Best Picture – 1978

Official Nominations: The Deer Hunter. Coming Home. Heaven Can Wait. Midnight Express. An Unmarried Woman.

The late 70s saw an uptake in realistic war movies – thanks to the grit and realism which filmmakers had sought to provide since the start of the decade, and when merged with the injustices of the Vietnam war, Hollywood and audiences were ready for such films. The Deer Hunter is one of the greatest War movies ever made – impeccably directed and acted, and with any number of iconic scenes. It’s incredibly tense, tragic, and draining, but also beautifully shot. For anyone not in the know, it follows a group of friends from a small industrial town who are all heading to Vietnam – we meet them before heading off and see their relationships and personalities. One gets married, they have a final bonding Deer Hunt, and then the film abruptly jumps to ‘Nam. The rest of the film deals with their part in the war, coming home to find out how the world has moved on, and each dealing with their personal changes.

Coming Home has been overshadowed by The Deer Hunter, but it’s great too and shares a lot of similarities with Cimino’s movie. There is Vietnamthere is a paralyzed guy, there’s a girl waiting at home, there’s a guy with PTSD – it’s a very strong movie but lacks the overall power of The Deer Hunter. Heaven Can Wait is another one of those ‘guy dies before his time and argues with the powers that be to send him back to Earth’ movies. We’ve all seen one of them, and this is the best version, charming, sweet, funny. On the other end of the scale is Midnight Express – as stark and chilling a prison movie as you’ll ever see. It’s not an easy watch, the direction as cold as the unfolding events – it’s about a college student buying some cheap dope in Turkey while on holiday and trying to get home. He gets caught and goes through a lot of bullshit before being imprisoned. Prison life is tough, but he meets other friendly inmates. When he gets decades added on to his sentence he decides to escape, but more terrible things happen and he eventually loses his mind. It’s one of those movies everyone should see once, but once will be enough for most.

Finally, An Unmarried Woman lightens the tone. It’s an important film for the evolution of the roles women get on screen and touches on subjects such as the sexual liberation of the time. Basically it shows a wife who has a more or less perfect American life losing it all after her husband decides to leave her. She is thrown into the world of singles again, confused and angry, but as the film progresses she learns to stand on her own. It’s good, but it has no chance of winning.

My Winner: The Deer Hunter

My Nominations: The Deer Hunter. Midnight Express. Superman. Halloween. The Driver. Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers. Dawn Of The Dead. Big Wednesday. Animal House.

So, when I created my lovely top 250 films on IMDB many many years ago, no fewer than five of my nominations this year made an appearance. I don’t think I’d seen Big Wednesday at that point, or at seen it too recently to rank it. You wouldn’t think it is a John Milius film, it’s certainly his most personal, and it’s understandable that it didn’t do as well as it should have going up against the similarish Deer Hunter and Coming Home. At least Milius would get his surfing love into Apocalypse Now. Big Wednesday is a great coming of age drama about friendship – even though it is from a place and era I have no affiliation with, it still reminds you of your own youth and experience in a bittersweet way, its universal themes compatible with anyone.

Animal House wasn’t on my list either but as far as comedies go they don’t get much better or anarchic or influential. Frat Houses are not something we have any experience of in my country, and while I actually lived at home during my University years, I stayed with friends long enough to get a glimpse, a tiny glimpse of the sorts of antics the film presents – like the previous film there is a universal sense of camaraderie here which ensures the film keeps hitting the right notes with each generation. You’re unlikely to find many more comedies with as much energy and great performers as this. Superman was long seen as the greatest comic book movie ever – compare it was Marvel and DC’s efforts today and, well, there isn’t really much comparison. As much as I love it, I’ve always been more of a Burton’s Batman kind of guy – it appeared on my list, Superman didn’t. Reeve creates or restores an icon, the world had a new hero, everyone loved Lois, hated Luthor, and laughed at Jimmy, and Brando even pops up.

The Driver was on my Top 250 IMDB list, Walter Hill’s film as minimalist as it is cool – Ryan O’Neal has never been better while Bruce Dern is comically manic. I still say it’s the best car movie ever made, not that I know or care much about cars. Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers is the most acclaimed version of the story, though Abel Ferrara’s retelling remains my personal favourite. This one has the best cast and the best twist, with Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartright all excelling, along with Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. There’s just something about this idea of soulless copies, of being hunted down and not knowing who to trust or who is an alien which resonates with me and I love this version.

That leaves us with two of the greatest horror movies of all time. How do you choose between two seminal classics – Halloween essentially created the slasher genre and the teen horror genre, while Dawn Of The Dead perfected every zombie cliché. I could watch both of these movies every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. Both are scary – in the immediate and lingering sense, both are technically brilliant, both have great performances, great music, and are defining moments for both directors. Halloween is a must watch every Halloween – no other film has nailed that sense, or essence of the season, and I’d go so far as saying no film about any season, Christmas included, has got it right. Dawn Of The Dead though… I’m not sure any other horror film has ever grabbed me so instantly and filled me with so many thoughts and ideas and questions to the extent that I’ll be thinking about it at least once a week. I love everything about this movie, even the stuff that doesn’t work, and for me it is never less than perfect.

My Winner: Dawn Of The Dead

What is your pick for the Best Film of 1978? Anything not mentioned above? Let us know in the comments!

Knock Knock

I’ve mentioned it before on the blog, but I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Eli Roth. I love his enthusiasm, and the films he makes are generally made with love and have solid ideas driving them, but the execution is almost always lacking and he seems to give up part way through and inject unnecessary humour. I have nothing against humour in horror, but his always falls flat. Knock Knock is a remake of the notorious, yet little known 70s exploitation film Death Game – but is it a film which allows Roth’s strengths to overcome his weaknesses?

The film begins promisingly enough – Reeves is playing a wealthy husband and father who lives in a post modern glacial home. One night, while his family is out of town, two unfathomably sexy young women knock knock at his door claiming to need help finding a party. One thing leads to another and before long we are treated to a sleazy threesome. In true Bunuel style, the girls don’t seem willing, or know how to leave – all the more troubling when neighbour Colleen Camp stops by disapprovingly and when the girls destroy some artwork in the house. As matters progress, the sleaze and nonsense increase to silly levels.

Although that promising start eventually dissipates into a watered down tables turned version of Funny Games, with a lot less to say, it’s still stupidly watchable in the same way most exploitation movies are. The cast is a lot of fun, even if it is a little cringe-inducing seeing some of the things Reeves gets up to in the movie. There are many moments when the girls’ plan could have been foiled or come crumbling down, but silly contrived circumstance gets in the way. I’m not sure what precisely the film is trying to say, but it comes off as both hating men and women equally while still glamourizing the hollow and violent nature of both sides. It doesn’t come close to being a horror movie, and it’s not particularly funny to be considered a comedy – exploitation and a mish mash of genre tropes mean it’s more like a sleazy morality tale where the lesson seems to be ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’. Still, for all its faults, its more enjoyable than a lot of the po-faced horror out there, and it’s brief enough that you’re not sacrificing much by giving it your time.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Knock Knock!

Zombieland

Ever since the trio of Shaun Of The Dead, Dawn Of The Dead Remake, and 28 Days Later, zombies have seen a resurgence in media that hasn’t really gone away since. We’ve had a number of big budget movies and shows, and an even larger number of low budget and indie titles. Zombieland falls into the former category, and even though I’m a self-confessed zombie and horror junkie I didn’t get around to watching it until 2017. So, how does it fare against the myriad other horror comedy crossovers?

It fairs quite well. Make no mistake – I’m no great fan of Abigail Breslin, Emma Stone, or Jesse Eisenberg but none of them managed to irritate me during the course of the movie, and everything which the cast and crew attempted, worked amicably. There are laughs, both visceral and script based, the gore isn’t overloaded so as to put of sensitive non-horror fans yet present enough and wrapped up in entertaining action to appease those who like a bit of red on them.

The story and structure is all quite tongue in cheek – both mocking and paying skewed reverence to the genre. There has been an outbreak which has led to zombies everywhere, and one geek loner is travelling through the US and surviving following his self-made rules. As any zombie fan will attest – we all have our own rules for surviving our own imagined apocalypse. Along the way he meets Woody Harrelson’s character – a piss-take composite of several prior Harrelson creations and the conniving sisters played by Stone and Breslin. Part Road movie, part Crime caper, part comedy horror, the disparate parts rarely feel like they are pulling in opposing directions and the highlights are of course the Bill Murray cameo sequence and the finale set in an Amusement Park. If you know me, you’ll know I love movies set around or involving Amusement or Theme Parks.

At the time of writing, I haven’t yet watched the sequel but based upon how much I enjoyed this one I imagine it won’t be long before I catch up to it. Let us know in the comments what you think of Zombieland!

Best Director – 1978

Official Nominations: Michael Cimino. Hal Ashby. Warren Beatty/Buck Henry. Woody Allen. Alan Parker.

Michael Cimino had all the hallmarks and the origin story of becoming one of Hollywood’s great directors – his early scripts leading to films such as Silent Running and Magnum Force, gaining him enough recognition to make his first film Thunderbolt And Lightfoot to great success before making one of the great Vietnam films in The Deer Hunter. From there it all kind of fell apart, and stories about him were more about his cinematic and personal failures and shortcomings, and his part of bringing the age of the 70s auteur to an end. The fact remains that The Deer Hunter still exists and is a directorial triumph in every respect, commanding scope with depth, character with emotion, and plot with art.

Hal Ashby tackles America’s involvement in Vietnam with similar skill but lacks the scope and the mingling of beauty and horror of Cimino’s film. Buck Henry, an experienced performer and writer teamed with first time director Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait – a combination of their respective star power and writing credentials. It was a stepping stone for Beatty with regards to being a director and shows a natural talent for character and comedy. In Interiors, Woody Allen apes one of his heroes (Ingmar Bergman), not always successfully, getting the style and performances right, but not necessarily the subject matter and tone. Finally, Alan Parker moves briefly away from music-based movies to make the bleak and sometimes gut-wrenching Midnight Express. It’s difficult to leave your stamp on a film which is supposed to be devoid of colour and life, but Parker managers just that, allowing brief flickers of hope to be snatched away by nightmarish reality.

My Winner: Michael Cimino

My Nominations: Michael Cimino. Hal Ashby. Alan Parker. John Carpenter. George A Romero. Franklin J Schaffner. Terence Malick. Claudia Weill. Randal Kleiser. Philip Kaufman. Richard Donner.

I think Cimino is always going to be my winner here, even though I add a few directors who made films this year I love more than The Deer Hunter. The first of those is George A Romero, who makes his opus in Dawn Of The Dead, expanding upon the universe and lore he invented and popularized in Night Of The Living Dead. The obvious satire on consumerism and on American Gung Ho culture is at times on the nose, but it’s the more vicious undercurrent of hopelessness when trapped in paradise which is more subtle and effective. His use of colour and gore to make something hyper-real to the extent that it becomes like a comic book, the polarizing, multi-faceted arguments which punctuate the script from the first moment to the last, the dialogue, music, action, and perhaps most of all the sheer fun of it all rescued the horror genre from the hands of studio execs and gave it back to the people who actually cared about it.

Keeping within the horror genre, a new master was rising, name of Carpenter, and his seminal slasher Halloween forever changed the game. Not only did it create an endless supply of knock-offs but it reminded studios and young filmmakers that it was possible to make a hit, and a great film, with little money, some experience, and a lot of will. Halloween ranks among the most watchable and fun horror movies ever – Carpenter throws every trick in the book at the wall and most of them stick, but more than that he shows an assured skill and confidence behind the camera, ensuring the film is a truly cinematic, communal experience. It plays upon our inherent voyeurism yet forces us to become more than passive, and it retains that unspoken Carpenter quality which makes the film timeless and addictive.

Moving gradually away from horror, Franklin Schaffner crafted another ambiguous sci-fi thriller in The Boys From Brazil  – the story of escaped Nazis, their genetic experiments, and the people hunting them, a premise begging not to be taken seriously but made effective thanks to the casting and direction. Similarly, Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers is seen by most as the definitive version of the tale of terror, the growing paranoia less in your face than the original but more sinister, twisted, and twisting. Terence Malick returned after a five year break with Days Of Heaven, a typically beautiful yet detached film while Randal Kleiser makes what is arguably the atypical modern musical with Grease. Claudia Weill and her film Girlfriends exudes an indie cool and understanding of the subject matter often lacking from the bigger budget efforts. Finally, Richard Donner essentially creates the superhero movie genre with Superman – a film which still ranks near the top of that genre.

I’ve picked Cimino for the Official win, so lets give someone else a chance.

My Winner: John Carpenter

Let us know in the comments who you pick as Best Director of 1978!

Pandorum

Horror movies set in space inevitably draw comparisons to the Alien Franchise – what else is there to compare to? Jason X? Somewhere between that zenith and nadir lies everything else. It’s a sub-genre or setting which has seen some resurgence in the last decade, but one which nevertheless feels underused. I would assume the very nature of the setting would send budgets skyrocketing. Pandorum is somewhere closer to Event Horizon on the scale and like that 90’s cult hit it raises a lot of ideas and questions, yet tends to frustrate more often than it delights.

Pandorum is a film which ultimately frustrates more than it delights. While it seems to know what it wants to be, the clashing of genres and ideas along with a few unusual choices, prevent the film from being entirely coherent and enjoyable. Starting off with the casting, we have Dennis Quaid – an everyman actor who most wouldn’t consider to be an A-Lister, but someone who has plenty of hits under his belt and is respected. Playing alongside him is Ben Foster, who I consider to be the finest actor of his generation yet seems fated to never break through to the mainstream or critical recognition he deserves. The film largely follows this pair for the bulk of the film, with a couple of curious cameos to keep things from being too stilted. Both actors carry the film well, but based on their names alone it would be difficult to pull in a huge audience.

Looking next at the story – you’d be forgiven for thinking this is an all out space horror movie, with scares, monsters, action – but it’s both more claustrophobic and appeals to the internal rather than the visceral. There is action, but it’s spread unevenly between bouts of dialogue, philosophy, and procedure – there is horror, but it’s closely knit to those moments of action. It’s part survival, part mystery, and I wasn’t convinced that the two mesh successfully. I’m fully prepared to stand in the minority on this and I know there will be plenty of dedicated fans after watching – for me, I wanted a little more tension in both the survival and action aspects. The script has a lot to say, but traps its more interesting aspects under what is ultimately an unsatisfying story more dependent on its central twist. Again, it’s difficult to see what sort of audience the film was meant to draw.

Where the film does mostly succeed is in its interior designs – the craft itself is slimy and dark, labyrinthine, and filled with endless corridors and connecting pits and crawlspaces. Director Christian Alvart does his best work in the scenes of our survivors traversing the giant ship in various fetch quests, allowing the sense of mammoth scale to collide with the ironic claustrophobia of being alone. Effects wise – it’s not a huge budget film, but both CG, practical, and make-up are good for what they could achieve.

While I don’t think the movie is ‘good’, I don’t believe it deserved the critical and commercial drubbing it received. It’s fine as a cult film and it’s strong enough that it has and should continue to find fans – at the very least it should have made back its budget, but whether or not it is deserving of the rumoured sequels or prequels I’ll leave up to you. It’s another interesting space-horror film which doesn’t hit the mark, but which is worth catching for Sci-Fi fans still hoping to fill that post-Alien, post-Pitch Black void.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Pandorum!

Street Hawk

*Originally written in 2004

Another classic Eighties TV show in the vein of Knightrider and Airwolf, Street Hawk follows the exploits of Jesse Mach – a cop who also solves crime undercover using a souped-up black motorcycle. Although only 13 episodes were made, it remains one of the best shows of its type, with plenty of action and humour. And like those other shows it also has a great soundtrack, this time by Tangerine Dream.

The pilot tells the story of Mach, a cop with a love of motorbikes who is often getting in trouble for his reckless ways. When his partner is killed by the drivers of a mysterious black van reported as part of a crime spree throughout his city, Mach seeks vengeance. However, he has been suspended from the force, and warned against revenge. When he is contacted by a rather nerdy man with a new prototype motorcycle, Mach reluctantly accepts to meet. When he sees the bike though, and hears its specs, he wants to ride it immediately. They go for a trial, and Mach loves it, though Norman the creator is edgy, geeky and doesn’t want to see the bike mistreated and ruined. The unlikely pair and the bike set out to prevent crime, while Mach looks for that Black Van.

After the pilot, the series follows the usual formula of helping those in need, while Mach tries to hide his double-life. The banter between Norm and Jesse is charming, akin to KITT and Michael, String and Dom, BA and Murdoch etc. The performances are good from the central cast, as well as from the standard weekly guests. The action is high with plenty of chases, the bike is very cool, and it is a pity the series never continued, ending on a semi-cliffhanger – unfortunate when there was, and is so much rubbish about. While some may say it is cheesy, it has its charm and remains a cult show which should be visited by all fans of eighties TV.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Street Hawk!

Best Foreign Film – 1978

Official Nominations: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs. The Glass Cell. Hungarians. Viva Italia! White Bim Black Ear.

1978 is interesting in that it’s the first year in a while that doesn’t have an obvious ‘big’ movie – one that everyone recognises no matter if they’ve seen it or not. None of the films are standouts either, unfortunately. White Bim Black Ear is three hours worth of man and dog – it’s basically a Russian version of The Littlest Hobo. The Glass Cell is about a guy who has been wrongfully imprisoned for years and has heard rumours about his wife’s unfaithfulness. He leaves prison a more paranoid and dangerous man – his stay turning an innocent man guilty. Viva Italia! ranks among the most bizarre choices for an Oscar – an episodic Italian comedy with multiple directors and featuring short films about things like having sex with a monkey, corrupt cops letting a bunch of terrorists go free because they have rich families, and plenty of mini character studies about lies, sex, religion etc. It’s an Italian Monty Python film with at least twelve fewer laughs.

Hungarians is an average drama about a bunch of migrants who have fairly good conditions in Germany during World War II but find that when they go home they can’t escape a War which tarnishes and changes everyone. This year’s official winner – Get Out Your Handkerchiefs – is another Gerard Depardieu vehicle. He plays a man who decides his wife’s depression can only be cured by another man’s cock, so he picks one at random to have sex with her. The woman then has sex with a child and the men go to prison. France, eh?

My Winner: The Glass Cell

My Nominations: Watership Down. The Glass Cell. Drunken Master. The Demon. La Cage Aux Folles. The Green Room.

It says a lot that I’m having to include certain films here that wouldn’t normally make the cut. The Glass Cell is the only one which makes it over to my list, joining two from France, two from Asia, and one from Britain. Drunken Master isn’t one of the best Martial Arts movies, but it is certainly one of the most influential. Jackie Chan had been blending buffoonery with action for a while but it was in Drunken Master that both sides were honed and the audience ‘got it’. The Demon is maybe Yoshitaro Nomura’s most famous film, an uncharacteristically bleak drama which tears at the fabric of the traditional Japan family and examines the results of selfish, petty acts. La Cage Aux Folles is frequently funny yet more dated than most comedies of the time while Truffaut’s La Chambre Verte is a surprisingly touching and thought-provoking look at one man’s coping/obsession with death. My winner is the ever-young, ever-shocking Watership Down  – a film that I am not as enamoured with as most but one which remains more or less unique in its ability to scar and teach.

My Winner: Watership Down

Let us know your winner in the comments!

My Blog – June 2020

Quick Edit – Since writing the post below, it’s all been kicking off in the US. I have a lot of friends and family in various cities and States in the US, so if you’re over there at the moment – stay safe, and hopefully this turbulence which has been building for days, weeks, years, and arguably centuries, will pass and lead to better lives for those who have been mistreated, victimized, beaten down, told to stay silent, forgotten, ignored, and tortured. I hope for a day we can all be treated with respect as equal humans, that any minority does not have to live in fear of unjust persecution and death, and that we all wise the fuck up.

Quarantine is over! Oh wait, no it isn’t. However, all over the planet (yeah, it’s not just in the USA) people are getting antsy over some deluded notion of freedom or believe that their ‘faith’ is somehow going to shield them from a disease which will soon hit half a million deaths worldwide, and are stepping out of their homes to demand that their fast food stores re-open because that’s what God stipulated in the Constitution. Or something like that – I don’t really understand how the brains of idiots work. Stupidity is, it seems, far more dangerous and widespread than Cov-ID.

Here in the UK, the list of politicians (the very same ones who crafted our ever so vague Lockdown legislation and guidelines), who have broke their own laws to go visit family and friends because they don’t need to do whatever they tell the plebs to do, continues to grow. And half the plebs make excuses for them and will surely vote them back into office. Stupidity indeed.

I assumed in Lockdown I would get a lot more games played, books read, movies watched. As is always the case, more important stuff gets in the way. Or in my case, much less important stuff – such as watching stupid Youtube videos instead. Yes, I’ve been using my extra free time to catch up on dumb reaction videos. Specifically two types of Reaction videos, neither of which I should really like, given what a contrarian I am.

I find there are three (or four at a push) camps of people with regards to Reaction videos; those who love them, those who can’t stand them or even see the point, those who will watch a few here and there, and those who don’t even know they exist. I should hate most of them given the fact that they promote a level of talentlessness not seen since the heyday of Big Brother and other such species-reducing reality shows, and because I don’t care what other people think. Except, that last part isn’t really true, is it? I think all of us care what others think – it’s just that we want to either find those people who agree with us, or find the subject matter of the Reaction videos which speak directly to us, regardless of what the Reactor may think. I think that’s why Reaction Videos are so popular nowadays – they give us that taste of what all humans love – a confirmation bias shroud. We find someone who falls in love with something we already hold dear, and experience that new found love which in turn rekindles our own, all the time nodding in mutual appreciation and understanding at the comments and posts which praise the thing or agree with the Reactor. That second piece is important too – rekindling our feelings, and perhaps vicariously re-experiencing our favourite show or song for the first time through someone else’s eyes. It can be very cool, and quite addictive.

I’ve probably spoken before here about me watching people React to Buffy for the first time. Sure, the cynic in me wonders why for so many years nobody watched it, and then all of a sudden the floodgates opened and you have new channels popping up every week dedicated to reacting to the show. In my experience of watching React Channels, this is definitely one of the problems I have in watching them, and I imagine the Creators have too – everyone is reacting to the same shit. Now, some of those people are clearly jumping on the bandwagon of whatever is popular and riding those Likes and Views all the way to Kingdom Come, but I can only assume there are also some honest souls out there who are pissed off by this and want genuinely to React to Shows they haven’t seen before AND which no-one else is reacting too. Which belatedly gets to what I really wanted to talk about today:

Top Ten Shows NOBODY Is Reacting To (or probably are but just in vastly diminished numbers).

  1. Twin Peaks

A snazzy title, don’t you agree? I have found 1 Youtuber who reacted to every episode of Twin Peaks, but unfortunately wasn’t the most exciting or engaging person to go along with. There are quite a few Twin Peaks reactors out there, but the problem is that they are all fans of the original series and were reacting to Twin Peaks The Return. That’s not what I want – I want virgins. Newbies to the world of Cooper and Co, watching and freaking out the first time just like we all did. Much of the enjoyment for existing fans watching, would be of course anticipating the classic moments of the original two seasons – the weirdness, the one-liners, the laughs, the reveals, the BOB, and in encountering those special precious few souls who would ‘get it’.

2. Farscape

Farscape was one of my favourite shows when it first aired, and one of the original ‘no-one here gets out alive’ TV shows. Seriously, Farscape is an often depressing, downbeat watch, and more often than not a show which makes you feel stupid more not catching all of the intense, complicated, interweaving arcs going on, but if there’s one thing for certain it’s that it was a wonderfully unique show with plenty of laughs, and one which will leave you emotionally drained. That’s why we need more people, or any people, reacting to it – we want to watch you suffer.

3. Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is just a delight – yet nobody talks about it, never mind reacts to it. It’s a flawless combination of comedy and action, monster of the week and long arcs, and has some of the best chemistry between its performers that I’ve ever seen. The cast is wonderful and the merging of myth and history always made for a fun watch. It’s the show all nerds and Reactors are sleeping on but need to watch immediately, instead of forcing their way through utter shite like Once Upon A Time. If you needed any more reasons – it was written by Buffy people and has a tonne of Buffy actors popping up.

4. SG1

If you’re sensing a theme here, you’d be correct. A lot of sci-fi… basically this is a list of some of my all time favourite shows and me wishing that other people could watch them so I can share in their enjoyment. A lot of these shows would be a hefty undertaking, but perhaps none more so that SG1. Because you’d have to watch the original Stargate movie too, and probably before the show, even though the cast is different. And then there’s 2 SG1 spin-off movies to consider. Not only 2 spin off movies, but 2 spin-off series in Atlantis and Continuum, which ran for a total of seven seasons. Of course, SG1 itself ran for 10 seasons so, yeah – it’s a whopper. There was a prequel series too recently, but i haven’t seen it yet. Rumours are that a barnd new movie/revamp is coming, so this one maybe has more likelihood than others in getting Reactors on board. But it’s a great show – and plenty of Farscape crossover too!

5. Eerie Indiana

Everyone loves Stranger Things. I like it, but there is something lacking. Maybe it’s the fact that everybody loves it so much and suddenly thinks they’re huge 80s nostalgia freaks when five minutes before the pilot aired those same chumps couldn’t have distinguished their Carpenters from their Cravens. So I like it, but why watch it when you can have the original and best horror nostalgia show – Eerie, Indiana – a show Stranger Things liberally borrows from but has so far yet to beat in terms of comedy and overall writing. It is a kids show, but it’s smarter today almost thirty years on than most adult oriented shows today. It’s only one season, so a dedicated Reactor could power through it in no time.

6. Airwolf/The A-Team/Knight Rider/Street Hawk

Basically any of those 80s crime-fighting shows involving a souped up Black-tinted vehicle. You could throw in Thunder In Paradise (girls look pretty, ooh they look nice), and Blue Thunder here too, except those were shite. Reacting might be tough, as most of the shows didn’t really have any arc or character growth or anything beyond cool action and tough as nails 80s badasses. But they all had their own flavour and would tick a lot of nostalgic boxes – Airwolf at least had more emotion, The A-Team had a variety of characters, Street Hawk was short, and Knight Rider had David Hasslehoff. I guess people could react to Baywatch too, but then they’d spend half their time trying to shield their raging boners from the camera.

7. The X Files

I assume some people out there are, or have gone through The X Files, but most of the people I subscribe too haven’t. Too bust faffing around with Agents Of Shield, or The 100, or Dexter. I don’t care about any of those, and this is all about me. I’m sure there’s a generation of young’uns now who haven’t seen a single episode, so it’s about time they leapt back in. It’s another large undertaking, with double figure seasons and two movies, but it’s one of the all time greats and people would still be sucked in by the conspiracy plots and freaked out by all the mommy freaks living under beds and bendy Tooms slithering up drainpipes.

8. The League Of Gentlemen

It’s the last great British sitcom – fuck off Miranda, Dinner Ladies, The Office, The In Betweeners, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Gavin And Stacey – fuck right off. I’d love to see some of those precious over-exaggerated faux-shock reactions to some of TLOG’s finest moments, you snowflakes wouldn’t have a chance. In all seriousness, it’s a wonder this was ever shown on TV, but it is some of the most perfect 30 minutes in comedy history. And when they’re done, they should absolutely react to Psychoville, and most definitely, perhaps even more so than TLOG react to Inside Number 9 – a few people are already doing that, badly.

9. The Twilight Zone

The original, of course. By all means if you want to move onto the various reboots, go ahead, but nothing touches the majesty of the original. A range of ages in Reactors here would be nice, not just the fresh face new to College Americans we mainly see. Sure, a lot of the twists now may be seen coming, or hackneyed, but the show was made well over 50 years ago. Still it has more ideas and better dialogue than almost any show made since, and still has the power to scare, to make you laugh, but most importantly, to make you think – and it would be cool to see the more vocal reactors share their thoughts.

10. Quantum Leap

I could easily fill another 10 spaces here (don’t worry, I won’t. Yet) but decided to end it on another all time classic. Quantum Leap had less of a season long arc, and more of a show long arc – the Odyssey of Dr Sam Beckett trying to get home – to his own body, and his own time. There hasn’t really been a show like Quantum Leap, that combination of good old fashioned – I was going to say Patriotism, but that’s not right at all – good old fashioned goodness – morality mixed with science mixed with US history, adventure, comedy, romance. Honestly, with all of the pivotal moments which have occurred in the US since the show ended it seems ripe for a reboot – preferably a sequel given the heartbreaking ending of the original series – but possibly one which branches out to other Countries would be cool. We still just want Sam to make that final leap home. But this is a show which Reactors would get a kick out off – it would entertain them while teaching them, and all us nearing middle age or beyond original fans would get a kick out of it too. Come on – all it takes is one of you to make a successful reaction series, then everyone else will jump aboard!

So that’s that. Oh wait, I did say there were two types of Reaction I wanted to talk about, didn’t I? Maybe I’ll save that for next month as this post is long enough already and I kind of want to make my own ‘Ten Shows Reactors NEED To React to Video’ now for Youtube. Yeah, there’s this channel called Reactistan – it has been going for a while now, but really found its niche recently when they began posting a series where ‘Tribal People’ react to common place Western shit. The link to their channel is above, but seriously go watch those – it’s gold. There are so many future memes, from ‘Only God Knows what it’s made of’ to ‘Well it’s free so I’ll take another bite’. Yeah, I guess I’ll talk about why I love those Reaction videos so much next time – by that point their channel will prob have a million subs.

Oh yeah, I actually went and made that Youtube video alluded to earlier, between the time I wrote the post and now (about an hour) – so here it is. It’s every bit as terrible as all my other videos, but it does feature some stellar original music so whack on the headset and max out the volume (seriously, DON’T).

Do you like Reaction videos? Why not – why do you hate them so? What would you like Reactors reacting to? What would you rather the youth of today spend their time doing? Let us know in the comments, and until next time, check around my site for more incoherent rambling!

Reminder on blog links:

A-Z Reviews: This category is a single post with links to all my movie, music, and book reviews. It’s the best place to start and you can check it via THIS LINK. I try to update it regularly.

Amazon Vine: I’m a member of Amazon Vine, a program where Amazon’s best reviewers are provided with free products for reviewing purposes in order to drum up publicity before the product is released to the general public. You can find links to the Products I have received here.

Book Reviews: Something I don’t really do anymore, even though I still read plenty. I need to get back into this, but movies are so much easier to review. Maybe I’ll come up with a different format.

Blogging: A new category! This is where I’m going to put this exact post, and the others like it to follow.

Changing The Past: This category is where I go back through every Oscars since 1960 and pick my winners from almost every category. I pick my winners from the official choices, and then I add my own personal list of who I feel should have been nominated. It’s based on personal preference, but it’s also not based on any of the usual Academy political nonsense and I bypass most of their archaic rules. It’s not quite me just picking my favourite films, but it’s close.

DVD Reviews: I should probably just change this to Movie Reviews. It’s what you would expect – reviews of the movies I’ve watched. I’m not a big fan of reviewing every new film which comes out – there are a billion other blogs out there all doing the same thing. I don’t often watch new movies as they release, unless they’re streaming, so instead you’ll be getting reviews of those films a few years later, once I get around to them. Here you will find horror, actions, classics, foreign, indie, sci-fi, comedy, drama – everything. A word of warning – I frequently post reviews that I wrote almost twenty years ago when I didn’t have a clue – they’re crap, but I add them here in all of their badly written glory.

Essential Movies: I’ve only published an intro post for this category, but I have written some other posts for the future. I’m basically questioning what actually makes a film Essential, because it cannot be a definitive statement. What’s essential for you, may not be for me, so I’ve broken down the definition into a few generic user types, then gone through some lists of the best movies of each year to see which ones are essential for each viewer. It’s pretty boring, and I already regret starting it, but that’s me.

Foreign Cinema Introduction: This category hasn’t been published yet, but once again it exists and I’ve written a bunch of posts for the future. The idea came from my many years of hearing people I know IRL or on the internet dismissing anything not mass-produced by Hollywood. If you only watch movies made in the USA – you’re not a movie fan, it’s as simple as that. I follow a few Facebook fan pages and blogs on WordPress which completely dismiss foreign movies – it’s ridiculous as you are missing out on many of the best films ever made. More than that, you are missing out on films which I know for a fact you will adore. So, this is me breaking down all that bullshit about subtitles, about foreign stuff being boring and every other excuse you’ve ever heard, while giving some very basic thoughts and introductions of the various countries of the world from a film perspective.

Lists: Here I post lists – some with comments, some without. All sorts of lists – from monthly previews of the year’s upcoming movies, to my favourite movies by actor or director, to best horror anthologies, best Christmas songs and TV shows, best movies for Halloween, my favourite episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, my ranking of Bond movies, songs, and girls, my favourite albums by decade, my favourite songs by artist, bands I’ve seen live etc. I love lists.

Manic Street Preachers Song By Song: One of the first reasons I started this blog was to try to spread the Gospel of my favourite band, especially as they are not well known outside of Britain. Defo not in the US. Then I found out there were other blogs doing it too. Ah well. These are my thoughts on each song. Don’t know them? They are a Welsh rock band who have been around since the late 80s, early 90s. They are highly political and intelligent, on the left wing, and they are probably the finest lyricists in the world. Their main lyricist suffered from various addictions and mental health issues and disappeared in 1995 – although there have been sightings, nobody has ever confirmed they have seen him and no body has ever been found, though the band, fans, and family are still looking. After three albums with him, they suddenly became commercially successful after his disappearance. If you like rock music… if you like music in general, please give them a try.

Music Reviews: This is the same as movies, except for music. Reviews of albums I’ve always loved, as reviews of albums as I’m listening as a virgin. I take a look at the Top Ten UK Charts from a random month in each year and review each song, while giving my own alternative ten songs from the same year, I am reviewing albums that I’ve never heard by artists I am familiar with – filling the gaps in those discographies. I’m listening to spin-offs of my favourite bands, I’m reviewing the Disney soundtracks. I was a metal and grunge kid, but also had a love for the best in 80 pop when I was young, so I like to listen to anything though since around the mid-noughties chart music has gone from extremely bad to entirely worthless.

The Nightman Scoring System ©: This is something I truly love, but something which nobody really pays attention to. You’ll notice in my reviews I don’t give a score. I just talk about the thing I’m reviewing. Scores are arbitrary and when given, people jump to the score and form a conclusion and a bias. If they read the content of the review, there will be a better discussion. That made me think, in a very unprofessional, semi-scientific, ill-examined way, to come up with a fair, universal scoring system which tries to avoid personal and systematic bias as much as possible. If you look at sites like Rotten Tomatoes which are stupidly becoming reference points for quality or to convince you to watch something, or used by advertisers, it’s a completely flawed system. Anyone can post whatever they like, and drag down or push up an average. The same used to happen on IMDb. There are a lot of posts online recently about the disparity between Critical and Audience consensus on RT and it leads to more worthless arguments, because if there’s something the world needs more of these days, it’s people fighting online about pointless stuff.

I devised two scoring systems – one for movies and one for music. To use it, you have to follow the guidelines and be honest. If you’re not honest, it will be obvious, and your review won’t be valid. For both music and and movies, I break down the scoring into twenty different categories of equal weighting – out of five, for a total out of 100. Categories include acting, directing, sales; or for music – charts, influence, musical ability etc. Say you hate the Marvel movies or The Beatles. You can’t score them a 1 out of five in the Sales category because both of those were factually monster hits – they can really only be 5 out of five. In other words, some of what is opinion and bias is removed from the equation. In the same vein, the disparity between critics and audiences is reduced – typically you may think that a movie or music critic care more about how arty or original or influential something is, while the audience might care how many boobs are seen or how catchy the melody is. I’m making sweeping assumptions – but you get the idea – each category is equally weighted so that influence is only worth five points, chart performance is only worth five points, directing, advertising, whatever – each is five points. I’d love to see people use this, and I’d love to run an experiment where a group of people each use the system to score the same thing, and see how similar or different the results are. I’m positive the average would be a more true reflection than anything on RT or IMDB or anywhere else. The only issue with it is, it’s more suited to scoring once something has been out there for a while rather than a pre-release or first week review.

Nightman’s Favourite Films By Year: Self-explanatory. I list my favourite ten films from every year since 1950, with no comment. Then I give a list of my top films from each decade once I’ve done each year, but this time share some comments. There’s also some stats in there, such as how many films I picked which were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, which were top ten grossing movies etc.

Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: A journalist called Colin Larkin made several of those popular ‘Top 1000 Albums Ever’ books. I grabbed one of them, I removed the ones I had already heard, and in this series I go through the ones that I haven’t heard, give my virgin thoughts, and whether I think it deserves to be called one of the best ever. I want to sync up my Nightman Scoring System © with these. Just one word of warning – I don’t plan or put any thought into these ‘reviews’. I literally listen and type at the same time. Not the best way to give thoughts I know, but that’s the format.

The Shrine: People die. Famous people die. But they live on, in our hearts and minds and in the work they left behind. Here I offer the chance to remember and offer thanks.

The Spac Hole: Each Monday I post a random lyric from a random song. Every so often I write something which doesn’t fit in any other category. Usually it’s weird. That stuff all goes here. There are more semi-regular pieces like those posts where I use Google translate to change the lyrics of (s)hit songs or dreadful imaginings like what I would do if I owned my own Cinema.

The Spac Reviews: Carlos Nightman is my alter ego. Derek Carpet is his alter ego. He is an idiot. He likes movies. These are his reviews. They are…. different.

TV Reviews: I sometimes review TV too. I talk about my current shows and my all time favourites.

Unpublished Screenplays: Derek Carpet sometimes likes to pretend he’s a writer too. Here are some of his original works, based on other movies and TV shows.

Videogame Reviews: I do these sometimes too. Usually retro. Usually with a humourous bent.

Walk Of Fame: Hollywood has a Walk Of Fame. I have one too. Mine’s better, except I don’t update it anymore. Not only do my inductees get a star, but they get a statue too! And, in each post one lucky soul gets a special building concerning their work or life dedicated to them!

Nightman Listens To – The Stone Roses – Second Coming (Top 1000 Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! I continue my never-ending adventure through the best albums of all time, with a band I’m familiar with but an album I have never heard. As a side note – you see how popular all these Youtubers are getting with song reactions? I especially listen to a lot of the ‘first time reacting to Metallica’ or Metal in general videos, and while they were fun at the start, every other dick has jumped on the bandwagon meaning we get copy and paste ‘personalities’ reacting the same way to the exact same songs. There are a few good ones, but the general format is ‘cute girl/gangsta rap fan listens to Metallica/Iron Maiden/Nightwish/Megadeth and is amazed that people can play instruments/write those lyrics/sing that way, and how they have never heard of it before. With each new reactor it’s getting more false and less likable, but it’s essentially what I’m doing with these posts. The difference being that I’m listening to the entire album and that you don’t get to see my face or my ‘reactions’. Which is probably for the best as I don’t have the most expressive face and it would be even more boring than reading this, as impossible as that sounds. If I ever did do a video reaction, I think it would be less repetitive than when I write – when writing off the cuff like this I tend to take less care in what I write, but when I speak off the cuff I’m much more creative. It’s strange, because it’s the complete opposite when it comes to planning – when I plan, my writing is much more interesting but when I speak it sounds like a sleep inducing speech. Enough!

What Do I Know About The Stone Roses: Only released two albums – the first was a huge success, influential, and has a few songs I enjoy. John Squire played guitar, Mani was on Bass, and Ian Brown started the whole strutting about Manchester singer thing. I’ve seen Ian Brown live several times, though not by choice – he just always seems to be there.

What Do I Know About Second Coming: It wasn’t a flop, but didn’t have the success or praise of the first. Looking at the tracklist, there’s only one song I definitely know but I know I’ve heard some of the others because my best mate in school was a massive fan.

Breaking Into Heaven: An intro heavily reliant on feedback, distortion, and looping, followed up by water sounds – a river, and is that a bird. I think I’ve heard this before but it’s not stirring any memories at the moment. Some voices lingering in the background, like a train announcement system. Tribal beats and lasers and bird calls. Sudden guitar wankery. This goes on for a few more minutes. The shift into the song proper doesn’t quite work – the drums come in perfectly but there’s this little gap in the guitar where it feels too jarring – it should be a clean break or a fade but this is neither. Brown’s familiar vocals waft in – as I’ve said elsewhere I’m not a fan of the Manchester scene and a lot of the samey vocal styles which came with it. It feels like a band in full command of their abilities and bursting with confidence. The vocal melodies are too wispy and light – slightly better for the chorus and bridge but nothing which really grabs me. It’s all about the guitar, with Squire tearing it up and turning a non-eventful tune into something more epic than it may genuinely be. The middle melody is stronger, followed by another instrumental and kicking solo, before it fades out.

Driving South: This opens with a beast of a riff, phat and thic and other misspelled, well-meaning adjectives. The drums don’t do much for me – they’re too static and rigid – again like much of the Manchester stuff of the era. Brown’s vocals don’t match the bite of the guitar and instead he goes for an air of cool – that worked for most people of the time but I never bought into it being much more on the grunge side of the fence. Really this is all guitar and the words and melodies are so far in the background as to render them pointless. If we had a good melody then we would have a much better song. As it stands it’s still good – easy to move to, easy to listen to, but it may as well be an instrumental.

Ten Storey Love Song: This is the one I definitely know as my mate played it for days. It has a famous noise fade in, with a lot of bits which swirl around in conflict with each other, sometimes joining, mostly breaking, until the lead guitar line and vocal comes into view. We finally have a decent melody and the band matches it. It’s a fantastic, underrated song, but I imagine how good it would be with a vocalist really belting it out – Bono or Bradfield would have a whale of a time with this. The drums are even more interesting, filling out the spaces and leaving a few well intended ones of their own.

Daybreak: This doesn’t start out well – more of the same whispered, accented vocals and shuffle drum beats, with riffs relying on old Blues tropes. The little instrumental section between verses is great – drums included – but then the verses come again and leave me flat. The guitar acts as a better drum in the verses. It’s weird, because those instrumental pieces are excellent, guitar, bass, and drum all loose like the best Zeppelin jams. Vocals in the middle are a little better. It closes out with an organ of all things and a big guitar and drum sped up jamming session which is good fun. A song of highs and lows.

Your Star Will Shine: Is this going to be the hippy track of the album. A gentle acoustic intro with hand clap style drums and some backwards stuff at play. A better attempt at melody. This suits the vocal approach better. It’s short and it doesn’t progress much and still a bit light to make an impact on me.

Straight To The Man: A brief tribal intro morphs into a Seventies porn rhythm. This is probably the most straight and simple song so far, it doesn’t stray from the norm, and it hits all the established notes of the album except for the more creative experimental leanings.

Begging You: A fade in of throbbing and swirling guitar bits before the same old drum beat drops, albeit in a slightly faster pace. The vocals are marginally more aggressive, but this one feels repetitive. There’s a lot of distortion and the guitar parts are noise based rather than your standard hooks, chords, or riffs, disparate parts coming together to form a mass. It has a few moments of interest, namely more instrumental or any time the drums cut out. Another which doesn’t do much for me.

Tightrope: A second hippy track? A lazy vocal with single chord strums, and tapping beats to give a campfire singalong feel. I thought it was going to explode, but instead it became even more campfire. Feels like a Youth Mission on a beach. I see what they’re going for, but it’s flat, dull, and boring. More like a demo written and recorded inside 5 minutes while the producer was taking a dump/snorting coke.

Good Times: This is becoming a slog now, waiting for a better song – a bit of invention. This starts with harmonica, so that’s different. Vocal with drums, or cymbals I should say. This is a fine example of Brown not being the most appealing vocalist. The guitar comes in – great, but the drums do too, and that’s not so great. This is little more than a middle of the road old fashioned rock and roll song with the Manchester sound cumming all over it, and a dashing of Squire goodness. A better singer would take it up a notch, but it’s distinctly average. At least there’s more energy, but you feel the band lost all their creative writing the two best songs.

Tears: A third hippy song. This has a very folk Zeppelin vibe in the intro. Any comparison ends the moment Brown opens his gub. It just keeps going on, at the same level, with no variety yet without hitting the hypnotic quality, until finally the volume strikes and I have a giggle at Brown’s awful attempts at keeping up. Honestly, any other singer would have made 90% of these songs 70% better. The Zep vibes continue as the heavier parts suspiciously mimic the heavier parts of Stairway to the extent that this is surely a knowing homage. Squire plays a blinder again, even the drums are decent. I’d quite enjoy this song with another singer, or with Brown actually putting in some effort.

How Do You Sleep: Good guitar intro, cool lyrics. Brown’s vocals… well, we know what we’re getting by now. This feels like an anthem – it’s straightforward and has a more obvious melodic quality from start to finish. It’s that lazy/laid back drawl which still holds it back for me. I know plenty of people who love that, but my personal preference is for vocalists with power or urgency. Sweet, simple solo in the middle. I’d happily listen to this one again, but that only makes it three or four from the whole.

Love Spreads: Ha, for the briefest second this sounded like Radiohead’s I Might Be Wrong. It’s groovy, great production as always, and it has that foot tapping rhythm. I know it’ll fall over once Brown comes in. And yes, it does. I realize I’m being harsh on him, but it’s just no my thing. The problem with some of the vocals, not in this song, is that he is quite severely out of tune. Drums are much better here. The last couple of minutes are needlessly stretched out. A decent end but stamps again how little the Madchester scene means to me.

There’s meant to be some Untitled stuff at the end of the album, but I’m not going hunting for it now.

What Did I Learn: That the one band with the greatest chance of making me enjoy the whole Madchester thing… couldn’t. The whole look, style, the spidey wee glasses, the awful hair, the ‘look at me everyone, I’m taking drugs’ arrogance, the strutting about like you’ve shit your pants… it’s embarrassing and hateful, and produced a hell of a lot less good music than people think. I already knew Squire was a great guitarist, but this reminded me and taught me that he was the main driving force in the band. It also reminded me of the importance of having a strong singer in the group; it doesn’t matter how good the band is – if your singer is muck, then the whole temple tumbles to ruin. Oasis remain the only Manchester band I regularly enjoy. I love the song names, if that’s any consolation.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Based on the usual criteria – no. I don’t believe it sold well, critical reviews have always been mixed, and by the time this came out their time of influence had already passed. Had this been their first album then maybe, but this isn’t as good as their first. There are a couple of great songs, a few which could have been great with a decent singer, but the rest are middling. The overriding feeling I got from this is that Squire wished he was in a metal band. I understand why people will love it and will dance to it and get mad for it or whatever, but beyond the guitar there are a hundred other Indie bands from the same time doing stuff exactly like this and it fails to stand out. Change the singer, keep the drums away from that repetitive style, and I’d enjoy this a lot more. Even with all of that, I imagine if I was drunk or listened to this more I’d get into more by pure familiarity. I have no desire to.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 920/1000

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Second Coming!