Monday Morning Movie Review: Two Mexican Horror Films

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.

To commemorate the occasion, streaming service Shudder has uploaded some Mexican horror films to their lineup, and I managed to squeeze a couple of them in over the weekend between The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023; review coming soon), a second screening of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. III (2023; I enjoyed it more the second time), Mother’s Day, and recovering from last week.

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).

Read More »


Monday Morning Movie Review: The Haunting (1963)

Last week I reviewed Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, which prompted several readers to recommend the 1963 film adaptation, The Haunting.  I rented the flick on YouTube for about three bucks, and found it to be a mostly faithful adaptation of the book.

Indeed, beyond a few changes to some of the characters (Dr. Montague is now Dr. Markway, and his wife is not an insufferable Spiritualist but instead scoffs at the idea of ghosts) and the elimination of Arthur, the overbearing boys’ school headmaster, it does a great deal to enhance the book, a rare case where the movie, if not necessarily better than the book, is at least a worthy supplement to it.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CXCVI: Hono[u]rable Mentions

The long countdown of mine and Ponty’s favorite films ends tomorrow with Ponty’s #1 pick.  What will it be?  Weekend at Bernie’s II (1993)?  Porky’s (1981)?  That video he and Tina made that no one else is supposed to know about?  In twenty-four short hours, we’ll know all.

In the meantime, here are our respective hono[u]rable mentions lists.  I did mine in one succinct, efficient package; Ponty spread his over three massive posts, full of lovingly rendered detail and pathos:

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: Honorable Mentions

Before revealing our #1 picks on our respective lists, Ponty and I are offering some honorable mentions.  These are films that, for various reasons, did not make our lists, but could have done so.

I think Ponty largely had his list worked out in advance, with tweaks and revisions along the way.  My approach was far less organized, and other than a few specific films and their slots, I largely came up with my picks week-to-week.  I stand by all of them, but I’d probably have put Krull (1983) in this honorable mentions post, if it showed up at all.  I really like the movie, but there are far better contenders out there.

Inevitably, I simply forgot about films that I sincerely love, but whose existences bafflingly slipped my mind.  I can only chalk it up to my own laziness and a lack of forethought and planning.

Of course, that is the peril of list-making of this sort:  I imagine if Ponty and I made these lists ten different times, we’d come up with wildly different selections and orders each time—at least, I think I would.  Sure, The Thing (1982) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986) would still be on the lists, as would some others, but who knows what might be floating through my mind a second, third, fourth, or tenth time around?

Have no fear, though—if the long list-making has been wearying t o you, Ponty and I have no plans to do more for awhile.  He’s hoping to spend some time working on his novel, and there are tons of movies—good, bad, and trashy—that I’ve been sitting on for several months now, and I’m eager to get back to reviewing whatever random garbage I consumed that week.

Perhaps one day we’ll take another stab at it—or maybe Audre Myers will grace us with her Top Ten picks.

But enough of my endless yammering and boring speculations.  On to the movies!

Read More »

Monday Morning Movie Review: Ponty’s Top Ten Best Films: #2: The Truman Show (1998)

Ponty picked an impressive film for his #2 slot, one that I wish had made it onto my list (it may end up as an honorable mention!).  The Truman Show (1998) is a powerful, surprisingly dark comedy about materialism, consumerism, and mass media, exploring what happens when we take reality television to its logical extreme.  What’s fascinating is that this film largely predates reality television, outside of the trash that aired on MTV at the time.

I won’t spoil Ponty’s review (he considerately offers a spoiler alert, but if you haven’t managed to see this flick in the twenty-five years since its release, you’re way outside of the “no spoilers!” statute of limitations), but he touches upon many of the troubling implications of enslaving an unwitting human in an artificial world and broadcasting the results of this forbidden experiment to the world.  I, too, wonder how Truman would live outside of the show; a part of me suspects he might go back to the only world he’s ever known, though I hope he never did.

With that, here is Ponty’s review of 1998’s The Truman Show:

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CXC: Portly’s Best Films, Part III

Our lists of the best films are nearly done!  It’s a project months in the making, and Ponty and I both have honorable mention posts to get through before revealing our #1 picks, but we’re tantalizing close!  Indeed, Ponty has promised (or threatened, depending on one’s perspective) two or even three honorable mention posts, so we could be at this list-making business for another month or so.  Gulp!

Regardless, I’ve finished my list through my #2 pick, so here are my higher-ups, filling in slots 4, 3, and 2:

#1 picks are coming soon… ish.  Stay tuned!

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Myersvision: Iceman (1984)

A great joy of writing is that sometimes, our scribbled thoughts create inspiration in others—or other writers can inspire us!  So it was that my delayed review of 1982’s The Thing provided a bit of inspirado for our dear Audre Myers.

I don’t think it was my purple prose that jolted her memory about this film; rather, the genius of The Thing reminded her of this flick, which is also set in a desolate Arctic wasteland, and which deals with some quite complex questions about humanity, biomedical ethics, and technology.

I’m adding it to my must-see list, and I suspect you should, too.

With that, here is Audre’s review of 1984’s Iceman:

Read More »

Monday Morning Movie Review: Portly’s Top Ten Best Films: #3: The Thing (1982)

As we get into the final three of our picks, I find myself thankful that Ponty and I are doing an “Hono[u]rable Mentions” post, because this point is where it gets hard.  How do you pick the best three films?  Ten is hard enough, but there’s some margin for error.

That said, I know my #2 and #1 picks.  But #3 was giving me a time, until Ponty mentioned this film in one of his comments.

John Carpenter is my favorite director, up there with Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, and similar directors.  These are the guys that have a distinct style, even when making films in vastly different genres.  That uniqueness of directorial tone seems to be fading in Hollywood, in favor of homogenized, corporatized sameness.  That’s not an entirely fair assessment, but I have a sense that the phenomenon of the “director-as-artist” is fading.

What sets Carpenter apart for me is not just his uniqueness; his movies are fun.  They’re not dumb fun, either (for the most part)—his shots are deliberate, and make sense for whatever scene he is shooting.  He is a strong visual storyteller, in addition to being a great composer and musician.  There’s a reason his films will appear twice in my top three.

This picture is arguably his best, but for personal and sentimental reasons I’m putting another of his films higher.  That said, Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing is a masterpiece of tension, horror, and suspense.

Read More »

Lazy Sunday CLXXXI: More Movies XXXIV: Portly’s Best Films, Part II

The countdown-cum-retrospective continues with my #7-#5 picks for the best films of all time.  I’m very satisfied with my picks for #6 and #5, although I think I would reconsider #7 and add it to my honorable mentions list.  I do think Krull (1983) is a fun film, but putting it among the best films is, perhaps, giving it too much credit.

Happy Sunday—and Happy Viewing!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments: