Monday, June 29, 2009

Mini movie review: Pineapple Express

Another rainy day, another opportunity to watch a movie: this time, Pineapple Express. I'm not going to synopsize the plot; I'm so far behind in finally seeing this flick that you all already know what it's about: a process server (Seth Rogen) and his pot dealer (James Franco) get caught up in murder and drug-related mayhem. Hilarity and gun shots ensue.

I read a lot of reviews of PE when it came out, many of them decrying the violence as having no place in a stoner comedy. True, there is a fair bit of violence: feral fighting, gunshots to the head at close range. Bodies are in rough shape to be sure. But PE is a comedy like Shaun of the Dead is a comedy: there's more to it than that. SotD was terrifically gruesome in parts (David's de-guttification in the pub window, in particular) but still hilarious. Similarly PE is quite violent - Drugs Are Bad, People, is the message - while still being very funny.

James Franco is just awesome as the perpetually stoned pot dealer Saul. Seth Rogen doesn't really do much stretching acting-wise here; his character is largely the same character he's played in all his movies. I would have like to have seen more of Gary Cole - although he's the big bad, he has very little presence. The supporting players - Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Ed Begley Jr. - steal their scenes whenever they can. And I have to admit that seeing the shrill, screechy Rosie Perez get squished by a Daewoo was particularly satisfying.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Virtuality vs. Caprica

It was by mere coincidence that I watched BSG prequel-pilot Caprica (on DVD) the day before I watched Fox's t.v. movie/possibly pilot Virtuality (on DVR), although I think I'm glad I did. I had very different reactions to the two shows but, if nothing else it proves that Ron Moore (heavily involved in both shows in various capacities) is a true gift to television. Which we all knew already.

Note: SPOILERS throughout, so don't read if you don't want to know.

Caprica will return in the fall to the SciFi (or *ugh* "SyFy") channel and continue to tell the story of the rise of the Cylons, and how events were set in motion for the Fall and the whole BSG saga. This is not a space drama like its predecessor, but is set on-planet, following the Greystones and the Adamas. All BSG fans know that Joseph Adama, played rather mumblingly by Esai Morales, is the father of Admiral William Adama (young William gets some screentime in this episode and hopefully will have had some acting lessons by the time he gets some more): he is a lawyer with deep mob connections who struggles with the line between good and evil, right and wrong. Eric Stoltz is Daniel Greystone, genius computer millionaire who invented holoband technology - virtual reality - and who is developing cybernetic warriors for the military.

Joseph and Daniel are thrown into each others' lives when Joseph's wife and daughter are killed in the same terrorist explosion that claims Daniel's daughter Zoe. Zoe was a computer genius in her own right and was adapting her father's virtual reality technology to create an avatar of herself, but imbued with self-perpetuating personality - a soul, if you will - in some means of supporting the newly-rising underground monotheism movement. After Zoe's death, her father finds her computer code and attempts to download her avatar into a proto-Cylon. He think he fails - but the last scene shows the robot awakening to self-realization.

I liked: the crazed scenes in the virtual nightclub where Zoe and her friends were carrying out their master plan; the conceit that a girl named "Zoe" (Greek for "life") is the progenitor of the sentient monotheistic Number-Model Cylons; Paula Malcolmson ("Trixie" from Deadwood) as Zoe's mom; the scene with Adama and his avatar-daughter. What I didn't like: Caprica left me cold and unconnected to the characters. BSG captured my heart from the very first moment; Caprica is going to have to grow on me.

Not so with Virtuality. After only two hours, I'm hooked and am totally annoyed that there's a possibility that it might not get picked up and two hours is all there may be. It's a complicated, interesting show, with a terrific cast and twists galore.

There are twelve astronauts on the Phaeton, embarking upon a ten-year mission to explore another solar system. We have the captain (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whom I crushed on in the departed New Amsterdam), his second in command, the pilot (Clea DuVall), a doctor, a shrink and a botanist (married), a computer whiz and five other scientists (including another married couple and a gay couple). That's the basic show.

The mission is also being entirely filmed as reality television for the folks back home on Earth, complete with confessional interviews. In an odd sort of double duty, the shrink (James D'Arcy) is also the reality show's producer, and he seems to be uniquely able to manipulate the crew for better ratings. The company funding the mission, ominously referred to as "the Consortium," calls the shots and the captain feels that the shrink may not be telling the crew everything.

Finally, to maintain the crew's mental health on such a long journey, virtual reality modules have been implemented so that the astronauts can relax, blow off steam, interact with something other than the other crewmembers. We see several of the crewmembers' virtual fantasies: the captain's Civil War re-enactment; the computer genius's rockstar/superspy adventures (a la Alias); the pilot's bicycle rides. There is a computer glitch, however, which is not so good for folks' mental health: several of the crew members discover a mystery man in their virtual fantasies - someone whom they did not program in, and who attacks them violently and virtually, to differing results.

I thought Virtuality was fantastic. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) is the director and the show is just gorgeous. There are a lot of characters involved and although some do not get much screen time, we are given enough to connect with them, making them more than caricatures. I loved the layers upon layers: the virtual modules seem real, and the memories they create are real; the reality show is as unreal as any reality t.v. on today, edited together by the shrink for maximum ratings; and it is called into question as to whether the actual mission the astronauts are on is even real itself - or have they been put into a Truman Show-like situation? I've watched enough television to know that at least one person would be killed off but I couldn't believe who it was when it happened - if this show gets picked up, I hope if they can find a way to keep the actor on.

I really would like to see Virtuality get picked up. It looks like it's an expensive show to make with the huge cast and all the beautiful space shots, so that's a strike against it. It's also an intelligent, tricky, makes-you-think thriller ... so that's probably a strike against it too. Caprica we know is coming back, and I'm just not sure that it's appointment television for me like Battlestar Galactica was, but Virtuality I would absolutely make a point of watching. Here's hoping I get the chance.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Recipes for the weekend: Tomato, Basil & Mozzarella Soup

Granted, this one's a little early here in the northeast since we won't have good, local tomatoes until about August, but today we actually had sunshine and warm temperatures (after ten days of rain) and I thought something summery would be good. It's vegetarian and comes from The Daily Soup Cookbook - which is just full of awesome soups.

6 beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 lbs.), halved and seeded, seeds reserved
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into very fine strips
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella, about 20 of the 1-inch "boconccini" balls, thinly sliced, OR regular mozzarella cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped scallions

In a blender or food processor, combine half the tomatoes and all of the tomato seeds, olive oil and garlic. Puree 'til smooth. Add vinegar, salt, pepper and process 'til blended. Transfer pureed mixture into large bowl. Chop remaining tomatoes into small dice. Add diced tomatoes, tomato juice, basil and mozzarella to pureed mixture. Refrigerate 'til ready to serve.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with the chopped scallions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Link me, m'dear

Are you just not getting enough vitamin B ... as in, B-movies? has the answer to that: BMC has around forty full-length, full-screen online cinematic gems ready and waiting for you in all the genres you could hope for. Spaghetti westerns? You betcha! Sci-fi/fantasy? How does The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent grab you? There's horror (Devil Doll, The Cat Girl), comedy (Raquel Welch in A Swingin' Summer), action/adventure (Hercules Unchained and Dragstrip Girls) and crime/thrillers (The Crawling Eye, Dog Eat Dog and The Haunted Strangler) - to name just a few. I plan to watch as many of these "unsung classics" as I can stand.

It's like AMC Day around here! I also learned of The. Best. Holiday. Ever. over there on the Horror Hacker blog: World Zombie Day. It's an old post, sure, but still - who doesn't need to know that there is one day when the world's zombies and zombie fans can join together and stagger around celebrate? This year, it's October 11. World-headquarters are in Pittsburgh, of course.

As soon as we sell this frakkin' house and move out to Utah, I'm so going to read every page of this blog: Stuff Unemployed People Like. I haven't poked around on it much yet - want to save it for when I need it! - but it looks to be chockful of very important information, such as "Walking Everywhere to Save Time," "Finally Having Time to Be an Artist" and "Getting Annoyed About Having to Get Dressed."

The AV Club has a good article on how to start reading Stephen King if you want to but haven't yet. As a hugenormous SK fan who has read almost all his stuff, I pretty much concur with their findings. Love those old short stories!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Book review: Talk Talk - a novel by T.C. Boyle

The threat of identity theft is everywhere these days. You password-protect your computer; you shred sensitive documents; you tear up receipts and unwanted credit card applications. But it happens. And when it does, the ramifications are vast and unforgiving.

Talk Talk is the story of it happening. Dana Halter, a pretty young PhD with a cushy job teaching English in a private deaf school, gets pulled over for rolling through a stop sign. When the cop runs her license, she is immediately arrested for passing bad checks, auto theft, possession of a controlled substance, assault with a deadly weapon, etc., etc. – multiple counts in three California counties plus Nevada. Her plea of “I’ve never even been to Nevada!” falls on unhearing ears and she is thrown into prison. It is days before her hearing boyfriend, Bridger, a computer graphic designer, manages to clear up the mistaken identity and she is released with a cursory apology for the inconvenience.

Once Dana gets out, things go from bad to worse. Her credit is completely shot and her bank accounts cleaned out; it costs her hundreds of dollars to get her car released from impound – with no possible reimbursement despite the fact that she was mistakenly arrested. She is even fired from her teaching position and cast aside, lost. Complicating things further is her deafness: she can speak, but atonally which sounds awkward to hearing folk. Although she needs a lot of help to reclaim her identity, she finds that the hearing people are less than fully helpful because they assume that she’s weird or, worse, retarded.

Boyle introduces us to the thief as well: William “Peck” Wilson, a petty criminal from upstate New York with way more smarts than your average bear. While in prison, Peck learns of the untold riches of identity theft and embarks upon his true calling. He’s very good at it, easily accumulating multiple identities, fancy homes and luxury automobiles. His sexy Russian girlfriend doesn’t know his real name – thinks he’s “Dana Halter” – but he drapes her in jewels and designer clothes, and what she doesn’t know doesn’t hurt him.

The bulk of Talk Talk is a cross-county chase with Dana and Bridger on Peck’s trail. The novel is well-plotted and moves along at a brisk pace. The characters are fully realized, rounded people, each of them developing through the course of the story. Dana, while clearly the victim, is sometimes an unpleasant person: stubborn, bitter, proud, ungrateful. Amazingly, Peck is very nearly a sympathetic character, despite the havoc he has wreaked on Dana and Bridger’s lives. Peck longs for the daughter he lost to a vindictive ex-wife; he loves to cook and has a gourmand’s tastes. When Dana first tracks him down, his distress at the discovery is palpable and I almost felt sorry for him, faced with the collapse of the life he’d built so painstakingly.

Interwoven with the plot is an elegant discussion of language. Boyle presents so many different ways and means of communication - spoken words, American Sign Language, computer code, the Russian girlfriend's broken English, Peck's inadvertant lapse into old idiom when he finds himself unexpectedly back home - but in the end, the humans always seem to end up misunderstanding one another.

It was such a joy, a relief even, to read this book after the last one. Boyle is a wonderful writer, energetic and inventive. His sentences are artworks – layered, descriptive, and well-paced. After I read the first chapter, I stopped and immediately re-read it from the beginning, just to savor the words. My brother read Talk Talk - to the exclusion of all other activities, nearly – while on a recent family vacation, then handed it off to my father who was also completely entranced by the book. I wholeheartedly recommend Talk Talk as one of the most interesting and entertaining novels I have ever read. And that’s not just talk.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Man, I got so Housed

I'm not saying that I watch a lot of television or anything, but this past Monday, June 15, 2009, Mr. Mouse and I finished watching the last episode out of all five seasons of House that we hadn't yet seen ... and we didn't even start watching the show until New Year's Day 2009.

That's like 110 episodes or something, given a short first season and the writers' strike. We were flipping channels on New Year's and found that both Fox and USA were in the habit of running House marathons. One packed DVR and six months later, I can confidently say that (a) I prefer the initial team of Chase, Cameron and Foreman, (b) Kutner's suicide was bogus, (c) there's no way Thirteen should have hit the #1 spot on Maxim's "Hot 100" list as she's too damn skinny and (d) Cuddy definitely looks better without bangs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Movie pourri

You know, it's like a mishmash of some movies I've seen recently but haven't gotten off my ass to fully review:

Rear Window – The Hitchcock classic. I haven’t seen all that many Hitchcock films (bad, bad movie blogger!) but after this one, I’m going to have to. Such an incredible filmmaker with so many things going on in his “exterior” shots, character development for everyone, no loose ends or wasted energy, amazing suspense. Super-fun stuff.

Lady Vengeance– Korean, with English subtitles, directed by Chan Wook Park. This is a thriller about beautiful young Geum-ja, wrongfully jailed for the kidnapping and murder of a young boy, and how she took her vengeance. The story switches between flashbacks to her time in prison and the current timeline. The story is exciting, although perhaps a little overlong; there’s a fair bit of violence. Incredibly every single shot is framed gorgeously – someone should give the cinematographer an award.

American Psycho - I’ve been eager to see this one for a while now and it didn’t let me down: Christian Bale in all his buttoned-up, crazy-eyed, blood-spattered, weapon-wielding, often-naked glory. I laughed, I flinched, I loved the ‘80s soundtrack. Here’s the thing: I thought I had it all figured out. POSSIBLE SPOILER I didn’t even care if he was really a serial killer or if it was all in his mind – either works for me. But why did some people (his assistant, his fiancée, his buddies) think he was Patrick Bateman and some people (his lawyer, most specifically) think he was someone else? Obviously I pretty much missed the whole point of this very entertaining movie, but could someone please help me out here?

Wet Hot American Summer - With a cast like that (Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Ian Michael Black, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks and Judah Friedlander), I really expected this to knock my socks off with hilarity. It didn't, although it was funny, and also enjoyable to see such an assemblage having a good time poking fun at summer camp movie tropes.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mini movie review: The City of Lost Children

La cité des enfants perdus (1995, in French with English subtitles) is a haunting, touching, bizarre dreamscape of a movie. The story is weird and convoluted with side plots and characters spiralling in and out. As in, there's: a midget, a talking brain floating in a fish tank, scary conjoined twins called (collectively) "the Octopus," assassin fleas and a child-stealing religious cult of one-eyed cyborgs ... all adding up to one nightmarish fairy tale.

At the core, an extremely creepy mad scientist, himself a scientific creation cloned in a lab by a mysterious figure, has been kidnapping children in order to suck the dreams out of their heads. He himself was created unable to dream and the flaw has aged and maddened him. Unfortunately, all the stolen children's dreams do him no good - they are nightmares because he's so dang creepy. He needs a child who is not afraid of him and finally finds one boy: the adopted little brother of a simple circus strongman ("One," played by a Cro-Magnonesque Ron Perlman). One is of course bound and determined to find his "petit frere" (note: I believe that part of the reasoning behind making One sort of a simpleton was to keep Perlman's French to a minimum). In the course of his search, he befriends little Miette (the lovely Judith Vittet, who doesn't seem to have done much acting after this film), an orphan thief wise beyond her years.

This movie is what Terry Gilliam might have made if he was French. Since I've loved 90% of the Gilliam movies I've seen (Brazil and Time Bandits are way, way up there in my list of all-time favorites, but The Brothers Grimm left me cold), I was unsurprised to find that I loved The City of Lost Children too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Recipes for the weekend: Strawberry Cheesecake Icebox Pie

This super-easy, no-bake dessert comes to you from my mom (whom I suspect got it from the yogurt container as the recipe specifically mentions a particular brand of yogurt). Mr. Mouse notes that "no-bake" actually means "no-burn" and, as usual, he is absolutely right. I just made it for the impending Mouse in-law visit - and had to use California strawberries since the Maine ones aren't out yet - and thought I'd share it with you.

1 cup "Stonyfield Farm Organic" french vanilla yogurt
1 8 oz. package of Neufchatel (or fat-free cream cheese)
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, diced
1 9" graham cracker crust

In a medium size mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar. Blend yogurt and vanilla into the mixture and fold in the strawberries. Pour into pie crust. Freeze for 2-3 hours or until set. Before serving, place pie in fridge for at least 15 minutes to soften. Garnish with whipped cream and more strawberries.

Note: we had this for a recent girls' weekend (thanks again, Mom!) and recommend eating with forks as spoons tend to send the frozen pieces of pie skittering off the plates.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A toast - to bacon!

Forgive me, readers: it's been thirty-seven days since my last bacon post. I really hadn't found any new, exciting, bacony goodness to share with you. Until I got an email from my California cousin Leah alerting me to the existence of


Bakon Vodka. Created by the friendly folks at Black Rock Spirits, this vodka is made with Idaho potatoes and flavored with peppered bacon (or essence thereof). They think it's the perfect vodka for Bloody Marys and have additional recipes as well, including a Bakon Chocolate Martini - of which I would be skeptical, except that I really like chocolate-covered bacon and this would be the same as that ... plus it's a cocktail. Yay! The site has a link for online pre-sales; Leah says Bakon Vodka is not available 'til July.

So what do we do until July? We make our own: Homemade Bacon Vodka [recipe compliments of Brownie Points, a foodie blog I've only just discovered with this recipe and am eager to explore as it seems chockful of goodness]. She also recommends using this bacon-infused vodka in a Bloody Mary (and other cocktails) or mixed with date syrup for a "sweet bacon cordial" (with which I am totally intrigued) or even decanted into a spray bottle for spritzing on, well, anything that needs a spritz of bacon vodka.

Many, many, many thanks to Leah for sending me the links. I owe her bigtime because this is the third time she's hooked me up; the other two are here and here. I don't hang out with her very often - although we obviously have very similar interests - but I'm going to see her in a couple of weeks and I'll raise a glass to, and with, her then.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Titles Nine - #9 - cookbooks

Yes, it's a long-overdue installment of the riveting FMS series, "Titles Nine," whereby I go to my many bookshelves and pick out nine volumes to share with you, my faithful reader[s]. This time we're browsing the cookbook shelf. I have actually used each of these cookbooks at least once in my culinary tenure but you'd have to ask Mr. Mouse as to the quality of the results.

  • The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn - with everyday pantry item additions, you too can fancy up an ol' box of cake mix! (I've actually made the Chocolate Covered Cherry Cake several times - mmmmmmmmm)

  • Pasta Harvest by Janet Fletcher - given to me by the Mouse Parents who claim there is not a bad recipe in the lot

  • Leafy Greens by Mark Bittman - lots of different ways to eat lots of different kinds of leafy greens

  • Dishing Up Maine by Brooke Dojny - another one from the Mouse Parents. Gorgeous photos, lots of information on Maine and the recipes are awfully excellent too

  • Cooking Down East by Marjorie Standish - a classic Maine cookbook

  • Cold-Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase - famous Nantucket restauranteur/chef

  • The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith - no-nonsense, tasty and cost-minded

  • The Daily Soup Cookbook by Leslie Kaul, Bob Spiegel, et al. - I went through a soup phase a couple of winters ago and used this book a lot

  • James McNair's New Pizza - because sometimes you want something besides pepperoni

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mini-movie review: Hellraiser

I recorded this one into the DVR and watched it over the course of three nights, in little short installments after Mr. Mouse went to bed. I couldn't quite admit to him that I was actually watching this classic 1980s horror flick. And by "classic 1980s" I mean "containing feathered hair on both the women and the men (plus mullets!), jewel-toned eye shadow a la Pat Benatar and scary Cosby sweaters." And by "horror" I mean bloody skinless adulterers and disgusting scorpion/slug monsters, sadomasochisism and some necrophilia. You know, something for everyone!

But then Mr. Mouse caught me, wandering in just as a character was being tormented by the very excellent Cenobites (I hope that they are used more in the later Hellraiser movies because you really didn't get to see enough of them here - great, creepy bad guys). Mr. Mouse stood there, staring for a moment at the television screen, and then remarked in his best deadpan, "That's really gross. And really fake."

He's completely right. I don't think there's much more I can say that will add value here: Hellraiser is a time-honored horror classic that is both gross and fake. Maybe Mr. Mouse should start writing these reviews instead of me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mini-movie review: Equilibrium

Equilibrium is a science fiction film that I have no idea where I heard about it, but for some reason insisted on moving it right up to the top of my movie queue. It's got a great cast - Christian, Bale, Taye Diggs, Angus MacFayden, Emily Watson, William Fichtner, Sean Bean - and a solid story concept, but the whole thing ultimately fails because the writer/director was too impressed with himself.

Set in a post-apocalyptical Earth, humankind has been ravaged by WWIII. The remaining world leaders decide that it is human feeling (anger, passion) that is to blame for the planet's ills and thus, to save mankind, all feeling is eradicated - or at least damped down, people drugged into a passionless existence. The mood-altering drug regimen is required and offenders are dealt with ... harshly.

Christian Bale plays an enforcer type, a Cleric, highly skilled with weaponry and trained to sense emotion in others. After his Cleric partner, Sean Bean (mmmmmm!), succumbs to emotion, Bale accidentally misses a dose of the drugs and then begins to Feel his own traitorous feelings. Taye Diggs is Bale's ambitious new partner; Emily Watson and William Fichtner are wasted as emotional rebels.

My very first reaction as the movie started? "Oh great, yet another movie where Christian Bale has a completely flat affect" [see also the Batmans and the new Terminator which I will not be seeing]. But he actually gets to stretch his acting chops as the once tightly controlled Cleric becomes unraveled, at first afraid of, and then reveling in, his burgeoning new feelings.

Now, this movie was the perfect vehicle for the moral issue: is too little emotion just as deadly as too much? But then the writer/director (you look him up - I'm not going to bother) decides, "Hey! You know what this thought-provoking and dour sci-fi flick needs? Some Matrix-like, over the top, cartoonish gun fights! Let's give it a mystical name - "gun kata" - because that's cool, and let's drop the special effects in whenever the movie hits a poignant note! Yeah, that won't knock the audience out of the moment or anything!" And that's what he did. Totally dumb and cartoonish. He took what could have been another Children of Men and made it, I don't know, another third Matrix. Ugh.

Equilibrium is rated R for violence but I'm not entirely sure that's warranted. Yes, there are oodles of bullets fired but the deaths are largely non-gory. Dogs are "shot" but it's all off-screen and CB saves a puppy who is later nearly his undoing (Bernese mountain puppy - so cute!). Oh, yeah, Tage Diggs gets his face sliced off but it's wicked fake.

The coolest thing: getting to hear CB's real (British) accent in a few seconds of interview in the extras.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Movie review: Drag Me to Hell

I really shouldn't watch horror (or even horror/comedy) movies at the movie theater: I cower behind my hands whenever I think something is going to jump out at me - jump scares are WAY scarier than gore scares, IMHO - and then I end up missing at least part of it. When I watch scary movies at home, I can do the cowering thing, but then rewind it and watch it again once I know what's coming.

So this is what my experience watching Sam Raimi's triumphant return to horror was like Sunday afternoon: Eeeuuuw! Ugh! Hahahaha! Ugh-ack! *hide* Eeeeep! Awwwwww [kitten]! Ooh-ooh-ooh-yipe! Heh. Eeeeuuuuww! Eek! *cringe* Ick-ick. Hee hee ["Here, kitty-kitty!"] Eeeuuuw! Aigh! *cringe-cringe-cower* Etc., etc. Awesome, awesome, super-awesome, outstandingly scary fun.

The story is pretty simple: gunning for a promotion, pretty Christine denies a third loan extension which ousts an old gypsy woman from her home. We all know that crossing old movie gypsy women is Always A Bad Idea and the trope holds true here. The gypsy curses Christine, sending a lamia to torment her for three days before consuming her soul and dragging her into Hell. Wacky hijinks ensue. Seriously, if you need to know more about the plot to decide if you're going to go see this, it's best that you don't go see this. For everyone else, GO SEE THIS NOW!

This is really excellently scary stuff for PG-13, making me recant prior avowals of the same. Raimi knows how to build tension and suspense. There are tons of jump scares and the whole thing is just totally gross with the slime and the saliva and the maggots and the blood and the mud and the ooze and the pus and the other ooze. Poor Alison Lohman is an absolute trooper because Raimi douses her in pretty much all of the above, and she commits to it, 100%.

I'm not much of a Spiderman fan so I very much enjoyed the director's return to his horror roots. You know, The Evil Dead had me at "hello" and now, heck, Raimi can drag me to hell anytime he wants.