Popcorn Digest

Week of Saturday, November 5

Popcorn Digest

Popcorn Digest is a weekly round-up of the best (and worst) movies I've watched over the last 7 days.

Fun Fact: during the pandemic, some people have learned how to bake, how to speak a new language, or various other valuable skills. I have watched the entirety of the Halloween, Friday the 13th, Child's Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination, Resident Evil, Jurassic Park, V/H/S, The Omen, The Exorcist, Saw, Predator and Lake Placid franchises, and a bunch of shorter ones besides. Only a few more movies till I can check off Paranormal Activity, Anaconda and Leprechaun!

Unrelatedly, every day we get further from god's light.

Week of Saturday, November 5
Movies Watched: 17 (can you tell my partner is out of town?)
Countries: 8 (Japan, USA, Hong Kong, Italy, Spain, Germany, South Korea)


Yoshino's Barber Shop (2004, Japan, dir. Naoko Ogigami)

People don't get radicalized by movies, but also if everyone saw the deeply moving,  quiet images of communal care and queer resistance in daily life from the films of Naoko Ogigami we'd be a lot closer to communism. If you haven't seen her movies I'd start with Kamome Diner or Glasses, this one doesn't always feel quite as much like it's being beamed straight to you from a better world. But this movie about a small town where all the boys have to get a really ugly bowl cut as part of “tradition” and the young rebel who comes from Tokyo with a fashionable ‘do who oragnizes resistance, is really funny, really beautiful, queer and bizarre, like all of her films that I've seen.

All Quiet on the Western Front (2022, Germany. dir Edward Berger)

In my opinion, all war movies fall somewhere on the horror-action axis, and they're way better when they let the terror/despair/horror side take hold, but most war movie makers lean heavily towards kinetic, noble, tragic action. This one is kind of a straight up horror movie, with the most effective use of an anachronistic score since maybe There Will Be Blood and some truly harrowing and devastating sequences. Read this book in high school, as many USians did I think, and its vision of the horrible senselessness of war has stayed with me like few other books. The movie can't quite stick the landing but damn if this isn't a good bad time, and feels frighteningly relevant.

Bug (2007, USA. Dir William Friedkin)

Speaking of having a bad fucking time, have you considered watching Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon descend into total paranoia, despair and violence? Another uncomfortably timely feeling movie, the appeal of conspiracy as a way of dealing with/repressing the realities of trauma and oppression, real socialism-of-fools hours. Or is their motel room really being infested with horrible bugs?  An amazing actors' movie.


Ebola Syndrome (1996, Hong Kong, dir. Herman Yau) Unlike most movies that will end up in this section, this movie is very well shot, acted, put together, and mostly achieves its goals. Those goals, however, are rancid af, total nihilism and pure evil, you can't see misogyny and anti-blackness this distilled and on the surface in almost anything youd ever watch, content warning for EVERYTHING, this movie is extreme horror violence and misery in a way that goes beyond "shock" cinema toward a total critique of existence... which has some moments of utter brilliance, and the movie is definitely critique, but also it should not be watched by anyone but the most dangerously cinema-pilled. A limit experience, though alas one not nearly as politically astute as, say, Salo: 120 Days of Sodom

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015, USA, Gregory Plotkin), Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998, USA, Ethan Wiley)

On an impulse I threw on Hellraiser 5: Inferno, and it was surprisingly ok, and the directorial debut of Scott Derickson, director of The Black Phone which I had just watched a few days previous! Spooky! So, I thought, why not try a few more franchise fifth films?  

Yes, this does mean that I am watching enough bad horror sequels at all times to watch the fifth entry in 3 separate franchises on a whim, and no, the logic doesn't make any sense. Turns out the averageness of Hellraiser 5 was a highpoint.

Then I wondered: is there even a good fifth horror franchise entry? Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning, The Forever Purge, Resident Evil: Retribution and Final Destination 5 are all perfectly solid horror flicks, but none are actually like, you know, good movies. And then I realized, technically, Prometheus and Prey are the fifth film in the Alien and Predator franchises, respectively (if we ignore the two crossover Alien vs Predator movies). So, there are two, even if they're neither of them masterpieces and both kind of actually the 7th movie, ok wow if you are still reading this congratulations.