Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: House of Frankenstein (1944)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-themed installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  If you haven't been following this series and want to catch up, make sure you start at the beginning with our take on the original Frankenstein!  Or jump in from our previous installment, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man!


Well we're six movies into the Universal Frankenstein series.  After two genuinely good films and one admirable near-miss, the studio morphed these films into cheap monster exploitation fare, culminating in the first-ever crossover movie with Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.  That movie was such a hit the studio decided that more = better, and they added Dracula to the mix for the followup, House of Frankenstein.  And to sweeten the deal they included a new hunchback character and a wacked-out scientist just so the posters could include five "monster" characters.  It was the 1940s equivalent of The Avengers or Justice League, with all the in-house freaks in one movie.

Set thirty years after Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, the story this time centers around Dr. Niemann, an evil scientist, and his hunchbacked assistant Daniel who escape from prison and decide to get revenge on all the men who put them there.  To that end Niemann steals and revives Dracula's corpse and then makes his way to Frankenstein's castle where he resurrects the Frankenstein monster and Larry Talbot, who were washed away at the end of FMTWM.  Niemann promises his assistant and Talbot that he'll transplant their brains into better bodies but all hell breaks loose as usual. 

But was it any good?  Ummmm, nope.  Still, on a stupid fun level there's some enjoyment to be had with House of Frankenstein.  So let's take a look, shall we?



The Awesome


Boris Karloff

Karloff made his return to the Universal Frankenstein films here, but instead of reprising the role that made him famous, he plays the main character of the mad scientist.  His presence lent the film a bit of much-needed credibility and it was fun to see him in such a different role from that of the monster.  If this movie has nothing else going for it (and it's close), at least it has Karloff.

Look it's Frankenstein and Dracula together....sort of.




Visuals

Like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House has some lovely black & white cinematography and well-designed expressionistic sets.  This entire series made great use of scenery, lightning and cinematography (Ghost of Frankenstein excepted - that movie looks like garbage), so even amidst the hammy acting and nonsensical plotting at least there's always something nice to look at.  One set I particularly loved was the ice cavern.

Super cool set


Awesomely Shitty Movies: Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)

Welcome to another Frankenstein-related Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Universal Studios franchise, we've arrived at the first cross-over film in the series, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, starring Lon Chaney Jr and Bela Lugosi.  If you missed our Ghost of Frankenstein review, click HERE.


FMTWM served as both a continuation of Ghost of Frankenstein (review HERE) and the 1941 classic The Wolf Man, and the studio wasn't coy about the two characters' eventual showdown.  The story here finds The Wolf Man Lawrence Talbot accidentally brought back to life and searching for a way to kill himself.  His travels take him to the old Frankenstein castle, where the monster is somehow still alive.  This barebones plot is just a way to get the two monsters in the same room so they can fight.  Not unlike a certain DC Comics crossover film released recently....

Anyway, there is unabashedly little substance to this movie but the filmmakers at least found ways to make it visually engaging, and its 74-minute running time flies by.  So let's take a look at the pluses and negatives of Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man....



The Awesome


Dutch Angles

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, despite its obvious status as an early shlock film, is actually pretty visually stunning, in part due to extensive Dutch angles to create a sense of being off-balance.  Unlike Ghost, which featured flat angles and drab cinematography, the filmmakers here made a conscious effort to at least draw the viewer in with the visuals.

Crooked cameras.....


Use of Shadows

In the same vein, this movie has a distinctly Expressionist look, with intense shadows that add to the gothic flavor.  There may be very little going on plot-wise, but this is damn sure a fun movie to look at.

Nice, atmospheric sets in this movie

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Parents' Night In #14: The Shining (1980)

It's Halloween time and that means Kelly & Justin pop in one of their favorite scary movies, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's classic The Shining!  That also means Kelly & Justin pop open some delicious beer and wine and talk about said film for your enjoyment!  

From Jack Nicholson's operatic high-wire act to Shelley Duvall's brilliant hysterics, to the gorgeous steadicam photography to the amazingly realized Overlook Hotel set, The Shining is as fascinating today as it was in 1980....

Watch, listen, laugh, like and SUBSCRIBE!





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Awesomely Shitty Movies: Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

Sigh.....welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com.  Today we look at the moment when Universal's Frankenstein franchise took a screeching 90-degree turn and went tumbling, ablaze, off a cliff into the night.  That moment when the studio ceased making top quality films about everyone's favorite flat-headed clod and transformed him into a mindless B-movie ghoul.  That's right, I'm talkin' about Ghost of Frankenstein....  (Click HERE if you missed Son of Frankenstein)


When Son of Frankenstein was another smash-hit, Universal realized there was still a ton of money in these movies and began churning them out at a rapid-fire pace, without paying attention to the annoying little details like story, characters, acting, or in this case visual style.  Ghost picks up the story shortly after the events of Son, where the villagers of Frankenstein are still angry and hysterical because the apparent death of the monster hasn't magically fixed all their woes (Kinda like with American politics).  They believe the monster might still be alive, not to mention Ygor (Good guess), and it's kept them under a curse.  The mayor eventually gives in to their badgering and greenlights their plan to destroy Frankenstein's castle (Because apparently the authority figures in this town are cool with rioting).  As they smash and burn the castle, Ygor stumbles onto the preserved monster, embedded in a block of solidified sulfur.  He breaks free and Ygor takes him to the village to find Wolf Frankenstein's brother Ludwig, also a scientist who might have the secret to restore the monster to his former glory.  Here we go again.....

So what worked and what didn't (Spoiler alert: Most of it didn't work)?  Let's take a look.....



The Awesome


Bela Lugosi

Bela's back as Ygor, and despite being directed to play the character completely differently than before, he gives another solid turn as the villainous hunchback, manipulating both the monster and the scientists to bend to his will.  No matter how cheesy and low-rent the movie, Lugosi's presence is always a welcome one.  Just ask Ed Wood.

"Hello young lady.... vant to see the inside of my van?"


Twist Ending

After a pretty tedious, meandering hour, it all comes down to Ludwig's decision to take out the monster's criminal brain (Remember that from the first movie?) and put in a healthy one.  Unfortunately though, Ygor has convinced his assistant Dr. Bohmer to substitute Ygor's brain, which will allow him to live in a strong, healthy body instead of his current mangled form.  Ludwig unwittingly puts Ygor's brain in the monster's head and revives him, and the monster begins triumphantly speaking in Ygor's voice.  But just then he discovers his eyesight is failing due to Ygor not having the same blood type as the monster.  Yeah this is all pretty goofy, but it's kind of a cool, disturbing plot twist for this series and I would've liked to see where they took this storyline.  Problem was, in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the studio hated Lugosi's performance as the monster and cut all his dialogue, removing any references to this scene, including the monster's blindness.

Monday, October 29, 2018

WWE Evolution: Best Main Roster PPV of 2018?

The "first ever" all-women's PPV is in the history books, and WWE managed one of their best main roster PPVs of the year.  Of the seven matches, all of them were at least entertaining, and a few stood out, particularly one match that has to rank high on the list of main roster matches of 2018.  This had the feel of an NXT special and the matches were all pretty different from each other.  WWE needs to make this an annual thing but also should model more of their main roster shows on this one.


Things kicked off with Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox (subbing for the injured Alexa Bliss).  Given the substitution it was obvious who'd be winning this, but these four worked hard to keep everyone invested, and the crowd ate up everything they did.  Lita and Trish both looked good considering how long it had been since they worked a match.  Mickie was excellent as always, and Alicia sold well, though she missed a pin breakup at one point which looked awkward.  The match went eleven minutes and ended with Trish hitting Stratusfaction followed by Lita's moonsault on both opponents for the win.  Solid, fun opener.  **1/2

Up next was the battle royal, which shockingly turned out to be really well-structured and one of WWE's best battle royals in years.  There was a good mix of current and older talent, everyone got at least a moment or two to shine, the legends were mostly eliminated in the first half, and the crowd was electric throughout.  The match started off with the IIconics talkin' trash to the rest of the field only for everyone to gang up and toss them at the bell.  From there it was a pretty logically worked battle royal, with big spots sprinkled in to keep it from getting monotonous.  It boiled down to Nia Jax, Tamina, Asuka and Ember Moon.  Ember ejected Asuka, marking the first time she'd ever gotten the better of her old NXT rival, then Nia threw out Tamina.  While Ember and Nia struggled near the ropes, Zelina Vega emerged from under the ring and tried to eliminate them both, but to no avail.  Nia pressed Zelina over her head and threw her to the outside on top of Tamina, then proceeded to make short work of Ember to win the match.  The crowd clearly wanted Ember to win this, but they still popped when Nia got the duke.  Very good battle royal.  ***


The Mae Young Classic finals was a really well-worked, stiff match that unfortunately wasn't given enough time to make it a classic.  Toni Storm (who WWE better push to the moon because she has IT) and Io Shirai hit each other with plenty of high octane offense.  Shirai hit a moonsault off the top to the floor, Storm hit a German suplex on the apron, Shirai kicked out of Storm's Tiger bomb, went for another moonsault but met nothing but knees, and fell to a second Tiger bomb.  Storm then celebrated with Triple H, Stephanie and Sara Del Ray.  This was very good and showcased both women well, but needed another five minutes to reach **** territory.  Still I'm looking forward to seeing more of these two in NXT.  Both are excellent.  ***1/2



Friday, October 26, 2018

WWE Evolution Preview & Predictions

Editor's Note: Before I get into this Sunday's PPV, a few words about Roman Reigns.  As everyone knows, Roman is on indefinite hiatus due to a relapse of the leukemia he's been battling for eleven years, and I just want to express how hopeful I am that he's able to conquer this disease as quickly and painlessly as possible.  #KickLeukemiasAss

Now onto business...

It's the show WWE threw together to make us all forget they're scheduled to perform before an oppressive regime a week later, WWE Evolution!


Look, I'm very happy they decided to do an all-women's PPV.  I really am.  And I hate to look at this cynically, but the timing of this show is simply too convenient to ignore that their primary motivator for it was almost certainly damage control.  The Saudi government won't allow female wrestlers to perform in their country, or even go along for the trip, so WWE said "Hey look over here everyone, we're actually progressive!"

Strangely, as of now the tickets for Crown Jewel haven't even been put on sale yet due to the controversy surrounding the Khashoggi murder, and as far as I'm concerned that show needs to be moved to a different location.  It's just a really terrible look for this company to proceed as planned.

Anyway, WWE's first-ever all-women's show is this Sunday, and looks pretty solid.  There are some very promising undercard matches, including bouts for the NXT Women's Title and the UK Women's Title, plus the Mae Young Classic finals and some star cameos from yesteryear.  Plus the main event, while not terribly exciting on paper, has produced some strong promo work from Ronda Rousey, the one area she was really lacking.  In many ways this show could be a lot more fun than most of WWE's offerings lately.  Hopefully it's a success so WWE doesn't just skip it next year when they aren't trying to compensate for a PR disaster.  So let's get to it....

***Big shakeup last month with Super Show-Down, as Dan and I are now tied for the lead with 66% (55/83), Dave's in third with 63% (52/83), and Landon's in last with 61% (51/83).***





Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad


Remember when they teased a Sasha-Bayley feud for months only to not deliver one?  Fuckin' idiots.  Anyway this match has plenty of good talent and should be reasonably entertaining.  It is however one of many examples of WWE taking female stars and making them look like "just one of the girls."  Sasha and Bayley are two prime victims of the awful parity booking WWE's been stuck on for years.

Justin: Ruby beat Sasha on Monday so I'll go with Team Sasha here.
Dan: RIOT
Landon: Team Natalya
Dave: Sure, Sasha.





Women's Battle Royal


I'm so fucking pissed about how badly they've ruined Asuka since WrestleMania.  She was the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble winner and went into 'Mania looking like a major star, someone they were possibly grooming to face Ronda next year.  And then Vince got a hold of her and booked her into oblivion, jobbing her out to Carmella (who has since become a jobber herself).  God I hate that man.  So yeah, she's stuck in this battle royal along with everyone else they had no ideas for.  Oh by the way, the field looks like this:

Tamina, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Ember Moon, Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Carmella, Lana, Naomi, Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Kelly Kelly, Maria Kanellis, Molly Holly and Zelina Vega

Right away you can probably narrow this down to four potential winners: Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Asuka, and an outside pick like Torrie Wilson.  My heart says Asuka but Vince sucks, so it'll probably be someone else.

Justin: Nia is probably the favorite
Dan: Asuka
Landon: Her cousin has Leukemia now. Nia wins it for fuck's sake. Not doing that would be like turning Dean the night his friend announces he has to walk away.
Dave: God I have no idea.  Nia.





Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James


The buildup to this has been atrocious.  Trish used to be a decent promo before the days of tightly scripted garbage, but she can't make this stuff work (Who can??).  Alexa is a question mark since she suffered a concussion at a house show last weekend, but as of now they still have her slated for this match.  This'll be your classic current stars vs. old stars match.  I just hope Lita doesn't try another moonsault - she's gonna kill herself one of these days.

Justin: Alexa & Mickie
Dan: The old-timers get my shorts moving again and take the win.
Landon: Lita & Trish
Dave: Gotta give it to the regulars.



Thursday, October 25, 2018

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Welcome to Part 2 of our retrospective on George Romero's Living Dead trilogy.  Check out Part 1 HERE...


With Night of the Living Dead, George Romero and his collaborators stumbled onto an unexpected cult hit, and while it sadly didn't make any of them rich (Due to an unfortunate copyright snafu the film fell into public domain where it remains to this day), they now had careers as filmmakers.  George directed four feature films after NOTLD with little box office success before returning to the genre that put him on the map.

Romero got the idea while visiting the Monroeville Mall, owned by a friend of his.  The facility had a secluded suite of rooms, fully stocked with food and water, which his friend claimed could sustain a person for months in the event of a nuclear attack.  "Hmm, what about a zombie attack?" George replied.  From this simple premise sprang the narrative seedling for his next project, which would go down as the Citizen Kane of zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.

I gotta see this place

Romero's second foray into the zombie genre picks up some time after the events of NOTLD, when the entire country is now swarming with the risen dead, private residences have been declared illegal, the emergency networks have taken over all broadcasting, and society as a whole is just about to completely break down.  Four survivors, two from a Pittsburgh TV station and two from a local SWAT force, escape in a traffic 'copter and set up shop at the Monroeville Mall.  As the outside world crumbles, our protagonists find themselves in a shopper's paradise, the entire plaza at their disposal.

As with NOTLD, Romero peppered Dawn with underlying social commentary befitting the era of its release, in this case 1970s American obsession with consumerism and the futility in trying to find happiness in material goods.  And while not as purely terrifying as its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead was a rollicking, action-horror film with moments of humor and a ton of over-the-top gore.  Where Night was filmed in expressionist black & white, Dawn depicted these grisly events in bright, garish colors, using the mall's ample lighting to save time and money during the down n' dirty shoot (The vast majority of the scenes were filmed overnight while the mall was closed, thus time and availability were limited).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Cinema Showdown: Dracula 1979 vs. Bram Stoker's Dracula 1992

It's been a long time since I published one of these, but welcome to another installment of Cinema Showdown, here at Enuffa.com, where I compare and contrast two films of similar subject matter and pick which one I like better, and you all must agree with me....


Today I'll be discussing two of my favorite film versions of Bram Stoker's timeless novel Dracula.  It's been a long time since Hollywood gave us a serious adaptation of this story - everything since 1992 has been either satirical or a pointless reinvention of the wheel - and it's the two most recent high-quality versions I'm here to talk about.

1979 saw the release of three Dracula films - a Werner Herzog-helmed Nosferatu remake/homage (an excellent film in its own right), a modern-day spoof called Love at First Bite (starring a hilarious George Hamilton), and on the heels of a massively successful revival of the Broadway play on which it was based, a remake of Universal Studios' 1931 production of Dracula.  As they'd done in the 30s (after the sudden death of their first choice Lon Chaney), Universal cast the star of the Broadway production - in 1931 it was Bela Lugosi, in 1979 it was Frank Langella.  Reimagined as an extravagant, atmospheric horror-romance, this new version of Dracula was critically well-received but underwhelmed at the box office (no doubt hampered by the George Hamilton comedy released only a few months earlier).  It was perhaps even further removed from the novel than its 1930s counterpart, removing most of the first act and changing some characters around.  Still the Langella Dracula is a pretty excellent update of the Lugosi classic, with a more explicit emphasis on the sensuality of vampirism, and a romantic, minimalist portrayal of the immortal Count.  My wife affectionately refers to this version as Disco Dracula due to Frank's very 70s hairstyle.  This moniker is actually very fitting since John Badham had previously directed Saturday Night Fever....

Thirteen years later Francis Ford Coppola decided to take the story back to its turn-of-the-century literary roots, presenting Bram Stoker's Dracula as an honest-to-goodness faithful adaptation.  All the major characters were restored, the film followed the book's narrative structure (including diary entries in voiceover), and Dracula's extensive supernatural powers were better explored.  Sure, they crammed in a romance where the novel did not, but overall the 1992 version is one of the closest to the novel to date.  What sets this film apart from other interpretations though is its surrealist, operatic style.  The visuals were unlike anything since the 1920s Expressionist period, while many of the performances could easily be classified as "scenery chewing."  Carried largely by Gary Oldman's star making lead performance, Bram Stoker's Dracula was a strong worldwide hit, grossing over $215 million on a $40 million budget (or $473 million in today's dollars).

But which version is superior?  I enjoy both films immensely, for different reasons.  Let's take a closer look and break these films down, shall we?



Cast

Dracula: Frank Langella vs. Gary Oldman


A Dracula movie of course will largely stand or fall based on the quality of the titular performance, and both films are on very solid ground in this category.  Langella and Oldman each delivered one of the greatest and most memorable portrayals of the immortal Count, in very different ways.

Langella's turn is understated, relying on smoldering sex appeal and a soft-spoken menace.  He also skipped the Romanian accent (an odd choice given Drac's nationality, but somehow it works) and refused any sort of vampiric makeup or fangs, telling the filmmakers, "There are fifty other movies where Dracula looks like that, we're doing something different."  Instead of a typically monstrous vampire, Langella embodies the Count as a stoic, romantic lead who exhibits no wasted motion, luring his victims to their demise with an almost feline charm.  And of course those hypnotic, ever-dancing eyes....

Gary Oldman's performance couldn't be more different from its 1979 counterpart.  Oldman, like everything else in the Coppola film, is operatic in his portrayal.  This Count is bombastic, charismatic, fully "old world," and depending on the scene either violently carnal or grotesquely terrifying.  He shapeshifts no fewer than half a dozen times throughout the film (as in the novel where he appears as an old man, a less old man, a bat, a wolf, an army of rats, and mist), and Oldman's fearsome theatrics shine through the layers of prosthetic makeup.  This is the film that made me fall in love with Gary Oldman's acting.

But who's better?  It's really up to your personal tastes and what you expect out of the character.  Langella goes for romance and a minimalistic sense of evil.  Oldman swings for the fences to make the Count an otherworldly demon.  Personally I like my Dracula to be a true, unearthly monster, and I think Oldman's larger-than-life version is much closer to what Bram Stoker probably envisioned.  Plus it's still one of my all-time favorite film performances.

Point: 1992



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

George Romero's Living Dead Trilogy: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Since it's Halloween season and this film is 50 years old now, I thought I'd go back and rewatch the legendary Living Dead trilogy, wherein the humble, gentlemanly indie filmmaker George Romero created one of the most disturbing film series of all time.  An aspiring, self-taught director with a background in commercial work, Romero and his associates decided in 1967 to make a feature film, choosing the horror genre for its marketability on a small budget, and a whole new subgenre was born. 


The result of course was Night of the Living Dead, a bloodcurdling guerrilla-style picture about seven survivors holed up in an old farmhouse during a zombie outbreak.  At a time when audiences were conditioned to expect cheeseball horror and sci-fi movies that were playfully scary but ultimately toothless, Night of the Living Dead was truly a shock to the system.  Here was a stark, brutal nightmare of a film depicting in gory detail people and zombies being shot, bludgeoned, stabbed, and eating human entrails, where none of the heroes make it out alive.  The overall tone is so bleak and upsetting I can't imagine how 1968 audiences took it.  NOTLD became a major hit on the midnight movie circuit, eventually grossing over $30 million worldwide on a $114,000 budget.

Romero also unintentionally pulled off a coup by casting an African-American as the film's lead.  Duane Jones, an experienced theater actor, gave the best audition for a role originally written as a white character, thus lending the narrative a poignant layer of political subtext.  The film's tragic finale, where Ben is mistaken for a zombie and shot, before being dragged out of the house and burned by the redneck law enforcement posse, now paralleled the racial tensions and unrest of the Civil Rights era.  The choice to depict the aftermath in grainy still photos echoes violent newspaper clippings of the time, making it that much more upsetting.

Romero's use of light and shadow is superb

Other cast standouts include 23-year-old Judith O'Dea as the hysterically frightened Barbra and producers (and real-life married couple) Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman as the antagonistic Harry Cooper and his anxious wife Helen.  Given the non-professional status of most of the actors, the performances are by and large quite effective.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Welcome to the third Awesomely Shitty Movies piece dedicated to the Universal Studios Frankenstein series!  In case you missed part 2, check it out HERE.  Today we're talking about the third film in the franchise, Son of Frankenstein!


After the critical and commercial triumph that was Bride of Frankenstein, it seemed like another sequel would be a natural.  But Carl Laemmle Sr and Jr were soon forced out of the company due to their extravagant spending, and it seemed monster movies were off the table as well.  It was only due to an LA theater reviving Dracula and Frankenstein as a double feature, and the ensuing huge box office success, that the studio opted to jump back into that pool.  James Whale was not interested in returning however, and Rowland V. Lee was hired to direct the third film.  Son of Frankenstein was originally to be shot in color as well, but the monster's makeup didn't look quite right, so that plan was scrapped.

Son of Frankenstein was another box office success and helped pull Universal out of its financial slump.  Following this movie the studio began churning out cheesy Frankenstein sequels and crossovers, making Son the last serious entry in the series.

So what worked and what didn't?  Let's take a gander...



The Awesome


Visuals

This series thus far has been full of rich, expressionist lighting, off-putting Dutch angles, and an emphasis on intense lights and darks to plunge the viewer into this bizarre world.  Son of Frankenstein continues this trend and in some ways takes it a step further, with some of the sets including angular, surrealistic staircases that cast jagged shadows on the walls behind.  Almost every set in fact has bare, textureless walls so the shadows can come across more strongly.  More on that aspect a little later.  The Film Noir genre was just beginning to blossom at this point, and many of those films must've taken some visual cues from Son of Frankenstein, among others.

Great use of lighting and angles


Friday, October 19, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Alien Resurrection

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!

Since I examined the gorgeously shot suckfest that was Alien 3 last week, I thought I'd move on to its sequel, 1997's Alien Resurrection.


As I mentioned last time, the third Alien film was a massive disappointment for me, as I'd been led to believe (through no fault of my own, mind you - d'ya need to see that teaser again?) that we'd get a true continuation of Aliens, wherein there'd be some sort of battle between xenomorphs and humans taking place on Earth.  Instead we got a languid, uninspired retread of the first movie, with one alien killing off humans in a confined location, Ten Little Indians-style.  Then Ripley dies.  I hated it.  I hated it all.  The franchise that should really have ended after two films got a completely unnecessary, tacked-on third installment just so Ripley could be killed off.

Fast-forward five years, and suddenly the series was resurrected (I see what they did there...), with a Ripley clone having been created 200 years after her death, on a military/scientific vessel that has begun experimenting with the aliens.  As part of the breeding process the scientists on board have illegally purchased cryo-frozen humans for use as hosts.  A mercenary ship arrives, delivering said hosts, but before long the aliens escape captivity and all hell breaks loose.  That's about all there is to the plot of this film, though I guess that's about twice as long as the premise of the third film.

My hope going into this was that it would really be something different and maybe even right the ship.  We'd finally see something in line with my expectations for Alien 3, or so I thought.  As it turned out Resurrection was just as poorly received as 3 (if not moreso), and the possibility of ever seeing another truly good Alien film again was all but gone.

Still, Resurrection did have some intriguing elements, some amusing horror-action, and plenty of gooey xenomorphs.  Let's take a closer look at this awesomely shitty movie....

(Note: I think if I were making a fourth film around this time I'd have simply revealed at the outset that Alien 3 was a dream, and have Ripley wake up from cryosleep to find Newt and Hicks still slumbering in their pods.  Then the story would adhere closer to the original Alien III script, where the xenos end up on Earth and the company actually intends on exploiting them for their Weapons division.  But that's just me.)




The Awesome


Something Different

After the dull, lazy retread that was Alien 3, it was nice to see the franchise go in a different direction with this film.  Ripley is back, but as a clone of the original character, and with a bit of xenomorph DNA which gives her some superhuman abilities.  It's corny, it's a bit comic booky, but hey, at least they tried something new with this film.  Setting it 200 years after Alien 3 also adds an element of the dystopian future, where the infrastructure is breaking down and mercenaries like the Betty crew have become commonplace.




Sigourno-morph

Sigourney Weaver clearly has a lot of fun with this new incarnation of Ripley, getting a chance to show off her newfound skills but also to convey the conflict arising from her longtime arch-nemesis now being a part of her.  This creature that has ruined her life is now ingrained in her biology.  A smarter, more thoughtful script would've done a lot more with this, but it's a start.  That theme comes into play later in the film when the alien queen seems to treat her almost as a loved one and the alien/human hybrid regards her as its mother.  Joss Whedon's script introduces some novel concepts for this franchise, and it's refreshing to see that at least. 

Oh, Ripley 8 will fuck you ups....



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Dead Poets Society

Welcome to another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com!  It's time once again for me to cut open a beloved classic and tell you all why it's not as good as everyone seems to think it is.


Today's example is the critically-acclaimed, Oscar-winning 1989 film Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams as an anti-establishment teacher at a prestigious prep school, who forms a close bond with his students and encourages them to be forward-thinking dream followers.  His unconventional teaching style comes into question and soon has repercussions quite at odds with the school's cookie-cutter approach to education.

This film was a big hit and built on Robin Williams' Good Morning Vietnam success as a serious (albeit slightly comedic) actor.  It would be his second consecutive role to earn him a Best Actor nod.

So why do I consider DPS an Awesomely Shitty Movie you ask?  Well let's take a closer look....



The Awesome


Robin Williams

Dead Poets Society was the second mainstream film to showcase Robin Williams' considerable dramatic chops.  Generally known for his manic, zany comedy antics, Williams mostly delivers a nuanced, understated performance as the benign, free-spirited Literature professor, and we believe it when the students become inspired by him.  The scene where he coaxes a spontaneous, evocative poem out of the cripplingly shy Todd Anderson is genuinely touching, while his emotional breakdown after Neil's death is a briefly heartbreaking moment.  Aside from a few moments where he veered way too far into typical Robin Williams territory, this was a fine performance that elevated Williams as an Oscar-caliber actor.

Stop making me cry, Mork!

Top Ten Things: Disney Animated Films

Welcome to another Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com, where tell y'all about a few of my favorite things.  Ten, to be exact.

Today what's on my mind is Disney films.  Specifically the animated variety.  Before Disney was a multimedia, multi-franchise mega-empire, their bread and butter was making well-crafted, feature-length animated movies the whole family could enjoy.  So beloved were these films that the studio re-released them every five to ten years so a whole new generation of kids could experience them.  Many of them are so engrained in our culture it's hard to imagine what childhood must've been like before Walt Disney came along.

But which Disney films are the best?  Which ones still resonate decades later?  Well, here's my take....



10. Beauty and the Beast


Our first entry is one that frankly hasn't aged all that well for me, 1991's Beauty and the Beast.  While this one holds up as a visually rich, touching love story that appeals to viewers of all ages, it strikes me as far less timeless than some of its animated brethren.  The voice acting and songwriting is very much out of an early 90s Broadway production which firmly dates the film for me (along with the unnecessary use of computer animation in that one scene).  Nevertheless BATB is still widely hailed as an all-time classic that, like The Little Mermaid, returned Disney's animation studio to its former glory throughout the 90s.





9. The Great Mouse Detective


Easily my favorite Disney feature of the 1980s was this take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, with all the characters recast as small animals.  The Sherlock figure is now a mouse called Basil, his Dr. Watson-esque partner is Dr. Dawson, and the film's diabolical Moriarty character is a rat, known as Professor Ratigan.  The Great Mouse Detective is a delightful action-adventure cartoon that sees Basil and Dawson helping a young girl find her kidnapped father and climaxes with a thrilling, CG-enhanced chase through the inner workings of Big Ben's clocktower.  This affectionate Holmes pastiche was only a modest box office success but I consider it an underappreciated near-classic.





8. One Hundred and One Dalmatians


One of the most purely fun Disney features was this 1961 canine-centric adventure, about a pair of dalmatians (Pongo and Perdita) whose puppies get stolen by a sadistic fur fanatic to be made into a coat.  Pongo and Perdita enlist the help of a network of dogs in and around London to find their pups, and the story takes them all over the country.  This isn't the most substantial Disney film but it's relentlessly entertaining, features an iconic villian in Cruella de Vil, and spawned one of the catchier songs in the Disney catalog.  Its animation style places it squarely in the early 60s, but unlike Beauty and the Beast, the datedness works in this film given when it takes place.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Parents' Night In #13: Frankenstein (1931)

Join Kelly & Justin as we discuss the horror classic Frankenstein!  We'll talk about Boris Karloff's performance, James Whale's direction and set design, Telling Bird Zinfandel, and more!


 
 
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Mass Music Review #2: Dinosaur, Jr.

Our newest contributor Christopher Gillespie is back with another look at an influential Massachusetts band - this week it's Dinosaur Jr.!


Traditionally considered to be the best of Dinosaur Jr.’s albums, 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me was much more successful than the band’s first album, 1985’s Dinosaur, and is also considered much more influential than their initial outing. You’re Living All Over Me, much like Signals, Calls, and Marches proved to be an album with great importance in the alternative and indie rock scene in both America and Europe. My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields mentioned the album as an influence for their EP You Made Me Realize which was released during the beginnings of the shoegaze genre, and the album is said to have influenced ever-popular American grunge band Nirvana.

The band from left to right: Murph, Lou Barlow, and J Mascis

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: Gojira, or As You Know Him, Godzilla

Welcome to another installment of Awesomely Shitty Movies, here at Enuffa.com, where I dissect a beloved piece of cinematic work, nitpick its drawbacks, and generally ruin it for everyone.


Today I'll be talking about one of the most famous monster movies of all time, one that gave us an absolutely iconic giant monster whose fame and marketability are nearly unparalleled.  I'm talking about the 1954 Japanese film Gojira (or Godzilla as us dumbass Americans renamed him).  Inspired by the US B-movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Gojira is an atomic age parable about a gigantic lizard monster that emerges from the ocean and decimates Japan.  Made at a time when the country was still dealing with the aftermath of World War II, Gojira is rife with subtext about nuclear devastation and its consequences; despite its B-movie subject matter the film's tone is deadly serious and its concepts lofty.  Gojira was an enormous hit and spawned literally dozens of sequels, reboots and imitations.  But how is it as a film?  Well like so many horror movies it has its pros and cons.  Let's take a look at both, shall we?




The Awesome


Creature Design

The monster design by Teizo Toshimitsu, Akira Watanabe and Eiji Tsuburaya is simply one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable in film history.  Regardless of the technological limitations and the clunkiness of the suit itself, the combination of T-Rex, Iguanadon and Stegasaurus made for such a cool-looking giant monster it's hard to take your eyes off him.  Couple that with his ability to shoot radioactive beams from his mouth like an atomic age dragon, and you've got an absolutely BOSS movie monster.  Godzilla is up there with Frankenstein's monster, Superman and Mickey Mouse in terms of pop culture iconography, inspiring cartoons, comics, and some of the best-looking Japanese toys you'll ever see.

He's just fuckin' badass-lookin'....



Political Commentary

Gojira was made less than ten years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan was still reeling from that devastation.  Thus the monster is a metaphor for nuclear holocaust, released from his underwater lair as the result of American H-bomb testing and wreaking devastation and death on the entire country.  The film is rife with themes of mankind meddling with technology they aren't equipped or evolved enough to handle.  Even Serizawa's oxygen destroyer draws parallels with the H-bomb - he's stumbled onto a terrible discovery and won't tell anyone about it until he can find a use for it that benefits humanity, fearing it will be used for destructive ends (I'm not sure what said use would even be, but that's a discussion for later).  Then there's Professor Yamane, who wants Godzilla kept alive so his resistance to radiation can be studied.  This film contains much more symbolism and subtext than is required of a monster movie, so that's a plus.



Acting

By the same token, the acting in this film is quite solid, better than a film like this necessarily needs.  Akira Takarada as Captain Ogata, Momoko Kochi as his love interest Emiko, Akihiko Hirata as the tortured genius Serizawa, and Takashi Shimura as Dr. Yamane all turn in capable performances that rise above the B-movie material and lend themselves to the human drama, making this more than just a kaiju movie.

We're talkin' about solid professionals.

The History of NWA/WCW Halloween Havoc (1989)

Welcome to another look at PPV History, here at Enuffa.com!  This being the Halloween season I'll be looking back at the very first PPV I ever ordered, the NWA's inaugural Halloween Havoc!

Halloween Havoc '89 is a bit of an overlooked gem.  1989 was considered by most to be the NWA's best-ever year from a creative and match quality standpoint, featuring two landmark Ric Flair feuds and the rise of future headliners like Sting, Lex Luger and The Steiners.  It was the company's first full calendar year under the ownership of Ted Turner, and it felt like the changes at the top temporarily brought about a renewed sense of focus.

Most fans correctly cite The Great American Bash and Chi-Town Rumble as the company's top two PPVs of that year, but for me Halloween Havoc isn't far behind.  Sporting a stacked card (particularly in the tag team division) and a unique first-time gimmick match, Havoc was a thoroughly enjoyable show from start to finish, and it became one of the company's flagship PPVs until its 2001 demise.

But let's take a closer look, shall we?


Philadelphia Civic Center - 10.28.89

The centerpiece of this show was the first-ever Thunderdome match pitting Ric Flair and Sting against Terry Funk and The Great Muta.  After having feuded for much of 1988, Flair and Sting became allies at The Great American Bash, discovering they had common enemies.  The ensuing feud became so heated and intense it was decided the only way to settle it would be inside a giant steel cage with an electrified top and campy horror decor adorning the upper sections.  Each team would have a "second" stationed at ringside holding a white towel, and the match could only end when said team representative threw in said towel.  To ensure law and order, the NWA brought in the vaunted Bruno Sammartino as the guest referee.  This match sure had a lot of window dressing, but it all helped give the bout a big-fight atmosphere and made it feel like something special.

It may seem quaint now but in 1989 this dive was the goddamnedest thing

The match itself was a wildly fun brawl that ranged all over ringside as the four combatants gradually figured out the lay of the land.  The fisticuffs frequently took place on the side of the cage as Terry Funk repeatedly attempted escape.  Sting made good use of the structure at one point, diving off the cage rungs onto an unsuspecting Funk in the center of the ring.  Another memorable moment occurred early in the match, when a cage prop caught fire and Muta managed to put it out with his green mist.  I'm pretty sure that's never happened before or since.  After an unruly 23-minute battle, Flair caught Funk in the Figure Four and Sting nailed Funk's legs with multiple top-rope splashes.  Funk's manager Gary Hart attempted to interfere but ran into Flair & Sting's second, Ole Anderson, who knocked Hart loopy with a punch.  Hart's towel flew out of his hand and Sammartino declared Flair and Sting the victors.  While certainly not on par with Flair vs. Steamboat or the two Flair vs. Funk singles matches, the Thunderdome match was a very worthy main event and all four guys worked hard to make the awkward match structure a success.  My only gripes were the lack of blood and the fluky finish.  But then this match wasn't designed as the blowoff to this feud - that would happen at New York Knockout.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Top Ten Things: Vampire Movies

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com!  Continuing with the Halloween festivities, today we'll count down what are in my estimation the ten greatest vampire films of all time.

Before Stephanie Meyer forever ruined the vampire genre by turning it into insipid teen melodrama involving beautiful undead emo heartthrobs (who despite not technically being alive can somehow procreate), there used to be quite a few excellent films devoted to the subject.

Being a vampire really isn't any fun when you think about it.  I explored this topic a little in my Awesomely Shitty Movies piece about The Lost Boys:

"It is possible to create complex, thought-provoking films about vampires, exploring at what cost such powers come: isolation, loneliness, unending bloodlust, tedium, having to live with murdering people, having to evade capture and prosecution for murdering people, etc."

The vampire, no matter how romantic a character you try to make him, is still at heart a repulsive, predatory creature who must kill human beings in order to survive.  Think of how awful his breath must be after drinking all that blood.  Imagine how filthy his clothes would be after sleeping in dirt every day.  Really, are the fringe benefits of being eternally young and having superhuman strength and speed worth all the other headaches? 


Anywho, here's my ten picks.


10. Near Dark (1987)


Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's second film was an unusual mashup of the vampire movie and the Western.  Starring Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, and Jenette Goldstein of Aliens fame, Near Dark tells the story of a gang of vampires who live in a sun-proofed van and drift from place to place, going where the food is.  One of their group, Mae, inadvertently turns a young man named Caleb into a vampire and because of her romantic attachment to him, persuades the others to accept him into their gang.  Caleb spends much of the movie struggling with his transformation and trying to appease the others so they don't kill him.  Near Dark is a very unusual and modern take on the genre, portraying the vamps as scavenging marauders not unlike the post-apocalyptic villains in the Mad Max films.  They are evil but charismatic, and Bill Paxton especially shines as the brutal second-in-command Severen.  With this film Bigelow showed her adeptness at eschewing the conventions of genre films and gave us an exciting new take on the vampire mythos.




9. Dracula (1979)


In the late 70s the well-renowned John Balderston-Hamilton Deane theater production of Dracula was revived in London and on Broadway, and its success prompted Universal Studios to remake the 1931 Bela Lugosi film for modern audiences.  The result was this stylish, romantic Frank Langella version.  Directed by John Badham and featuring an excellent score by John Williams, this update of Dracula depicts the Count as a suave, handsome seducer, whom women willingly give their last drop.  Langella is excellent as this debonair demon, imbuing the character with both smoothness and a fearsome underlying rage.  The rest of the cast is also first-rate - the legendary Laurence Olivier plays Dracula's nemesis Van Helsing, Kate Nelligan is an unusually strong and independent Lucy Seward (in this version Lucy and Mina's names are oddly swapped), and Tony Haygarth is a rather degenerate incarnation of the Renfield character.  This film is a triumph of production design and atmosphere, and a gritty, original take on the Lugosi version.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Cinema Showdown: Superman Returns vs. Man of Steel

Originally published in 2015...
Welcome to another edition of Cinema Showdown, here at Enuffa.com, where I'll take two movies that are either based on the same source material, present the same story, or just share many similarities, and see which one stacks up better.


Today I'll be talking about the two most recent cinematic takes on the beloved character of Superman: 2006's Superman Returns, directed by Bryan Singer, and 2013's Man of Steel, from Zack Snyder.


Superman is generally credited with launching the superhero genre of comic books, and is an internationally recognized, mythic embodiment of heroism.  The sole survivor of a doomed alien race, Superman arrived on Earth as a baby and was adopted by simple farmers.  As he grew into manhood he discovered his super powers and eventually came to understand and accept the inherent responsibility that came with them, embarking on a lifelong crusade to rid the world of evil and protect the people of his adopted home.

These themes were captured beautifully in Richard Donner's 1978 epic Superman: The Movie.  While far from perfect and frought with production challenges and creative issues, Superman conveyed a sense of wonder and lighthearted optimism in bringing to life this virtuous character, introducing him to a whole generation of filmgoers and creating the superhero movie as we know it.  After three sequels the franchise eventually fizzled, and for nearly twenty years every attempt at a cinematic rebirth for The Man of Tomorrow was aborted prior to production.

Then in 2006 Bryan Singer released Superman Returns, which was presented as a direct sequel to Superman II (1981).  Retroactively nullifying the largely-reviled Superman III and IV, Returns takes place five years after II, whereupon Superman has, well, returned to Earth after a mysterious five-year absence and found that the world didn't necessarily miss him.  At the same time Lex Luthor has been released from prison (largely due to Kal-El being unavailable to testify against him) and hatched a new plan to take over the world using crystals from the Fortress of Solitude.  The plot of this film was eerily similar to that of the 1978 original (Luthor attempts to change the Earth's landscape to create his own priceless real estate, almost certainly at the expense of millions of lives), and while a few of the performances were well-received, the film was a box office disappointment.  Its planned sequel was scrapped, and it was back to the drawing board for The Big Blue Boy Scout.

Top Ten Things: Wrestling Heel Turns

Welcome to another edition of Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com.  You know the drill - a list of ten items, why I picked 'em, yadda yadda.

Today's topic is in a roundabout way related to Halloween, in that it involves the darker angels of our nature, as it were.  I'm talking about one of the great plot devices in the pro wrestling universe, The Heel Turn.  In the world of pretend fighting a character will suddenly decide he doesn't like one of his friends, or the fans, or the world, and go bad.  This generally reframes his whole persona and sets off a major feud or angle of some kind.

The best heel turns usually happen suddenly, so there's a feeling of shock and betrayal from the fans, but it's also important that the turn doesn't feel like a cheat or a contrivance.  It has to make sense within the context of the story being told.  There has to have been some kind of foreshadowing or tension between the betrayer and his victim(s), thus when the turn happens it's appalling but also satisfying.  You've invested in this ongoing story and here's a major inciting incident.  Also the subsequent heel run generally needs to last a while and have some kind of long-term impact on the overall product.  So often these days a wrestler will turn heel just so he can be repositioned to feud with whomever the writers want him to feud with.  And then three months later he's back to being a babyface (Big Show, I'm looking in your general direction).  When this kinda thing happens too often, not only does each character turn lose meaning, but the fans cease to invest in said wrestler because he changes his stripes constantly.  Sadly in recent years the effective heel turn has become something of a lost art, as today's wrestling bookers don't seem to have the discipline to properly execute it.

The other kind of heel turn that can be effective is the gradual variety, where a wrestler will start to show a mean streak but it's amplified over several months, and eventually before you know it, the guy's fighting babyfaces (see Punk, CM; Jericho, Chris; *surname omitted*, Edge).  I find those don't work as well, although gradual turns have produced some great heel characters (such as the aforementioned three).  That's not to say I don't like the gradual ones, I just find it more fun when a guy turns heel sort of all at once but it still makes perfect sense in context.

Here now are my ten favorite heel turns in wrestling history...




10. The Road Warriors (1988)


1988 was a year of multiple heel and babyface turns in the NWA, and one of the last ones to take place was when the almighty Road Warriors betrayed Sting during a six-man tag match.  Sting was a last-minute substitute for the Roadies' longtime partner Dusty Rhodes, and Hawk & Animal were none too pleased that a) Dusty wasn't present as scheduled, and b) the Johnny-come-lately Stinger was selected as a replacement.  This kicked off an uber-mean streak from the Legion of Doom that included a gruesome incident where they tried to poke Dusty's eye out with a shoulderpad spike.  As a 13-year-old fan I felt horribly wronged by my favorite badass team, and initially found them pretty scary as bad guys (Another hallmark of a great heel turn), but after a couple weeks I came back around and actually liked them even more with their newfound lust for brutality.  Sadly the Road Warriors' heel run was short-lived, since the fans never really wanted to boo them.  But this was a quite effective angle at the time.





9. Lex Luger (1989)


Another NWA mainstay who always seemed more comfortable wearing the black hat was Lex Luger.  Luger had made a name for himself as the "young lion" of the 1987 Four Horsemen lineup before tiring of their antics and turning babyface.  In mid 1989 though some tension began to build between Luger and the returning Ricky Steamboat, over the new Top Ten ratings system.  Being the former NWA World Champ, Steamboat was named the #1 Contender, even though traditionally the US Championship (which Luger held at the time) guaranteed its wearer the top spot.  At Clash of the Champions VII Steamboat defeated Terry Funk by DQ but was attacked by Funk's cohorts after the match.  Luger came to the rescue, chasing off Team Funk, and helped Steamboat to his feet, only to level the former Champ with a ferocious clothesline.  Luger vs. Steamboat was a brief feud due to Steamboat's departure from the promotion, but he spent the remainder of 1989 as a dominant heel US Champion, turning in some of his best in-ring work and seemingly poised to challenge the babyface Ric Flair for the Big Gold Belt.  Flair's heel turn and a sudden injury to Sting in early '90 left a top babyface void, and Luger was inexplicably made a good guy once again.  Early 1990 always struck me as a reset period in the NWA, but I did truly enjoy Luger's late-89 heel run.



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Awesomely Shitty Movies: The Lost Boys

Welcome back to Enuffa.com for another edition of Awesomely Shitty Movies!  

Today we'll be examining the brazenly tawdry late-80s time capsule known as The Lost Boys.  Before the Twilight movies forever ruined the vampire genre Joel Schumacher gave us teenage vampire garbage we could really sink our teeth into.  Teeth, get it??  Cuz vampires like to bite people?  With their teeth? 

Buckle up and set the DeLorean for 1987, the heyday of such screen legends as Corey Haim, Corey Feldman (what's with all the Coreys??), Jason Patric, Jami Gertz, and the one teen heartthrob from this era whose career escaped more or less unscathed, Kiefer Sutherland.




Originally The Lost Boys was to be a Peter Pan-inspired film about pre-adolescent vampires, stemming from the idea that Peter could fly and never grew old (Kiefer's character was originally called Peter, while the protagonist brothers were Michael and John, later to be Michael and Sam).  However when Schumacher came on board he decided teenage characters would be much more marketable/sexier.

The resulting film is delightfully "late-80s," from the costumes, to the heavy metal-influenced fashion sense of the teenage characters, to the awesomely dated soundtrack, to the southern California setting.  It's a quintessential 80s summer movie.  And it's fantastically dumb.



The Awesome

The Cast

This movie's got a pretty great cast, all perfectly suited to their roles.  Corey Haim, while never ascending to the heights of great acting, was exactly right for the main character of Sam.  Sam is the audience's guide through the story, usually in way over his head and scared shitless the whole time.  Jason Patric as his older brother Michael is the character with the real arc (he goes from brooding, sullen prettyboy to brooding, sullen vampire), and he's the one whose relationship with the villains sets things in motion.  Dianne Wiest is excellent as always, as their mother Lucy.  Corey Feldman, whose childhood work was actually pretty underrated, is hilarious as the aspiring vampire killer Edgar Frog. 

Corey, Corey, and that other guy.

And of course the showstopper is Kiefer Sutherland as David, the leader of the vampire gang.  Sutherland was fresh off his breakout performance as teenage deliquent Ace Merrill in Stand By Me, and his performance here is similar, but with the volume turned way up.  In The Lost Boys he's a total badass motherfucker who repeatedly toys with the protagonists and kills rival gang members without remorse.  Great villain.

The Strange and Infuriating Case of Enuffa.com vs. Facebook

UPDATE: Facebook is at it again, blocking my URL entirely as something that violates their Community Standards, even though it's already been found NOT to.  This social network is fucking broken.



It's no secret these days that Facebook is a hot, steaming mess.  Public opinion of the social media juggernaut is not exactly glowing, amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Mark Zuckerberg's subsequent appearance in front of Congress.  Their so-called Community Standards were a mystery wrapped in an enigma until today when they finally decided to release them after fourteen-or-so years.

But even with this new transparency, Facebook is still wreaking havoc: inexplicably blocked URLs, arbitrarily restricted user accounts, annoying ad placements cluttering up everyone's feeds, etc.  It's safe to say The Social Network's priorities seem to be way out of whack.

The following is my own personal experience with Facebook, as relates to this website.

I started Enuffa.com in early 2014 as simply a way to organize and share the goofy wrestling and movie-related thoughts swirling in my brain most of the time.  I'd write and publish an article and share in my own FB feed, just for shits and giggles, figuring my friends and family might get a kick out of it.  Through Blogger I was able to keep track of how much traffic each post got, and as I went along I noticed my hits were slowly but surely increasing.  I began to look for ways to expedite the site's growth and discovered Facebook groups and pages (along with Twitter and Google+), sharing relevant posts in certain groups; wrestling posts in wrestling groups, movie posts in movie groups, etc.  Pretty harmless, right?

Fast-forward three-and-a-half years, and Enuffa.com was getting exponentially more traffic than it had originally.  We'd gone from a paltry 5700 hits in 2014 to over 250,000 in 2017, aided by some of my colleagues and their additional content (for example Dan Moore's highly successful Dive Bars of America series) that brought a more diverse audience to the table.  Things were going along swimmingly and we were frequently getting over a thousand hits a day (small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but the ball was rolling along nicely).

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Top Ten Things: October PPV Matches

Welcome to another Halloween-themed (but not really) Top Ten Things, here at Enuffa.com.  Instead of this column relating to Halloween and all things scary, instead it's October-centric.  Specifically I'll be counting down the top ten October PPV wrestling matches.

While pro wrestling's autumn season (falling as it does between the SummerSlam peak and the beginning of The Road to WrestleMania) has been pretty consistently known for B-level PPVs, shoddy writing, and rather stale characters, many of the October PPVs over the years have produced some excellent matches.  Here now are the ten greatest October PPV matches of all time.





10. Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio - Halloween Havoc 10.26.97


Quite possibly the greatest WCW Cruiserweight match of all time, Guerrero vs. Mysterio was voted WCW's Match of the Year and it's not hard to see why.  The action was breathtaking and impossibly fast.  Both men were in peak form and easily upstaged the rest of the WCW roster.  Mysterio won the Cruiserweight Title with a stunning top rope hurricanrana. 





9. Rock vs. Chris Jericho - No Mercy 10.21.01


This was the match that elevated Chris Jericho to a main eventer.  For the previous two years he had struggled to rise past upper-midcard status, but on this night he bested The Rock for the WCW Title in a spectacular 24-minute war, turning heel in the process.  Sadly the company hotshotted the belt back to The Rock only two weeks later, but this match proved Jericho could hang with the WWF's top stars and deliver a classic main event.






8. Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam - No Mercy 10.21.01


No Mercy 2001 featured two amazing Title bouts.  After the Rock-Jericho classic came the WWF Title match, as heel Champion Steve Austin defended against archenemy Kurt Angle and white-hot tweener Rob Van Dam.  The bout was a whirlwind of intense brawling, virtuosic grappling, and daredevil highspots.  Austin narrowly retained and added to his succession of fantastic 2001 PPV matches.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Why Shawn Michaels Returning to the Ring in 2018 is Absurd....

Image result for shawn michaels 2018

Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler of all time.  This has been the case for nearly twenty years, even before he made his miraculous 2002-2010 comeback.  For my money no other wrestler has stolen as many shows or pushed the performance envelope like Shawn Michaels has (though Okada and Omega may eclipse him when all is said and done).  And as a huge, longtime Shawn Michaels fan, it pains me to say that his returning to in-ring action, in 2018, at the age of 53, is ri-goddamn-diculous.

Michaels has been away from the ring for eight-and-a-half years now.  He looks and carries himself like an old man.  His fellow retiree The Undertaker looks equally run down.  Aside from a giant paycheck, why on this planet would Shawn and Taker cheapen their respective retirements and their legendary series of matches with an old timers' tour?  One would assume this DX vs. Brothers of Destruction match signed for Saudi Arabia is a one-time deal, but there are rumors that it's building to a Shawn vs. Taker singles match down the road.  Again, their pair of WrestleMania matches nearly a decade ago are heralded as all-time masterpieces.  Why the fuck would we want to see them even attempt to equal those two matches nine years later, at a combined age of 106?

The Vince McMahon of 1998 would laugh mercilessly at the desperately out-of-touch old man he's become. 

In 1996 the WWF included, as part of the WrestleMania 12 pre-show, a segment called the Geriatric Match, pitting parodies of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage against each other.  It was literally a stereotypical "old person fight," with the "Huckster" needing a walker to stay upright, and both men eventually passing out from exhaustion after doing basically nothing.  To view these segments you'd think the real Hogan and Savage were in their 60s at this point.  Nope.  42 and 43 respectively.  Combined age, 85.  1990s Vince McMahon ruthlessly made fun of the age of two former employees, both of whom were in their early 40s.  Yet 2018 Vince McMahon has no problem headlining a PPV with a 27-minute match between a 53-year-old and a 49-year-old.  90s Vince may have been a passive-aggressive asshole (and let's be honest, his 2018 counterpart is too), but at least that guy understood that for the most part wrestling is far more exciting when it's built around young stars in their 20s and 30s.  I'm not saying Vince should be lampooning anyone past the age of 40, but two dudes who peaked during the Dubya Administration have no business main eventing a PPV in 2018.  In no decently run wrestling company should the two top champions be lower on the card than a bunch of 50-year-olds.

I think what bothers me the most is that Shawn refused a WrestleMania program with AJ Styles because he didn't want to crap all over his retirement.  But a throwaway tag team match where the four men involved total 206 years of age is fine?  AJ could've used the rub from working with a performer as accomplished as Michaels; a match like that would've fully legitimized AJ as a WWE headliner (fortunately AJ has since managed to do that on his own).  What does this tag team match accomplish, aside from all four guys getting to shower in corrupt Saudi money?

And for fuck's sake, the De-Generation X gimmick absolutely does not work when both members are old enough to have grandchildren.  Stop it. 


     
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Awesomely Shitty Movies: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Welcome to the second installment in our Awesomely Shitty Movies series pertaining to Universal Studios' Frankenstein franchise!  (Part 1 can be seen HERE)

Today it's the Frankenstein sequel that is almost universally (heh, get it?) praised as being superior to the first film, Bride of Frankenstein!


After the monumental success of the 1931 adaptation, Universal Studios understandably pushed for a follow-up, but James Whale was initially skeptical, thinking there was nothing more that could be explored in the material.  Instead Whale directed another hit horror film, The Invisible Man, and the studio pushed even harder for a Frankenstein sequel.  Whale finally agreed on the condition that Universal would produce a film of his called One More River, and when directing Bride opted to swing for the fences.  It would be a much larger-scale production with garish surrealism and subversive undertones, blending monster horror with dark comedy.  On paper this movie should never have worked as well as it did.  Whale was allowed to inject so much of his own personality into the film and its characters, and thus it became a celebration of those who live outside the norm.  With the expressionist influences of the first film turned way up for the second, and the drama ranging from horrific to funny to genuinely touching, Bride of Frankenstein is the pinnacle of the Universal monster films.


Now let's criticize it.....



The Awesome


Karloff Again

Boris reprised the role that made him a superstar, once again slipping on the giant boots and flat head.  This time the monster actually spoke, lending more depth to the character and making him even more sympathetic.  Indeed, Bride of Frankenstein is much more about the monster's character arc than Frankenstein's.  His driving motivation in this film, much like in the novel, is the search for a companion of some kind, and Karloff gives a largely quite tender, vulnerable performance that further solidifies the monster as a misunderstood brute.

Still the man




Elsa Lanchester

Despite very little actual screen time between her two roles (Seriously, it's maybe five minutes total), Elsa Lanchester brought to life one of the great movie monsters and gave a tremendously memorable turn.  Also notable is the disparity between her two characters; Mary Shelley is sweet-faced and proper, while the title character is wild-eyed and bird-like (Lanchester apparently based her head movements on those of a swan).  Her brief onscreen interaction with Karloff is bizarre and climactic; one of the great monster movie payoffs.

Makes sense her hair is standing up,
she did just get electrocuted technically