warner spectrum, hopefully this will include DC Comics and Hanna Barbara to name just a few. Combined with the Looney Tunes and friends there is sure to be plenty to check out.

The hesitancy comes from the Disney Plus debacle. While I do maintain it provides quality entertainment and certainly has a place in our society, it feels a little underwhelming with them intentionally leaving out so much of the Fox library that had fans like myself excited. Warner/ATT could do something similar where they promise everything and the kitchen sink and then deliver a cardboard box with the letters IOU in giant letters across the side like Disney did.

Fortunately as long as the New Line Cinema offerings are intact, ensuring me an endless availability of instant access to my beloved Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise, a simple horror fan like myself will be more than satisfied. Only time will tell if it lives up to the hype or disappoints but I am very much looking forward to checking it out, at least for the next month.

THE RAT’s top 50 Transformers toys to get updated 5-26-20

I will update this as I add toys from this list to my collection.

I have been an avid Transformers collector my entire life. It began as a youngling when my parents got me a mix of Go Bots and Hasbro Transformers one Christmas. The obsession only grew from there. When I was a young adult I took a trip down memory lane and started buying all the toys from my childhood. Due to some life events beyond my control, I had to sell everything off.

Now that I am in a position to begin collecting again, which I have been doing ever so slightly these past few months, I have started to define the direction I want to take my collection. This is the top 50 Transformers action figures I would like to add to my collection in the near future.

Note this is not a comprehensive list nor is it ranked in any way. These are just the ones that are top priority for me so they are the ones I wanted to identify first. I already have begun buying some G1 toys so I will be leaving those I already own off this list for obvious reasons. Here you are.

1. G1 Power Master Optimus Prime

This was not only the very first Optimus Prime I ever owned as a kid, it was one of the earliest toys my parents bought me. I received this guy on the Christmas of my sixth year on this earth. The toy is amazing and there are a couple different variants. I am not looking for Japanese reissues or Apex Armor stuff just the original 1980’s release.

2. RID Optimus Prime

This fire truck version is by far my favorite post-G1 Optimus Prime even to this day. While I respect the decision to stay true to his roots in subsequent incarnations, I really love the bold statement this version made when it appeared on toy shelves across the world. Robots in Disguise, also known as Car Robots in Japan, is my second favorite toy line next to the originals.

3. G1 Pretender Skullgrin

This was one of those Christmas presents I received that went from joy to scratching my head rather quickly. I always loved the Pretenders and this was probably the best one I owned as a kid, but they always felt a little over simplified in many ways. True story, when I was in 5th grade I had long forgotten his name and when I saw an episode of the G2 cartoon with purple Galvatron I mistakenly convinced myself that was who this guy was. It was many years later I learned my mistake but hey what did I know?

4. Armada Unicron

I know there is supposedly a reissue or retool or something coming in the near future. I want the original Armada Unicron and nothing else will do for me. I love everything about that release from the colors to integration with minicons.

5. Beast Wars Rattrap

I must admit I am not really a fan of the Beast Wars product line. I somewhat enjoyed the cartoon for the most part but I wasn’t as enamored about it as others. However as someone who goes by the name THE RAT, this guy was always one I was rather fond of. I would be open to various incarnations but I mostly want the very original one that was the basis of the model used in the animated show.

6. Studio Series Bumble Bee VW

Truth be told I want both Cameros and the VW bug but the one that is begging me to put it on my toy shelf is the Slug Bug from the most recent live action movie. I was a tremendous fan of that film and I would love to get my hands on any version of that toy.

7. G1 Metroplex

I don’t have a ton of money in my toy budget but I fully intend to make room for this guy at some point in the future. I always remembered him just as Autobot City as a kid. I was fortunate enough my parents got me a Power Master Prime so I could at least pretend I had a Metroplex even though I was far off. I recently rekindled my desire to have this guy back in my private collection upon discovering the Six Gun in the new War for Cybertron Siege series.

8. War for Cybertron Siege Jetfire/Skyfire

I don’t want anything to do with the Robotech crap from the 80s. But I would like to get a Siege Jetfire figure as it replicates the look of the Skyfire character as represented in the G1 cartoon which I am a fan. I had previously had an Armada Starscream stand in for Jetfire once as his mold was similar enough. I also do have a Cyberverse Jetfire but it’s not that great.

9. G2 Hero Megatron

This was the first version of Megatron I ever owned. While I have had other ones over the years this one still holds a special place in my heart. I always loved this toy and I even had the RID Bludgeon that reused the mold. It’s not the best Megatron ever but it’s one I can’t live without.

10. G1 Goldbug

This was the earliest Transform I have memories of. Technically I got it the same Christmas as Power Master Prime but I opened this one up first and fell instantly in love. I was young enough I didn’t realize it wasn’t named Bumble Bee, to me this was Bumble Bee and it was the one I played with as a kid the most.

11. RID Skybite

I never had this Trans metal inspired Shark but I was quite fond of his character in the animated program. Okay I mostly want it because it looks cool but whatever sharks are cool.

12. G2 Rapido

This was the first original Generation 2 Transformer I got after a few recolored reissues from the first wave. While some might consider it a fairly basic toy I was happy enough with it as it was similar enough to the designs of some of the later G1 toys it felt retro enough while being modern, for the time.

13. G1 Doublecross

Truth be told this is probably top priority for me. Not only was it one of my favorite toys as a kid but it was one of the first ones I bought as an adult collector the first time around. Therefore it will have a double dose of nostalgia for me in that regards. This was another one I got when I was too young to really pay attention to names so I always thought it was one of the Dinobots that wasn’t shown on the cartoon.

I never realized actual dinosaurs probably didn’t have two heads. But I always held it in high regards and used it as a stand in for whichever Dinobot I needed at the time. The cool thing about his design is it could be used as pretty much any of the Dinobots if you used your imagination a little. It was also that hard plastic, thick design of the later years I always enjoyed that some fans despise.

14. RID Ultra Magnus

Much like his Optimus Prime counterpart I love this toy. I was much better, in my opinion, than the G1 original and it was really neat how it combined with the other toy to make a super Optimus Prime. Pretty cool stuff.

15. G1 Scourge

One of the few movie based toys I actually owned and really liked. I never had this one as a kid but when I picked it up all those years later I fell in love. I kind of get the criticism as it is called a “Shellformer” but that seems like a lazy way to dismiss what is still a decent toy. I thought it worked well and again it’s that late era plastic I love so much compared to that flimsier stuff from the Takara Diaclone days.

16. Beast Wars Waspinator

This was one of the few Beast era toys I had that I actually thought was pretty cool. I wasn’t a big fan of these toys when they were new and I the cartoon didn’t impress me as much as others but I gotta admit this is one of the better figures in the line and I miss owning one.

17. Armada Minicons

I won’t list them by name or team. I will just try to buy as many random minicons as I can come across that are reasonably priced. I won’t have a clear cut map of this yet but in my mind I have an idea what I want.

18. G1 Ultra Pretender Skyhammer

This was another one of those amazing Christmas morning discoveries that really made my day. It was a very basic toy at its core but with all the accessories and gun ships it came with this thing worked as a Transformer but it was also a good Star Wars, Star Trek or even Terminator toy as needed. Then when Exosquad came along guess which toy I dusted out to keep my parents from having to buy me more toys. You guessed it. This was just an amazing Transformer vehicle set even if the robot itself was not that great.

19. RID Construction Team

I don’t know their exact names but I do remember the green one was Grimlock. This was one of the best combiner teams as it was one of the first to break away from the “Scramble City” gestalt mold of the original series. Oh sure I love me some interchangeable Aerialbots, Combaticons, etc., but this was a really cool diversion from the formula and one of the things I loved so much about that short lived filler series.

20. G2 Optimus Prime

I will keep my G1 reissue cab only for now but I absolutely must get my hands on the G2 reissue Optimus Prime complete with trailer and sound box. This was the toy I received for one of the best Christmas’s I ever experienced. It was one of the last years I got exactly what I asked for and nothing else. It was a fantastic toy and a pretty solid improvement upon the original. I am kind of disappointed Hasbro doesn’t dig more into the G2 era with their reissues but whatever.

21. G1 Six Shot

Part Ninja, part Transformer, all awesome. While some of his “alt modes” require stretching the imagination, this massive Decepticon was one of the greatest toys of its time. I didn’t care much for his Autobot counterpart but this thing was slick and cool.

22. G1 StarScream

One of the few Diaclone era toys I actually like and a high priority for me in my collecting. I was always a fan of this character and I devised my own fanfictions where he was successful in overthrowing Megatron and leading the Decepticons on a reign of terror he always deserved. I wouldn’t mind getting the G2 recolor but I would really love to get my hands on an actual G1 original at some point in time. This is one a reissue won’t suffice as far as I am concerned. Only because it won’t scale properly with all the other jets that haven’t been reissued so for conformity sake I will stick to the originals for the seeker jets.

23. Beast Wars Dinobot

This is the other Beast era toy I actually think is kind of cool. All the others my interest is purely based on their cartoon characters or my insane need to collection everything. Fortunately this is one I can see myself buying and actually being proud to own.

24. G1 Pretender Grimlock

Don’t give me that lip. This was a toy I had as a kid and it gets top priority as far as collecting goes. In terms of the figure itself it’s not bad. The shell clearly makes up for any area it might be lacking as I love the Pretender concept so much. Sure it’s tiny compared to the earlier G1 Dinobot king but hey it’s still gets the job done and is seeping with nostalgia, which is what I am going for here.

25. G1 Superion


Of all the original combiner teams this is the one I feel the need to get the most. Partially because Silverbolt actually was my very first Transformers memory, got him for my 5th birthday, but also because this complete set is so much more interesting to me than the other sets including that over-rated (year I said it) construction set everyone fawns over.

26. G1 Abominus

While we are on the subject of combiners I had three toys growing up that if this category. The above mentioned and fairly awesome Silverbolt, the less awesome but still interesting Bonecrusher from the Constructicon set and Blot, a weird, um thing, from the Terrorcon set. No, I quickly renamed it “Robocop 2” and it was a fairly decent stand in for that toy from a movie I am sure I enjoyed more than most kids my age. I don’t want to just get Blot by himself so I figure I might as well get the whole family to make it worth it.

27. G1 Fangry

One of the few Headmasters I had as a kid this toy again wasn’t the greatest but it is one from my past that served double duty as needed. I always loved this guy when I thought of him as a robotic werewolf.

28. RID Predacon three pack

I won’t even pretend to remember their names. I had this three pack back in the day and I am certain I will enjoy picking it up again as much as I did then. I am not likely to buy one complete in box for financial reasons so I will have to rely on finding a complete set somewhere on most likely eBay it would seem.

29. G2 Gobots/RID Spychangers

Much like Minicons, there are too many to list individually. The main goal is to basically get one of each “mold” and supplement those with random variants depending on personal preference.The most important one to obtain is the “cow” aesthetic of the Iron Hide pickup truck mold.

30. G1 Reflector

This was one of those figures I had some of the pieces as a kid which I obtained through trading with other kids at school. I don’t remember what I traded for them but I was very glad to have them despite it being incomplete. It was one of the first ones I did complete when I got back into collecting as an adult. I also recently added Refraktor from War for Cybertron Siege so this item is of moderate priority.

31. RID Autobot Prowl

I’ve often told the story how walking into GameStop and finding RID Prowl on the shelf was what got me back into collecting in 2001. Obviously this one is a top priority for similar reasons. Of course there are variations of this figure like his brothers. Ideally I would like to obtain the original Car Robots molds not the later recolors.

32.RID Megatron

I don’t want to have too many duplicates, nor do I want an entire collection of Megatron Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee figures as those are some of the most common figures appearing. However this is easily one of my favorite versions of the character for very similar reasons to the Optimus Prime from this same toy line. Despite it being a Predacon that later creates new Decepticons, it still serves the purpose as Decepticon leader as well as of the Predacon faction. It’s also a pretty cool looking, heavy duty action figure.

33. G1 Blaster

I’ve often heard a story my mom tells about how the first Transformer she ever got me was that boom box that I left in California when we moved to Kansas. I don’t have early childhood memories of owning this toy but I did get one in a trade in middle school so I certainly had one in my youth. Beyond that he was one of those in the middle between the earlier Diaclone based die cast metal molds of the first year and the hard plastic toys from later years.

34. RID X-Brawn

Like Prowl above this was one of the first toys I grabbed once I got back into collecting the first time. I was just getting back into the toys at the time and somehow I thought these were the actual original toys reissued with new colors similar to how G2 had been a few years prior so I convinced myself this was “Iron Hide” at the time. It quickly became a favorite of mine from the toy line however.

35. G1 Pretender Starscream

What can I saw, I love the Pretenders line. This was one I got in place of a G1 Diaclone original but I still enjoyed it. Much like the little Grimlock it was the complete set shell and all that made it worth collecting for me.

36. G1 Pretender Jazz

I am pretty sure you saw this coming by now. If not well, you should have. This was my first version of Jazz I ever owned and while not nearly as cool as the original, it fit my expectation as a pretender toy just fine.

37. G1 Blitzwing

My first, but not favorite, of the Decepticon Triple Changers. This was another one my dad got me used from a yard sale so it was missing pieces but I was just happy to have one more Transformer figure in my army of alien robots. It was a fairly decent toy in my opinion and well worth tracking down again.

38. G1 Trypticon

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty. While I am certainly interested in branching out beyond G1, the vast majority of the toys I desire to purchase will inevitably be from the original line that started it all. How can I talk myself into getting a Metroplex without his Decepticon counterpart? Also, he scales quite nicely with my original Bandai Mighty Morphin Power Rangers DinoZord Megazord set so I kind of need something for him to fight anyways.

39. RID Scourge

Okay confession time. I never owned Scourge in his RID mold or the G2 Laser Rod Optimus Prime. Of course I could go for the G2 Autobot version, in this case I would rather get the RID Decepticon and work towards completing that set. It’s more fun that way.

40. RID Sideburn

While he is not the most desirable of the Car Robots Autobot brothers, he is still a figure I would like to get into my collection sooner rather than later. I mostly want the original colors of the first two but this one I am torn between getting the red one with the flames or both. I don’t like having multiple versions of the exact same figure so this will be tough to decide.

41. G2 Color Changer Drench

I love the G2 toy line almost as much as the original line. It’s in my top three favorite toy lines bearing the Transformers branding. The color changers were absolutely one of the neatest gimmick based toys ever. Of course there are a lot of fans that despise the gimmicky figures but I actually happen to like many of them. This was another one that I had previously that I am sure to get back at some point in the near future.

42. G1 Astrotrain

I couldn’t get Blitzwing without getting his partner in crime. Astrotrain served another purpose as I had an affinity for model trains and he fit nicely into that scale too. Or I could just say I like trains and my favorite color is purple so it’s a win-win.
43. G1 Ransack

Ransack was the first figure I bought from the original G1 toy line when I first got back into collecting. It was also the very first Insecticon I ever owned, Deluxe or otherwise. I don’t exactly want to follow the same path I did before, however, I do suspect it will be very similar in many ways.

44. G1 Megatron

I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to add this to my collection. It won’t likely be my first purchase but it is high on my priority list. Keep in mind this list is not ranked so it doesn’t mean I will buy this after any of the above others it just means this was the list I went down.

45. G2 Bumblebee

Despite not being a fan of reissues, recolors or owning duplicates of action figures I already own, I will in fact try to purchase a G2 version of the original Bumble Bee toy even though I do currently already own an original G1 version. The main reason is in fact because I had him as a kid and while I did have Goldbug, this was my first true Bumble Bee figure and it has special meaning to me.

46. G1 Grimlock

Not the pretender, the original. I had the G2 and G1 toy previously but this time around I just want an original and that should do it. King Grimlock absolutely deserves a top spot in my action figure collection.

47. RID Bludgeon

Yes I know it’s technically just a recolor of G2 Hero Megatron but I had it before and I loved it then, I will have to get it again. Nuff said.

48. G1 Micromaster Countdown

This the only Micromaster I know by name. It is also the only one I played with as a kid. I didn’t own it, but my cousin did so I spent many hours playing with this toy. I know it’s fairly expensive online but I still have a strong desire to get it.

49. G1 Roadbuster

It’s another one of those obscure, later release Headmasters that most don’t care for but I actually like. It’s a giant figure in robot mode and a pretty menacing looking vehicle in its alt mode.

50. Heroes of Cybertron

Like the Nintendo Amiibo I don’t want to have a list of those I want nor do I want a complete or even large collection. I had a ton of these guys back in the day and I imagine I will grab a few just for nostalgia sake much like so much else on this list.

There you have it THE RAT’s top 50 Transformers figures to look for. Hopefully as I begin shopping I can come across some good deals. I am not expecting to get all of these right away nor am I going to use this list as a ranking system of priority. Instead consider it my wish list more than anything.

I limited this to mostly ones I have owned in the past but I think I let a few slip in that I discovered over the years. I also cheated a little with a few like Minicons and Gobots/Spychangers. Still, this is a pretty good place to get started on getting my Transformers collection back to what it once was. Stay Cool.

5 Ways you can help save the comics industry

There’s not two ways about it, Coronavirus is killing the comic book industry. In fact, the print industry was already suffering before the pandemic. But there is no reason comic book fans should throw in the towel and mourn the loss of one of the oldest and most prolific forms of science fiction entertainment.

All is not lost. Here are a few things that if every comic book fan did more of the industry would not only get back to thriving but would also see a resurgence once all of this is said and done.


1.  Buy more local retail comics

Everyone knows how important it is to support their local comic book shop. However, not everyone has a local comic shop to support. Meanwhile the industry is facing a crisis of mind share as more Americans get their comic book fix through Marvel’s share cinematic films or the CW’s connected Arrowverse.

Mind share is crucial at a time like this. Nobody wants to have to buy comics from Walmart but if you don’t have a local comic shop it’s imperative comic books maintain some retail presence in order for the publishers to get in front of the eye balls of the people who still shop there. If you don’t have a local shop but your local Walmart does sell comics it does benefit them if you can buy at least a couple books a month from a local retail shop. If you can pick up an extra book at retail while doing your normal grocery shopping if nothing else then make an effort.

If your community happens to have an old fashioned book retailer, such as a Barnes and Noble or similar store that sells comics, or even graphic novels, trades etc., maybe consider popping in there from time to time.

The reason this helps is publishers need partnerships with retail giants in order to maintain the numbers.

Now my strategy is simple, get the “grocery store” comics such as Archie, Betty and Veronica, etc., from the local Walmart. I then plan on grabbing one TPB a month from the local book store. It’s not much but if every dedicated comic book fan made this extra purchase at retail it would go a long way in helping the publishers maintain a presence in the marketplace. I long for a return to the days you can pick up comic books at the local gas station on your way to or from work but those days might be gone for good. However, if we let comics at retail die entirely it’s going to be a slow death march for the entire industry.

2. Kids fuel the industry

Every adult collector I’ve ever known has this disdain for kids comics. This snobbish belief that only mature comics matter and comics made for kids are beneath them. Now I am by no means advocating buying a comic you don’t care for that is targeted towards kids just to help the industry, by no means. However I am strongly encouraging every comic book fan to buy as many extra comics you can to give away to the kids in your life.

There is a myth that collectors shape the industry and kids are just an afterthought. This is the furthest from the truth. In fact in reality children make up the bulk of all toys and entertainment sales and adults just sort of follow a long in their own little corners.

The other part of the myth is kids don’t have as much disposable income as adults therefore the logic goes adults can buy more collectibles.

There are two fallacies with this thinking. First, children don’t rely on their own incomes, they have none! What they do have, however, are relatives who buy them toys twice a year at least. The more aunts and uncles a child has, not even counting grandparents the more likely they are to get toys and other gifts. Now if you have kids in  your life and you want to shape them into future comic book collectors you should start now while they are young. Buy a few extra comics for each of the kids in your life. If you are an aunt or uncle buy for your nieces and nephews. If you are a grandparent, then buy comics for your grandchildren.

The second half of the fallacy is kids don’t know what they like. We often forget what it was like when we were kids. We knew damn well what we did, and didn’t, like. The goal is not to push your favorite superhero or book onto them, in fact doing that can be counterproductive as it will not only ensure they grow to despise that character or book, it almost guarantees they will hate you. Think back to when you were a kid. Did you have that uncle or aunt that tried to push their interests off onto you no matter how much you resisted? And often is the case you would grow up having a low opinion of said relative. I know I did.

The best thing to do is buy as many random, budget comics as you can with a few hit titles of main stream characters sprinkled in from time to time as often as you can. This ensures the child will have a variety of books to read keeping them immersed in comics, which in turn fuels their interest in the medium. It also most assuredly provides them an opportunity to develop and refine their tastes. The key is to let them discover the books they want to read and then help them get into those books buy buying a few issues a year for them at birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays as your budget allows. Remember you are not just buying a few extra books to help the publishers bottom line, you are helping foster the future generation of comic book fans that will help keep the hobby a live and well for decades to come.

On this same line of thinking, it is absolutely important that you give the kids random books as much as you can, any and everything you can from all publishers. The trick isn’t to just let them read a book and see what they like, but for them to read the advertisements in the book and promos for other books. That will help them discover the titles or characters they wish to follow, thus ensuring they become emotionally invested in the medium.

My strategy is to buy books for every one of my sister’s kids each chance I can. I don’t ask the kids what  books they like I select a few random budget books I can afford and just let them decide which ones they like. I then ask them later which ones they liked and try to note that so next time I can buy books in that series, genre or title.

Sometimes you will get push back. If a kid isn’t into comics don’t fret. It is also important  not to pressure them by pushing comics onto them. The best way to do it is to cater to their interests. If the child is into army stuff try getting them an action comic with a military theme. Maybe throw in something with space marines to broaden their horizon. If they happen to be into My Little Pony or Scooby Doo, then get them comics featuring those characters. The goal is to foster their imaginations while helping them build a passion for comics. If you push your favorite hero onto them it will always backfire.

3. Subscriptions are important

No matter what, this is the time you absolutely need to be subscribing directly to as many comics to be delivered to your mailbox as you can afford. It’s not essential you subscribe to every comic you enjoy. However, it is 100 percent crucial you do subscribe directly to at least a few of your top favorite comics. The reason for this is complex. On the surface it will infuse a little more cash per purchase directly into the comic publishers accounts. This does bypass the local retail market so you have to budget accordingly.

For example, if you buy 12 books a month at your local comics shop, consider picking the four books that matter the most to you and subscribe to them directly. You gain the  benefit of having them delivered straight to your door while infusing a little extra cash into the coffers of the company making the product you enjoy. It also helps publishers gauge the importance of that particular book ensuring it remains profitable enough to remain in print. I suggest picking one fourth of your entire comics purchasing to be directly delivered via the mail subscription.

It also has the side benefit of helping the local postal service which is in dire need of cash right now. This would go a long way helping keep costs down elsewhere while maximizing your financial support of your own local economy.

We’re not at the point of desperation where I would advocate buying all of your books directly from the publisher as that would most certainly kill the local retail market once and for all.

My strategy is to add one subscription every payday. That ensures I will have 26  books delivered to my door each month. Right now am adding one a payday and then once I am in the groove I will renew every year. My personal goal is to subscribe to 30 total books a year so I also try to keep an eye out for some bonus budget books as I can afford it. The goal is to subscribe to the ones that matter the most to you ensuring their longevity while keeping a few titles left at the local retail store. I am not saying give up your pull list entirely rather I am saying devote yourself to the books that are most important and get just a few of them in the mail. It saves you money, typically 45 percent or more off the cover price, which means you have more money to spend on comics elsewhere, plus it cuts out the middle man often putting more money directly into the publishers hands. It’s a balancing act that we all must do our part if the industry is to survive.

4. Seek out free comic book day

You might have to drive a ways depending on where you live. You might even have to request the day off from work and plan a road trip to make this work. But it is absolutely essential every comic book fan who has the means to get to their local comic book shop does so absolutely on Free Comic Book Day. Not only does it give the publishers, especially indies, maximum exposure, it is a social event that really brings the community together, young and old. It’s key to build the excitement for comic books especially in young readers and lapse collectors.

The other reason I strongly suggest hitting up free comic book day is it provides you a chance to preview things to come in the industry first hand and serves almost as a localized mini comic book convention. It helps stir up the excitement in the collector which is key in helping the hobby remain active.

5. Subscribe to all three digital comic services

This is probably as important as all of the above. We all have our different views on digital comics. However it’s really not the time to get into arguments over which is better. We need to set aside our pride and cough up the ~$30 a month it costs to subscribe to all the services. You have Comixology, Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe. The best argument for doing this is to show publishers, and the big corporations that own them, how important comics are to us. It helps the big wigs see that comics aren’t just a line item but a valuable asset.

The other reason it helps is because it infuses cash directly into the publishers while providing YOU with access to a massive catalog of content at your fingertips.

The Untold Truth about Superman according to THE RAT.

When I was a kid I love Superman. He was one of my favorite comic book characters and superheroes all around. I had Superman action figures, coloring books, puzzles and other memorabilia. I really like the movies all four of them in fact at the time. I would watch Superman cartoons a whole bunch of them a number of them anyone that I can find in fact. And I instantly fell in love with and became obsessed with Lois & Clark The New Adventures of Superman when it aired on TV. But then something changed in some point in my life and my past I stop liking Superman and actually started hating him. Except, I don’t remember when this happened.

I recently decided to get back into comic book collecting I’m going to say back into I mean I sold all my comic books or abandon and number of them when I left my apartment 2 years ago. But I’ve recently with coronavirus and everything else have been at home a lot more than I had been previously and I have a better job now more money now and thought now is a good time to get back into serious comic book collecting. And that includes reading comic books more than ever. Now I just wrote a post last night on rediscovering the Golden Age of comics and in that Discovery I realized I still have lingering feelings of respect and appreciation for the Man of Steel. So I wanted to talk about the parts of Superman that I never stopped liking and try to figure out what it was that made me go from admiring this character to despising him for so long.

My earliest memories of Superman that I can pinpoint was sitting down and watching a VHS tape of some random Superman cartoons my dad rented from the video store at one point. I can’t tell you what happened in that story I vaguely remember a bank robbery and Superman flying around with a bank vault on his shoulder but I can’t remember beyond that. I do remember liking the character and wanting to see more of him. I remember watching the Superman movie the original one from the 70s and just loving it when I was a kid. I remember watching Superman 2 and thinking at the time and throughout most of my life thinking it was the best of all the Superman movies had been my favorite for ever. I remember watching and even enjoying Superman 3 and even liking Superman 4 the Quest for Peace hey I was a kid. It wasn’t until Lois and Clark came along that I realized I really like Superman and I never had Superman comics this is key I believe I always only ever had the shows to watch or a handful of toys inundate me into the characters mythos.

I even remember going into Superman Returns expecting the like it hoping to like it and I remember getting to the end of that movie and questioning my entire interest in the Superman character. May you have to keep in mind I’ve never wavered on Batman to this day he still my favorite comic book character my absolute favorite superhero if you can call him a superhero some won’t but I do. And I know Superman was friends with Batman and there were shows like super friends that I didn’t watch. And I think that’s part of it never having read a comic book featuring The Man of Steel and only knowing him as a character in his own universe but knowing he was Affiliated Loosely with Batman I think that swayed me to take the side of the Dark Knight and dismiss the Man of Steel, the Kryptonian as it were.

I remember the point where I started liking Transformers and watching the cartoon and reading a comic books and obsessing over the toys. And I can remember the point in my life where I went from thinking Batman was okay but not great to becoming my favorite superhero spoiler alert it had to do with one of the movies. But I can’t trace the point in my mind where I went from admiring and respecting Superman to flat-out loathing him, hating him, despising him. But I do believe it has to do with the fact that I never read his comics.

By the time Lois & Clark was finished I was still into the character that much I do know. And I remember being a little bit turned off by Smallville at first enjoying the episodes I did watch but not enough to get into it because it wasn’t Superman it was Clark Kent and I think that was the start of my downward spiral but I have to dig deeper. I was that weird kid that like the Atari Superman video game just because it was Superman I didn’t care that it was a bad game it was fun to play in my mind and that’s all I ever cared about. And I do remember hating Superman Returns by the time it was all said and done.

And I remember never having any interest in the Justice League I remember thinking it didn’t make sense that Batman and Superman would be on the same team with Wonder Woman The Flash and a bunch of other people whose names I never took the time to learn. This fueled my disdain for the Justice League which eventually magnified itself as a hatred for Superman and all things related to him. I think that’s why I enjoyed Batman versus Superman the film so much because Batman beat the snot Ida. Kryptonian creep and I was so excited to see him get the stuffing knocked out of him by my favorite superhero despite being portrayed by an actor I also despise.

But surely that wasn’t enough a disappointing movie a mediocre TV soap opera that couldn’t have been what killed my interest in a character I enjoyed as a kid, could it? I remember the jokes I don’t know who first made them making fun of Superman all the powers of a God and he uses it to get cats out of trees I was told over and over. His most powerful villain is a banker I was told mocking the Superman. And he is defeated by a pebble of all things a piece of chalk as they mocked the Superman. And I know the first point I pulled on a thread that unravelled some of the mystery was in fact rolling my eyes at the first Superman movie as I re-watched it and realized how absurd it was that Lex Luthor would be able to deduce that meteor had to be Kryptonite simply because a planet blew up decades ago around the same time Superman would have laughed and he just figured it out didn’t make sense to me and I’m at that point and all those other markings compounded in my head the things people had said about Superman over the years he wears his underwear on the outside they said. And soul it really started to become real at that point. I do know that was two thousand and 7 and I know that was because I was living with a guy at the time friend a roommate who is obsessed with Superman and we watched the movies together because he was trying to remind me how much I shouldn’t hate Superman when I was mocking him for liking Superman and forgetting that I had at one point in time also like Superman

I know part of it was finding the Marvel Universe of characters far more fascinating as I fell in love with thoroughly the X-Men and also Spider-Man. After a while I started to believe the things people said about Superman and started to distance myself from him thinking he’s beneath me and people are weird for liking him and not only growing to hate the character growing to despise the company that he was a symbol representing but also questioning my filiation with people who put him on a pedestal also questioning myself why do I care so much about a fictional comic book hero? I didn’t answer that question at least not in a way I will brag about. All I learned is at some point I went from really liking the guy to really hating him and I don’t know why.

When I decided to get back into comic book collecting I knew I had to subscribe to Action Comics I told myself I’m subscribing to comic books because my goal is to play my small part in helping the industry obviously I don’t believe I can save the industry but I felt obligated to subscribe to some print Publications as at the time I was working for print publication and felt a kindred spirit with those produced in comic books. So I decided to start subscribing monthly the books to be delivered in my home and the first one I chose was Action Comics knowing that Superman despite my disinterest in the character what’s the pillar that holds the entire comic book industry even I know that his importance cannot be understated after all he is the world’s first superhero and probably the most iconic most popular and most important superhero by Leaps and Bounds above everybody else. Love him or hate him I could not deny his importance.

But then something happened something I didn’t expect I bought some comic books used off of eBay grab the couple off the shelf of my local comic book store and read them. It would be cliche to say my jaw dropped but it did I was amazed at how good these stories were and how enjoyable reading that character was and then I remembered how much I like to know the kid Nostalgia has a way of doing that reconnecting us to our childhood and a way that lists the fog of our memories and reminds us of the things although distorted that we may have forgotten. And I remember liking I remember waking up every day knowing that today is the day that a new episode of The Adventures of Superman comes on TNT and I couldn’t wait for it I had to see the newest episode I remember waiting anxiously for the Superman video game to come out on my game console of choice at the time having to rent it from Blockbuster video.

And I couldn’t remember how much I hated that character and now I can’t remember how much I loved him but I cannot remember or pinpoint at what point those emotions reversed. All I can say now is I very much regret all the time I missed enjoying the Superman exploits and stories fascinating dramas that were told in the pages of his books because now is I flip through Silver age books and Bronze Age books and Modern Age books and golden age books some on the digital platform stop physically in my hand I realize is quality of Storytelling and remain consistent throughout his entire history and I was a fool for thinking he was anything but the greatest superhero of all time. And now I can say I no longer hate the character I used to love I can now say he’s actually pretty good pretty cool he’s a nice guy he’s all right. And I don’t think I could have said that before.

And now I have to reflect not on what I missed not on why I dismiss to the character but on how do I move forward righting the wrongs of my own life? last summer I told my family I was a cross-dresser contemplating if I was transgendered or not. I decided at that point I couldn’t keep secrets anymore and now I realize I can’t keep secrets for myself either and I was lying to myself by saying I hated Superman when I secretly didn’t. I was afraid of being made fun of mocked for being a nerd anyways and even among comic book nerds Batman is considered cool Superman is considered a dork and despite the fact that I myself am more of a dork than cool I felt the need to root for the other guy for some reason.

None of this in any way has diminished my admiration for Batman. If anything it’s only made me appreciate the Dark Knight even more so the first trade paperback I bought featuring Kal-El the Kryptonian is in fact the greatest Batman versus Superman stories at least according to the Publishers of DC Comics who you know write them. Oh and yeah it actually now has me very fascinated and interested Beyond even curious to say the least in the Justice League and I can put some of the blame on that directed towards those so-called terrible dceu films everybody mocks. And hey I can admit that I like suicide squad and found it quite entertaining and most enjoyable because my favorite Batman movie of all time to me the best movie that fully represents the Batman is Batman Forever so clearly I can accept enjoy and appreciate a film other fans do not as much and that’s where I am now I don’t care what people think of me anymore I don’t care what people say I don’t care if I get made fun of I’m going to like what I like and that’s that. And if that means admitting that I like Superman then so be it what am I afraid of I mean so what if he wears women’s underwear it’s not like I haven’t.

Discovering the greatness of the Golden Age of American comic books

With Great Power There Must Also Come Great Responsibility. It is one of the most famous quotes in all of comic book fandom. Almost as iconic as the famous “It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane” line about a certain Kryptonian made out of steel.

I am one of those people who has had an overwhelming passion for comic books my entire life. Unfortunately my limited funds have been divided between comics, DVD’s, video games and computers. Thus, I have had spurts where my collection would grow exponentially then decline as I moved around the country.

Now with a combination of digital comic subscriptions, an increase in funding due to a rise in employment status and the obvious additional free time caused by a certain health crisis.

I signed up for all three digital comic services; Comixology Unlimited, DC Universe and Marvel Unlimited, I have had a great time digging into the Golden Age of Comics.

I decided to start with the earliest days and work my way through the modern stuff. I am still reading current issues too but I have a different reading plan for those. That being said let me share my observations are based on my experience with the apps.

First thing I realized is contrary to my previously held belief, Marvel comics does not in fact have superior characters and stories than DC. In fact the more I find myself reading the early DC stuff, even those characters I had previously despised, I have realized that DC actually does have far superior storytelling than I ever believed. Now I have also learned that my belief Marvel was my favorite was based on a limited sample. You see I always loved the X-Men above all else. I also fully enjoy Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, but my absolute favorite comic character has always been Batman. I figured this balanced things out as Marvel had more that I liked but the quality of Batman alone was great enough on its own to balance things out.

Once I realized that I never went beyond those three fringe comic’s I realized that the remainder of Marvel, as I explored its library, didn’t interest me nearly as much as I thought. I can’t stand the Avengers, Iron Man, Thor or Captain American in their comic forms. In fact I quickly discovered that aside from the big three I named above, I found it increasingly difficult to find a Marvel character I did care about. I realized I am basically an X-Fan who also enjoys FF from time to time. Spider-man is a side character and the rest are nothing to me.

Things became further lopsided once I realized I actually found myself enjoying more of the DC characters and stories than I had Marvel. At first I thought I would hate Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the like. Now to be fair I did read The Flash and Martian Manhunter as a kid so I had some previous attachment to those characters yet I was still limited in my knowledge of their lore and thus never fully appreciated them.

I could say the Arrowverse played a role in igniting my curiosity which sparked into full on appreciation for the DC characters, but I must admit I’ve always found batman most enjoyable and have had a strange on again, off again interest in Superman. No, what really settle it was diving into the Golden Age of Comics via those digital comic apps. Reading those early Action Comics showed me that while my assertion that Superman did in fact spend most of his time doing boring, things like helping grandmas across the street, rescuing cats or, to my shock, rigging a high school football game! But, I discovered that the actual appeal was in the reality you have this character with all these amazing powers who spends his time helping out ordinary humans doing ordinary things. In other words, the stories were so well-written it didn’t matter he was only doing extraordinary things to solve ordinary problems, it was the fact he had super powers and yet he used them for good was the whole point.

By the time I branched out into exploring the remainder of the DC Golden Age far, at least that which is currently available on DCU, I learned they truly do have a knack for story telling. I am not saying Marvel lacks this, rather I am merely saying that once I discovered the true history of the DC universe I realized there was more to like than I had thought.

Now getting into Detective Comics was where I found the good stuff. I am not like most Batman fans, I love the character thoroughly in all of his forms over the years. Yes I even enjoy the movies fans are programmed to hate. In fact Batman Forever is my personal favorite and in my opinion actually the best Batman movie to date. While some will argue it’s camp gets in the way of its darker, allegedly grittier successors, I contend Batman  has never been fully dark nor fully camp, rather a fair combination of the two, on a spectrum that pushes and pulls the character back and forth between the two extremes in a perfectly balanced way that provides long time fans with the joy of constantly rediscovering the character. What really did it for me was flipping through those old Batman comics and Detective Comics from the 1940’s and feeling like a kid again. The magical wonder of the character returned to my world to remind me life is short and it’s absolutely worth finding the things that make you happy and allowing your self to be just that, happy. I was having fun reading his books and that’s what it’s all about.

I am not saying the Golden Age is superior to other ages. I am also not dismissing it as simplistic and primitive, nay childish even as some fans of today might try to argue, rather I am saying, with a firm assertiveness, the Golden Age is the most fantastically amazing series of stupendously exotic comic book joyousness that is essentially awesome in its  grandiose story telling and extraordinary art work. Or all those fun comic adjectives comic book editors are so known for using to arrogantly describe their own work. Needless to say the wonder of the Golden Age has restored my faith in comics while reigniting my passion for a form of story telling I was once madly in love with. Now that our affair has rekindled I most assuredly will remain fully committed to my love all the remaining days of my life.


Why I cancelled The Dark Web Podcast and what comes next for The Spiders Lair

It took me a while to get to the point where I was ready to admit the truth, my podcast was a bad idea.

I set out to launch my latest attempt at a podcast in the summer of 2017. After a few short episodes I realized I had a better idea for a show and cancelled it with the promise I would revamp it with a complete refresh after just a few short weeks. I went out of my way to reach out to guests and tried to give the show a big push. I even took out ads in the local newspaper and the school yearbook. It was all my attempt at putting out a show that would have a real radio show production value. I even launched a broadcast TV style companion show on Youtube that I quickly killed after just a handful of episodes.

The truth is the show was a mess from the start. I kept going back and forth on how raw or real I wanted to be. I was torn between keeping it radio friendly or being more mature. I never could lock down a format. I tried having recurring segments that rotated on a regular basis to the point I eventually gave up. After just a few months I tried to reformat it into a 5 day a week 30 minute radio friendly show I could try to syndicate to broadcast radio stations. After a couple of months it  became obvious that was not a viable option I then took it back into an 2-3 hour marathon of me mostly yelling/cussing into the microphone. I went back and forth it it would have video or not. I tried doing it with an expensive mic and lights, then I got lazy and did it entirely from my cell phone.

The real reason the show failed was I never could decide what I wanted it to be. To be absolutely honest the show wasn’t a complete failure in the audience department. After two years I managed to garner over 20,000 downloads and was averaging 150 per week. The problem was retention was abysmal. In fact it was basically 0 percent most weeks meaning I wasn’t building a loyal audience, I just hand 150 random people stumble into my web once a week each week never to return. The fact there was zero audience participation on Twitter reinforced my belief the show was basically dead.

This past month with the ongoing health crisis causing me to go stir crazy I decided once and for all to kill the show for good. That doesn’t mean I am done entirely with podcasts or YouTube it just means this show, the Dark Web Podcast, is no more.

So what comes next? For the website, this blog, nothing changes. I will write articles on topics that interest me as I either find the time, inspiration or both.

The YouTube channel is where I intend to do some new things. Well, actually old things. In other words my plan now that the podcast is dead is to refocus my energy on doing shorter vlog style videos. Basically just me picking a single topic and digging into it. I might keep doing pickup and collection videos as I find the time.

I don’t want to reveal what my future plans are because right now they are influx and could change before I do anything meaningful. The actual truth is I loved doing a podcast but it became a chore with little reward. It also doesn’t hurt that I landed a job as a TV producer removing the need for me to produce a web series. I think I will take a step back and try to figure out what I want to do next. I have another confession regarding the ‘retro witch’ coming soon so stay tuned. And as always, Stay Cool.

The DC Universe mistake fans keep making

I’ve talked a lot over the last couple of years about streaming video services and the crowded Market. One of the services that people are quick to point out has very little value as a streaming service is DC Universe. And within good reason there’s just a few superhero shows published by DC and a handful of movies they themselves do not produce enough content to justify an $8 a month streaming service they just don’t. But that’s the fallacy of DC Universe and the discussions people have about it.

If you look at DC Universe as a streaming service it’s not worth the price of admission $8 is way too much for what you get barely enough content to justify it. But if you look at it the opposite of that it’s not a streaming service that gives you access to comic books it’s a digital comic Service that has movies and TV shows as a bonus then it has a tremendous value at $8 a month.

I started reading digital Comics recently as a way to have a little bit more variety than just videos because I’ve missed reading comic books and the Health crisis has me pretty much isolated at home for more hours than I’m used to and I’m looking for new ways to occupy my time. The first thing I noticed is you have three digital Comics Services Marvel Unlimited, comixology unlimited and DC Universe. All three services offer basically the same thing a catalog of digital Comics that you can read at your leisure and a variety of new Comics that come out through a time-lapse after enough time has passed they get the new comics.

Now comixology as a service only lets you borrow comics for short periods of time they have a limited number of comics and then you have to return them. Or you have the option to buy them and keep them in your digital library permanent so long as you have the comixology app I guess.

But DC Universe offers something a little bit better you get a complete back catalog of all of their old comics with new ones being added all the time and the new Comics as they come out get added after certain amount of time so you’re getting quite a bit of comic books and because it’s a DC service and they are the publisher they own all the rights the stuff that’s there theoretically should expire. This is good news for the reader.

So now I look at DC Universe and I think it’s a pretty good service if you consider it as a Comics streaming service that includes some movies TV shows and cartoons as a bonus I think it works but the people who keep saying once HBO Max launches the service will no longer serve a purpose are out of their damn minds and it’s irritating to me that people keep treating it like a streaming service that has a few Comics like the comics are quaint and not that important. When did the comic book industry get to a point where the actual books themselves are seen as a licensed property or an ancillary product instead of the actual main driving force? This is bad news for Publishers and frankly it’s bad news for comic book fans.

Comic book industry is fragile just like all of the print Publications right now. Digital Comics can’t sustain or replace the print Publications because digital Comics subscriptions are very small source of revenue for $8 a month I get access to everything versus $30 a year for one book it’s a big difference in what I’m paying for a comic book. But the key difference is the digital comic just feeds me the panels that contain the story there are no advertisements whereas is if I buy a book that comes in the mail there will be ads on the page that Lawson advertising dollars is a tremendous blow to the bottom line of the comic book industry.

Now as a part of a big conglomerate DC can make money off of movies and TV shows licensing video games toy t-shirts Etc the comic books are just a another way to make money as readership declines.

But they need to find a way to make the core comic book product profitable and enticing for readers so that they can continue on producing the Legacy Media that started the whole industry in the first place as well as to continue on coming up with stories that can Inspire or be the source material for movies and TV shows video games and everything else.

I’m thoroughly enjoying reading back issues of DC Universe comic books. I hope the service sticks around as a digital Comics service for some time to come my hope is that it will help put some money back into DC’s coffers so that they can continue to feed the comic book fandom so they can stay in business stay profitable.

Comic book fans are fans of comic book stories I should say have more options than ever movies, TV shows, anime, video games and so much more. It’s good for the comic book industry in that you can see some really good at aptations of these stories an animated form or even live action stories but it’s bad for the comic book medium because people think of the comic books themselves as inferior to these other types of stories when it was the comic books that launch them to begin with.

My hope is more people will discover DC Universe as a digital Comics platform and we’ll see the other stuff as bonus material because I imagine a lot of people who have it are going to drop it and favor of HBO Max when that service launches later this month or next month.

And I find that to be sad I really think that there’s enough room in the market for three digital Comics stores Marvel to have their own and then DC can have their own comixology will have everybody else and if you pursue digital Comics that way it’s a good service the problem is that still pricey for some people. but it’s an actual tremendous bargain if you think about it $8 a month and you get all the back issues of DC Comics now not literally every issue they’ve ever published but every story you’re going to want to read for the most part is there and you can’t get some of those comic books for $8 a piece let alone $8 a month. the value of DC Universe cannot be stated enough. Most people don’t recognize how important it is to the industry and how much of a value you actually get for $8 a month even if you only buy two comic books a month or spending more than $8 at the newsstand or the comic book store.

I’ve even heard commentators comic book fans who trash the service because it streaming options are so thin and they even say things like the comics aren’t is important to them or they get their comics from comixology or some other free service which is too bad because you’re not supporting the publisher when you do that and it’s not that difficult to try to help support the publisher that is producing the content you are consuming and enjoying.

I’m doing my part I’m doing the best I can because I want to see the comic book industry survive and I love reading comics and I hate that we’ve gotten to a point that people see comic books as a secondary or even lower product on the scale as the movies and cartoons. I love the Marvel movies I like a lot of the DC movies but I still prefer the comics I love the comics the best stories are always going to be in the comic books because your less restricted in a comic book you don’t have to worry about an actor taking off his mask because he has to get face time on camera. you don’t have to worry about changing actors or recasting or fan backlash when you cast the wrong person for some reason or another.

you’re limited by your imagination and comic books and you’re limited by big budget and a whole bunch of other issues when it comes to film and television. comic books need to be profitable in order to continue to provide Source material for the video games and everything else and those things can subsidize the comic books but you have to have the comics.

what I’m doing personally is budgeting one new title a month every payday I will add a new subscription that way it’s $30 for an annual subscription every two weeks I’ll spend another $30 adding another new subscription so that I’ll have 12 months of that book and then every month in a rotate a new book each month. I’m going to subscribe to all three Digital Services and then I will support my local comic book shop by buying back issues as I come across them and if they start selling new issues I’ll buy the ones I don’t subscribe to that I can afford.

at the very least if every comic book fan would subscribe to all three of the Digital Services you would be doing a tremendous service to the Publishers the writers artists the creative people that make your stories possible at the very least get the three services and read the digital Comics you can afford.

the biggest takeaway is think of DC Universe as a bargain for digital comics and all that other stuff is bonus material.

What to make of We Are What We Are?

Every once in a while a film comes along that gets inside my mind in a way that the only cure is to spread it to as many unsuspecting individuals as humanly possible. Horror movies can be especially infectious in their spread. Like a disease the effects can be slow but impactful depending on the nature of the film.

The first time I watched “We Are What We Are” it was very much like being overtaken by a new virus. It started out like a slow, almost boring movie about a family with a cult-like belief system. Slowly the story began to unfold. The disease began to spread. By the time the movie ended I was thoroughly infected with its images. It was firmly seeded in my brain ready to spread throughout my tribe.

The film itself is nothing special. In fact it’s really just a remake of a film imported into the United State from our neighbors to the south. In fact I recently found myself stumbling upon the original during an online search to revisit the film recently. Yet like many remakes it does leave its own mark on the world.

It starts with a simple opening. A woman in what appears to be a small town falls suddenly to her death with no explanation. The majority of the movie centers on the family both coping with the loss of their mother while also preparing for a gut-wrenching ritual that involves kidnapping, dehumanizing and ritualistically cannibalizing a young woman.

During the course of the film the viewers psyche is infected with images telling the origin of the practice via flashbacks. It tells a tale of a frontier family struggling to survive a particularly harsh winter. During the course of the winter the women are eaten as a means of providing food for the rest of the family. The gruesome scenes are only the beginning. The remainder of the film is a blend of verbal abuse the children must suffer as the father continues preparations while one of the daughters begins to question the practice. The other plot thread revolves around the local authorities investigating the suspicious death of the aforementioned mother from the beginning.

What ensues is a story involving a young girl using her sexuality to throw the scent of the law enforcement officer off the trail in a disturbing scene that reinforces certain stereotypes of those who choose to live a simple, country lifestyle.

The film culminates in a scene that provides a thoroughly satisfying wrap to the events depicted. Between the family’s treatment of their captive as a wild animal, to the borderline incestuous relationship between the father and his children, the film is absolutely daring enough to entangle the viewer in grotesque tale sure to leave a lasting impression upon them for years to come. While not the most shocking film I have ever seen it is surely high on the list.

Like “The Ring”, the cure for watching the film is to spread it to its next victim. I have done my part. Stay Cool.