Flicking Through Netflix: Warehouse 13 Episode 1 (Pilot) (Halloween in June Final)

Hello and welcome to the final article for Halloween in June!  Why final?  Well, I’m going on vacation next week.  So, on that front, I will not have an article out next week.  Sorry, it’s just a rule of mine.  No laptops while cruising.

Anyway, today, I was in the mood to try out an original series from what we all know today as the king of schlock-fests, the “SyFy” channel.  I certainly had my pick of the litter too, as Netflix has a ton of shows from that network available.  The question was, what was I in the mood for?  A sci-fi cop show, a different sci-fi cop show, or that other sci-fi cop show?  Yeah, while I was sort of spoiled for choice, I wasn’t really spoiled for a LOT of choices.  Still, it doesn’t matter how many times someone tries the same trick as long as they do it well.  Case in point, Warehouse 13.

I have a hard time figuring out a way to describe this show, so I’ll just copy the description directly from Netflix:  “After saving the president’s life, Secret Service agents Pete Lattimer and Myka Bering receive orders to report to a top-secret location. They soon discover that their new jobs entail guarding mystical items contained in Warehouse 13.”  ~Netflix

I’ll admit, the first half hour or so of this show drags like it’s hauling a 100 ton weight.  It felt extremely slow and I was almost about to just write it off as another dud.  But something told me to stay and I’m glad I did.  Once this show got interesting, it got REALLY interesting.  The thing about this show is that it hides its great big, fun and creepy personality behind the mask of yet another generic cop show.  Let me explain.

The generics sort of show their faces in the main characters Pete and Myka.  Myka, through most of the episode, is simply a major-stick-up-her-ass bitch.  She’s constantly whiney, constantly naggy, and CONSTANTLY a pain.  I didn’t really like her character at all until maybe the last half hour of the episode.  She just felt like a generic hard ass cop until the last act.  Then there’s Pete, who was exactly the opposite.  I call him the Not-Quite-David-Boreanaz of the show.  What I mean is, he had a lot of personality and energy, like David does on Bones.  In describing the characters, you probably see what I mean by this show feeling like yet another generic buddy cop show.  Well…

That all drops as soon as the characters go to the titular warehouse and meet my favorite character, Artie, their new boss and partner.  He’s the guy with all the know-how of supernatural gadgets.  He felt awkward, funny, and clumsy, and I loved every minute he was on screen.  From the moment they meet this character, this show truly becomes a supernatural mystery series.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I like this show.  However, it does have its problems.  For instance, the special effects absolutely sucked.  Really bad green screens and generic light shows that simply don’t fly in today’s technology heavy show atmosphere.  Also, the technobabble, while relating to magic this time around, is still technobabble.  It didn’t feel like the writers put a lot of time thinking up explanations for the weird doodads in the warehouse.  Honestly, I wished there was more exploration of those possibilities.

Warehouse 13 is far from a perfect show.  But as a supernatural mystery show, it caught my attention.  I will warn, the first episode (like most SyFy shows nowadays) is an hour and a half long and it definitely feels like it.  Still, I got exactly what I wanted in a show like this.  Proceed with caution, prepare for some stupid effects and annoying characters, but I still recommend giving it a watch.

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Flicking Through Netflix: Re-Animator (Halloween In June Special)

Hello and welcome back to Halloween In June!  HP Lovecraft is a creepy, creepy man.  Out of every scary story I’ve read, Lovecraft takes the cake as the most horrifying to me.  He seems to be able to depict complete and utter madness in the most frightening ways with every story he writes.  If I’m scared of Lovecraft, why, then, did I decide to watch a movie based on one of his stories?  I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.  This is Re-Animator.

Re-Animator follows scientist Herbert West, a scientist who is obsessed with death.  While studying in Switzerland, West came across a doctor who was making a concoction that brought the dead back to life.  After that doctor died, West took up the studies himself and traveled to New England looking for fresh corpses to test his theories.  As is common with Lovecraft stories, insanity ensues.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this movie.  On the one hand, it’s most definitely fun horror schlock, made for the gore, sex, violence, and shocking turns of events.  On the other, the film takes itself seriously for the entirety of its run time.  For example, the acting.

All the actors in this movie do a fantastic job in their rolls.  When they have to be over the top, they blow it out of the park.  When they have to be quiet and thoughtful, they pull that off really well as well.  Personal favorite performance was by Jeffrey Combs, the man who plays Herbert West.  He has this intensity in this role that the character really needed.  The rest of the actors, especially the ones who act as zombies, give performances that are equal parts disturbing and intriguing.

All that said, I have to consider this a campy movie, simply because the effects are all way over the top.  Within the first three minutes alone, we see a man’s eyes explode out of his face.  And that’s the most subdued gore effect in the whole thing.  The effects never quite reach “believable” levels for me, but that’s exactly what makes this such good campy fun.  I could just tell that the special effects were all made with the intent to shock and disgust.

If I have one complaint about this movie, it’s that it’s extremely slow paced.  While this does make for a building of atmosphere, I still couldn’t help but feel bored at a lot of parts.  Some scenes took forever to end, and the entire middle and build up to the climax was completely boring.  It dragged the movie down quite a bit.

Still, the movie is good campy schlock fun.  If you have the stomach for fake looking gore, I recommend you give this a watch.  There’s a reason it’s become a cult classic. It feels like a modern day Frankenstein story with mountains of gore.  You might find a lot of it slow moving, but the good parts are very good.  For my part, I’m gonna hunt down the sequel: Bride of Re-Animator.  Just from the title, I can tell it will be a lot of fun.

Flicking Through Netflix: Halloween in June Special: ATM

Hello and welcome to a special Halloween in June episode of Flicking Through Netflix!  I’m finding it easier and easier for movies to defeat me lately.  The Smurfs was such a mess that I took it out in the middle of the third act.  Ted was so predictable that I had to eject it at the hour mark.  And today’s movie only lasted 40 minutes before I decided enough was enough.  Why?  Let’s see if I can explain why I hated ATM.

I find myself lacking the energy or brain capacity to accurately describe this movie’s plot.  So I’ll just let Netflix do it for me:  “When three co-workers make a midnight stop at a glass-enclosed ATM after their Christmas party, they find themselves trapped by a menacing man outside. Soon they’re fighting for their survival as the temperature plunges and the man toys with them.”  ~Netflix

The main problem of this movie is apparent from the first 5 minutes.  The dialogue and writing for it are abysmal.  Truly and completely cringe-worthy.  When the characters aren’t being horrendously awkward and hard to watch, they’re being  insanely stupid and asshole-ish.  Every word out of every mouth felt like a physical slap to my face.  I can’t even call these characters generic.  They’re not characters, they’re plot devices in human form.  They do nothing that makes them seem like they have brains.  Every move they make just feels like so much complete and utter idiocy.

Reading the premise, you’re probably reminded of Phone Booth, a suspense thriller where a man is trapped in a phone booth by a sniper.  Here’s the main difference between the two.  Phone Booth features a legitimate threat:  a man with a gun literally pointed at the main character’s head.  And it’s not a random shooting either.  The bad guy in Phone Booth had a plan for this specific character and would stop at nothing to see this plan through.  ATM features one guy, unarmed, who “looks big,” has no real character of his own because he never says a word or shows his face, doesn’t seem to be smarter than anyone else, and ultimately does not care who he’s killing as long as he’s killing someone.  Do you see the difference?  If not, let me explain.

Phone Booth’s killer is so much stronger as a character because he actually has a presence.  He’s a character in himself and not just a threat.  He shows off his smarts and his shooting skills with every move he makes.  ATM’s killer feels like a big mannequin that just looks scary but, as soon as you knock it over, it’s basically useless.  Simply put, he just never felt threatening.

I wanted to say “Well, at least the acting was half-way decent” but that’s just not true.  The acting for this movie can’t be called acting.  It can be called yelling and screaming and waving your arms around, but not acting.  This is in no fault of the actors, as they did a fine job with what they had.  The problem is, they had NOTHING.

Ultimately, this movie can be summed up with one word:  BORING.    It’s a semi-smart sounding premise with a terrible execution, beyond bad writing, and absolutely no suspense.  Don’t even waste your time on this, let alone your money.  I honestly recommend sitting at a bench and watching people use an actual ATM for an hour and a half.  You’ll get more enjoyment out of it.

Halloween In June: Re-Boo-t

A thick fog rolls into a quiet town on a moonlit night.  Carved pumpkins line the street, giving off orange glows from lit candles.  A howl fills the air and a dark shadow darts down the street.  Well, okay, not really.  Halloween is months away yet.  But, if you don’t know this yet, it’s June!  What does that have to do with anything?  Let me tell you a little story.

Once upon a time there was an internet blogger named Daffy.  And Daffy LOVED Halloween.  He loved horror movies, he loved supernatural stories, he loved the spooky “feeling” in the air, and he loved the costumes.  He loved celebrating that holiday more than any other holiday in the year.  So, one day before summer was about to start, Daffy started thinking.  “Great,” he thought.  “July coming means we’re gonna get that ‘Christmas in July’ crap that has some channels playing Christmas movies.  If only there was a way to bring Halloween earlier for a month.  THEN I’d be happy.”  So, Daffy did just that.  He invented Halloween in June to talk about his favorite subject ever!  It’s been held (almost) every year since!

Yes, that’s right, I’m celebrating Halloween in June all month long!  I’ll be talking about horror movies, horror themes, and anything else that I feel represents the holiday!  I’m calling this a Reboot, or “Re-Boo-t” (look at me, clever pun master), because last year I foolishly didn’t celebrate my favorite made up holiday.  So I’ve decided to kick start it again!

Later this week, I’m going to have one or two more blogs under this theme, be they reviews, list, or otherwise.  I haven’t planned this out as I’m just gonna wing it.  But it’s still going to be fun!  Sorry about the lack of update last week, I sort of used it as a “down time” week for myself.

Anyway, I’m going to go start celebrating Halloween in June!  And you can too!  How?  Just watch spooky stuff all month long!  It’s easy!  I hope you’ll enjoy it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stalk the night for victi— I mean prey—- I mean friends! Yes. Friends…

The Way Forward

And with this post, I put an end to my little experiment that I called May Days, or Blog-A-Day May.  (The title is fairly self-explanatory.)  I have been basically using the blogs this month to test the waters.  I was putting my thoughts out there, trying out article series ideas, basically letting myself do whatever I wanted and seeing how it felt.  Honestly, it felt great.  I haven’t had this much fun writing in a very long time.  There’s just something about letting my thoughts out, be they about movies, books, TV shows, even personal thoughts, that I find therapeutic in a way.  On that note, I do think I over did myself a bit trying to do a blog every single day.  As is apparent, there were just some days where I didn’t know what to say or didn’t have enough time because of other obligations.  So, while I’ll continue blogging, a blog every day just isn’t going to work.

That being said, I did call this my Weekly Journal for a reason.  Instead of doing a blog daily, I would like to make something new for this blog at least weekly.  I may even do two or three blogs in one week if I’m feeling up to it.  See, my problem is, if I don’t give this blog a thought at least once a week, I’ll forget all about it and it will slip into obscurity.  I really don’t want that to happen.  So I make the solemn oath to, from this point forward, make at least one blog a week.  For the next month or so, I may limit it to just one per week.  I want to get a good, real start on making videos again and I’m really excited to do it.  To do that, I need to focus on writing the scripts instead of the blogs.  But I will definitely still be blogging every week.

This probably goes without saying as about 90%of my posts this month were reviews, but I want my main focus of this blog to be entertainment.  I love reviewing and, at times, I have quite a lot to say about shows and such.  If I feel the need to, I’ll probably use the blog as a venting point, like I’ve done in the past.  But the main focus will be on entertainment.  With that said, I want to take a moment to talk about which article series I will continue and which ones I think have got to go.

Flicking Through Netflix:  Definitely staying.  I’m having far too much fun doing that series to just drop it.  In fact, I may have follow up articles to the “first episode of a TV series” portion of this series.  These articles will talk about what I think about the show over all after having watched all of it (or at least as much as I could) through Netflix.  I may call it Follow-Up Through Netflix.

Reviews:  Also still continuing.  I’m a reviewer through and through and I just have to share my reviews with the world.

Top 10:  While difficult to write (because I find it near impossible to pick my Top 10 favorite of anything), I still have fun making these lists.  So while it might be a little more difficult, I’ll continue to write Top 10 lists.  I may even write some Top 10 negative lists, focusing on things I hate.  After all, it’s fun to rage against bad things every now and then.

Scare Factor:  Personally, after just a single article of this series, I don’t think I want to continue it.  The problem is, I don’t know enough about human psychology and the study of fears to really explain why I think certain things are scary.  Honestly, I believe that the Scare Factor article is the worst article I’ve written for this blog so far.  I’m still proud of it, I think it’s a solid piece of writing.  But I’m just not good at explaining things like this.  So I’m just going to let the Scare Factor die with one episode.

In short, I’m still having major fun with this blog and can’t wait to continue writing for it in the future.  Be sure to look forward to new videos from me and Laura coming out as soon as we’re able.  Articles will now slow down from daily to weekly.  This also means I can get back to “real” Tweets instead of spamming my Twitter followers with “new blog” posts every day.  Anyway, that’s all I have to say for now!  This is Richard, aka Daffy, saying see ya next post!

Flicking Through Netflix: Dino Squad Episode 1 (The Beginning)

Nothing I could say to preface this show would prepare you for it.  I went into this show completely blind, not knowing a single thing about it and I was not prepared for what I saw.  I simply can’t think of a good way to get you ready for what I’m about to talk about.  All I can say is, I was looking for something new and I found it.  Oh, BOY, did I find it.  Dino Squad.

You have to understand, I’m a child of the 90s.  I can buy 5 teenagers with attitude being recruited by a giant floating head to save the world.  I can buy mutated turtles living in the sewers and learning martial arts from a rat.  To really get into this show, you need to be willing to accept a lot of stupid, nonsensical things very quickly.  I’m serious here.  To really sit down and enjoy this show, you have to be willing to “go with the flow.”  I’m about to go into the story of the show.  Keep what I just said in mind.

Five teenagers on a field trip take a swim in a lake that’s infested with some kind of toxic sludge.  When they come out, they realize they have the ability to turn themselves into dinosaurs.  They are recruited by their teacher, a velociraptor millions of years old who has the ability to turn into a human and has some sort of psychic powers, to stop the plot of the evil Mr. Veloci, the evil counterpart to the teacher.  Mr. Veloci has plans to rid the world of all humans by turning all animals into dinosaurs.

This show reeks of 90s cheese.  If you need proof of that, just read that description again.  I’m convinced that, although this came out in 2007, it was made in the 90s and delayed for a long time.  More proof would be the formula.  Teenagers with super powers are a large part of the TV shows kids had in the 90s.  The delivery of the exposition is very stilted, the voice acting isn’t quite right, and there’s even bad 90s pop rock every time the teenagers turn into their monstrous forms.  All of this just screams 90s for me.

Anyway, aside from the 90s factor, this show looks pretty good.  The dinosaurs look awesome when they’re on screen.  The action (what little of it was in this episode) was pretty good, though I expected more from dinosaurs than just swimming.  I like the designs for the humans, especially the teacher, Ms. M.  The designs for the kids are pretty basic and they wear their personalities on their sleeves.

Speaking of the teens, they all feel like they’re tropes from the 90s too.  The roller skating girl, the big guy with a heart of gold, the grunge teen with an “I don’t care” attitude, the “I’m too good for this” preppy guy, and Mr. Generic Von Team Leader.  They’re all present and accounted for.  That’s not to say they’re boring characters.  They just didn’t feel very original to me.

In the end, this felt like a 90s show, plain and simple.  The story is nonsensical, the main characters are generic teens, it has a need for “extreme action.”  It even has the obsession the 90s had with dinosaurs.  I don’t care when this show actually came out.  If it sounds like I’m calling this a bad thing, it’s not.  If this show didn’t have that semi-nostalgic feel to it, nothing in it would work.  For me, the only driving factor for me to watch this show is that it feels so familiar.  If you read all of this article and understand my meaning of 90s nostalgia, you’ll probably like this show.  I’m definitely gonna keep watching.  Right after I watch Jurassic Park, of course.  I don’t know why, but I have the sudden urge to watch it…

PS: One of the first shots of this cartoon is a helicopter shaped like a raptor’s head.  When you watch this show, that’s the kind of thing you’re in for.  If that doesn’t sell you on this show, I don’t know what will.