The Reading Room | 5 #Books to Binge-Read After Binge-Watching #StrangerThings

Fill your ‘Stranger Things’ void with books!

Did you watch “Stranger Things” on Netflix?  Did you tear through it? Were you left wanting more? Then check out one of these books, sure to leave you riveted. Filled with the supernatural and extraterrestrial, normal people in bizarre circumstances, and a tinge of nostalgia, these books are must reads for anyone looking for stranger things…

I answered yes to all three of The Reading Room‘s questions above, but I’ve only heard of two of these titles–the King novel The Tommyknockers, for one–but I had no idea that John Dies at the End was a book. Whether it started that way or this is a novelization of the film matters not; it looks like I need to be making a trip to the library!

Have you guys seen Stranger Things yet? Did you like it? Do you think this Reading Room list does your feels from the series justice?

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Favorite Movies to Watch on Halloween Night

(From Jack Pumpkinking)

Now, you probably think this post is better suited for tomorrow night; don’t worry. I’m giving you a little bit of help toward really enjoying Halloween by not only telling you my favorite go-to flicks but also listing where they are available for picking up your Halloween get-together! I’ll provide a picture of the movie’s poster and the links to where it can either be streamed or rented for a small fee. Gotta share the horror love, right? I’m just doing my part. Enjoy!

Halloween and Halloween 2 (1978, 1981)

Clearly, these are go-to Halloween movies. Classic stalk and slash, featuring the always captivating Jamie Lee Curtis and her sibling nemesis: stone-cold Michael Myers.

Source: NiteHawkCinema.com
Source: NiteHawkCinema.com

This classic is not available at any of the “traditional” viewing outlets: Redbox or Netflix. Not even Blockbuster on Demand (which I just downloaded this morning) or the YouTube Horror Movie Channel. You might just have to go and check out your local video store if you don’t already own this horror classic! If you Google this little dilemma, there are some interesting results. However, be very careful when interacting with websites that you aren’t totally and wholly familiar with. Don’t get a virus on Michael’s behalf; although, he might find that a bit humorous (because in my world all horror villains have a dry sense of humor).

 

Source: NiteHawkCinema.com
Source: NiteHawkCinema.com

Now, this little beauty is available through the Netflix DVD option; though, it might be a little late in the game to snag this one for tomorrow night. But, I don’t know how long processing takes on that because I only pay for the streaming option.

Blockbuster on Demand has this little filly of a sequel for viewing, and all you have to do is sign up and download the app. You pay per movie (starting at $2.99) and registration is free. They do take your credit card information at sign-up, but they won’t charge you until you actually view a film. Again, I’ve just downloaded it this morning; so if you use it and there’s issues, come back here and let me know. Then, I can let the world know. Muah-ha-ha!

Hocus Pocus (1993)

This is not just a kid’s movie, although it is aimed at children. It has a host of talented stars: Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Omri Katz (Eerie, Indiana LOVE!), and young Thora Birch. Not to mention Mr. Sean Murray, who would grow into a well-liked NCIS agent one day! And, it explores a city’s history, contains a great ghost story, and puts witches in an oven–just classic story telling here.

Source: 365ThingsAustin.com
Source: 365ThingsAustin.com

Confusing as this may be, Redbox has a movie page for Hocus Pocus but no ways to secure it for renting or the elusive “ADD” button to place it on a wishlist for viewing “when this is at the box.” So, whether it is or isn’t there, I can’t say for sure.

It is available on Netflix through the DVD option, but not online streaming.

YouTube is here to save the day! Through their Movie Channel, they offer the full Hocus Pocus  experience for only $2.99! That’s not too bad.

 

 

Practical Magic (1998)

What a classic Halloween movie. It teaches us acceptance of others despite inherent differences, how to come together in times of crisis, the importance of family and love, and how to put your heart on the line and dream. Oh, and it’s about witches.

Source: MoviePoster.com
Source: MoviePoster.com

Seems as though, the farther you get from a year beginning with a 2, the harder it is to find streaming online options. Redbox is a no-go, doesn’t even have it available to rent “at the box.”

Netflix offers this beauty through the DVD option.

YouTube and Blockbuster on Demand (You’ll need to register before you can see the movie page; it’s only available through the app.) offer this for the low rental price of $2.99! Totally worth the money!

 

 

 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) 

I was 12 the first time I saw this movie, and I loved it from that instant on. It was hard to get on video, then, and I would go a year or two between viewings until about college or so, because I just. couldn’t. find. it. I’ve never been to a “live” performance, either, whether interactive movie screening or stage performance. It’s certainly on my bucket list; I just don’t know who I would dress as. So many colorful characters! And it’s those Frankenstein/Sci-Fi/Get-in-drag elements that make it perfect for any Halloween celebration, even just providing background noise. Though, how could it ever simply be background noise? I think Dr. Furter would be disappointed. Don’t miss the floor show!

Source: NaroCinema.com
Source: NaroCinema.com

As expected at this point, no Redbox options–though I cannot speak to how sad that makes me. Especially since I grew up longing to watch this movie over and over again (I still do, even though I own it!), and it isn’t instantly available to the masses for less than $2. Not that it’s cheap, never; but access to it should be! (Sorry, Mr. O’Brien.)

Netflix, of course, has this available via the DVD option, but no online streaming.

YouTube and Blockbuster on Demand, to the rescue again, offer it for your ultimate viewing pleasure at a devilishly low $2.99! Definitely worth every penny for the sheer entertainment value and decadent musical numbers. You’ll be humming “The Time Warp” all night, kind of like I do every day.

 

This list is not exhaustive, there are plenty of hours to fill on Halloween and plenty of horror movies to be watched. Between the links back to YouTube, Blockbuster on Demand, Netflix, and Redbox you are bound to find something entertaining for every member of your family, even if my suggestions here did absolutely nothing for you.

 

 

TV | Fringe (2008-2013)

Source: "TV Show" Pinterest Board
Source: “TV Show” Pinterest Board

Over the last month and a half, via Netflix, I have been able to marathon watch–clearly, at odd intervals–all five seasons of the sci-fi drama Fringe. Referring to it simply as a “sci-fi drama” feels like undercutting it a bit, but if that is enough of a referral to at least get your toes curled then go now (click “Netflix” up there) and start watching it. You won’t regret it, and I won’t hate you for not reading the rest of this post. Honest.

My fiancée thinks I’m being too simplistic when I describe it as “The X Files meets CSI.” And maybe I am; however, in my mind this one show combines the best elements of both of those shows: “real-time” crime solving and weird science. Not that 80s movie, but the kind of science from which the title derives its name. The kind of science Leonard and Sheldon play with on The Big Bang Theory. Just on a grander, far more serious note.

Fringe Science, New Discoveries and Developments

The show summary provided by TV.com does its job well:

This sci-fi drama follows the exploits of FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna TorvThe Secret Life of Us), jack-of-all-trades Peter Bishop (Dawson’s Creek’s Joshua Jackson) and institutionalized scientist Dr. Walter Bishop (John NobleLord of the Rings: The Return of the King) as they work the cases of the Fringe Division, a task force focused on fringe science and paranormal events. They face a rapidly spreading series of unexplained phenomena of the threatening kind, leading to unimaginable discoveries and events.

While focusing on a topic that feels so out of this world and unbelievable, the plots and motivations of the characters are very real, substantial, and down to earth. Familial ties and the fight for freedom are consistent themes throughout the series, not to mention self-discovery, identity, and the concept of justice. The characters are well-developed, articulate, and relatable–even when they’re not exactly what they seem. The ensemble have great chemistry and I found very little scene-chewing; though, John Noble is a master at scene-stealing. His one-liners and non-sequitors will keep you laughing, even when the ongoing events seem bleak for our protagonists. But all comes around in the end, and I felt the ending of the entire series was rather satisfying–if not quite what I expected.

If you’ve made it all the way through this post, I’m thanking you; but seriously, if you haven’t seen this show yet, in the words of a dear friend, “Go now.”

Film | Stephen King’s Top 5 Big, Bad Mamas

There is a rumor that Stephen King is a misogynist: Google Search, Google Scholar Search. Probably the one time when the civil and scholarly worlds almost match. But I am not here to perpetuate that rumor; I really don’t agree with it. Especially as a man who was raised by a single mother, I don’t think he could hate women after he acknowledges how hard his mother worked to keep him and his brother alive. I think he gives women a backbone–an unapologetic one.

…sometimes a woman had to be a high-ridin’ bitch. “Sometimes,” she told me, “being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.” [Dolores Claiborne (1993 Signet paperback, 358)].

People take to task women who are too “bossy” or “forward” and it pisses me off. I’m willing to bet it pissed off Mrs. King, too, when her husband walked out one day and left her with her two boys. I’m willing to bet lots of women get pissed off, and Stephen King has captured just a few them–getting mad as Hell and not taking it anymore.

Here, in no particular order, are my Top 5 Stephen King Big, Bad Mamas:

Probably the most notorious, Margaret White.

Overtly religious in “godless times”, Margaret White comes off as a little bit cuckoo. Especially since her girl just wants to fit in and go to prom. Pitched as evil and off her rocker from the get-go, Margaret does little to change this. She’s consistent, determined, and certain–how many of you can say that? She doesn’t change to fit her environment, feeling complete control and confidence in the opinions she pursues. Not only that, she ends up right–not even saying “I told you so!” when Carrie comes home just a little worse for wear after the prom. I mean, almost all of them laughed at her by the end of the movie.

From the book quoted above, Dolores Claiborne.

A hardworking maid and housekeeper for Vera Donovan, Dolores discovers her husband is molesting their only daughter. With advice from Vera and her own anger-fueled strength to guide her, Dolores seeks recompense for the invasion against her daughter’s security and her bank account. After working long, hard, physically crippling months and years for Vera Donovan, Dolores thought she’d earned a path to freedom for her and her daughter. No one, not even her drunken, abusive husband, could stop her.

A mother against her will, Nadine Cross.

Source: "The Stand" Comic Images on ComicVine.com
Source: “The Stand” Comic Images on ComicVine.com

Nadine Cross was promised to The Walking Man. It might appear that she promised herself to him, based on the way she acts. However, in the film, Nadine Cross’s death takes on a different form from the novel, even though the intent is still the same. In the film, Laura San Giacomo is taken into the arms of Randall Flagg–at the last minute she wants to refuse him (similar to the book)–and becomes pregnant with his child. Running was no option, when you’re running from the Devil. She’s taken back to Las Vegas to be introduced to the crew there, when shortly after a conversation with Randall’s right-hand man, Nadine picks herself up from the couch, threatens Randall as the image above portrays and tosses herself off the balcony. In the novel, she taunts Randall into tossing her. Quite the message to send to the baby-daddy, wouldn’t you say?

The unholy maternal spirit, Ellen Rimbauer.

Ellen Rimbauer only wanted the dream of a Victorian life, marriage, and family. Giving  two children, the happiness of her youth, and her very soul in order to seek out the joy she wanted. Her carousing, cheating husband kept her from it. Ellen and her maid, Sukeena, would make him pay. Dedicating her very life to the process of building her mansion, Rose Red, Sukeena assists Ellen in attempting to woo her grandson, Steven, into helping them build. Protecting home and hearth, Ellen and Sukeena are a force to be reckoned with when Lois Reardon and her crew attempt to waken the sleeping mansion.

The trapped protector, Donna Trenton.

Donna is simply trying to live her life, take care of her boy, and get her tired car fixed. Dropping her car off with a trusted friend becomes a fight for survival as she’s attacked by a rabid St. Bernard in front of his home. Doing all that she can with what she has is an understatement as Donna surveys her surroundings and tries to fight through the environment as she’s found it. She’s done nothing to create this trauma, aside from not being prepared to meet a rabid dog, and can do almost nothing–save risking contracting the disease herself–to take herself out of it. Watching Donna fight to survive the world as she’s had it presented to her is a metaphor for maneuvering the minefield that women often call life.

Sometimes the characters authors write don’t get the gripe for being assholes–the authors do. Accusing an author of being an asshole for writing asshole characters is kind of like calling God an asshole for creating assholes on Earth, isn’t it? And, of course, in order to understand an asshole, one might have to be one. That doesn’t necessarily mean the author and his character are the same kind of asshole. King has written some pretty shady characters; he’s also written some pretty honorable characters. The rub is that both are human, and King is merely attempting to show us how life can sometimes be–real or in our most vivid nightmares.

Film | The ‘Hatchet’ Franchise

It all began in 2006, with a warning to stay out of the swamp…

Source: IMDB.com

Soon, everyone would know the name Victor Crowley. Unfortunately, I have yet to see this movie, but I was able to watch Hatchet II (2010) and Hatchet III (2013) on Netflix. I want to say that I’d heard of these before and just never got the chance to watch them. Nope, not even that cool. Really stumbled upon them after they were added to Netflix, which I’ve started watching a lot more of due to cutting that ol’ cable cord.

It’s definitely one of my new favorite slasher franchises, and I love my slasher flicks–especially ’80s slasher flicks; but Victor Crowley, played brilliantly in all three films by Kane Hodder, is definitely worth the exception. Not to mention, the introduction of Danielle Harris into the franchise after some disagreement regarding the personal/professional choices of Tamara Feldman (the originating Marybeth Dunston) by Adam Green. Too bad for Tamara, but awesome for Danielle. It will be strange seeing Marybeth played by Tamara when I finally get around to seeing the first installment, but that must have been how folks felt upon seeing Danielle in the second.

Regardless, it’s bloody, relentless, and damn near gruesome in the amount of blood that just gets tossed about willy-nilly, and Victor is a huge fan of spinal columns… Just to let you know. No spoilers or anything, but just an FYI.

HATCHET III / Director BJ McDonnell / Photo: Skip Bolen