An endorsement of Nazi punching at Cinepunx

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Like many folks, I woke up Friday morning feeling afraid and uncomfortable, uncertain as to what was going to happen to the United States. I knew of the many marches planned for that night and the next day, but by the time noon rolled around and the president-elect replace Barack Obama, I was fairly well sick with worry. So, as is my wont, I went to the bar near my house to watch Jeopardy and zone out. Jeopardy was pre-empted by the parade, so I got to watch a limp work its way down Pennsylvania Avenue while I drank cheap beer and tried to tamp down everything. By the time I got home and sat around watching Venture Bros DVDs, I was a morose, sad-sack guy. Then — then I saw a video that gave me hope. Self-described “alt-right” demagogue — in reality a white nationalist, racist, bigoted piece of human garbage — Richard Spencer was in the middle of an interview, and just as he began to explain the Pepe the Frog pin on his lapel, he got fucking cold-cocked.
Read the full op-ed at Cinepunx. Published 1/23/17

John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates” video at Cinepunx

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The Phantom Menace was released the day I finished my sophomore year of college. Thanks to some amazing friends who sat in line for weeks, I was able to snag a ticket to the midnight screening in the biggest theater in Kansas City. I moved all of my stuff out of the dorms, drove it home, took it into my parents’ house, and then drove to sit in line for seven hours, in order to secure a seat. It’s weird to think about the fact that despite having watched all of the movies with my friends (including a Labor Day marathon a year or two prior, wherein we watched all the Special Editions when they were released on VHS), in addition to having friends from college get my ticket, I watched the movie essentially by myself. A sold-out theater, yes, but I sat by myself.
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on John Williams and The Phantom Menace at Cinepunx. Published 11/18/16

The Clash at Demonhead’s “Black Sheep” video at Cinepunx

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Despite the fact that I’d rabidly followed the Bryan Lee O’Malley graphic novel series on which it was based, I didn’t get to see Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World film when it was in theaters. Firstly, I think it ran for maybe two weeks in my town, and it was dead-smack in the middle of back-to-school season.

Given that at the time, I was raising two kids, finances and time were at a premium, and they never became available simultaneously. So, I waited four months for it to come out on video, and then promptly watched it every day for a week. This coincided with me downloading the soundtrack and listening to it every day at work for a week, as well.
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on The Clash at Demonhead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at Cinepunx. Published 12/6/16

Rachel Sweet’s “Hairspray” video at Cinepunx

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Despite its many iterations — musical, movie musical, live televised musical — John Waters’ original version of Hairspray, released in 1988, remains the best. Now, I’m a fan of musicals, and I’ll admit the Tony-winning Broadway version is pretty damned solid, with opening number, “Good Morning Baltimore,” being the best of the bunch. I’ll even cut some slack to “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” despite it being almost insipidly cloying. That said, Waters’ film is just so perfectly bizarre and fun and joyous, with a perfect selection of Cameo Parkway R&B sides soundtracking everything. The plot, if you’ve never seen any of the various iterations, revolves around Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad getting on The Corny Collins Show, dancing, then becoming more racially aware, dancing, fighting for integration, and more dancing.
Read the From the Stereo to Your Screen column on Rachel Sweet and Hairspray at Cinepunx. Published 1/10/17

Scream Saturdays: Scream 3 (2000)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Wes Craven’s Scream, so each Saturday in October, myself and a cadre of like-minded individuals will be re-watching the franchise one movie at a time. Is the series influential -- and if so, positively or negatively? How does each installment reflect the time in which it appeared? What does the series’ reboot as an MTV television program indicate about the state of horror today? We’ll answer all of these questions and explore whether or not the franchise holds up as we go along. scream-3-poster SCREAM 3 Dimension Films, 2000 Nick Spacek is a writer and podcaster based in Lawrence, Kansas. He runs this website (obvs), as well as the From & Inspired By soundtrack podcast, in addition to writing for Cinepunx, Modern Vinyl, the Pitch, and the UK's Starburst Magazine. He can be found spewing nonsense on Twitter @nuthousepunks. It seems like the opening gave Scream 3 an opportunity to really be something different. Cotton Weary being a douchebag on a cell phone notwithstanding -- which is evidently a way to set this in Hollywood even more than the sight of the iconic sign would have otherwise -- using the Ghostface voice-changer in a new way, as well as killing off a franchise character is definitely new. Unfortunately, from the moment they kick in with a Creed song, Scream 3 shows itself to be the tertiary film in every way: far too many character actors? Check. Unnecessary pop culture references? Check. Character actors making cameos and thus becoming living, breathing pop culture references? Check and fucking check. Thanks, Jay and Silent Bob. I mean, fuck: they even manage to bring back a popular dead character with a video. scream-3-jay-and-silent-bob Still, we do get the likes of Emily Mortimer in an early role, and Parker Posey being weird and funny is always a delight, to say nothing of a deadpan Patrick Warburton. All that can’t possibly make up for a plot which is even more self-referential than absolutely necessary. Not only do we have Stab 3, the film within a film, but we have the set of the movie being the set from the original Scream, thus making all the discussions of film and pop culture and cinematic violence ever so much more meta. Downside to Scream 3 is that, unlike so many other sequels this point in a series, doesn’t ramp up the violence. I think that’s my big problem with Scream: for a slasher series, the kills peaked early. By this point, it’s all jump cuts and aftershots. This movie sleepwalks through its plot, which is so much a rip-off of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, it’s basically a fucking remake. God. This makes Jason Takes Manhattan look like Shakespeare in the Park. scream-3-carrie-fisher That Carrie Fisher cameo is fucking amazing, though. God, she’s amazing. It’s so wonderful to see a strong, take-no-shit woman who doesn’t get killed or beat the fuck up or punished in some way. The treatment of women in these films at the hands of abusive guys is pretty horrid overall, but Roman’s opinions and the story of Maureen Prescott is absolutely gross. So, yeah -- thanks for being dope as hell, Carrie Fisher. Liam O’Donnell is co-host and co-creator of the Cinepunx podcast as well as Editor in Chief of He also co-hosts Horror Business and Eric Roberts is The Fucking Man. When not hosting, editing, or promoting so many damn podcasts, Liam works in higher education in diversity and equity programming and education, and lends his promotion and event planning skills to This Is Hardcore Fest and the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Fest. Find him talking all kinds of crazy shit on twitter at @liamrulz. I cannot muster much to say about this movie that Nick did not already cover. It really is a painful exercise to watch it. The first film rubs me raw with the constant barrage of meta commentary and jokes, but shit at least it takes wit and insight to write that stuff. This film is lazy, boring, and offensively cliche. The worst part for me may be the arch to somehow “deepen” or “complexify” the story with some sort of pre-origin scenario for this mess. scream-3-jennifer-and-gale First, I have watched a LOT of trilogies and I cannot even name how many third installments rely on this trope, but let's take it as a given. The idea of adding some layer of narrative to this series is actually exciting. I would love for hidden layers to be revealed. Of course, the narrative would have to have the sort of ambiguity to support that, and Scream doesn't. I guess that is why the final reveal is such a frustrating shit show. No, having some secret brother, and a rape narrative that somehow explains someone's sexual identity, is not what I was looking for. Shit, this feels like some kind of grimey sex anxiety Giallo plot but without the charm, style, or sexiness for that matter. If anything, this is somehow the LEAST sexy of these films, which is saying a lot. scream-3-ghostface I could similarly rail about how uninspired the kills are, how the cameos other than Carrie Fisher are awful. Scream 3 is every sequel stereotype you can imagine, a warehouse of bad ideas that only greed and drugs can justify. Is it the worst sequel I have ever seen? No, of course not. Come on: this horror. It is though a reminder that, though they are better than this, the entire series seems a little ill-conceived at this point.

Films From the Void on ‘Mosquito’ at Cinepunx

Mosquito is one of those films which I missed as a kid, and finding this in a video store closeout sale was me taking a bit of a chance, and man, did it ever pay off. This flick is fun as hell — definitely in the same vein as 1989’s The Dead Next Door, in that it’s gross, dumb, and acted with more enthusiasm than skill. However, much like that Midwestern diamond in the rough, Mosquito is just such a gem that it’s a damn shame more people aren’t aware of it.
Read the full review at Cinepunx. Published 10/7/16

The Well-Read Ghoul: 10 Essential Books for the Horror Fan at Cinepunx

Horror movies are so much more than splatter and jump scares, if you want them to be. While repeated viewings can sometimes yield surprises, there’s nothing quite like an informed opinion from a different perspective to offer further insight into longtime favorites. While the pendulum horror film criticism seems to frequently swing from fannish enthusiasm to academic dryness with little in between, there’s a slew of interesting reading to be had. What follows is a list of the most-readable and interesting books any self-respecting horror fan should have on their shelf.
Read the full list at Cinepunx. Published 10/3/16