Back in 2014 the indie game Five Nights at Freddy’s fired the imaginations and nightmares of gamers with its twitchy, fast-paced, stressful management of a low-powered security camera system and a couple of security doors. The premise of the game is simple: survive the night as a security guard while the animatronics at a haunted pizzeria come to life.
It’s not surprising, then, that Hollywood would take note of Five Nights at Freddy’s success and attempt to capitalize on this very specific horror niche. 2019 saw the release of The Banana Splits Movie, a horror comedy ludicrously based on the late 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Banana Splits.
I haven’t seen The Banana Splits Movie (though it’s definitely on my list of “weird things to watch”), but I have seen the most recent entry into the subgenre of animatronics horror: 2021’s Willy’s Wonderland, starring Nicolas Cage in a role completely counter to the over-the-top acting style Cage usually employs: he doesn’t speak a single word in the entire film.
With all the gloomy weather in South Carolina over the past week (please pray for the poor folks in Texas, who are facing truly dangerous weather conditions), it’s been ideal weather for staying home and watching movies. Surprisingly, Hulu has upped its game a bit in terms of selection.
I’m running a tad behind with today’s post, so I figured rather than diving deeply into one movie, I’d give a quick round-up of several movies, with some quick notes on each.
Regular readers know I’m a big fan of Redbox, the company that managed to survive the digital streaming revolution with its ubiquitous red monoliths stationed outside every pharmacy, Wal-Mart, and gas station in the country. Without the overhead of Blockbuster, Redbox has scraped by on its hundreds of locations and super cheap rental fees, and by throwing coupons at customers every five minutes.
Little Lamar has one trusty (if occasionally glitchy) Redbox kiosk outside the local Dollar General. I was convinced until this week that I was single-handedly keeping that kiosk afloat, but in The Age of The Virus, everyone is looking for cheap entertainment, and I’ve had to wait on someone slowly browsing through the dozens of selections before picking their entertainment sleeping pill for the night. Regardless, I’ve rented so many movies for dirt-cheap, I’m achieved “Legendary” status with Redbox.
Finally, the recognition I deserve.
My point is, Redbox makes it compelling to watch a lot—and I do mean a lot—of schlocky trash. They used to throw $1.50 off coupons at me (remember, a rental is only $1.90 for a DVD) like concubines at King Solomon. Now they’re going with a BOGO strategy, which probably suits their interests better (if you forget to return your two movies, you’re going to pay for another night for both of them). Either way, it just means I watch a TON of movies.
If I’m spending, essentially, $0.80 on a rental, I’m willing to take some risks. Sometimes, as in the movie Snatchers (2019), that risk pays off beautifully, and I stumble upon a diamond in the rough. Usually, I lose the bet, as was the case with Black Christmas (2019).