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Stew’s April Movie Thoughts: The Northman, Evil Dead, More

May 11, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
The Northman Image Credit: Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features

Time for April’s movie round up!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Night’s End, My Cousin Vinny, Near Dark, Color Out Of Space, Evil Dead, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Summer Of ’84

Night’s End is a 3.5 on the pure enjoyability scale and not necessarily on the quality scale. Although actually, for a while, it’s a really decent thriller. The story is of a shut-in who is afraid to leave his home, and then he discovers the apartment he views as his bastion of safety is haunted. For two acts, we get some good acting and effective scares and a nice story being developed…

And then it goes BATSHIT CRAZY in act three, and I laughed and laughed. It just gets absolutely ridiculous! It becomes almost an entirely new movie, and it took me unaware.

Also, not for nothing, but “MY THUMB!” is my Line Of Dialogue for 2022. Can’t imagine anything is going to beat that.

I have had My Cousin Vinny on my playlist for… almost two full years at this point, and I finally got around to watching it. It doesn’t have a particularly strong early going–there is some weird 90’s sitcom music in the background of scenes, some of the acting is weak–but by the time the trial starts and we get to see everything moving, it picks up dramatically.

I have always heard Near Dark is one of the better vampire movies out there, so I gave it a try when I noticed it is on Shudder. It’s… all right. The characters are extremely cartoonish and one-dimensional. But the stakes are grounded, and I appreciated that. Just wasn’t wowed.

HA! “Stakes”. Those aren’t even in this vampire movie.

Color Out Of Space is another one of Nic Cage’s many recent indie flick forays, this one into an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. God bless him for just picking every zany script that comes his way; he seems like he’s having a blast.

What’s probably more the fault of the source material than the movie is that the writing is not very strong; each character is affected by the color differently, but no reason is ever given. It felt like the story just wanted to do several crazy things but not have to explain them.

It is really creepy at turns, though, and the atmosphere is well-done.

I KNOW, I KNOW. How have I never seen Evil Dead before?! What is my problem?!

To my defense, I’ve seen Evil Dead 2 several times, Army of Darkness COUNTLESS times, and the Evil Dead 2013 remake… well, twice. But still!

I just always thought “I don’t need to watch Evil Dead. It’s just Evil Dead 2, but worse”.

And it is!

But “worse than Evil Dead 2” is a pretty wide berth, and this was still stellar. You can totally see all the bones for the Evil Dead 2 soup that Raimi would put together, he just doesn’t quite lean into them enough here.


Summer Of ’84 was very much like its Shudder cousin Night’s End in that the third act drastically changed how I felt about it. For an hour, you’ve got this hum-drum “Stranger Things Is Popular, So Love Us, Too!” effort of 80’s nostalgia and would-be heroic children. And you figure you know where it’s all going. Whatever, who cares?

But the reveal in the third act honestly shocked me, and then the movie gets DARK with an appropriately chilling climax. So, okay movie, you got me. You can have three stars.

REWATCHES: A Nightmare On Elm Street, This Is The End, Deadpool 2

Watched the O.G. Nightmare On Elm Street for a video review over at Pint O’ Comics. It’s unfair to other horror flicks how well that movie holds up.

Pretty much the definition of “stupid fun” with This Is The End; there’s nothing here to make anyone think too hard. It’s a lot of dick and fart jokes. But executed properly, dick and fart jokes are perfectly joyful.

I watched Deadpool 2 for a future episode of my own podcast, the Stew World Order, so subscribe to that to hear what I thought!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Heat, Death Valley, Dual, The Wolf Man

Look, I don’t want to hear it.

I went into Heat EXPECTING to love it. I’ve heard it’s great. I’ve heard it’s wonderful. I’ve heard all of the plaudits. I don’t watch three hour movies unless I anticipate loving them.

I did not love Heat. Mostly I was terribly, woefully bored by Heat. It just never grabbed me, and I never cared about what was going on.  Every 45 minutes or so, Natalie Portman or William Fichtner or Ashlee Judd or someone would show up and I would say “I forgot that character existed!”. The All State guy shows up as a wheelman for no reason and is unceremoniously killed. Why did we need to waste time with his story getting a job at a diner? Why did we need the one bad guy killing hookers? Why did the bad guys go from ingenious and clever to morons with the bank job?

This just wasn’t for me. The acting was high caliber, sure, but I just never felt invested.

Death Valley had a rating of FIVE SKULLS OUT OF FIVE on Shudder! Death Valley, a low-rent Resident Evil knock-off that makes the RE movies look like Casablanca, does not deserve five skulls out of five.

Dual is a god damn bizarre flick. I think of it as if Pig and Malignant had a cinematic baby. Except I definitely liked Dual more than Pig or Malignant. The star rating is negligible here; literally ANY score sounds right for Dual. 0.5? 5.0? Yeah, I could make an excuse for either of those.

I have no idea what, if anything, the movie was trying to SAY, but I really had a blast watching it. It’s a wonderful time.

And I gotta be fair: it’s not quite “MY THUMB!“, but “Thank you for the hip-hop dance lessons” is another line that is sticking with me. Actually, almost any of Aaron Paul’s lines would work. “I’m disappointed in your lack of killer instinct. But I’m happy my dog is alive“.

After having recently watched The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein, I moved along the Universal horror classics to The Wolf Man. It lacks some of the more joyful and humorous sensibilities of Invisible Man or Bride, but it does maintain the tragedy of Frankenstein. Not bad!

REWATCHES: They Live, Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2 U, Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Amazing Spider-Man

Every so often, you just gotta rewatch They Live, man. It’s great. My second favorite Carpenter movie, after only Halloween. It’s silly and the practical effects are TERRIBLE, but the theme and Piper’s performances hold up eternally.

I don’t care what anyone says; Happy Death Day is in my top 20 (15?) favorite movies ever. I will watch that once every other year (at least) until I die. Or until Hollywood rightfully casts Jessica Rothe in every movie.

Happy Death Day 2 U is weaker than its predecessor and ends up with a bit of sequelitis, but it’s still more fun than not. It just falls into rehashing the first movie when it starts off as if it might have a different premise.

I watched Spider-Man No Way Home in the comfort of my own home because I can now. It won’t be the last time.

The Amazing Spider-Man was another watch for a future episode of the Stew World Order!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, Saving Private Ryan, Tragedy Girls, Uncle Peckerhead, The Northman.

(Uncle Peckerhead, The Northman would be a good movie…)

Don’t get me wrong, Massive Talent is a really fun movie. I graded it out as average, but I did really enjoy it. Pedro Pascal absolutely kills it in that flick and gives us one of the performances of the year. Cage himself is quite fun riffing on himself. Ultimately, it felt like instead of lampooning some of Cage’s flicks, it ultimately wanted to BE one, and the lack of self-aware irony in the third act is… weird. It could have been a humorous version of JCVD, but went a little too zany.

Ultimately, Massive Talent is a movie about watching the making of Massive Talent, in which the characters are making another movie ABOUT MAKING… and now I have a nosebleed.

Did I really only give Saving Private Ryan a 4/5? That’s weird considering I called the film probably the single greatest movie I’ve ever seen on a strictly technical level. The cinematography and mood and shots are all ridiculously brilliant. Maybe I just forgot to click the extra half star? Maybe I was feeling too negative about the somewhat repetitive lull of the second act. But no, that should be a 4.5. My bad!

Tragedy Girls is a fun horror-comedy romp about two besties who are so infatuated with true crime that they decide to become killers themselves. The movie isn’t particularly as smart as it thinks it is (it all feels like a Boomer talking about social media), but two scenes in particular had me laughing hard, and Hildebrand and Shipp are stunning as the leads.

Another horror-comedy next with Uncle Peckerhead, and I’ve had a friend trying to get me to watch this for about a year now. It’s quite good for what I’m sure its budget was. The ending fell flat to me, and the acting quality is all over the place, but the ride was fun enough.

I can’t properly express how much I despise that The Northman, this TRAGIC STORY ABOUT A HERO AVENGING HIS FATHER’S DEATH AT THE HANDS OF HIS UNCLE, has the main character’s name be AMLETH. Seriously, just fuck all the way out of here with that. That is, QUITE LITERALLY, “spelling it out” for us.

I am getting Midsommar Lite vibes from this where everyone is ignoring that the story is SHIT because it’s shot pretty.

Guess what? Saving Private Ryan was shot pretty AND had a great story. So you don’t do it for me, Haml… AMLETH.

EDIT: So I’m leaving this whole review here as a testament to my buffoonery, but I DID edit my Letterboxd score and review when I, you know, bothered to research and not assume I’m the clever one regarding all this Hamlet/Amleth stuff:

REWATCHES: Planet Terror, NoES 2, Dan In Real Life, Tangled

From what I understand, there are two cuts of Planet Terror: the original Grindhouse double feature cut, and the stand-alone film cut. I saw the latter. It is… too long. I wish I had seen the original cut (assuming I am right that there is such a thing) because this had a lot of fat to cut. Still, some of this flick is a straight beauty with its silly gore and bombastic action.

Nightmare On Elm St 2 is all good, clean homoerotic fun, sure. But the moral of the story is that the hero has to accept the love of a girl to escape the dirty evil man inside of him. So… is it far less of an LGBTQ+ positive movie than we’ve been led to believe? When I revisited that ending, I was like “wait, what?”

I’m one flick away from Dream Warriors. That’s all that matters.

I have always absolutely adored Dan In Real Life. It’s saccharine and a bit cloying, but Steve Carrell just does so damn well, and some of the writing is sharp. It makes me feel good. I think this is a ton ion fun. A less insightful (but just as enjoyable) Lost In Translation or Eternal Sunshine or Stranger Than Fiction.

And finally, here’s something they won’t tell you in those fancy liberal elite schools of yours: Tangled is WAY THE FUCK BETTER than Frozen.

That’s it, and I’m at 111 movies at the 33.3% mark of the year. My being super good at super easy math shows that I’m on pace for 333, and remember how cute it was in January when I was like “boy, I hope I can make it to 250 this year”?

Three-hundred or bust.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is pretty damn easily my Movie Of The Year for 2022 new releases. Dr. Strange comes out in a few days, though. Might we have a challenger?

Until next time… take care!