Mini Reviews: #Spooktober Watch List

This month has been so light on gaming because I have been pretty much obsessed with working on cross-stitch projects. On the upside, that means a lot of #Spooktober TV time. Normally, I am almost exclusively a re-watcher, but this year, all that extra time meant I could dive into some new things without missing out on any of my favorites.

I am sort of grateful that I don’t actually have a good way to track the sheer amount of hours that I spent on my couch this month – I think I would find that somewhat depressing. On the upside, I did manage to re-watch most of my favorite horror and Halloween themed movies and shows this season, and still managed to carve out some extra time to check out some new (to me) stuff.

Movies

The Mortuary Collection – Streaming on AMC+

I have a soft spot for anthology horror – the first two Creepshow movies (we don’t talk about Creepshow 3 around here), Tales from the Darkside, Cat’s Eye, Tales from the Hood, and Trick’r Treat. Normally, the stories range from decent to pretty good, while the frame story is normally weak to downright awful. The Mortuary Collection flips that convention around – the frame story is probably the best part of the entire film, while the four tales are just alright. I’d recommend it primarily for the frame story, which really pays off at the very end.

The Final Girls – Streaming on Hulu+

I went into The Final Girls expecting an actual horror movie, but what I got was barely horror-adjacent. Somehow, a handful of teenagers get sucked into a horror movie, which stars our main character’s mother (who of course, is deceased). It’s an interesting side-eye of a genre that’s often as silly as it is scary, and I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know that I’d watch it again.

Muppets Haunted Mansion – Streaming on Disney+

The Muppets Haunted Mansion also fits into the category of something I’m glad I watched, but probably won’t seek out for an annual rewatch. It’s more of a holiday special than a full length movie, and while there’s a lot of neat references if you’re familiar with the Disney Haunted Mansion ride, there’s … not a whole lot going on here. It’s amusing, with some good running gags, and there’s enough here for a Muppets fan to make it worth the hour run-time.


Series

Hemlock Grove – Seasons 1-3 on Netflix

I’ve seen the first season of Hemlock Grove a few times now – it’s a fairly well contained story that didn’t need any additional seasons to feel finished. However, Netflix can’t leave a good thing well enough alone most of the time, and on my previous attempts to dive into season 2, I never got very far before losing interest. This year, I persevered through the slow open, and while it wasn’t as satisfying as the first season, the story does get pretty damn interesting, especially if you’re already a fan of some of the characters from the first season. It’s certainly not unmissable, and oh lord that ending, but it’s a good watch if you really liked the first season. I’m not sure I ever plan to watch the final season though – the shark, it has been leapt over.

Creepshow – Seasons 1-3 on AMC+

I actually subscribed to AMC+ near the beginning of the month, solely to check out the new Creepshow series, and while it’s not bad, it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. It’s most definitely a love letter to anthology horror, with (almost) every episode telling two complete stories. Unfortunately, most of the stories were utterly forgettable. The standout stories from the first two seasons, for me, were “The Finger” (S1E2) and “Public Television of the Dead” (S2E1). I didn’t even bother with the third season, however, so there might be some gems in there.

Glitch – Season 1-3 on Netflix

You would expect a show that begins with half a dozen people crawling out of their graves to be a full-on horror story, but Glitch manages to avoid horror almost entirely. While that was slightly disappointing for what I was looking for at the time, I still watched the six-episode first season, and I have to say, it’s a pretty solid drama with some light horror elements. The final episode takes a pretty big swing to the side trying to actually start to pull together an explanation for all this, but season one is really all about the characters and the weirdness that ensues when people who aren’t supposed to be around just suddenly show up.

Slasher – Seasons 1-3 on Netflix, Season 4 on AMC+

Slasher was the big surprise hit of #Spooktober for me this year. I love a good slasher movie, but this show takes the concept of a human serial killer and stretches the story out into an eight episode season, giving you more time to get invested in the characters and story and figuring out who is doing all the gory stuff. The seasons are all complete tales, although there is some actor overlap like in American Horror Story, but they can very easily be watched in any order. However, other than the first season, which is comparatively tame, this is not a show if you’re even a little bit squeamish, as the gore is plentiful and very very graphic. A lot of the characters are completely unlikable, but that just makes it more fun to root for the killer. Plan to binge watch each season, because you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about it until it’s over.

Trigger warning: The second season contains a pretty disturbing rape scene, which was not something I was expected and it was probably the hardest thing to watch in all four seasons. Which is unfortunate, because for me, it was also the strongest season overall. It feels a little silly to TW a show called Slasher but I really wish I had known about it in advance.


Is there a scary movie, spooky show, or adorable holiday special you revisit year after year? Was there something new you watched this year for the first time that you’d recommend?

5 Fandom Friday- Favorite Book to Movie Adaptations

Thanks go to Heather of Nerdy by Nature for the fantastic topic idea!

For the most part, I am a “read the book before I see the movie” person. That is, of course, if I know it’s an adaptation. And for four out of five of these, I absolutely read the book first, but my number one book-to-movie was from my childhood, and I didn’t realize it was based on a book until many years after I fell in love with the movie.

5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane

Not only was this a great adaptation of a really excellent book, the casting was spot on. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Marsha Gay Harden and Laura Linney – all of them playing their parts to perfection. I was so psyched up for this movie when it came out, I went to the theater by myself to see it.

4. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey

This one isn’t an easy watch by any means, but it is as powerful as the source material. The characters really draw you in, and the cruelty of mental health care in the not so distant past becomes impossible to ignore.

3. The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

For me, Stephen King adaptations are more miss than hit – it’s hard to distill several hundred pages into less than two hours. The Shawshank Redemption manages to avoid a lot of those issues both because of the brevity of the source material and the length of the movie. In fact, the movie version manages to make the story even more powerful with some new plot points, and it’s done well enough that you may not even realize what parts were just added for the film.

(and if you don’t already know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to be the one who reveals that little secret.)

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This is a book I sought out deliberately once I knew a movie was being made of it, and I thought that at least the first book-to-movie translation was pretty damn excellent.

  1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

When I was young, I rented this movie over and over, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I read the book for the first time. It’s beautiful, terrifying and heartbreaking all at once, and I still watch it regularly. If I had to guess, this would be my most-watched movie of all time, and it holds up.

Examining the TV Show Backlog

Recently, Heather over at Just Geeking By posted a list of TV shows she was hoping to finish watching. It made me realize that all the shows I’ve been waiting for just the right time to watch – this is probably that time. I’m only going to focus on shows that have completed their run, and that are available in their entirety on one of the streaming services we’re subscribed to.

On Netflix

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – 62 Episodes
A young woman abandons a choice job at a law firm and her life in New York in an attempt to find happiness in the unlikely locale of West Covina, California.

Sometime around the first week of May, there is going to be a giant Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist shaped hole in my life, and I have been considering giving Crazy Ex-Girlfriend a whirl. I’m kind of a sucker for any musical television shows, and although I’m not super excited by the premise, I’m hoping the execution will make up for it.

Gotham – 100 Episodes
The story behind Detective James Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman’s arrival.

I’ve now watched the first season twice, and honestly, I think the absurdity of the asylum break-out storyline at the very beginning of season 2 is turning me off. If I can just push through that, though, there’s a lot about this show I do like, and I’d love to see the whole thing.

On Hulu

UnREAL – 38 Episodes
A behind-the-scenes look at the chaos surrounding the production of a dating competition program.

I remember seeing ads for this show before it aired, and wanting to watch it then. Sometime between then and now, it completely dropped off my radar, but I noticed that the complete series is available to watch now. I have a soft spot for Shiri Appleby from my guilty pleasure Roswell watching, and the idea of being behind the scenes of a fictional reality show sounds far far more interesting than watching an actual reality show.

Sleepy Hollow – 62 Episodes
Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers.

Time travel Gothic mystery? Sign me up. This is another show I’d been interested in for awhile, but never quite enough to actually settle in an watch it. Even though I’ve heard that the final season was … divisive to say the least, I’d like to give it a fair shot.

On Amazon Prime

Grimm – 123 Episodes
A homicide detective discovers he is a descendant of hunters who fight supernatural forces.

Ok, this one is kind of a hefty undertaking. I watched this show fairly faithfully while it was airing, through at least the mid-point of the second season. I’m not sure why I stopped, but I can tell you that despite a couple attempt at a re-watch, I’ve never made it past that point. That said, I remember it being on a very interesting path, and I’d like to see where it ends up.

Torchwood – 41 Episodes
The members of the Torchwood Institute, a secret organization founded by the British Crown, fight to protect the Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.

Although it’s one of the shortest runs of this list, it’s the one I think I’m least likely to complete because Torchwood is such a hard watch. It’s a show that seems to revel in its darkness and brutality. In the past, I’ve watched the majority of the first season, and in an epic blunder, the entirety of the third season, because I thought it was a stand-alone mini series. Oops. It might be too bleak a choice for such a time of uncertainty, but it is one I’ve always wanted to spend some quality time with.


Are you taking advantage of the extra time at home right now to catch up on some series you always meant to watch, but never quite got around to? Tell me about the television shows you’d like to binge watch – either in the comments or feel free to steal the heck out of this idea for your own blog.

Comfort Food for Your Mind – Television Edition

Ok, so I know at the beginning of the year, I said I was going to try to watch less television. I have failed spectacularly, and not just because I fell madly in love with a new show.

Sometimes, we just need to passively get out of our own way. Those days where everything is hard and there is no energy left to spend pulling yourself out of the muck, and on those days, it may just be that the best thing you can do is put on the TV and lose yourself in someone else’s problems for awhile.

Of course, what works for each of us is very different. My best friend gravitates to anything with a spaceship. My husband binges documentaries and reality TV about ghosts. I tend to watch cooking competitions and crime dramas.

So what have I been watching during the first quarter of 2020, which feels like it has lasted OMG forever and then some?

Gotham – Full series (5 seasons / 100 episodes) available to stream on Netflix

I had started watching this for the first time last fall, and all of a sudden had the urge to watch it from the beginning again. Although I still haven’t gotten through much more than the first season, there’s an awful lot about this show I really like, even if it takes a whole lot of liberties with the Batman universe.

Spring Baking Championship – Seasons 1-5 available to stream on Hulu.

This was my low-concentration show of choice until I – very very quickly – burned through all five seasons. I’m not sure why cooking competitions are soothing for me; they’re deliberately cut to make it look like disaster is about to strike at any moment. I get it – for the contestants, there’s quite a bit at stake, but in the scheme of things right now, a fallen cake just doesn’t seem like it’s worth getting upset about.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – Airs Sundays on on NBC, available to watch on Hulu one day later.

I am HOOKED on this show (which if you follow me on Twitter, you probably already know). I watched the first episode back in January, and then lamented the need to wait a month for the second episode. Now, as we’re fast approaching the end of the season, I’m starting to worry about whether or not it’s going to come back, and how current events are going to effect it if it does get renewed.

Which, on the one hand shows that my priorities aren’t exactly in order, but on the other, shows that this corner of TV-land means a lot to me.

I love it for being a musical. I love it for making me laugh, and cringe, and cry in the course of 45 minutes. I love it for making me feel so very very seen because I identify with Zoe’s personality so strongly.

Nbc GIF by Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist - Find & Share on GIPHY

Mostly, I love it because it’s 45 minutes a week that I can forget about everything awful that is going on in the world and just live in Zoey’s world.


What are you watching to distract yourself from reality right now? Tell me about your comfort food television shows – either in the comments or feel free to steal the heck out of this idea for your own blog.

Social Isolation Together – Throwing a Watch Party

This post is part of a new series that I plan to keep up as long as we’re still seeing recommendations to socially isolate in the US because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie in the theater, but I do miss the experience of getting together with friends to watch a movie or a few episodes of a TV show. Obviously, that’s not a thing we’re doing during social isolation, but there are multiple technologies that will allow us to do just that while not leaving the house.


Facebook Watch Party: Probably the most restrictive of the services out there, but it might be nice if you want to show off your collection of cute cat videos to all of your friends. Whatever you’re watching has to be on Facebook, and you can only invite other Facebook users. If you want to learn more about how it all works, check the FAQ here.


Netflix Party: If you (and all of your friends) have an active Netflix subscription, and use Chrome as a web browser, you could throw a Netflix Party. Just get everyone to download the browser extension and you’re well on your way to having a watch party of anything available on Netflix.


Twoseven: For me, I think the winner as far as functionality goes is Twoseven. It does require users to set up an account, and install an extension on either Chrome or Firefox, but it makes a whole lot more content available. Free users have a bunch of options to source video to watch, and a $3 a month Patron pledge adds Hulu and Disney+ to your options list. If you’re hosting a watch party from a paid service, your guests must have their own log-ins, but they’re not required to be Patrons to watch Hulu or Disney+.

Please note: there are reports of Amazon not working for all users at this time, so be aware of this if you’re interested in an Amazon watch party.


Have you participated in or hosted a watch party? What service did you use? Feel free to answer in the comments, or take this topic and run with it in a post of your own.

5 Fandom Friday: Female Friendships

I spotted this topic on Nerdy By Nature and Hello. It’s B. and decided to take my own swipe at it. With so many movies and television shows either focusing on a romantic relationship or dude-ships, really fantastic girl buddies really light up the screens.


Five: Garcia, Emily and JJ – Criminal Minds

Going a little off track here starting out with a trio, but let’s be real, these ladies were at their peak when they were all together. My favorite opener from the entire series will always be the episode where some random dude hits on Emily at a bar, and tries to pick them up by telling them he works at the FBI. This trio very quickly puts him in his place, showing their own badges after he tells them “It’s Classified”, and then they share a laugh, and you know these characters feel such incredible affection for each other.

Four: Ruth and Bettina – Six Feet Under

Despite the fact that Kathy Bates’s Bettina only appears in 10 of the 63 episodes of Six Feet Under, she might have been the very best part of Ruth’s storylines over five seasons. When Ruth and Bettina are together, they both light up, and their wildly different personalities complement each other perfectly.

Three: Liz and Maria, Roswell

Sure, Roswell was a love story first, and sci-fi thriller second, but I would argue that it’s also a high school bestie fest. Every girl should have a friend who will help her hide the fact that her boyfriend is an alien.

Two: Cece and Hillary – Beaches

For women of a certain age, Beaches was probably our first glance into friendship that lasts a lifetime. Not only was it oh-so-precious, it was also very real – Cece and Hillary drift apart and crash back together, but they always love each other with everything they have to give.

One: Meredith and Cristina – Grey’s Anatomy

Despite their soap-opera lives, these two are Squad Goals, and a big part of the reason I watched Grey’s for as long as I did. The relationship between these two is often so raw, but it’s so very very important. I hope everyone is lucky enough to have a person like Meredith or Cristina (depending on which one you personally identify with more).


Have a favorite pair (or trio) of gal pals? Tell me all about it in the comments or post your own Fandom Friday.

Weekend Rewatch – Mindhunter Season 1

The second season of Mindhunter just came out on Netflix yesterday, and instead of diving right in, we decided to rewatch the first season beforehand.

While I hadn’t forgotten how fantastic this show was, I am definitely finding more to appreciate on a second viewing. Although not what would be considered a period drama, it is so perfectly late-70s, and as someone who adores shows like Criminal Minds, seeing a semi-fictionalized portrayal of the early years of the Behavioral Science Unit is fascinating.

Mindhunter kind of bridges a gap for me; it lifts the veil in a way, and I get to see not just how the machine works, but how it was built. It’s research, polished up for a wider audience, and it makes me want to learn more.

And that’s where I think the interest turns nerd-worthy – I don’t just want to enjoy it in the moment (although I absolutely do), but I want to find more, learn more, and consume & digest more on the subject.

Sometimes it’s hard having such diverse interests, but it definitely keeps me from getting bored!