Halloween Marathon 2021: TV Binge- Deadhouse Dark (Mini Series, 2021)

Deadhouse Dark (Season 1, 2021)

Creator: Enzo Tedeschi
Directors: Denai Gracie, Joshua Long, Rosie Lourde, Megan Riakos, Enzo Tedeschi, Rachele Wiggins
Cast: Nicholas Hope, Anni Finsterer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Ryan Morgan, Lauren Orrell, Naomi Sequeira, Barbara Bingham

A series of six short horror stories anchored by a woman who receives a ‘mystery box’ from the dark web, and then discovers the sinister secret it hold – IMDB

Deadhouse Dark is a 2021 horror anthology mini series where it takes six horror shorts to create each of its episodes. Unlike horror anthology film, this one doesn’t have that linking main story that pulls together all the pieces instead this all feels like different stories set in its own sort of darkness with different horror elements added to each of the stories giving each of them a new set of characters and a different subgenre to tackle. Its not a bad idea to that as a lot of the great horror directors do start of directing shorts and its a great way to share some great premises (just look at another recent Shudder Original release, Martyr’s Lane which also started off as a short story premise and turned out to be a fantastic full length feature).

Of course, the issue here is that what makes things a tad more confusing is that it tries to link certain elements specifically in one episode, the fifth one which has items from a previous episode and a character from another previous character and pulls together those pieces to give a feeling that there is an interconnected feeling while it more instills a feeling of whether there is more connection in the other episodes that were missed prior which at least for myself, I couldn’t seem to pinpoint. Put the interconnected issue aside, each of these shorts are still pretty good. The twist it takes and the surprise element mostly lands in execution. Some leaves a space for the unknown and others have its own purposeful ending. It definitely feels like most of them are still pretty unique and creative in how its all scripted.

Doing a quick breakdown of the episodes aka each of the short films, the first episode “Halloween” set in Halloween that has this fantastic play on time and darkness. It has a very strong twist that connects all the bits together from the beginning and ending. The second episode “No Pain No Gain” is one of the weaker episodes as it feels like a more familiar type of story even if it is inspired by the Blue Whale social media challenge which tells the story of a competitive track runner who is willing to do anything to win leading her to accept the training from a renowned coach who gives her a dangerous progression of daily tasks to complete. The pacing and execution is not quite as engaging. “The Staircase” feels like a found footage that ends up discovering more than they bargained for with some lurking in the unknown depths. “A Tangled Web We Weave” that follows a man on a date dealing not so subtly with a rat problem (for gamers, it has some serious reminders of Layers of Fear strictly from the rat problem angle and whether its real or in his mind) which takes a rather intriguing turn.

Much like “Mystery Box” which is is probably the most intriguing of the whole batch as it has a strong element of suspense and mystery which unfolds into a rather unexpected reveal at the end. Its a solo performance with a woman who opens a mystery box at her doorstep. The cinematography and atmosphere is my favorite even if the horror element is much more subtle. Ending the series is “My Empire of Dirt” that sees a ‘death midwife’ helping a sick elderly woman clean up her apartment in preparation for a peaceful death. This one has its own shock value and actually is the most disgusting of the batch since its rummaging through a dirty environment especially when there’s something hidden which is haunting this place.

Deadhouse Dark is a pretty fun overall. One or two of the snippets is a little subpar whether its acting or execution however, they are all rather creative and have some decent twists which land fairly well. It also has a lot of different subgenre which is always fun in any horror anthology format. In a nutshell, my favorite has to be “Mystery Box” which isn’t exactly pure horror but it stands out the most as it gave me the most unexpected twist. Deadhouse Dark might be like many anthologies where it has its hits and misses but its still well worth a watch.

Movies and Tea #45 – Girlfight

Next episode of Movies and Tea is here as we continue on with our Female Directors season and look at Karyn Kusama’s directorial debut film Girlfight. Head over to Movies and Tea to give it a listen!

Movies and Tea

Continuing our season long celebration of female directors on this episode we look at both the directing debut of Karyn Kusama aswell as the acting debut of Michelle Rodriguez as a wayward teenager living in Brooklyn who finds an outlet for her agression and frustrations with life through boxing.

Further Viewing

Million Dollar Baby
Whip It
Southpaw
The Invitation
Creed
Raging Bull
Cinderella Man
Chasing Dream
Crying Fist
Tokyo Fist
Step Up
Bend It Like Beckham

Music on this episode

Theodore Shapiro – La Toro
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Theodore Shapiro – Decision

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Movies and Tea #44 – Clueless

Its Season 7 of Movies and Tea! This season is our first themed season which looks at notable female directors and their works. The first to kick things off is Clueless! Head on over to give it a listen!

Movies and Tea



Kicking off our season long celebration of female directors is Amy Heckerling’s Clueless a modern day adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma as Beverly Hill’s high school student Cher tries to find a purpose in life.

A classic film from the 90’s while also staring a who’s who of young talent who would nearly all go on to become big stars in the wake of the films release.

Further Viewing

Edge of Seventeen
Sixteen Candles
Pretty In Pink
Booksmart
American Pie
Clueless (TV Show)
Gossip Girl (TV Show)

Music on this episode

Cracker – Shake Some Action
Keith Mansfield – Funky Fanfare
Jill Sobule – Supermodel

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After Hours: One Cut Of The Dead

Welcome to the next episode of Movies and Tea as we continue with the last episode of this season’s After Hours with my pick of One Cut of the Dead, a Japanese zombie film which works in elements of found footage and one take and its fresh and clever. Head over to Movies and Tea and give it a listen! Of course, there are some spoiler alerts so best to listen after you’ve seen it. A strong recommendation on my part!

Movies and Tea



Elwood and Kim look at the Micro-budget zombie comedy “One Cut of The Dead” which might also be one of the freshest takes on the genre in years as a film crew attempt to film thier zombie movie only for a zombie outbreak to disrupt thier filming…..or does it.

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After Hours: Cabin In The Woods

Time for the next Movies and Tea as we continue the After Hours for Season 5 as we look at Elwood’s pick, Cabin in the Woods! Head on over to Movies and Tea to give it a listen!

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Despite being shelved after it’s completion until Chris Helmsworth suddenly became a bankable asset off the back of Thor. It’s a film which still remains one of the freshest takes on the horror genre since the release of Scream with a group of friends heading to a cabin in the woods, only to soon find out that not everything is what it seems.

On this episode we try to find out what it is about this film which left us still wanting more, aswell as the mechanics of the cabin which not only play into familar tropes but also add in many ways to the films appeal.

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After Hours – Love Death and Robots (Season 2)

Next episode of Movies and Tea is here as we continue with the After Hours! Since we covered the first season of Love Death + Robots, we decided to check out the second season. Head on over to the blog and give it a listen!

Movies and Tea



Love Death and Robots has finally made its return to Netflix and while it might have been a shorter season than the previous season there was still plenty to discuss as we found out on this episode as like we did for the first season, we break down the second season on this episode aswell as highlighting our favourites and hopes for Season 3

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6 Memorable Christmas Foods in Movies: Christmas in July Blogathon 2021

Check out my entry for the Christmas in July Blogathon over at Drew’s Movie Reviews!

Drew's Movie Reviews

Merry Christmas in July, friends!

Today’s holiday has two entries today. The first comes from no stranger to blogathons around these parts. I am of course talking about Kim from Tranquil Dreams, my Ultimate Decades Blogathon co-host. Kim reviews multiple genres of films and television series, specializing in Asian cinema and series. She also has a love of food, having several features relating to cooking on her site. For her entry for the 2021 Christmas in July Blogathon combines that love for food and another favorite of hers, making lists, for a unique list of memorable Christmas foods in movies.


Christmas in July Blogathon is here again! Coincidentally, Montreal just went through a heat wave and as deconfinement is actually happening while still living in the pandemic, Christmas seems almost hopeful to think that maybe this year it will have some form of normalcy…like seeing the family in person…

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Double Feature: Little Big Women (2020) & Lost Girls and Love Hotels (2020)

Next double feature is here! I went ahead to check out two 2020 movies. The first is Netflix Taiwanese family drama Little Big Women followed with a drama thriller adapted from a book, Lost Girls & Love Hotels.

Let’s check it out!

Little Big Women (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Joseph Chen-Chieh Hsu

Cast: Shu-Fang Chen, Ying-Hsuan Hsieh, Vivian Hsu, Ke-Fang Sun, Buffy Chen, Ning Ding, Han Chang

Family members grapple with the passing of their estranged father and the remnants of the life he led during his absence. – IMDB

Based on the 2017 short film, Little Big Women tells the family picking up the pieces after the estranged father leaves as his life story gets brought back to life through their memories. Through the conversations of the family and the memories of his wife, what drove the man away slowly gets revealed by the end which causes family separation between other family members and why other members seem to have harsh judgement towards them. The father’s estrangement also causes a different change in each of his daughters as they also embrace their own life whether its married with a child or being single or hiding away secrets. Also, as the mother’s motives seem to be the most supported by her granddaughter. This Taiwanese family drama reminded me at the beginning a little of Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman. Its quiet and slow-paced as the characters slowly reveal who they are and the roots of their issues with both their father and their mother. Being a quiet film, its not about a lot of fancy things and dials it all back down to the narrative itself. Death even with the most estranged people will bring about about personal and social issues: reflection, letting go of the past and of course, how society views the traditions of the whole ordeal.

Little Big Women isn’t too different from other family dramas outside from the emphasis on perhaps showing some of the culture in Taiwan regarding death whether its choosing the religion and what ritual to use or how the family structure changes. Sometimes, its the smallest things and yet, the significance is big to how others perceive it or even on a personal level. In this film, there’s a lot of narrative the evolves around the three daughters but at the same time, the mother has a lot also as she is the one that one of the daughters is trying to convince to fulfill her father’s wish and let the father’s girlfriend attend. The whole process of accepting her and making peace between the two actually comes to a very well-executed segment near the end that has probably one of the best scenes especially since the process throughout the film as she tries to find this lady lets her learn quite a bit about her through other people’s interpretation which makes the final talk so well-deserved.

At the same time, the daughters also have a big emphasis here. Each of them having their own moments and struggles. Its been a while since I’ve seen Vivian Hsu, who undoubtedly is probably one of the bigger names here (and I could be wrong as I’ve broken off of Taiwanese movies for quite a while) as she started her career fairly young (and made me want to rewatch 1997’s We’re No Bad Guys). There’s some pretty touching sequences between them especially when the father being estranged has different effects on them as their knowledge of their family changes with the different siblings. Family events are truly where all the family secrets come out and that is shown really well here as well.

Overall, Little Big Women is a family drama. Its nothing groundbreaking or shocking about the whole film. The narrative does build up these characters as they face the death of their estranged father and the process of preparing his funeral. The family secrets, the struggles, self-reflection, letting go: all these themes pop up in this film and as quiet as this film is, it does manage to pack quite the emotional punch by the end.

Lost Girls and Love Hotels (2020)

Director: William Olsson

Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Takehiro Hira, Carice van Houten, Andrew Rothney, Misuzu Kanno, Kate Easton

Haunted by her past, an English teacher explores love and dust with a dashing yakuza gangster in Tokyo. – IMDB

Adapted from the book of the same name and having the author also be the screenplay writer for Lost Girls & Love Hotels, this story almost feels a little like Lost in Translation except a little edgier and hardcore. Being an adaptation and one that I haven’t read the original source material, it feels like there’s a few things that seem to make its appearance that may have been overlooked when putting together this story. However, seeing that the author of the novel also acts as the screenplay writer here, it perhaps holds a good part of the essence of what is key to her story or at least we can only assume that. With that said, while the story execution feels at times a little disjointed as it hops from one scene to the next and some of it feeling like it loses its purpose a little for certain side characters like her friends, the cinematography is done really well. Capturing Japan on one hand while mostly capturing the sensual shots really well especially when talking about the lighting used in every scene that adds to the overall visuals and ambiance to elevate the passion between the two characters.

Lost Girls and Love Hotels is focused primarily on the journey of Margaret, played by Alexandra Daddario as she seems live a rather messy life as she starts off being a girl that seems to not quite seem to fit in her role in her day job and then seems to be falling in a sexcapade life at night full of boozy times at bars with her friends and hooking with men at love hotels. While not too familiar with Daddario filmography, it definitely feels like one of the more dramatic roles as her character is trying to escape from something on her mind and settling with being alone hence her trip to Japan. This film is where she is “reborn” as she meets this Yakuza gangster where she embraces her feelings for him while having an element of forbidden love. In some ways, what feels lacking here is the portrayal of Margaret’s desire of BDSM being her turn-on which could be where the thriller element of the story would appear however, its not shown nearly enough to make it have that effect that would inevitably lead to a very obvious foreshadowing at the beginning. Due to the lack of the character building for her as well except for some hints of what she is running away from, her character feels less authentic in some ways. The closest that she feels is the scene above when she starts talking about being alone.

While not exactly groundbreaking character building for her or her love interest Kazu, played by Takehiro Hira, the scenes of them together does have okay chemistry, although it might be the cinematography and sex scene choreography that is done really well. Kazu’s body-long tattoo covering the backside of his body creates a really nice visual overall. Not to mention that Takehiro Hira does stand out in this film as he has a more quiet character that has a lot more mystery plus he has a rather charming sort of look. A lot of it is hidden between the lines through conversations or observation from Margaret. Its a little sad since these characters lack a little more depth in their portrayal in this adaptation. It makes me wonder whether the novel would have fleshed them out more than just their relationship and having a more hollow personality especially for Kazu whose dialogue seems to hold some depth which does eventually enlighten Margaret not before one decision pushes her into a downward slope of bad consequences.

Lost Girls and Love Hotels is a decent watch overall. It helps that its the type of movie that I generally enjoy where its a piece of someone’s life where there’s some type of self-discovery plus it adds in that whole passionate romance which always works for myself when done well. However, this film does lack character depth and perhaps some more thriller-esque moments as currently, it definitely feels more like a romance drama. Not exactly the same thing, right?

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 Conclusion

Its time for the conclusion of Ultimate Decades Blogathon! A big thank you to our participants and my co-host as well all the readers! Head on over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for the full conclusion post!

Drew's Movie Reviews

Hello, friends!

I hope you enjoyed the new format of the blogathon. While Kim and I had fun looking at everyone’s picks for their favorite films from a spotlight decade, we wanted to shake things up a big after covering 50 years of film. Switching to a format that spans decades opens up for many more possibilities. Our participants did not disappoint! We had films reviewed that were released just one decade ago all the way up to 10 decades ago! Here is the full list of participants and entries for the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon:

Drew’s Movie Reviews – Bridesmaids (2011)

Tranquil Dreams – Spirited Away (2001)

 Plain, Simple Tom Reviews – The Kid (1921)

MovieRob – The Maltese Falcon (1931)

Movies and TeaThe Devil’s Backbone (2001)

18 Cinema LaneThe Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Often Off Topic – Through the Decades (1971 –…

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Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021 Wrap-Up: Fight Back To School (1991) by Tranquil Dreams

It’s for the wrap-up posts! Kicking things off is my own selection which had a last minute change due to the passing of Man-Tat Ng the past weekend and ended up with the choice of 1991’s Fight Back To School as a tribute of sorts to him and Stephen Chow comedic pair that I grew up with . Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out the full review!

Drew's Movie Reviews

Hello, friends!

Today we begin to wrap things up for the sixth annual Ultimate Decades Blogathon. Starting the closing festivities is my wonderful co-host Kim. I can’t say enough how much you need to be following her blog, Tranquil Dreams, but I’ll say it again: you need to follow her blog. She posts on a variety of topics and I guarantee she has something there you will like. Kim specializes in Asian cinema, which is the topic of her post here today. For her second post of the blogathon, Kim shares her review of the 1991 Chinese film Fight Back To School.


Fight Back To School (1991)

Fight Back to School movie poster

Director (and co-writer): Gordon Chan

Cast: Stephen Chow, Man Cheung, Man-Tat Ng, Roy Cheung, Chi Yeung Wong, Gabriel Wong, Barry Wong, Dennis Chan, King-Tan Yuen

“A SWAT team leader is going undercover at a high school to retrieve a stolen gun…

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