Basement Talk 006: Movie Conspiracies

Welcome back to Basement Talk hosted by Olivia Norwood and Anthony Peyton. In our sixth episode, we will be discussing a variety of movie conspiracies. Some of these include dark industry secrets like Shirley Temple’s childhood and Mark Salling’s pedophilia. Aside from that, we have interesting theories involving the true mastermind of the Scream franchise and who the real chosen one is in the Harry Potter series.

WARNING: Extremely dark subject matter, including pedophilia and sexual aggression.

Episode Length: 32 minutes

Intro & Outro Song: “Funhouse” by John Treash

 

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‘Heathers’: F*ck Me Gently With A Chainsaw

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

It’s time for another Time Warp Tuesday, folks! This time we’ve got the brilliance of the 1988 cult classic, Heathers.

That’s right, I’m talking the iconic original teen bitch dark comedy that has influenced more movies than Meryl Streep has acted in. That’s a lot, if you weren’t aware.

Heathers is basically one of the best movies any teen could watch and I highly recommend. It’s absolutely not one of good influence, but it’s a fun one. A movie from the 80s doesn’t get a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes for being “alright”.

First of all, we have the stunning Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer and all the talent that that beautiful woman delivers. Following her we have Christian Slater as JD, Veronica’s insane – no, like literally insane – love interest who likes explosives a little more than a person should.

Beyond that we have the beautiful title characters Heather Chandler, Heather McNamara, and Heather Duke played by Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk, and Shannen Doherty, respectively.

One of my favorite parts about this classic other than the unforgettable quotes (check the title real quick because that’s a quote) was the fact that there was not a single weak actor in this cast. They all had talents beyond their ages and their wasn’t anyone I got bored watching.

More than that was the stunning color pallete that this movie crew decided would fit best for the Heathers respective personality – head bitch Heather was red, Duke was green, and McNamara was yellow. The decision to have them visually separated added to the memorable scenes and ability to see a group of friends that were very clearly on different pedestals.

Heathers went on to influence such movies as Mean Girls, Clueless, Jawbreakers, and dozens of others. I don’t blame them, if I were a filmmaker I’d want to follow the footsteps of this cult phenomenon, too.

Aside from all the praise, Heathers unfortunately did not have – just kidding, trying to find reasons to not like this movie is next to impossible. Obviously, I love Heathers. I think it just did so much right and cultivated a culture. Even if nowadays the subject matter is a lot more touchy, Heathers is still appealing to everyone who wants a dark teen girl trope comedy.

‘A Simple Favor’: The Perfect Dark Comedy Thriller

By Olivia Norwood, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Is it a mystery? Is it a comedy? Or is it both? The new Blake Lively film A Simple Favor is more than what it appears to be in the trailers. In all of their promos and previews, the film is sold as a murder mystery with Anna Kendrick being her awkward self. It’s safe to assume that this was where the comedy was going to come from.

But, Kendrick wasn’t the only one contributing to the comedy. Lively, Henry Golding, and other cast members were pretty much funny the entire time which is why I am deeming this a dark comedy.

When single, crafty mom Stephanie (Kendrick) meets the enigmatic Emily (Lively) through a play date, she becomes wrapped up in the drama and mystery of her disappearance. Emily’s character, being brash and self-centered, completely counters cautious Stephanie which makes for an interesting dynamic when Emily uses the words ‘fuck’ regularly in front of her kid and Stephanie feeds her child meatless Swedish meatballs.

Kendrick usually gives us the clumsy girl performance but in this she evolves from it and becomes the cunning Nancy Drew type (because we all know that Nancy Drew deserves more credit).

While Kendrick gave us the brains, Lively gave us the bitch. Not only a bitch, but stone cold and evil bitch. Her character takes what she wants and never apologizes (this was a huge point in the movie). It was reminiscent of her role in Derek Martini’s 2012 film Hick where she played a street smart grifter. These two roles are very different from the same old ones that she’s used to portraying in Gossip Girl, The Age of Adeline, and All I See Is You (characters with no real backbone).

All in all, it was refreshing to see these two actresses portray something a little different from themselves and see that A Simple Favor was able to surprise us all when seeing it for the first time.


My Rating: 93%

Acting: 3.7/4

Cinematography: 3.5/4

Story: 3.7/4

Enjoyability: 4/4

‘The Room’: The Best Worst Movie Ever

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Therese Gardner

The Room is infamous for many reasons. Its strange origins, how absolutely terrible it is, and the cult following it has developed.

The man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Wiseau, wrote, directed, and starred in this film. Even those closest to him are unsure how he got the money to make this film which cost roughly $6 million to make which, if you’ve seen it, is quite hard to believe.

But Wiseau’s money isn’t the only thing that’s mysterious about him. For the longest time no one knew exactly how old he was, but after a quick internet search it seems we may have finally settled on 63. People also aren’t sure exactly where he’s from as he used to claim he was from New Orleans, but his accent told a different story.

The mystique surrounding Wiseau and The Room was a large contributor to its cult following. However, that isn’t the only factor. It also helps that it’s so bad that it makes you actually want to watch it. While most bad movies make you want to turn them off, The Room somehow has you coming back for more.

Although not very popular at the time of its release in 2003, it has now grown to cult status with regular midnight showings across the country that Wiseau himself will often show up to and sign stuff for fans.

The intrigue surrounding this film even sparked a movie, The Disaster Artist, which stars James Franco and is based off the book by Greg Sestero who co-starred in The Room. The Disaster Artist gives a detailed look into how this strange film came to be.

All in all, The Room definitely made an impression on the film community. It’s hard to pinpoint what about it makes it so watchable despite how bad it is, but to be so widely talked about 15 years after its release is quite impressive for any movie. Especially for one known as the worst movie ever made.

 

‘Toy Story’ Will Always Have A Friend In Me

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Olivia Norwood

I find there no need to introduce a movie that has captivated all ranges of people since 1995. Toy Story is an animated movie that blew people so far out of their shoes that it has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%.

It’s nice to look at the brilliant accomplishments behind the franchise that changed the animation industry and Disney all together, but it’s even more fascinating to think about why they achieved what they did. What was it about Toy Story that makes everyone so powerfully shout a ‘yes!’ when they are asked whether they like it or not? Well, that reason can be answered with many responses.

The animation itself was one of the many factors that people love. It was something unique that wasn’t shown prior to 1995. I mean, it was a bunch of talking toys. How often did you see such a thing in a beautifully animated film?

That transitions perfectly into the second aspect of Toy Story that people fell in love with. That would be the story itself. It adds to the uniqueness of the already living toys with backstories that only benefit the characters. Being able to witness of a chipper young cowboy doll become friends with a plastic astronaut was the perfect amount of funny and happiness. On top of that, we have a dog who doubles as a slinky, a dinosaur scared of his own shadow, and so many more.

It’s a mesmerizing piece of family-friendly artwork that warms the human soul on even the saddest of days. It didn’t stop with the first one, either. It ended up being one of the only franchises ever to prove that a sequel can be better than the original.

It’s ridiculously important to understand just how powerful animation can be. Toy Story is yet another animated family movie that stood in its place – which was high up on an ever evolving pedestal.

Scream-A-Thon: The Perfect Amount

By Anthony Peyton, Edited by Julia Wilson

Yesterday I got the life changing experience of watching all four of the Scream films in a theater (3 of which were on 35 mm print) in a marathon properly titled “Scream-a-thon”.

Let me start by saying that the Scream franchise was already my third favorite horror franchise even before entering the theater. Watching them in a row with a hyped up group of people and entertaining break shows solidified its spot even more.

Prior to the first Scream showing, two workers, dressed up as Ghostface, made a successful attempt to excite the audience with pre-show trivia and games with prizes. Each of these games was splattered with quotes from the legend himself (I am indeed talking about Ghostface) such as the iconic “gut you like a fish” line from the first film.

Before Scream 2 started, we all got the honor of watching a drag queen dressed up as Tatum from Scream with a cardboard garage around her waist imitating the character’s death to the song “Drop Dead Gorgeous” by Republica.

The movies themselves were something else. Seeing the Jamie Lee Curtis of the Scream franchise, Neve Campbell, master the art of one of the most powerful women of horror was truly enlightening. Sidney Prescott is the queen of modern horror. Even in Scream 4, Campbell’s character rules the show and uses all her power to develop Sidney even more.

Separately, watching Skeet Ulrich as Billy Loomis and Matthew Lillard as Stu Macher makes my bones shiver. They showed what a teenage psycho really was. More like the modern version of the horny teenage psychopath. And I’ll tell you, it was wonderful. The next time that a movie showed an even more modern psycho was Scream 4 when the surprising, fame hungry killer was revealed.

All four movies were something that should – and must – be experienced at least once in the form of a marathon because it’s a very life changing experience. It’s crazy to be able to watch one of the most cult classic horror franchises of all time in a theater with people who are equally as excited as I was.

How ‘Scream’ Revitalized The Slasher-Horror Genre

By Julia Wilson, Edited by Anthony Peyton

Scream has become one of those classic horror franchises along with others such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. However, Scream differs from the latter three in the sense that part of its purpose is to parody them.

In short, Scream is about a masked murderer who goes on a killing spree that is interspersed with creepy phone calls and centers around the murderer’s main target, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). As the series progresses you find out why Sidney is always targeted and more of the backstory.

The first Scream movie came out in 1996 and it proved to be a pivotal point for the horror genre. In the early 90’s the genre seemed to have hit a little bit of a lull, unable to find itself after the massive successes of the 70’s and 80’s including Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. After those three the slasher genre seemed to be done with until the release and massive critical and financial success of Scream, which is still currently the highest grossing slasher film of all time.

Scream was able to revitalize slasher movies and bring the horror genre back to life due in part to its self awareness. Throughout the film – and every film in the series – the characters use common horror cliches to try and figure out who the killer (or killers) is and how to survive the killing spree. This includes the character Randy’s (Jamie Kennedy)  infamous three rules on how to survive a horror movie: don’t have sex, don’t drink, and never say “you’ll be right back”. The final scene of Halloween is even playing in the background of the last part of the film as though guiding the progression of it.

The film also was able to revitalize the slasher genre by doing something that the originals hadn’t – make it realistic. In Scream, Ghostface, as the killer is dubbed, isn’t superhuman, he doesn’t appear in your dreams, he’s just a real person going around killing people with a knife and playing with their emotions through phone calls. A premise based in reality as screenwriter Kevin Williamson was inspired by the real killings of the Gainesville Ripper.

The other thing this franchise did right is it knew when to stop, as there are only four films, which is much less than other big horror franchises, and each film had a distinct purpose.

The first film of course was just touching on horror cliches in general. Scream 2 talked specifically about the rules of horror sequels, and Scream 3 showed how horror trilogies often go off the rails and give you a “preponderance of backstory” as Randy says. Then, after the many horror remakes of the late 2000’s, they made one last movie, Scream 4, featuring a lot of new characters and touching on all the common trends seen in horror remakes.

The films were directed by Wes Craven, who also created the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and wow did he do an amazing job. The dialogue in the film, written by Williamson, was also brilliantly done. It felt so real with the way the characters spoke and how they used what they knew, horror cliches, to try to figure out what was happening in their little town.

The combined use of self-aware humor and a killer that could actually exist, not only made this movie scarier, but gave the slasher genre the refreshment it needed to continue. Scream remains one of the most well done horror franchises and is still referenced and talked about even over 20 years after the first film was released.