Those of us who were children in the early 1990s will remember Super Mario Bros. (1993). It was the first time a video game had been adapted for film—ever, and, sure, WarGames (1983) was about playing a computer game, but Super Mario Bros. was the first time an actual video game IP had been made for the big screen—-and we were all super (no pun intended) excited to see our favorite 8-bit (well, 16-bit, by that point) heroes, Mario and Luigi, on film (note—there was a WarGames video game, but it was released in 1984 and was based on the film, not the other way around). I was eight when the movie was released, so I was old enough to be aware of the hype surrounding the film. The schoolyard was abuzz with anticipation.
Unfortunately, you probably know how the rest of the story goes: it was an abysmal failure. The film bore little resemblance to the 2D platformer we all loved, and while Dennis Hopper certainly makes for an intimidating antagonist, he bore little resemblance to Bowser (he was “King Koopa” in the film). I remember watching the movie as a kid (we rented it) and being baffled by what was happening. Why was everything so dark and dystopian? It was a far too impressionistic endeavor to work as an adaptation of a beloved video game that captured the imagination of children.
The film was such a disaster, critically and financially, that Nintendo shied away from any more forays into cinema for thirty years. Other than some cartoons on television, Nintendo did not go near Hollywood for three solid decades.
Now, when movie-going is struggling to revive itself after The Age of The Virus, Nintendo has reentered the ring with The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), a film that may very well save Hollywood from its penchant for wokery and poor box office receipts. More importantly, it’s the Mario Bros. movie we should have gotten thirty years ago.
After four retrospective installments of Myersvision, we’re finally getting into Audre Myers‘s pet (no pun intended) project: Bigfoot. Audre would never dream of keeping a Bigfoot as a pet—she has too much respect for the creatures—but she loves to scrutinize the myriad sources about him.
Brace yourself for more Bigfoot in the Lazy Sundays to come. We’re through Audre’s looking glass here:
“Myersvision: Iceman (1984)” – The non-cryptozoology piece this weekend, here is Audre’s review of 1984’s Iceman. This film is a forgotten gem—or, perhaps, ice crystal.
“Myersvision: My Very Large Friend” – No, Audre didn’t write this piece about yours portly. It’s about Bigfoot, and about some of the sightings of the “big lug,” as I call him, around the world.
“Myersvision: Project Bigfoot” – Audre breaks down a video containing multiple parts, giving her quick analysis and hot takes of each section.
Last Friday Americans got blitzed celebrating the short-lived victory of Mexican forces against the invading French army on 5 May 1862 at the First Battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo enjoys greater observance here in the United States than in Mexico due to a.) the strong ties between the United States and Mexico dating back to the nineteenth-century (ties that are increasingly fraying as Mexico becomes a failed state) and b.) major marketing campaigns by American alcohol manufacturers. Now we invoke the spirit of the Puebla and General Ignacio Zaragoza with tequila and tacos, a sort of Mex-American Independence Day.
I’d never heard of the two films before, but both were enjoyable. The first was Darker than Night (1975; sometimes “Blacker than Night” or “Blacker Than the Night“; Más Negro que la Noche in Mexico); the second—my favorite of the two was Poison for the Fairies (1984; Veneno para las hadas in Mexico).
“Myersvision: Million Pound Menu” – Audre’s review of Million Pound Menu, a show in which small-time investors preview hopeful restauranteurs looking for a few quid. The “Pound” referred to is the English pound sterling, not the weight, so there’s no excessive eating in this show (d’oh!).
Friday night I went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) on a whim. I hadn’t realized the flick was already out, as I’ve been knee-deep in end-of-the-school-year responsibilities. After celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Thai food (the Thai place was a lot less crowded than the Mexican restaurants), my companion proposed we check out the latest Guardians flick, so on a whim we made it to a showing that had just started rolling the previews.
I’m a big fan of the first two films. When I first saw the original Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) nine years ago (has it been that long?), I was hooked. I compared it favorably to the Star Wars trilogy, and in the wake of the disastrous sequel trilogy in that franchise, the Guardians trilogy serves as an excellent alternative for Star Wars fans slavering for more intergalactic hijinks.
The elements are there in both sets of films: a group of immature misfits get tossed together into an ad hoc group of unlikely heroes, who, despite their shortcomings and inexperience, grow together to defeat a greater evil. Along the way, they forge friendships together, and come to learn more about themselves and each other.
The original Star Wars trilogy pulls this off better than Guardians, especially in the wake of this third installment. Just as Star Wars has its Return of the Jedi (1983)—a fun conclusion to the story, but not quite as weighty as its predecessors, Guardians has its Vol. 3, which is full of bizarre creatures, but is actually much heavier and darker in tone than its predecessors.
I decided to keep the good times rolling with posts from our senior correspondent, Audre Myers, who contributes her Myersvisionpieces approximately every Wednesday. This weekend’s selections are from that glorious Christmas season, which is reflected in the two films she reviewed:
In a comment on last Monday’s review, Audre Myers asked if I would write a review of Burnt Offerings (1976). I’ve seen the film and intend to fulfill Audre’s request posthaste, but I a.) need to rewatch it and b.) I wanted to get this review of 2016’s Train to Busan out while it’s still fresh in my mind. That said, I always encourage requests, so if there’s any film you’d like me to review, leave a comment below!
The first couple of decades of this century saw a renaissance of sorts for zombie films. Myriad thought pieces and cultural analyses have been written exploring why, and the mass cultural appeal of zombie flicks is certainly a fascinating topic. There is a sort of fantastical, apocalyptic element to zombie films, television shows, books, and comics that speak to the fundamental questions of humanity and civilization. Why are we here? How do we handle stressful, life-threatening situations? Is civilization a shield against our baser urges? When it collapses, do we give into those urges, or do our higher moral beliefs prevail? Are those moral beliefs merely a mask that life in a stable, prosperous society makes the wearing of easier to achieve? Or do we really believe in these higher ideals, even when they are battered and threatened on all sides?
It’s been written before, and I’ll write it again: the real threat in zombie movies are not the zombies themselves, but the surviving humans. Yes, the zombies are dangerous—and in Train to Busan, they’re quite deadly, and move with astonishing speed—but many of the film’s deaths are due to human ignorance, fear, callousness, and selfishness. Sheer panic does much to end lives and lead to poor (and wicked) decisions, while levelheaded thinking and restraint—coupled with astonishing courage—often, though not always, lead to better outcomes.
By this metric of zombie-movies-as-movies-about-ourselves, Train to Busan succeeds wildly. But the film is much more.
Regular readers will know I am a big fan of John Carpenter. He is, perhaps, my favorite director, and one of my favorite film composers and musicians as well. Big Trouble in Little China(1986) was my #2 pick for the best flick ever, and would have likely been #1 if I weren’t had I not been trying to troll Ponty. My #3 pick was 1982’s The Thing, which is actually better than Big Trouble objectively, although that’s the definition of comparing whiskey to wantons.
Naturally, readers would be correct in thinking that my assessment of his 1980 release The Fog would be similarly rosy (and rose-tinted, perhaps). While I don’t think it’s a masterpiece like the other two films—not the lightning-in-a-bottle amalgam of genres that make Big Trouble more than the sum of its parts, nor the nihilistic and terrifying, claustrophobic experience of The Thing—it is quite good. It’s not particularly scary for a horror film, but it is quintessential Carpenter.