Why does Chaos reside in the spiders lair?

The tagline for my website, blog posts, podcast and videos is always Welcome to The Spiders Lair, Where Chaos Resides. I have spent a lot of time ensuring the branding and message is uniform across all platforms. I do this to ensure consistency, it’s the first rule of design they teach you in college. The capital C in CRAP. When I was in college my teacher told me she was going to teach us CRAP I was intrigued. I was drawn to the idea of using a catchy acronym that relied on irony to get the point across.

I chose to make the theme of my website chaos for a number of reasons. The most important reasons I see my work as a reflection of the chaos we experience as humans in this universe we try to make sense out of. I mostly use the lens of pop culture and geek culture to filter out the chafe and get to the heart of the human experience. Thus I like the idea of a site branded around chaos. It gives me the freedom to pick and choose the topics as I see fit. I don’t have to shoe horn my thoughts into a theme like movies, video games or what have you. I can keep the topics fairly open ended. I enjoy that. I decided on naming my website The Spiders Lair, no punctuation, because I want to demonstrate I am appealing to basement dwellers and rebels. The rebellion against punctuation is not so much a concerted effort, it’s laziness on my part but that can be a side effect of rebelling. I am a loner. That is not a word I band about lightly. I literally live lone and spend my life alone. I rarely get out and socialize. Yet I do not feel alone. It’s a concept some members of my family struggle with relating to. Nonetheless I continue to live my life my way. It works for me for the most part.

I originally used the tag line To Organize Chaos. I felt it worked on a marketing level because it conveyed the idea I was trying to get across, that is a website with no central theme to speak of out side my own experiences and observations. I didn’t exactly want it to be a personal blog so to speak, just centered on my personal experiences and observations.

There is an episode of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond where Frank Barone tries to write a column for the newspaper called I was just thinking. In the episode he jots down random thoughts with no connection to anything. As a writer this is clearly not the way to keep an readers attention.

On the note of punctuation, I do my best all things considered. That being I dropped out of high school, earned a GED and then studied journalism at university. Between the quirks of AP style, my own deficiencies and well that pesky laziness I mentioned before, I often make grammatical and punctuation mistakes. I’ll admit I make an effort to look up a rule I broke after it is brought to my attention. I just don’t make much of an effort to learn the rules I am fuzzy on.

One thing that does appeal to me is writing a disjointed article with a few random, smaller topics to catch your attention. I suppose if one were to use sub heads to keep it organized it could work. Here are some random thoughts THE RAT would like to share with the world.

What makes Degrassi so damn appealing?

I first encountered Degrassi High when I was in middle school. I started out doing some detention during lunch and those kids who were considered at risk or prone to getting into trouble, like myself, were offered an opportunity to sit and watch Degrassi during our lunch period as a way to keep us, and our victims, safe from the violence we exhibited among one another. I wasn’t exactly a bully but I took my own frustrations of being bullied out on those weaker than I. It was not something I am proud of today. However it introduced me to a Canadian TV series I can honestly say shaped my life for years.

Once I grew up I decided to give Degrassi a second chance. I started at the very  beginning with Ida Makes a Movie. I enjoyed it enough to go through the next several iterations from Kids of Degrassi Street to the aforementioned Junior/Senior high incarnation. Then out of morbid curiosity I kept going well into Degrassi The Next Generation. I was several seasons in before I snapped out of my trance and walked away. I don’t know what it was that hooked me on this Canadian treasure but somehow it spoke to me in a weird way. I have contemplated going back to review the original series but I haven’t yet found an economical way of going about it. In a way it kind of makes me feel like a jerk asking friends and family to buy me the DVD’s for say Christmas or birthdays because I made a fuss about that one time I got a Jay and Silent Bob Do Degrassi DVD for Christmas. It was, at the time, a touchy subject because I was forced into the show for disciplinary reasons originally. Still, now that I have settled into my fate as an oddball I suppose I can go back to one of the shows that helped inspire my oddball behavior in the first place.

The Mortal Kombat, Freddy Krueger and The Mask connectivity

The story about how Mortal Kombat changed the video game rating industry is well documented and much discussed. The lesser known story is how Freddy Krueger is to blame for the famed film adaptation being slapped with a paltry PG-13 rating when the studio making the video game famous for its gore was itself famous for gore.

New Line Cinema chose to censor Mortal Kombat on the the grounds they already had A Nightmare on Elm Street as a violent, R-rated franchise. During the negotiation stage New Line picked up the rights to adapt The Mask, bloody/gory comic book series. Due to Wes Craven’s New Nightmare being a darker, gorier fare for the famed Springwood Slasher’s recent theatrical outings, the studio opted to use their new shiny prize, the recently signed rising star Jim Carry, to make a kid friendly comic book adaptation of a gory comic property. This worked so well the studio repeated the formula by scrubbing almost all the gore necessary from the big budget Mortak Kombat picture toning it down to a PG-13 action/fantasy martial arts flick rather than an R-rated horror/fantasy film it could have been. This has left a sour taste in the lives of fans the world over as the film, while a success, spawned a not-so-beloved sequel. Oh well.

Still, as someone who was always a fan of Freddy and became a fan of the Mortal Kombat video game independent of all the stuff New Line was plotting to do, I can say it was a strange twist of fate learning how interconnected these three properties became. I was already an instant fan of The Mask upon first viewing. Years later upon learning how it was loosely connected to the franchise that spawned, literally, my favorite film of all time, well that was a treat in itself.

Discovering Doctor Who for the first time was a thrill

I don’t often get into British shows. To be honest aside from the above mentioned Degrassi, I rarely find myself entertained by any foreign TV shows. One day I was flipping through the cable channels when I stumbled upon the Sci-Fi channel, before its rebrand. I saw a blue telephone booth smash into the side of a building and a disoriented man stumbled out. A blond woman asked a girl who the man was, she replied the doctor, and the woman asked “Doctor Who?” Then the opening credits began to scroll.

The theme song caught my attention so I figured I would give it a shot. I had heard references over the years to a time traveling space alien science fiction show called Doctor Who so I was curious to check it out. Following the first commercial break I lost interest. The so-called “doctor” was pointing a “sonic screwdriver” at a killer Christmas tree that was attacking the family. I rolled my eyes and changed the channel thinking I would never go back.

A couple of months later I was again flipping through the channels and once against landed on the SyFy channel, as they had since rebranded. I was puzzled by the odd spelling so I figured I would watch a little until I came across a bumper that might explain what I was seeing as networks often advertise rebranding. There was a British man talking to a young girl about her son who was killed by a bomb that wasn’t a bomb. The exchange between the two characters caught my attention. The next scene an American gentleman was sitting atop an invisible space ship hitting on that same blond I saw from before. I figured this was another episode of that Doctor Who but this time it didn’t seem so juvenile.

The episode, I found out later, was called The Empty Child. The episode got me instantly hooked. I sat there for what I quickly learned was a marathon. I followed it up with The Doctor Dances. The two-parter was all it took to get me sitting there for the rest of the day. Immediately following the end of the season the show began to unravel. The doctor had died at the end of the episode and suddenly a new man appeared in his place. It was that goofy looking fellow from the Christmas episode, which this time I watched to the end. Having some context, and a heart beat for Rose Tyler, I decided to give the show a chance.

It didn’t take long before I became a die hard fan. I ended up, thanks in part to Neflix and some other shadier portions of the internet, going back and watching the first 40 or so years of the franchise. Oh it was an instant love affair. I had been craving a science fiction show of this sort and here it was running not only the course of my entire life, but once I discovered it I learned my mom had watched it when she was a kid. So it became a tradition for the two of us to sit and catch the latest Doctor Who episode each week on BBC America. One of these days I hope to go back and cover my favorite episodes more in depth. I am only saddened by the way Netflix has discarded the show making it harder for me to view.

More Than Meets the Eye revival ignites the interwebs

The year was 2001. I had just finished my tumultuous high school education and was beginning to branch into the wild west of web design. Once online I discovered a community of Transformer fans who called themselves “TransFans.” Needless to say bonds were made, friendships were crafted and things were going good. Then as time went on the word Trans began to take on a new meaning, leaving Transformer fans unsure if they should continue using the moniker. Despite the growing tensions between the car-robots “trukk not Monkee” blow hards and the “Beasts are better” cult, things got heated. Eventually Hasbro discovered a way to tap into the community’s need for nostalgia by launching several retro lines intended to milk money from those fans now beginning to enter the work force. Everything culminated in the launch of a live-action series that started in 2007 with a love letter to those same fans. Finally the main stream was willing to recognize what me and my friends had known all along, giant alien robots make good entertainment.

This is only a small sampling of the insights THE RAT stores up here at the Spiders Lairs, Where Chaos Resides. For more deeper thoughts, unfiltered uncensored and completely uncut be sure to check out The Dark Web Podcast, a show made by a basement dwelling oddball for other basement dwelling freaks. Stay Cool.

Contemplating the Netflix purchase of comic book imprint Millarworld

The Spiders Lair is not a news site first and foremost. Obviously nobody is learning about this news by coming here. Still this is big enough I wanted to get something down before the dust settles.

According to reports Netflix is purchasing an indie comics company called Millarworld. Apparently it’s the publishing house that does Kick-Ass and Kingsmen, among other comics I never heard of. At first that sounds like a pretty big deal. Especially when you take into account their current deals with Marvel. Netflix could soon become the premiere streaming service for quality, comic book content.

Of course the only two comics they make I know about are the very two not included in the purchase. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? On the surface, very little. Netflix has never out right purchased another company before. By picking up a comic book imprint the idea sounds good. If they can develop enough titles into quality movies and shows for their service, combined with the already fantastic Marvel shows they have, other publishers could come on board. I think the far reaching implication would be for more indie developers to bring their titles to Netflix for production. This could mean we could start seeing shows based on comics that aren’t as mainstream as Marvel and DC without having to go through the Hollywood studios. This could be a game changer depending on how things work out.

Imagine as more comic book fans start to discover all the good shows and movies they want to watch are coming to Netflix. This could snowball where all the content creators scramble to get their indie comic characters turned into a Netflix series. I would LOVE to see a Gen 13 show or even a revived Buffy with a new lead. Oh, I guess if they wanted to they could go the animated route too. I just wish they would use their licensing deals to pick up a few more classic animated comics based shows like the original TMNT cartoon or even some X-Men the Animated series. When I first discovered Netflix they had a ton of those types of shows. Now they have a few here and there. I don’t think the quality has declined much. I just don’t think they need to abandon old shows entirely to make room for new content. I would prefer they found a better balance between the two.

AS of right now this is more akin to when Hasbro bought the rights to Atari back in the 90’s. They are getting some new properties but are they really going to have the impact Netflix desires? A real game changing deal would have been if they picked up Image, Malibu, or even Dreamwave, at least then you are getting a solid blend of well known and indie comics. Here you are basically getting 4th tier comics from a very small specialty publisher. Not a bad deal, it’s still new content but seriously if you have to Google what their titles are it’s not like they are making waves. I mean I read comics, I go to Free Comic Book Day. And I wasn’t that familiar with this company. I loved Kingsmen and Kick-Ass but since those two aren’t a part of this deal I am not even sure how much of an impact this will truly make. All in all I will just take a wait and see approach. Since I haven’t really even been paying attention to Netflix in quite a while I am certain this won’t really affect me all that much anyways.

New Castlevania series on Netflix

I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I have been checking out reviews and from what I gather, this might be something worth checking out. I am thinking I might give it a watch sometime this weekend and see what I think of it from there.

I am not a big fan of anime or anime style shows, so I don’t know how I will respond to this. However, I have heard it is similar in ways to Symphony of the Night, which is one of my favorite Castlevania games so that sounds promising.

I haven’t really considered why it has taken this long to get a proper Castlevania animated show off the ground. Personally, I would much rather it be live-action than animated, but I guess there might have been budget issues to consider?

I haven’t been returning to Netflix that often for the classic shows I used to watch, since they are taking them away faster than adding new ones it seems. I haven’t given any of their original shows an honest go either. I did force myself to sit through the entire first episode of Fuller House just to check it out. I had nothing good to say about that so I left it alone and moved on.

I am starting to get to the point where I accept that Netflix is no longer the service I signed up for an is now just an HBO clone, which to that end, I am tempted to cancel Netflix and just check out HBO Now, at least then I can see True Blood and Game Of Thrones and see what all the fuss is about, plus maybe get full episodes of Last Week Tonight without having to wait around for Youtube to upload pieces of the show.

Now that I think about it, I am not even paying for Netflix anyways, I am sharing my parents plan so I should look into getting HBO Now anyways. Well I am going to check out this Castlevania series and hope for the best.

Confessions of a ‘Millennial’: What it means to be a part of the most hated generation of our time.

There is much confusion abounding about what it means to be a “Millennial,” I just wanted to clear a few things up. To some it’s a pejorative, an insult, to others it’s merely a misunderstood “generation” and to marketers in the media its nothing but a demographic that they think they understand. I can tell you one thing, weather you consider yourself to be a part of the so-called millennial generation or one of the generations that look down upon them, there is something you need to know, it’s all a figment of your imagination.

Before they were calling us millennials they called us the MTV generation. Demographers define the “millennial” generation as those who were coming of age during the year 2000, as in anyone who was either a teenager or a young adult. The typical, most widely accepted date line is anyone born between 1980 and 1995. I guess I fall smack in the middle of that generation. I knew I wasn’t Gen-X, that’s my mom’s generation and it’s kind of hard to be in the same generation as your parents, being the “next generation” of their DNA and all that.

What does it actually mean to be a “Millennial?” Well nothing really, it’s a made up word used by members of the so-called “main stream media” and marketers as a way to define those young people currently between the ages of 22 and 37 or somewhere in that age range. The stereotypical millennial is some super entitled hipster that has a smart phone permanently attached to their hand with their face planted firmly into the abstract cloud based world-wide-web of information. Often described as lazy, entitled, too into their technology and so many other negative’s I don’t have the energy to go after them all. But the name millennial itself, is so negative I know personally people in my generation, friends and family who are millennials, or at least are in the generation that is being talked about, who distance themselves from it, or use it themselves to talk down to the “kids coming up” I guess, without realizing the kids born in the year 2000, they can’t be millennials, they’re still in high school.

Here are my confessions as a so-called Millennial. Do I wear the name like a badge of honor, sure why not, the so-called mainstream media gets just about everything about us so far wrong that even other so-called millennials can’t agree on what it means to be one. Let me put it like this, many of the actual millennials I now who are in denial, that say things like we’re all narcissistic, or “they’re” all narcissistic, are usually posting pictures of their kids doing the most mundane thing as some accomplishment to social media while simultaneously knocking other so-called “millennials” for doing the exact same thing. Well sure hypocrisy is rampant among any generation, just look at the “greatest” generation and their baby-boomer children. Actually don’t look that closely because you might discover that the “greatest” generation, wasn’t actually that great, and you might be further shocked to learn that the MTV generation, as we used to be called before it was cool to define us by the Y2K bug that we supposedly caused. Oh right I guess I lost my train of thought, we tend to do that being that we’re all OCD with ADHD and whatnot. I guess I should point out that if you compare the accomplishments of the baby boomers to our generation, well the baby boomers end up looking like a bunch of bitter old farts barking at their computers trash talking those silly millennials and their stupid little gadgets.

Okay maybe that was a little harsh, I have some good friends that are baby boomers, but even they often have not only negative stereotypes of our generation, including false assumptions of me personally. Needless to say they aren’t all that bad, but you know what, neither are we.

So what does a so-called Millennial do with his or her day? The same thing the baby boomers did and the Generation X-ers that spawned us, we live our lives. We go to school. We start families. We build bridges and start businesses, invent new technologies, replace outdated systems with new and improved systems; you know the same thing every generation before us did. And like every generation before us, the one that came before always looks down on the one coming up. Hell we do it to the, what are we calling them now snowflakes, that are coming up behind us. Some people mix up the “snowflakes” with the millennials. In other words, nothing has changed every generation digs on the one coming up, it’s the same as those old timers who reminisce about the so-called “good old days” which is just a myth because the problems of the world have been the same since the beginning of recorded history, pick up a bible or any history book to learn about that.

Alright enough complaining so what are some things that the pollsters get wrong about millennials? I guess for starters that we’re all socialist, elitist hipsters that have OCD and are narcissistic to a fault.

I will tackle each one individually. I will start with the accusation we’re all socialists. False. Our generation has done more for capitalism than the Generation X ever did. When Gen X wanted to go to the moon they built a socialist program funded by tax payers that was used to bolster national TV ratings so capitalist advertisers could line their pockets. Okay a 50-50 split for socialism. What has our generation done? We said screw NASA and their tax payer funded military driven hidden agenda, let’s privatize space exploration with Google and Space X having REPLACED NASA’s outdated shuttle program and currently working on space tourism that is designed to be, eventually, affordable for the masses. Under the generation X/Baby boomers only a handful of government trained elitists would EVER get the “privilege” of flying into space. Under the direction of the millennial generation, our kids and our grandkids will be able to fly to a space hotel in low earth orbit thanks to capitalist investments in space. Point goes to the Millennials. I will give a point to NASA and the Boomers for at least secretly launching the internet as part of the very same socialist space program they developed to combat Russian socialism, I mean Communism.

What about we’re all elitist hipsters? Also false, about as false s you can get. The one most common complaint I hear by boomers and older gen-xers is the breakdown of country clubs, the declining membership of elitist members-only groups that require members to pay monthly dues to participate, alienating the lower-income folks, in order for the so-called elites to stick together to hold onto the way things are. Millennials as a whole tend to be less likely to join elitist members-only clubs, not because we’re not civic minded or even all anti-social, more on that later. The real reason is we tend to be more inclusive, we tend to be more welcoming to who we associate with and while racism, bigotry and other words of the like get thrown about, our generation certainly has its share of racists, on both sides, as a whole we tend to be more willing to associate with people of different backgrounds, including those of a lower economic status as ourselves, and we tend to be more willing to do our volunteer work not so much for show or through organized members-only clubs, but instead we just do it because we see a person in need and we help them out. Again that goes hand in hand with dismissing the false claim we’re all socialists, because you know we’d rather help our members of the community out ourselves than rely on government assistance. We prefer to cut out the middle man and give directly, that is why we created things like GoFundMe and Patreon, seriously proof our generation is MORE giving than the boomers and Gen-Xers.

How does GoFundMe or Patreon prove we’re more giving? Well it also proves we’re less selfish than we’re described. The Boomers especially when someone fell on hard times would give money to charities with large overhead costs that would barely do anything more than make people feel worthless for falling on hard times. With GoFundMe we cut out the middle man, if someone is struggling they create a GoFundMe and ask for a reasonable amount of money to get through their hardship, maybe it’s make a late mortgage payment to help a single mother out who lost her job, or maybe it’s to help someone who doesn’t have insurance pay for a medical bill that is insurmountable. So instead of telling that person go through the lengthy process of filling paper work applying for charities to raise the funds and waiting for bureaucrat to approve the funds, we can just give a few bucks here and there to any cause we feel worthy and the people get the money directly and use it for whatever they say they are using it for.

What about Patreon? Well another thing we Millennials did was we got tired of McDonald’s, Pepsi, Ford, AT&T, Big Tobacco, and beer companies deciding what we get to watch. We did away with the out-dated advertising driven model of TV, movies, books, video games, radio, etc., and developed what is known as social media. The very basic aspect of it is the Facebook and Twitter but it goes deeper. We have YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, and a host of other internet based content created BY regular people FOR the entertainment of ourselves. Some of the content, much of it in fact, is social or viral videos, normal people sharing the little moments in their lives with the wider internet. You know so whenever one of our babies or pets does something extra cute we video it and share it with the whole world, this partially explains where the accusations of narcissism comes from, however it’s really just our way of saying hey, here is a nice little distraction from the corporate advertisers telling you what you are supposed to enjoy. The way Patreon works is instead of an advertiser commissioning a director and a team of writers to develop a series, a small group of maybe two or three creative individuals goes to the internet and tells their plan for a show to those who might be interested. An example would be someone who has a vlog series (video log) where they talk about topics people are interested in. A very interesting one that I enjoy DAILY is called “Today I Found Out” where you get brief, usually less than 7 minute, video dedicated to a fun, interesting topic that gives you some basic information, usually insightful and often as much as you would get in a typical Discovery Channel program but without all the commercials and filler getting in the way of the entertainment. So Patreon is a way for a fan of the creator to donate any amount they wish, large or small, directly to the creator both as a thank you for the content and as a way of supporting their favorite programs, ensuring they stay “on the air” without having to resort to organize letter writing campaigns like the famous Star Trek deal from the 1960’s.

In addition to GoFundMe and Patreon we have a thing called crowd funding, another example would be Indie-GoGo where a film maker, author, or video game developer can announce their plans for a project and ask for donations directly from the same people who are likely to spend money on the finished project. There is another one called Kickstarter that is popular. The point is we don’t rely on the institutions of the old timers to get our entertainment or other projects; we give directly to inventors, authors, story-tellers, even musicians, instead of letting some big corporate entity take all the profit and control the message. I guess to some that makes us look socialists, but it really just makes us innovators. Another point goes to the millennials.

What about we’re all OCD, ADHD or have some other disorder like social anxiety or something else? This one can be a bit touchy but let me just keep it simple, we don’t have any greater frequency of mental health than any other generation based on any information I could find, we just live in a modern society where more information is known about things that in previous generations we didn’t know as much. I will say that yes we have all grown up with our computers and electronic devices, even more so than the Generation X-ers that basically started the computer revolution. But really all we did as take what they started and perfected it. They made the World Wide Web, we made it better. They created AOL, a corporate portal that kept the internet hidden behind a pay wall with advertisers determining what content was available, we created social media and open source platforms where the entire internet is basically free and anyone can access it openly, you know just taking their vision and making it an actual reality. Don’t get me wrong I have ancient memories of the dusty old dial up days of American Online and using Keywords to search for terms instead of using Facebook and YouTube to share web pages and videos. Memes wouldn’t even be possible without our intervention.

Sure you look at Pokémon Go and see the decline of civilization, or see something like Oculus Rift as one more way for us to stay at home and not get fresh air. But what I see is a world where we have information available to us that we can use to our advantage to not only make our own lives better, but the world a better place too. Also for those politically minded, Millennials vote in the same patterns as their parents, Baby Boomers that were conservative spawned liberal Gen X babies who rebelled against mommy and daddy, those Gen X-ers spawn conservatives who rebelled against their liberal parents, and vice versa, that’s how it works kids rebel against their parents ideals and discover their own way in life, it’s okay for them to do that this is why you kick us out of the house and tell us to get a job. Maybe we drag our feet in leaving the nest longer than previous generations but that’s because we’re often very busy using our electronic gadgets to make the world a little less scary for the next generation.  I give that point to our parents for raising us right. So maybe Generation X and Millennials are both pretty good after all. Maybe instead of spending so much time passing the blame around why don’t we just celebrate our accomplishments, enjoy the fact we live in a free society where we can say whatever we want, and just live our lives without worrying about what other people think. Am I a Millennial, you bet your ass I am, and I am not ashamed of being a part of the greatest nation on Earth, I am just glad I was born at a time when we can reach beyond our own weaknesses and connect with others that share our faults. If I didn’t have the connections I made on the internet, I might not be who I am today.

 

“You are all my children now.”

In the 1980’s there was a trifecta of different styles all blending together in a perfect storm of outrageous thematic elements that would soon dominate the entire fringe culture, and even cross into mainstream. Going a decade back the roots of this movement were beginning with the rise of the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop RPG game. The theme was medieval fantasy. It had firmly taken hold of video game culture by the middle of the decade with games such as Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Ghosts N Goblins, Gauntlet, and even Castlevania taking the horror/fantasy genre to mainstream status. On the music side bands like Alice Cooper, Dio, KISS, and many others, were using D&D, horror, fantasy, and medieval art mixed with Gothic imagery. While Hollywood itself was slow to jump on the bandwagon, indie filmmakers like George Lucas, Stephan Spielberg, Jim Henson, and John Carpenter were all making variations of this theme. And best of all they blended together perfectly. Horror movies would reference D&D usually with a gamer depicted or borrow heavily from medieval mythologies, while having a strong heavy-metal soundtrack, which in turn contained lyrics that referenced D&D either directly or indirectly often as the horror movies would. So if you were a fan of medieval fantasy, Gothic imagery and music that told stories set in these thematic worlds, then the mid-to-late 80’s was your decade.

During this time nothing blended these three elements together better than Wes Craven’s Gothic horror masterpiece “A Nightmare o Elm Street.” While the first film itself doesn’t really contain too much in the way of medieval fantasy, it does have a very strong fantasy component, the music is very fitting for the mood, plus it also contains some of that D&D-esque metal rock sprinkled in to ensure it hit all of the notes. In some ways the movie is a murder mystery, you know almost  detective noir-style with Nancy trying to solve the mystery of the masked villain killing her friends one-by-one. It also has a little bit of Gothic horror with Freddy acting as a zombie, a vampire, and a serial killer all while tormenting his victims not with his own dastardly schemes, but using their own fears against them. In some ways it is also a psychological thriller.

The film opens with an abstract scene in the basement of some factory or plant with an unseen man crafting a glove containing sharp razors as extensions of the fingers. Immediately the tone of the film is set, the killer is unseen, hiding in the shadows, nobody knows who, or what, he is or why he is killing these seemingly random teenagers. During the course of the film there are references to Shakespeare, including a quote from Julius Cesar about nightmares, fitting as in the play he dreamed of his demise before it happened, much like the victims in the film.

I won’t spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it. I am not under the impression that just because it is old everyone knows what takes place, I will say anyone that has any interest in mythology, fantasy, horror, vampires, zombies, the undead, D&D, or heavy metal music should check out the entire franchise. Each film has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.

The sequel, often criticized but still worth watching, goes in a different direction. Instead of a murder mystery where the kids are trying to survive by figuring out who the killer is and how to defeat him, part two, subtitled as “Freddy’s Revenge,” takes on a more haunted house, possession story line. Again it has some moments fans cringe at but it also has a few of the iconic moments that the franchise is well known for. There is even scene that takes place inside of a Gothic night club, further tying the franchise into this whole theme.

Of course if you really want proof the Nightmare films are really D&D-inspired look no further than the third entry. Regarded by many, myself included, as the best in the franchise second only to the original to some, it’s a masterpiece in many ways and proof that a sequel can outdo the original. But there are so many more D&D elements and fantasy themes in this movie. For starters the subtitle is now “The Dream Warriors.” It centers on the survivors of the previous two films, the “Last of the Elm Street teenagers.” something you just have to watch the movies to understand. It also features a kid who prominently plays D&D in the movie, even going so far as having an actual scene depicting, fairly accurately unlike most movies, a portion of game play. In the dream world however things get weirder, this character becomes a wizard with super powers and another character takes on a Gothic/Punk look even meeting Freddy face to face in an alley. There is an Alice in Wonderland feel to the third installment, a D&D type maze/dungeon at the end where they come together as a team, a cleric type, a sage type, a fighter type, and even the silent stealthy bard/thief type, who all have to face the final boss, Freddy, at the end to win the treasure, their right to live, and go back to living normal lives at the end of their mythic quest. It truly is the one film in the series the most similar to an actual game of Dungeons and Dragons, from the very opening scene to the very end credits. It even brings in a fleshed out back story and mythology to the character and his origins are explored in a very medieval Catholic mythology sort of way.

Part four sort of keeps the notion of dream powers, introduces new concepts like the Dream Master, the films subtitle, and ends in a final battle with a new powered up girl in a church where at the end she ends up well I won’t spoil it but it’s very much in line with the theme I been repeating.

Part 5 and 6 are where the franchise takes a turn for the worse. Number 5, the Dream Child, is more of a comic book movie, Freddy is even depicted as a comic book villain and his nemesis is his own mother, resurrected to take him back to hell or something I guess. The movie has a more action movie, comic book vibe and style to it. In some ways that is refreshing, in other ways it can be off putting. Part six is, to put it bluntly, a parody of the franchise. It’s basically a Warner Bros. cartoon making fun of the whole concept, and yes it even features Bugs Bunny and Wizard of Oz references and heavily relies on the 3-D gimmick. It does flesh out the mythology quite well, and features a really great cameo by the dark master himself, Alice Cooper, again really mixing the themes in a way that ensures fans will find something to enjoy. It’s the worst of the films by most accounts but still worth watching for a few things, those cameos and back story plus a surprise I won’t spoil.

Part 7, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, gets back to the Gothic horror theme by basically putting Freddy into the Hansel and Gretel story. There isn’t much else to say it’s almost a remake/reboot of the original film with a twist but it’s one of the scarier films in the series, still worth checking out. I won’t go into either Freddy Vs. Jason or the 2010 Remake as they both stray so far from the original their best left in their own world. I enjoyed them each, in their own way, but neither of them live up to the source material. Freddy vs. Jason is made for the Playstation crowd and the remake was too dark and had no ties to the fantasy mythology that the original had. Worse of all, it wasn’t even about a child murderer freed on a technicality, it was a sick perverted child molester that had no motive for murdering his victims in their dream world, which also had no fantasy elements at all, instead it was trying too hard to be dark an edgy where it really just ended up being creepy and uncomfortable.

What can I say, I enjoy Gothic music and themes, I play Dungeons and Dragons extensively and I thoroughly enjoy the fantasy-themed horror series of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Netflix recently added the original film to its streaming service, Part 2 and New Nightmare had been there before but they are not the actual best movies, the first and 3rd films are really the two to watch. Part 4 is pretty good, 5 and 6 are laughable but somewhat entertaining and the rest are different degrees of bad or too dark for my taste.

I also really enjoyed the documentary on Netflix “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy” that really delved deep into the behind the scenes of the movies.

My personal ranking, with scores, best to worst:

  1. A Nightmare On Elm Street 5/5
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 5/5
  3. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 4.5/5
  4. Freddy vs. Jason 4/5
  5. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child 3.5/5
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge 3.5/5
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare 3.5/5
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake 3.5/5
  9. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare 3/5

Since I consider both New Nightmare and 2010 to be remakes, I prefer the full on reboot over the half-baked soft reboot. I know others will disagree but I just never cared for the breaking the fourth wall and taking Freddy into the “real” world making everything that came before just a movie, inside of a movie, too meta for my tastes.

There you have it, my general thoughts on the Freddy Krueger character and the films he appears in.

Summer movie challenge:60 movies in 60 days

Here is the challenge, to watch 60 movies during the month of May and June. I will have considerable downtime beginning with the end of school so I will try to make use of all the dvd’s I have been buying lately. This is not a one movie a day challenge, that would be impossible as I have no time to watch movies on certain days of the week. Instead I will rely on weekends to make up for lost time, possibly fitting in 3 or 4 on each Saturday and Sunday.

The goal is to get through as many of the films in my DVD collection that I have never seen, or have not seen in a very long time, or have only seen once and have forgotten the majority of. I am going to only count the movies I watch on DVD, including Blu Ray, but not streaming so even if I watch a film on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon, etc, it will not count towards my goal. Only feature length, live action films count so if I end up watching a Shrek or Pixar film it won’t count towards the challenge. Exception to this is the TMNT film from 2007 as it is part of the live action set, even though it is animated.

I will keep track of the movies I watch and log them in a note book. I will write a brief summary of the film, my impressions of it from the perspective of this challenge weather it was a waste of time or worthy of my viewing. I am planning on getting through all of, or as many of, the films in my collection that I have never seen. Mostly I have movies in those 4 packs or other boxed sets where I have only seen certain movies in the collection but want to get through the ones I have missed, or a few rare instances where I picked up a movie I was told was good but haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. I will avoid things like Star Wars, Ghostbusters, Pirates of the Caribbean, as much as I can considering I watch them so frequently as it is. Also movies I see in the theater will not count towards this challenge, although I do have quite a few I intend to see this summer.

There are a couple exceptions. First as is tradition I will be watching the Friday the 13th films in the month of June as I do every year. Since I finally have a complete Jason collection now I am hoping to view all 12 Jason films including Jason X and the remake. Hopefully between now and then I can come across a decent copy of Sleepaway camp on DVD to add to the collection as I really want to squeeze that into my summer camp slasher collection this year if I can.

What inspired this challenge? Well partially as a film lover I enjoy watching movies. I collect movies on DVD, VHS, LaserDisc, 8mm (film and tape), CED, Beta Max, iTunes, UltraViolet, Blu Ray, HD-DVD, and I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime all for the film catalogs. With work and school these last couple of years keeping me busier than ever I haven’t had the time to do much of anything. Well I have shuffled things around, finished with school for now, and am in a job that is very flexible on the hours. So this is the best time for me to pull something like this off. It won’t be easy as many of my Saturday nights are going to be devoted to school functions for the newspaper, but I am okay with that. Inspiration also comes from being a member of the Blu Ray forum community on the film-fan devoted website Blu-Ray.com where the various users there do these sorts of challenges all the time. But I am also doing this because I want to see how many films I haven’t seen I can get through.

It will not be a literal 60 days, I will begin May 1st and end June 30th. But I will keep track of the films I view for the challenge and write my impressions of them and make a report on my progress as I go along. This is also something for me to do to get inspires to write some stuff for the very neglected blog here. Be sure to check back once in a while to keep up with the progress as I go.

So what happens if I complete the challenge? Aside from getting to watch 60, hopefully good movies, I will also be forcing myself to write content for the blog. This aspect is to get me inspiration so I can start doing more with this thing. Also if I do complete the challenge then I also will have written several movie reviews for the site. If I fail to complete the challenge then it isn’t a big deal to me, I might not have the time to make it work so this is more for fun not that I have anything to prove. Especially if I get busy with living then I won’t have the time to waste watching so many movies.