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Weekly Recap: Freddy, Dracula, Stephen King and Stranger Things

Today’s recap is coming out a bit later in the day than usual because it has been a busy weekend.  I spent most of the day yesterday driving kids to and from various activities and/or running errands.  In between trips to and fro, I turned on Stranger Things thinking I might watch an episode or two of the new season.  I finished watching the final episode a little after midnight.  Although this had no bearing whatsoever on my decision to binge watch Stranger Things this weekend, it’s worth noting that today is Winona Ryder’s birthday.  So plop down on the couch and watch an episode or nine.

But first, just in case your binge watching distracted you from what was going on here at Le Blog, here’s a recap of everything we covered last week.

Speaking of birthdays, here’s a look at Jestak’s celebrity birthday updates.  He did something a little different this week by combining two days into one article so that he could pair thematically similar headliners who were born one day apart.  The breakdown below will reflect that approach:

Jestak has announced that he’ll be doubling up again on Monday and Tuesday.  So don’t panic when tomorrow comes and goes without a birthday update.  Just celebrate Winona Ryder’s big day for 48 hours like me.

Daffy’s puzzle article for the week dealt with a spooky classic.  As we prepare for Halloween, he put the pieces together for the 1931 version of Dracula.  The article includes a sneak peak of the Daffster on stage as Renfield.  Tying into the vampire theme, I reviewed Universal’s efforts to kick-start it’s classic monster franchise with Dracula Untold  and an earlier attempt to do essentially the same thing with Van Helsing.  We also looked back at how Blade Trinity killed off Wesley Snipes’ only franchise just in time for him to go to jail.

Meanwhile, Kevthewriter wondered why the Carrie remake from a few years back bombed while today’s remake of It is a box office smash.  To tie into the Stephen King theme, I revived an old Worst to First article ranking the movies based on King’s work which were released in the 1980’s.  Next week, I am planning the long (and not so eagerly) awaited follow-up.

Kev also got his Netflix on with a thriller which has been called a creepy, reversed Back to the Future.  Christopher Lloyd stars in I Am Not a Serial Killer in which his would-be Marty McFly may or may not be homicidal.  Sounds heavy.  We rounded out the Halloween scares with a Worst to First ranking the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

This week’s Movieline archives included a profile on Greg Kinnear when he was promoting his potentially career-changing performance in Auto Focus.  The movie is worth checking out, but it didn’t transform Kinnear into a leading man the way he might have hoped.  We also looked at an interview with author-turned-screenwriter Richard Price.  At the time of the article, Price had just sold the rights to his book Clockers after a bidding war drove up the asking price.  You may remember that last week, we had an interview with David Caruso in which he said he took a chance on the movie Kiss of Death partially because the screenplay was so good.  It was written by Price.

Next Week: Daffy goes ape, King in the 90’s, and Kev celebrates two holidays with Tyler Perry.  We’ll check out a few more spooky goodies in the final days of October and kick off the Movieline archives for Novemeber.  It’s all treats, no tricks!

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Posted on October 29, 2017, in Weekly Recap. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I’m interested to hear others’ thoughts on the new season of Stranger Things. I watched the whole thing over the weekend and although it’s been since last year that I watched the original, I can’t imagine it being significantly better than season 2. We got a lot of what we were left hanging on last year and the world of the show expanded in some interesting ways. Also, any time somebody takes part of Paul Reiser’s sandwich it gives me a big smile.

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  2. I found season two to be very satisfying. It didn’t break much in the way of new ground but it accomplished what sequels are supposed to do. The characters were paired up differently to allow for new interactions, new characters were introduced and the stakes were raised. I was surprised how much I liked the new characters two of which were played by actors associated with era appropriate cult movies.

    One criticism I have seen a lot is that Stranger Things is a rip-off. Particularly that it is a rip-off of Stephen King’s It. Apparently it was originally conceived as a remake of It but had to be reworked into something original when there was no interest in the original concept.

    There is certainly a lot of DNA of the movies from my youth. Pretty sure I heard a musical queue from Gremlins in one episode. Sean Astin asking about pirate treasure is obviously a meta joke. The entire show is packed with 80’s pop culture from the music to arcade games and Dungeons an Dragons. I was roughly the same age as the kids in the show in 1984, so Stranger Things appeals to me pretty strongly based on nostalgia alone.

    But I think it’s better than that. I feel like the show blends together a lot of familiar influences into something original and well executed.

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    • I feel like if a person is criticizing Stranger Things for being derivative, then they’re just not a fan of what it clearly intends to be. All you have to do is watch the opening credits and right there is the Duffer Brothers’ declaration of what they want to do. Either you’re on board or you’re not, but Stranger Things is not hiding its influences. At all.

      I was definitely geeking out over some of the songs they used for the soundtrack. “Birds Fly” at the end of episode 7 particularly made me happy.

      It almost seems as though season 1 isn’t complete without season 2 now.

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      • I do have two mild criticisms:

        1) Jonathan seemed mostly just along for the ride this time around. The entirety of his story was basically “whoops! Nancy and Jonathan should be together, shouldn’t they?”

        2) The way they featured 008/Kalie at the top of the season raised expectations that the existence of other kids like 011/Jane would be a major theme of the season. Instead, the character was mostly relegated to a singe stand-alone episode that only moved the plot in obvious chess board ways. I do hope that if there’s a 3rd season we will get that addition to the world explored further.

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        • Those are very mild criticisms. I wasn’t remotely disappointed when we left the teen punks behind. In retrospect I did wonder if that was done to fill the episode count. I think it’s a pretty safe bet that this will be paid off in some capacity in season three.

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        • yeah, my objection was to the placement of the scene featuring the teen punks at the top of the whole season. It’s not a sound choice structurally because it gives the viewer the impression that this will be very important either to the plot or thematically throughout the rest of the season.

          The episode set in Chicago is comparatively more appropriate when you consider classic adventure plot structures. The “hero” goes on an individual quest, separating from home and friends, learns something about themselves, is tempted, but decides to return to home and friends in time to make a difference. It’s pretty straightforward stuff. To my taste she would have been in Chicago for maybe two episodes instead of just one, but again, that’s a quibble. Episode 7 is almost the opposite of a “bottle episode” in that it is mostly focused on 011’s point of view and experiences away from Hawkins.

          It’s almost like if Mad Max: Fury Road was actually dropped into the middle of a greater story in which the events of that film are meaningful only in character development, but almost meaningless to the overall plot/story (which is kind of how I watch that movie anyway).

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        • I am giving the brothers credit that if we watch the show from first episode to last, the placement of that tease will actually make sense within the larger context. Like you said before, after watching season 2, the first season feels incomplete. We may feel the same way about the second season after watching the third. I could see this making an excellent trilogy, but I hope they don’t drag the show past its natural life span.

          Otherwise, it’s just “hey, whoa, here’s something you didn’t explicitly know but probably could have figured out on your own.”

          I won’t quibble too much about the Chicago episode. Given its lack of relevance, I am glad it was contained to just one hour. I get that they wanted to take Eleven on a journey and have her change as a result. My favorite part was her confrontation (sort of) with Dr. Brenner. Most of the characters in the teen gang were too thinly sketched for me to care one way or another, so I was glad to get back to the characters I was actually invested in.

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      • Agreed. I compare Stranger Things with JJ Abrams’ 80’s Spielberg homage/ripoff Super 8. ST blends a myriad of pop culture influences from an entire decade just about seamlessly. S8 was a thin Spielberg pastiche.

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        • Yeah. Stranger Things borrows stuff from well-worn genres. But it does it seamlessly. While I consider Super 8 to be Abrams best film, in a lot of ways it grabbed the tropes of 70s/80s Spielberg with no understanding of how to really make them his own.

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        • I guess Super 8 is Abrams’ best by default. That’s sad, because it’s really not a good movie.

          I am impressed by the level of integration the Duffers pull off with Stranger Things. It’s like they took everything they loved from their childhood some of which I wouldn’t necessarily think would be complimentary, put it in a blender and somehow came up with this pop culture nostalgia smoothie that’s pretty damn satisfying. But some people don’t like smoothies, so…

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