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Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in October 2020

At last, October has arrived, and we can take a break from the horrors of reality to enjoy make believe scares. This month, Now Playing Podcast is serving up some laughter alongside buckets of blood, with Tremors on the main feed and two long-requested retrospectives on their way to supporters of the show’s bi-annual donation drive.

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in October 2020.

October 6 – Tremors 4: The Legend Begins

It’s odd when a prequel has a number in the title. It’s almost like they’re purposely trying to confuse fans by telling them, “It’s a sequel, but it already happened.” Of course, that negates the definition of a sequel, because a sequel explains what happens next, not what happened previously, unless we’re going by Endgame time travel logic, in which case… and now I’ve gone cross-eyed. Please enjoy this pre/sequel to Tremors, set in the Old West, starring Michael Gross.

October 9 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Wes Craven’s 1977 film gets a mid-aughts remake that’s perfectly in line with other “torture porn” slashers of its day. This time, the budget can pay for better makeup on the hill-dwelling mutant cannibals, more buckets of blood and body parts, and a cast that includes GOAT Ted Levine, Kathleen Quinlan, and X2’s Aaron Stanford. Plus, it’s got a post-High Tension Alexandre Aja at the helm, years before he’d go on to do Piranha 3DHorns, and 2019 gator-romp Crawl. Listeners can unlock Now Playing’s The Hills Have Eyes retrospective with a donation of $10 or more during the show’s Fall/Winter Donation Drive.

Bonus: If you’re an HBO Max subscriber, you can watch the 2006 Hills Have Eyes and its sequel during the month of October.

October 13 – Tremors 5: Bloodlines

The Tremors franchise took an 11-year hiatus before coming back with Bloodlines, a sequel that sees series star Michael Gross battling graboids alongside new sidekick Jamie Kennedy. At first, the Scream alum looks poised to take over the franchise, but you’d have an easier time prying the gun from Gross’s cold, dead hands than you would taking Tremors away from him.

October 16 – The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007)

The blood hadn’t even dried on the Hills Have Eyes reboot before a sequel was greenlit and rushed into production for a 2007 release. This time, the sequel eschews the dirt bike antics of Wes Craven’s 1985 The Hills Have Eyes Part II and instead inserts a group of National Guard members into the action, forcing them to fight the mutant cannibals during a training mission in the New Mexico desert. Helmed by German music video director Martin Weisz, the sequel did not match its predecessor’s box office.  

Bonus: The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) are streaming on HBO Max during the month of October. 

October 20 – Tremors: A Cold Day In Hell

Michael Gross and Jamie Kennedy return to battle graboids in the sixth Tremors film. This time, the monsters come blasting out of the frozen ground in northern Canada. The CGI, setting, and supporting cast are on par for a direct-to-video sequel, but credit the filmmakers for always doing their best to make the most with what they’ve got. 

October 23 – The House That Jack Built

Now Playing makes its first foray into Lars von Trier’s filmography with a bonus review of 2018’s The House That Jack Built. The story follows the exploits of serial killer Matt Dillon and features appearances by Uma Thurman, Bruno Ganz, Riley Keough, and Jeremy Davies. The review was chosen by longtime supporter Sean Ray through Now Playing’s Podbean patron campaign

October 27 – Tremors: Shrieker Island

Just because there are no movies in the theaters doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to watch in October. The seventh Tremors film arrives via direct-to-video on October 20, bringing back Michael Gross to battle graboids on an island resort. Filmed in Thailand, the sequel centers on the monsters being brought to the island “as a dangerous form of trophy hunting” and swaps out Jamie Kennedy for another new sidekick, Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder. Horror veteran Richard Brake is also on hand, with director Don Michael Paul back behind the camera. 

Shrieker Island will serve as the finale to Now Playing’s Tremors retrospective, at least until there’s an eighth film. 

October 30 – Cloverfield

One of the notable viral marketing successes of the 21st century, Cloverfield arrived in 2008 with a ton of expectations and little-to-no actual knowledge of its plot. The secrecy paid off, with the small budget film becoming a monster hit and spawning two spinoffs (?) that may or may not be set in the same dimension. Now Playing will be reviewing all three Cloverfield films at the Platinum Level of its Fall/Winter Donation Drive. A donation of $35 or more will unlock Cloverfield, as well as the Rosemary’s Baby, Omen, Last House on the Left, and Hills Have Eyes retrospectives.

September 29, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in September 2020

For the first time in months, multiple major releases will be in movie theaters as the industry attempts to win back audiences following the pandemic shutdown.

Would-be blockbusters on the September calendar include Bill & Ted Face the Music, eternally-delayed The New Mutants, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet

Of the three, only Bill & Ted is being released simultaneously on video-on-demand platforms. Tenet, insiders and analysts agree, will be the blockbuster by which all others are judged. The belief is that if Nolan’s time-bending sci-fi tale can bring audiences back to multiplexes, it will be safe to release Wonder Woman 1984 and the stable of tentpoles that were put on ice back in March. 

Though Tenet and The New Mutants will be in theaters in September, Now Playing Podcast has decided to keep its pending reviews of both films on hold, at least for the moment. That’s because theaters are not open nationwide, and not all of the hosts will be able to see it during its opening week. 

“We won’t review a movie until all of our hosts can watch it on-demand at home or as part of a safe, socially distanced theatrical experience,” Now Playing creator and co-host Arnie Carvalho says. “We’ve waited this long for New Mutants, we’ve got plenty more listener requests to fill our schedule at the moment.”

And what are those requests? Well, here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in September 2020.

September 1 – Bill & Ted Face the Music

Fans that have waited impatiently for the last 29 years will finally get to see the reunion between Alex Winter’s Bill S. Preston Esquire and Keanu Reeves’ Ted “Theodore” Logan when the duo Face the Music. If it’s been a bit since you’ve seen the first two films, catch up with Now Playing’s Bill & Ted Retrospective Series.

September 4 – Clerks (Patron Exclusive)

At long last, after years of debate and listener demand, Now Playing Podcast will review the first entry in Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse. Podbean patron Sean Ray has chosen Smith’s 1994 debut, Clerks, for review, thrusting Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob back into the past and forcing them to confront their younger selves and their opinions of Smith’s movies. It should make for a hell of a conversation. You can hear the show when you become a Now Playing Podcast Patron

September 11 – The Last House on the Left (1972)

Director Wes Craven established himself as a master of shock with his 1972 debut, The Last House on the Left. The film tells the story of a couple and their daughter who come face-to-face with a pack of killers. Controversial at the time, Last House has become a cult classic. Still, Craven’s films haven’t always left an impression with the Now Playing hosts. Will things be different this time? The Last House on the Left kicks off Now Playing’s 2020 Fall/Winter Donation Drive. The first episode debuts Friday, September 11.

September 18 – The Last House on the Left (2009)

Craven’s film got a remake in 2009, with Tony Goldwyn, Monica Potter, Garrett Dillahunt, and a pre-Breaking Bad Aaron Paul in the starring roles. From a production standpoint, the remake is clearly more impressive than Craven’s low-budget original, but is it better? Our hosts will weigh in on Friday, September 18.

Warning: The trailer is super spoiler-heavy.

September 25 – The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Craven’s reputation for exploitation horror got another jolt in 1977 when The Hills Have Eyes hit theaters. The film focuses on a family terrorized by mutant cannibals while on a vacation in their RV. It’s relentless violence and gore didn’t scare away audiences, and its success led to a sequel, remake, and a remake sequel. All four The Hills Have Eyes films will be covered as part in the Silver Level of Now Playing’s 2020 Fall/Winter Donation Drive.

New Retrospective Series – Tremors

Another cult classic series is on the menu in September, and it’s a long one. Did you know there are seven films in the Tremors franchise? The first entry, starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, and Michael Gross, was a video hit after its theatrical debut in 1990. The latest film, Tremors: Shrieker Island is coming this fall and sees the return of series star Gross. Now Playing will kick off its long-requested Tremors retrospective in September, but the release date hinges on the aforementioned reviews of The New Mutants and Tenet. Now Playing will make an announcement regarding the launch of the Tremors series in the coming weeks. 

August 27, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Sequester & Chill: Summer Streaming Surprises

The pandemic may have spoiled the summer movie season, but that doesn’t mean there are no summer movies. 

It’s been a summer movie season like no other. Some would say we didn’t have a summer movie season, with the likes of Maverick: Top Gun 2, Fast and Furious 9, Black Widow, Tenet, and many other highly anticipated blockbusters being punted to the future.

Yet, there were still many movies released. 

Out of necessity, the practice of straight-to-streaming exploded this summer. Less than a year ago, many considered such a release as a monstrous curiosity that would destroy cinemas (see Scorsese’s The Irishman), but when there are no cinemas, or a communal viewing experience isn’t safe, distributors and streaming services combined to give cinephiles a way to experience new movies.

And some of them were really, really good!

Here’s a list of “new summer movies” I saw and most certainly recommend*:

Palm Springs

After Hot Rod and That’s My Boy I have avoided Andy Samberg like a COVID-19 ward, but good word of mouth had me visit Palm Springs and it was a good trip! There have been many movies to try and take the Groundhog Day repeating-day conceit, but I can think of none that had such interesting characters. It was funny and had some character-driven plot twists that kept me engaged.  

If you see only one repeating-day film, see Groundhog Day. But if you want to see another, head to Palm Springs.

My Spy

It’s the dearth of new entertainment that led me to watch Dave Bautista’s entry in the “muscle man with kids” genre. Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger broke out of his big-guns stereotype and became a family-friendly name with Kindergarten Cop it seems every wrestler-turned-actor has tried to copy that success. Some of these comedies work (I enjoyed The Game Plan),and some don’t (Hulk Hogan in Mr. Nanny). 

After trying the insipid Stuber I wasn’t inclined to see My Spy but… I did. And it exceeded all my expectations. The chemistry between Bautista and child actress Chloe Coleman feels very natural, and the plot avoids several of the Kindergarten Cop cliches. 

In a year that also brought the near-unwatchable Playing with Fire, My Spy was a fun diversion.

The Lovebirds 

When this was intended for theatrical release the trailers made the film look funny. Kumail Nanjiani really impressed me with The Big Sick so I’m more inclined to see his work (though with Stuber that was a poor choice).

Lovebirds follows Nanjiani and costar Issa Rae as a couple on the verge of break-up. Well, nothing brings the spark back into a releationship as being on the run for a murder you didn’t commit. The result is the couple trying to find the real killer, uncovering a major conspiracy of Eyes Wide Shut orgiastic proportions, and making me laugh the whole way through.

Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge 

It shouldn’t be difficult to make a Mortal Kombat movie. The stories are pre-written for the characters, the filmmakers then need to dramatize those stories in an interesting way. 

Legends differentiates itself from previous Kombat movies by focusing on Scorpion. He was a near-mute ninja in the live-action films. Here, he is the protagonist.

The story is pretty rote. Scorpion is a felled warrior resurrected for revenge (see also: The Crow, The Wraith, Spawn, etc.) but the plot does have a few twists. For fans of the previous Kombat games or movies, seeing the classic characters brings a nostalgic thrill.  

The only drawback is the animated action. It’s well-drawn, but either you like cartoon fighting or you don’t, and it never thrilled me in any animated form. I much prefer seeing stuntmen do well-choreographed martial arts to seeing artists’ renderings.

It’s not at Flawless Victory, but Scorpion wins.

*For the sake of this list, only movies released as movies were included. Mini-series that really played like long movies, like Defending Jacob, were excluded becuase their episodic format labels them “TV Series”

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020

August had been heralded as the month in which tentpole theatrical films would return to movie theaters. We now know that’s not going to happen. With little-to-no success at “crushing the curve” of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the biggest release on the calendar – Christopher Nolan’s Tenet – will debut overseas in August before getting a staggered rollout in America beginning September 3

Despite the continued postponement of the summer movie season, Now Playing Podcast pushes forward in August, with new entries in its ongoing – nearly six years now – Stephen King retrospective series, the final two episodes of its bonus Sleepaway Camp retrospective, two patron-supported podcasts, and one excellent, all-new retrospective on the main feed. 

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020.

August 4 – The Langoliers

By 1995, Hollywood was ready to unleash a wave of CGI-powered blockbusters on moviegoers. We were on the verge of films like Twister and Titanic when ABC thought it wise to adapt King’s The Langoliers for television viewers. The two-night miniseries follows the story of airline passengers stuck in a time warp, or something, no one really knows for sure. It’s got Balki from Perfect Strangers and some odious, truly awful, special effects. Try to contain your laughter if you watch the full two-parter on YouTube. 

August 7 – Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor

The sequel to 1989’s Sleepaway Camp III started production in 1992 and was shelved until 2012. In between, another Sleepaway Camp movie was released, but the fifth one actually gets the No. 4 attached to it. Arnie, Stuart, and Brock will explain why when they break down this entry for Platinum-level supporters. 

August 11 – Secret Window

This 2004 Johnny Depp thriller, like The Langoliers, was adapted from King’s Four Past Midnight collection of stories, and focuses on a writer (shocking) caught up in a murder mystery. Obviously, there are more layers that will be peeled back, it’s a King story after all. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lF7CSXCMws

August 14 – Return to Sleepaway Camp 

The fifth film in Now Playing’s Sleepaway Camp retrospective is actually the fourth, and features the return of Felissa Rose, who portrayed the the original “Angela.” There is still a summer camp, and the murders that franchise fans turn out to see. But this one’s also got Isaac Hayes and Sopranos alum Vincent Pastore. 

August 18 – Golden Years

The final King entry for August is a limited series that aired on CBS in 1991 and 1992. Golden Years was conceived by the author as a “novel for television” and stars Felicity Huffman, Ed Lauter, Frances Sternhagen, and Keith Szarabajka. The plot involves a man aging in reverse, kind of like Benjamin Button. That’s where the comparisons stop.

August 21 – Deep Blue Sea 3

When Now Playing Podcast reviewed Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea as part of its Jaws retrospective, no one could predict the film would get one direct-to-video sequel, let alone two. Now, 21 years after the first DBSdebuted in theaters, the adventures of CGI smart sharks are chronicled in this sequel from the writer-director behind Quarantine 2 , The Skulls II, and The Skulls III.

August 25 – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

United Artists did starving movie fans a big favor when they announced in July that Bill & Ted Face the Musicwould debut on premium VOD and select theaters on September 1. That gave Now Playing the greenlight to carry on with its planned Bill & Ted retrospective series, starting with the duo’s famed Excellent Adventure. The 1989 original stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as high school buds that use a time machine to ace their history report. Just sit back and go with it, dudes. 

Patron Review: Cast Away

Tom Hanks won a Golden Globe and received a Best Actor nomination for his portrayl of a FedEx employee stranded on a deserted island. The film is remembered fondly for Hanks’ performance and friendship with an inanimate volleyball named Wilson. The Now Playing Podcast hosts will venture to the island in August after the film was selected for review by one of its Podbean patrons.   

Bonus Patron Review: The Dark Crystal

In 1982, Jim Henson and Frank Oz teamed for an animatronic-fueled fantasy taking place on a distant planet. It became a cult classic for a generation and spawned a Netflix prequel series in 2019. Now Playing Podcast will review The Dark Crystal as a bonus patron review in August.

July 27, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in July 2020

Sleepaway Camp, Jack Ryan, and more. Here's what's coming to Now Playing Podcast in July 2020.

Summer movie season is still on hold at America’s multiplexes (and the wait just got longer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet), but Now Playing Podcast comes to the rescue in July with two long requested retrospectives, a trifecta of live watch parties, and one surprising listener-supported review.

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in July 2020.

July 3 – Now Playing Summer Movie Series: Captain America: The First Avenger

On the eve of Independence Day, Now Playing celebrates the super hero that fights for truth, justice, and the American way. Not Superman, we’re talking about the kid from Brooklyn. Join Now Playing Podcast Friday, July 3 as the hosts watch Captain America: The First Avenger live on HotMic. Fans can download the HotMic app, signup with invite code NOWPLAYING, and chat with Stuart, Brock, Jakob, Marjorie, and Arnie while watching Chris Evans’ first outing as Captain America. The watch party, part of Now Playing’s Summer Movie Series, starts at 9 p.m. EST.

July 7 – Patriot Games

Harrison Ford took over the role of CIA hero Jack Ryan in 1992’s Patriot Games, the second big screen adaptation of a bestselling Tom Clancy novel. The Phillip Noyce-directed action thriller sees Ryan targeted by assassins after interfering with a terrorist plot. The review is the second in Now Playing’s Jack Ryan series, preceded by The Hunt for Red October.

July 10 – Sleepaway Camp

The coronavirus pandemic may have canceled one of summer’s longest traditions, but the spirit of summer camp lives on with Now Playing’s long-awaited Sleepaway Camp retrospective series. The 1983 slasher spawned a franchise of five films, the last of which was released in 2012. Now Playing listeners chose Sleepaway Camp to be featured as part of the 2020 Spring/Summer Donation Drive. The film is famous for its shocker ending, but we won’t spoil it for newbies here. 

July 14 – Clear and Present Danger

Harrison Ford returned for another Jack Ryan adventure in Clear and Present Danger, which sees Ryan uncovering a conspiracy involving the federal government’s war on Colombian drug cartels. Clear and Present Danger was a massive hit when it arrived in Summer 1994; does it hold up? Our hosts will tackle the third entry in Now Playing’s Jack Ryan series on July 14. 

July 17 – Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

The 1988 sequel to Sleepaway Camp got a limited theatrical release, as the series drifted closer to direct-to-video territory. This time, the killer takes on the guise of a camp counselor, and, of course, there will be blood.

July 17 – Now Playing Summer Movie Series: Justin’s Pick

Now Playing Podcast returns to HotMic on June 19 with another live watch party. This time, Justin makes his pick, inviting fellow hosts and listeners to join the fun. Download the app, signup with invite code NOWPLAYING, and chat along with the hosts while watching the movie!

July 21 – The Sum of All Fears

After he saved the world in Armageddon, Ben Affleck seemed an ideal choice to take over the role of Jack Ryan. The Sum of All Fears was the first Ryan adventure released in a post-911 world, and the Phil Alden Robinson feature sees Affleck and Morgan Freeman caught up in a plot to sneak a nuclear bomb into the United States. The film did decent box office, but Affleck never returned to the role.  

July 24 – Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

“Last year’s camp carnage was so much fun that Angela has decided to return for another season.” That pretty much sums it up for the third Sleepaway Camp film, which was released on VHS in 1989, just as the 80s slasher craze was taking its final bows. 

July 24 – Now Playing Summer Movie Series: Viewer’s Choice

Now Playing Podcast listeners get to choose the final film for the Summer Movie Series of watch parties on HotMic. To make your selection, go to http://www.nowplayingpodcast.com/hotmicvote and enter the IMDB link to the film you want to see! Voting ends July 2.

July 28 – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Tom Clancy’s most famous character got the reboot treatment in 2014, with Chris Pine taking over the role previously played by Affleck, Ford, and Alec Baldwin. It’s an origin story akin to Batman Begins, with Pine’s Ryan learning the ropes as a spy under the tutelage of Kevin Costner. Like Affleck and Baldwin, Pine only got one turn at the Ryan character, before he got his own Amazon series with John Krasinski in the titular role. 

July 31 – Sleepaway Camp IV: The Survivor

The fourth Sleepaway Camp sat on a shelf for 20 years after starting production in 1992. It was assembled and released direct-to-DVD in 2012 after a new entry had been released. But this is officially the fourth film in the slasher series, not that most people were paying attention. 

July Patron Show: Color of Night

Bruce Willis stars as a New York psychiatrist entangled in a murder mystery after traveling to Los Angeles to visit pal Scott Bakula. The 1994 erotic thriller, the last feature directed by Thunder Alley’s Richard Rush, suffered a troubled post-production and was savaged by critics upon its release. Color of Night was one several notable 90s sex-and-murder whodunit thrillers, but as famed critic Roger Ebert said at the time, “This movie gives away its own secret in presenting itself.” Will our hosts see the twist coming before it’s too late? Join Now Playing for this review, chosen by a listener through the show’s Podbean patron campaign.

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in July 2020

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in June 2020

Escape from New York, Real Genius, Willy Wonka, Candyman, and more are coming to Now Playing Podcast in June 2020.

Having wrapped its Viral Outbreak retrospective, a last minute programming shift prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Now Playing Podcast is easing back into familiar territory in the month of June. While theaters remain closed, at least until Christopher Nolan’s Tenet arrives in July, Now Playing is continuing its long-running Stephen King retrospective, plotting an “escape” with filmmaker John Carpenter, launching a new, long in-demand retrospective, and celebrating its 1,000th episode on June 23.

And that’s just the half of it. Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in June 2020.

June 2 – The Dark Half

Stephen King properties have been a fixture in Hollywood since the 1970s, but the author’s name alone didn’t always guarantee big box office. Exhibit A: 1993’s The Dark Half, based on King’s 1989 novel. Even with Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero at the helm, this story of an author terrorized by his evil doppelganger failed to find a wide audience.

June 5 – Candyman

Now Playing’s 2020 Spring/Summer donation drive continues with the long-requested Candymanretrospective. The series, which began in 1992, adapts the character of Clive Barker’s The Forbidden and features horror icon Tony Todd in his star-making turn as a murdered 19th century artist who returns as a ghost to haunt and kill those who say his name five times in the mirror. Bernard Rose directed the first Candyman, which also stars Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, and Vanessa Williams.  

June 5 – Now Playing Summer Movie Series: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Musical? Comedy? Fantasy? Horror? Since 1971, fans have adored Gene Wilder’s performance of Willy Wonka in the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while also questioning whether this beloved “children’s film” has a deeper, more sinister message. On June 5, Now Playing Podcast will host a live Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory watch party on Hot Mic. Listeners can download the app, signup with invite code NOWPLAYING, and chat along with the hosts as they stream the film on Netflix. Every film in the Now Playing Summer Movie Series is chosen by one of the show’s hosts, with Willy Wonka chosen by Brock. 

June 9 – Escape from New York

In 1981, filmmaker John Carpenter unveiled his vision of a dystopian future in which America’s largest city is transformed into the nation’s largest prison; a place that only Kurt Russell’s eyepatch-wearing antihero Snake Plissken can penetrate after the president’s plane goes down inside the walls. Escape from New York remains one of Carpenter’s most acclaimed films – one that Now Playing Podcast listeners have wanted the hosts to discuss for years. Thanks to the support of one listener, Now Playing will review Escape from New York and its sequel, Escape from L.A., on June 9 and 16, respectively. 

Meanwhile, over at sister podcast Books & Nachos, listeners can get even more Snake Plissken with reviews of the 1981 Escape from New York novelization, as well as the graphic novels based on the film. 

June 12 – Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh

The sequel to Candyman moves the action to New Orleans and further explores the origins of Tony Todd’s villain, with gruesome flashbacks depicting how the character ended up with a hook for a right hand. Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh was not as financially successful as its predecessor, but the sequel has endured and received praise for adding sympathetic elements to Candyman’s backstory.

June 16 – Escape from L.A.

Snake Plissken returns for a new escape, this one set 15 years after the events of Escape from New York. John Carpenter’s sequel feels a lot more like a remake in a different city, and Escape from L.A. remains a polarizing entry for fans who disliked the poor special effects and campy, comedic elements of the plot. The June 16 episode marks the first time Now Playing examines a film Carpenter made in the 90s, a period in which he struggled to expand his audience with films such as In the Mouth of MadnessVillage of the Damned, and Memoirs of an Invisible Man.  

June 19 – Candyman: Day of the Dead

A second, low-budget sequel to Candyman was released in 1999, starring Baywatch actress Donna D’Errico and A Nightmare on Elm Street alum Nick Corri alongside Tony Todd. The film was not well received, and the character went into hibernation for the next two decades. The Candyman: Day of the Dead review will be the penultimate entry in Now Playing’s Candyman retrospective, with the series going on hiatus until the Jordan Peele-produced sequel hits theaters on September 25. 

June 19 – Now Playing Summer Movie Series: Jakob’s Pick

Now Playing Podcast returns to Hot Mic on June 19 with another live watch party. This time, Jakob makes his pick, inviting fellow hosts and listeners to join the fun. Download the app, signup with invite code NOWPLAYING, and chat along with the hosts as watch.

June 23 – Now Playing’s 1,000 Episode

On June 23, Now Playing Podcast celebrates a milestone 13 years in the making. The podcast’s 1000th review – the title of which won’t be revealed until release – will give the hosts and listeners a chance to celebrate how far Now Playing has come since its first review of Spider-Man 3, released on May 4, 2007.

June 30 – The Hunt for Red October

What’s this? A new Now Playing Podcast retrospective? For years, listeners have been asking for the show to explore the film adaptations of Tom Clancy’s spy novels. With the upcoming release of Without Remorse, the first Clancy adaptation that doesn’t revolve around Jack Ryan, Now Playing will oblige. The retrospective begins with a review of The Hunt for Red October, starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, on June 30. Future episodes in the series include Patriot GamesClear and Present DangerThe Sum of All Fears, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

June Patron Show: Real Genius

It’s finally happening. For years, Now Playing Podcast creator and host Arnie Carvalho has mentioned his love of 1985’s Real Genius on the show, and at last, the film will be reviewed during the month of June. Real Genius is a Podbean patron exclusive review, chosen by a Now Playing Podcast listener.

May 26, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in June 2020

Now Playing Podcast Hosts May 1 ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ Watch Party

For the first time since 2009, Now Playing Podcast is going back to Crystal Lake. It will be a brief return, because we’re then hopping a boat for the Big Apple!

On Friday, May 1 at 9 p.m. EST, Now Playing will host a LIVE Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan watch party on Hot Mic, marking our return to the Friday franchise. Now Playing launched its retrospective format 11 years ago, covering the entire Jason Voorhees saga in anticipation of the Platinum Dunes remake.

Over the years, listeners have been requesting a revisit, noting that the original Friday reviews lacked the polish of future Now Playing episodes. It’s true, the show didn’t find its footing until we established the retrospective format, and while we eschewed the idea of re-recording those old shows, we couldn’t resist the idea of a live watch party with listeners.

If you don’t have a copy of Jason Takes Manhattan lying around, we’ll be streaming the movie on Amazon Prime Video. Join us at 9 p.m. and “press play” with our hosts to stay in sync.

If you missed our Oscars party and don’t have the Hot Mic app on your phone, here’s what to do:

1. Download the Hot Mic app

2. Sign up with invite code NOWPLAYING

3. Join us at 9p EST!

It’s that easy. We’ll see you soon Class of ’89!

Join Now Playing Podcast for a LIVE "Friday the 13th Part 8" watch party on Hot Mic on Friday, May 1 at 9 p.m. EST.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , | 1 Comment

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in May 2020

Rain Man, Born on the Fourth of July, Contagion, Outbreak, The Tommyknockers, and Friday the 13th will all get the Now Playing Podcast spotlight in May 2020.

Moviegoing looked much different at the start of 2020, with Marvel’s Black Widow and the Chris Rock-led Spiral: From the Book of Saw among the films Now Playing Podcast was set to review in the month of May. 


With at least one major movie theater chain vowing to keep its doors closed until there is new Hollywood product to roll out, Now Playing Podcast has reorganized its schedule for May; with Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, and a highly anticipated live watch party added alongside new entries in the Viral Outbreak and Tom Cruise: Movie Star of the 80s retrospectives. 

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in May 2020:

May 1 LIVE Friday the 13th Watch Party on Hot Mic 

Join Now Playing Podcast on Hot Mic on Friday, May 1 at 9 p.m. EST for a LIVE "Friday the 13th" watch party.

Want to spend an evening at the movies with Now Playing Podcast? If that’s a yes, then grab your sleeping bags campers, because Now Playing is going back to Crystal Lake! On Friday, May 1 at 9 p.m. EST, Now Playing Podcast will host a live Friday the 13th watch party on Hot Mic. The entire Now Playing team is taking part in the show, giving listeners the chance to interact with hosts as they watch one of the Friday films streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Listeners who download the Hot Mic app and sign up with the invite code NOWPLAYING will be able to see and chat with the hosts in real time, as they revisit the iconic horror franchise for the first time since Now Playing Podcast’s inaugural 2009 retrospective

May 5 Outbreak

After four episodes examining pandemic disaster films from the 1950s to 1980s, Now Playing Podcast ventures further into virus territory with its review of 1995’s Outbreak. The thriller, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, and Cuba Gooding Jr., centers on a team of doctors trying to contain the spread of an Ebola-like virus in small town California. 

May 8 Cocktail

Back in 1986, Tom Cruise and Top Gun inspired a generation of would-be Maverick’s to join the U.S. Navy. Two years later, the actor inspired everyone to go to bartending school with Cocktail. The romantic drama, which grossed more than $170 million back in its day, stars Cruise as a business student who becomes a bartender under the tutelage of F/X star Bryan Brown. While it was a box office hit, Cocktail’s enduring legacy may be its soundtrack, featuring The Beach Boys hit “Kokomo.”

May 12 The Andromeda Strain (2008)

Michael Crichton’s viral thriller was turned into an A&E miniseries in 2008, with Benjamin Bratt, Andre Braugher, and Viola Davis among the headlining cast. For the remake, Crichton’s novel was condensed into a four-hour saga airing over two nights. While the premise of an alien germ remains intact, the “reimagining” will have a much different tone than its 1971 predecessor. 

May 15 Rain Man

Tom Cruise may have been the biggest movie star of the 1980s, but he wasn’t too good to share the screen with fellow film greats. In 1988, Cruise starred as the brother of Dustin Hoffman’s autistic Rain Man in a film that helped bulk up his dramatic chops, as well as his box office clout. Though it was Hoffman who took home Best Actor accolades for Rain Man, the film helped propel Cruise further up the ladder of stars who can do action, comedy, and drama. 

May 18 Contagion

While it was a box office hit upon release in 2011, Steven Soderbergh’s has gained new life in the streaming sphere, climbing the charts and becoming one of the most-watched films during the coronavirus pandemic. The film, which is praised for its medical accuracy, follows the spread of an airborne respiratory virus that originated in China. The parallels are jarring, which is why audiences have returned to the film, and why it will serve as the finale to Now Playing Podcast’s Viral Outbreak retrospective. 

May 22 Born on the Fourth of July

Tom Cruise earned a Golden Globe Award and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his turn as Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July. The biography traces Kovic’s life from Long Island to Vietnam and back to the United States, where, as a paralyzed veteran, he becomes a prominent voice in the anti-war movement. Born serves as the penultimate review in Now Playing’s Tom Cruise: Movie Star of the 80s retrospective, which ends with the release of Top Gun: Maverick in December 2020. 

The Tommyknockers

The success of It spawned a wave of Stephen King television miniseries adaptations in the 1990s, with The Tommyknockers arriving on ABC in May 1993. The John Power-directed miniseries starred Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger as a poet and writer, respectively, who see their town transformed following the discovery of an alien spacecraft.  

May Patron Review AI: Artificial Intelligence

Originally intended to be Stanley Kubrick’s follow-up to Eyes Wide Shut, this story of humanoid robot portrayed by The Sixth Sense’s Haley Joel Osment examines a future in which machines are capable of developing real emotions, as well as the consequences of global warming on the human population. After Kubrick’s sudden death, Steven Spielberg resurrected the picture, and it was released in summer 2001 to critical acclaim. AI: Artificial Intelligence is a Podbean patron exclusive review, chosen by a Now Playing Podcast listener

April 27, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in May 2020

Save the Date for Now Playing’s First LIVE Watch Party

Grab your flashlight and sleeping bag, because Now Playing Podcast is returning to Camp Crystal Lake.

For the first time in 11 years, the show will revisit its first retrospective series when it hosts a live Friday the 13th watch party via Amazon Prime Video on Friday, May 1 at 9 p.m. EST. Now Playing Podcast is again teaming with Hot Mic for the streaming event, which will allow listeners to watch in real time and chat live with the hosts throughout the film.

Why Friday the 13th?

The 2009 Friday the 13th reboot marked the most important turning point in the early history of Now Playing Podcast, serving as the impetus for the show’s acclaimed retrospective format. Though it launched in 2007, the decision to review every film in the Friday the 13th series, building up to the reboot’s release, helped Now Playing Podcast separate itself from a crowded pack of movie review podcasts.

Over the years, listeners have longed for a new Friday the 13th film, one that would give the Now Playing Podcast hosts a chance to reexamine their first retrospective and the iconic horror villain Jason Voorhees. A new Friday the 13th  has been delayed for years due to a legal battle between the first film’s director, Sean S. Cunningham, and writer Victor Miller. 

“That first retrospective, as unpolished as it is, remains very popular with our listeners,” explains Now Playing Podcast host and creator Arnie Carvalho. “When we started talking about getting the team and the listeners together for a live watch party, we thought, ‘Why not return to where it all started?’” 

On May 1, Amazon Prime Video will be streaming the first eight Friday the 13th films for Prime subscribers. In order to maintain some of the suspense, Now Playing Podcast will announce which Friday film they’ll be watching in the coming days.

How Do I Watch?

The Hot Mic social app lets you sync up with the Now Playing Podcast hosts and watch live or streaming events in real time. Now Playing Podcast first teamed with Hot Mic for a live Oscars watch party in February 2020. To join them for the May 1 watch party:

Step 1: Download the Hot Mic social app via your app store

Step 2: Click “Sign Up” to create your account, and use the invite code NOWPLAYING

Step 3: To follow Now Playing Podcast, tap on the “Broadcasters” tab, scroll down to Now Playing Podcast, and tap “Follow”

Step 4: Tune in the night of the watch party and chat with the hosts!

You can even set a reminder ahead of time by tapping the “Upcoming” tab and searching Now Playing Podcast. You’ll find the show listing under Now Playing Podcast x Friday the 13th

Note: Hot Mic streaming times are listed as PST

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , | Comments Off on Save the Date for Now Playing’s First LIVE Watch Party

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020

Tom Cruise, The Andromeda Strain, and more are coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020.

With movie theaters around the globe shuttered and the COVID-19 pandemic postponing new releases for months, the Now Playing Podcast team has been rearranging its April 2020 (and beyond) schedule in order to keep up with the changes.

The fourth month of 2020 will see Now Playing Podcast debuting its “Viral Outbreak” retrospective, a deep dive into Hollywood’s most memorable pandemic and medical disaster dramas. Part “exposure therapy” and part history lesson, the series will examine the realistic (and often unrealistic) portrayals of virus movies on screen; and kicks off with Elia Kazan’s 1950 noir drama Panic In the Streets. In the weeks ahead, the retrospective will jump from decade to decade, showcasing films such as The Andromeda StrainOutbreak, and Contagion.

While listeners get their “viral” fix on the main feed, Now Playing Podcast will continue its “Tom Cruise: Star of the 80s” retrospective as part of its Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive. Donors at the Gold Level will have already heard reviews of Losin’ It and Risky Business in March; with All the Right Moves arriving on April 3. 

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020.

April 3 – All the Right Moves

Hunky jock Tom Cruise butts heads with curmudgeonly coach Craig T. Nelson while romancing 80s icon Lea Thompson. Need we say more? All the Right Moves hit theaters in 1983 but the legacy lives forever, especially if you pause it just right. At least, that’s what we heard. 

April 7 – Panic in the Streets

Elia Kazan directs the story of a New Orleans community overcome by paranoia (and panic) as a flu-like illness begins to spread. Like many films in the 1950s, there are underlying themes and metaphors woven throughout the production. The film kicks off Now Playing Podcast’s “Viral Outbreak” retrospective. 

April 10 – Legend

Alien director Ridley Scott cast Cruise as the hero of his 1985 fantasy film, which is notable for Tim Curry’s “Lord of Darkness” makeup and its many different cuts. Legend is also notable for being the last Cruise film before Top Gun, when he became Tom Cruise, Movie Star.  

April 14 – The Satan Bug

Loosely based on the novel of the same name, 1965’s The Satan Bug focused on a bioweapon with the potential to wipe out all life on the planet. To tell you anymore would give the plot away!  

April 17 – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Cold War satire is one of the most acclaimed films of its era, and the April 17 review arrives courtesy of Now Playing Podcast listener Clark Fisher, who chose the film through the show’s Podbean platform. Although a comedy, Dr. Strangelove’s examination of Cold War paranoia struck several nerves in its day, and still resonates nearly 60 years later. 

April 21 – The Andromeda Strain

Virus movies took a turn into the realm of science fiction with Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. The 1971 thriller, based off of Crichton’s novel, followed the spread of an alien germ after it attaches to a satellite and crashes in the New Mexico desert. 

April 24 – Top Gun

Crank up the Kenny Loggins, because Now Playing heads to the “Danger Zone” on April 24. Top Guncemented Cruise’s star status when it hit theaters in 1986, and the film’s devoted following paved the way for this year’s sequel – still scheduled to be released on June 24, although the date may change. 

April 28 – Warning Sign

One of the lesser known entries in Now Playing’s “Viral Outbreak” series will surely be 1985’s Warning Sign, which chronicles the release of a biological weapon inside a secret laboratory and the panicked, violent reaction of those inside. The film, which did not make an impact at the box office, stars Sam Waterston, Kathleen Quinlan, Yaphet Kotto, Jeffrey DeMunn, and GW Bailey.

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in April 2020

As Release Dates Shift, Now Playing Podcast Remakes 2020 Schedule

As governments work to contain the global pandemic caused by Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Hollywood studios are swiftly reorganizing their release schedules, postponing anticipated new releases indefinitely and locking down new dates later in 2020 and 2021. As of March 12, major releases including the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die, Disney’s The New Mutants, Paramount’s A Quiet Place Part II, and Universal’s F9: The Fast Saga had all seen their release dates changed; while studios and theater chains pondered just how long the industry would feel the impact of the still-spreading virus.  

With the aforementioned quartet of new releases now off the release calendar, Venganza Media’s Now Playing Podcast moved quickly to fill in the gaps in its weekly podcast schedule, as well as its previously announced Spring/Summer 2020 Donation Drive. 

The latter, which was to feature A Quiet PlaceA Quiet Place Part II, and Sandra Bullock’s Bird Box at the Platinum donation level, has now been pushed back to August. In its place, the Tom Cruise: Man of the 80s Gold level retrospective will kick off earlier and include a ninth film featuring the star. 

March 20 – Losin’ It

March 27 – Risky Business

April 3 – All the Right Moves

April 10 – Legend

April 24 – Top Gun

May 1 – The Color of Money

May 15 – Rain Man

July 3 – Top Gun: Maverick

July 10 – Born on the Fourth of July

Additionally, Now Playing Podcast is responding to listener demand and adding a Viral Outbreak retrospective series that will take a thoughtful approach to Hollywood’s disease-driven disaster film format. 

“This pandemic is not a laughing matter, and these films are not ‘end of the world’ comedies,” explains show creator and host Arnie Carvalho. “The idea behind our Viral series is to examine a film from each decade, going back to the 1950s, and look at how Hollywood and the moviegoing public responded to the threat of a pandemic. 

“In each decade, you can see how cultural and political beliefs and fears shaped the storytelling process for each of these films. It’s a discussion worth having and one that many of our listeners have asked to hear.” 

The Viral series will begin April 7 and include seven films:

April 7 – Panic In the Streets (1950)

April 14 – The Satan Bug (1965)

April 21 – The Andromeda Strain (1971)

April 28 – Warning Sign (1985)

May 12 – Outbreak (1995)

May 26 – The Andromeda Strain (2008)

June 2 – Contagion (2011)

A complete list of upcoming shows can be found on the Now Playing Podcast website.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Movies & Television, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on As Release Dates Shift, Now Playing Podcast Remakes 2020 Schedule

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast

Jordan Peele. John Krasinski. Uwe Boll. Not only are you reading those names in the same paragraph for the first (and probably last) time in your life, you’ll also be hearing about them throughout the month of March on Now Playing Podcast. 

With the major franchise releases looming in April and May, Now Playing has packed the March schedule with new entries in its long-running video game movie retrospective, as well as the first three episodes of its Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive, and an all-new Podbean patron exclusive.

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020:

March 3: Kong: Skull Island

The big ape is back, but this time he’s not going to New York City. Kong: Skull Island features Marvel movie stars Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, and Brie Larson among a group that travels to King Kong’s mysterious home, where they do battle with an assortment of CGI monsters and help lay the groundwork for this year’s Godzilla vs. Kong. There’s a reason they call it the “Monsterverse.”

March 10: The King of Fighters

The video game series that began in the 90s finally made it to the big screen in 2010. The adaptation features a number of stars discussed in other Now Playing retrospectives, including Maggie Q (Live Free or Die Hard), Will Yun Lee (The Wolverine), and Ray Park (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace).

March 13: Us

The first Friday the 13th of the year gives you plenty of reason to return to Now Playing’s first retrospective series, but the day also marks the beginning of the Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive, and the Silver Level series kicks off with a review of Jordan Peele’s 2019 blockbuster Us. You can get the show, and a whole lot more, at the Now Playing Podcast website.

March 17: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Grab your airsick bags, Uwe Boll is back on Now Playing Podcast! Justin, Arnie, and Stuart keep the video game movie retrospective rolling in March with the first film inspired by the Dungeon Siege series, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. In case you missed it when it hit theaters (or possibly, just theater) in 2007, this Uwe Boll action fantasy boasts a familiar cast, including a pre-Expendables Jason Statham, alongside Claire Forlani, Ron Perlman, Leelee Sobieski, John Rhys-Davies, Ray Liotta, and, [checks notes] Burt Reynolds. Maybe our hosts can explain how Boll, who directed such memorable video game hits as Alone in the Dark and House of the Dead, managed to pull this cast together for any reason other than money.

March 20: A Quiet Place

You can wash the taste of Uwe Boll out of your mouth on March 20, when Now Playing leaves the Middle Ages for A Quiet Place. The 2018 blockbuster, directed by The Office veteran John Krasinski, follows a family trying to escape alien invaders who hunt by sound. It’s much better than that last sentence suggests. But will it get three green arrows from our hosts? Support Now Playing’s Spring/Summer 2020 donation drive at the Platinum Level and find out!

March 24: In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds

Annnnnnnnnd Boll is back. This time, he’s swapped Jason Statham for Dolph Lundgren and added Dead Man on Campus legend Lochlyn Munro to headline his 2011 sequel. If the trailer doesn’t suck you in, that’s understandable.

March 27: A Quiet Place Part II

John Krasinski is back behind the camera (and on the screen) for a sequel that picks up right after the events of the first film. Audiences (and studio executives) are expecting big things for A Quiet Place: Part II. Our hosts will be in the theater opening weekend, and they’ll have the review ready for Platinum Level donors on March 27. 

March 31: In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission

Uwe Boll directs his third In the Name of the King film. This one has Dominic Purcell. Also time travel. Say a little prayer for our hosts

If that doesn’t whet your appetite for March, Now Playing Podcast has one more review on the calendar; chosen by one of the show’s listeners via Now Playing’s Podbean patron campaign.

March Patron Review: Dragged Across Concrete 

Director Steven Craig Zahler earned accolades for his first two directing efforts, the horror-western Bone Tomahawk and the prison thriller Brawl in Cell Block 99. In 2018, he wrote and directed the neo-noir cop drama Dragged Across Concrete, with Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn as police detectives who plot to steal a supply of gold bullion from a group of thieves. 

Dragged is the first of Zahler’s films to be reviewed on Now Playing Podcast, and host Stuart Atkinson has a preview of his thoughts on the director…

“My overall impression of his work is that he’s a very sly crime poet waiting for his breakout. His words aren’t quite Tarantino clever, and visuals aren’t yet Michael Mann cool. But, he could have the career of either of those filmmakers if he gets a proper budget and promotional push. Obviously his big themes are male ego and outlaw justice. Not sure what you call it… eulogies for tough guys?” – Stuart

February 29, 2020 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2020

Watch the Oscars LIVE with Now Playing Podcast!

Watch the Academy Awards live with Now Playing Podcast on February 9. Download the Hot Mic app and join us!

If you’ve ever wanted to watch the Academy Awards with the hosts of Now Playing Podcast, this is your chance!

On Sunday, February 9 at 8 p.m. EST, Arnie, Stuart, and Brock will be streaming LIVE on your phone, as Now Playing Podcast partners with Hot Mic to host our first Oscars viewing party. While you watch, you can send your questions and comments to our hosts, and they’ll chat with you and the rest of the audience as the winners are announced. 

Want to join us? Here’s everything you need to know:

What is Hot Mic?

The Hot Mic app lets you sync up with your favorite hosts and watch live events together in real time. Hot Mic is launching its first Oscars streaming event on February 9 and we’re thrilled to be part of the show!

How do I watch?

To join the party, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Download the Hot Mic social app via Apple’s App Store or Google Play
  2. Tap “Sign Up” and use the invite code NOWPLAYING
  3. Create your user account and you’re done!

You can set a notification and get a reminder when our live stream begins! We’ll also post reminders on the Now Playing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , | Comments Off on Watch the Oscars LIVE with Now Playing Podcast!

Why That ‘Fast & Furious 9’ Reveal Weakens the Franchise

Han is alive. Take a moment, Fast & Furious fans, to let that sink in.

Sung Kang’s character returned to the franchise in the final moments of the Fast & Furious 9 (or F9, if you prefer) trailer, which arrived Friday via a massive Miami-set concert showcase that reunited fans with longtime stars Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Nathalie Emmanuel.

F9, which also marks the return of popular series helmer Justin Lin, pits Diesel’s Dom Toretto against John Cena’s Jakob, a villain who is revealed to be (surprise!) Dom’s brother. The familial connection proves that Fastisn’t straying from its soap opera-like formula, but the resurrection of Kang’s Han Lue was the out-of-nowhere twist that left the largest impression, considering the character was last seen in the driver’s seat of an exploding Mazda RX-7.

The winding, continuity-challenged framework of this franchise — charming to fans and headache-inducing to others – is difficult to follow, but for the uninitiated, here is where things stand.

Han was introduced and killed off in 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a film that, outside of a Vin Diesel cameo, was thought to have no connection to the original. However, Han returned for 2009’s Fast & Furious, 2011’s Fast Five, and 2013’s Fast & Furious 6. It’s later revealed that Tokyo Drift takes place after Fast & Furious 6, with Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw taking credit for Han’s murder. The same death sequence is also replayed at the beginning of 2015’s Furious 7, sending Dom into a fury and serving as the impetus for the film’s revenge plot. 

Now, three sequels and one spinoff later, Han returns in F9, still munching on potato chips — a character trait that lets the audience know it’s really him.

Following the trailer’s release, “Han Is Alive” and “Justice for Han” became top trending topics on Twitter, with fans rejoicing at the return of the franchise favorite. While Han’s return should be a celebratory moment, it raises an important question: What happens when there are no stakes left in this series?

Fast has pulled the back-from-the-dead stunt once before, with Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz returning in Fast & Furious 6 after her character was killed off in 2009’s Fast & Furious. Letty’s death, like Han’s, was a game-changer, but, as fans know, the franchise is all about family, and the creative forces behind the scenes just can’t seem to move on.

Even the villains of Fast & Furious live to antagonize our heroes another day, with Statham among those who have taken on anti-hero roles in subsequent films. Charlize Theron is back in F9 after her cyber-terrorist villain, Cypher, survived the events of 2017’s The Fate of the Furious. Knowing what we know, it would be truly shocking if John Cena’s heel turn lasted more than one film, as the WWE star will surely survive the events of F9.

It should be noted that the death that most impacted the franchise occurred offscreen, when Paul Walker was killed in a car wreck in 2013. His character, Brian O’Connor, was “retired” and given an emotional sendoff at the end of Furious 7

Nine films in (10 if you count spinoff Hobbs & Shaw), Fast & Furious has taken great care to preserve its remaining core. But at what cost? How can characters evolve if every tragedy gets a do-over?

Star Wars fans just went through a similar experience in December, with Chewbacca’s “death” in The Rise of Skywalker. The iconic character was thought to have been killed when Daisy Ridley’s Rey zapped a First Order prisoner transport with Sith lightning. Just as the emotional weight of Chewie’s death was sinking it, Rey learned she zapped a different transport, and the Wookie was still alive. For a moment, fans thought Star Wars had actually gone there. The filmmakers had the rug pulled out from under the audience, only to have Chewbacca reappear, still alive and waiting to be rescued.

No tears. No loss. No risk. Luke Skywalker even drives it home, proclaiming, “No one is ever really gone.” 

Fast & Furious revels in its melodrama and “family is everything” attitude. But its unrelenting loyalty to the family comes at the expense of advancing the story and its characters. The franchise turns 20 years old in 2021. Its Day One fans have grown up, maybe it’s time Fast did too.

January 31, 2020 Posted by | Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why That ‘Fast & Furious 9’ Reveal Weakens the Franchise

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2020

If there’s one thing we love about February 2020, it’s an extra day (thanks Leap Year!) to listen to Now Playing Podcast. The month features a pair of new theatrical releases, bookended by new entries in the show’s King Kong retrospective, and the final episode in Now Playing’s 2019 Fall/Winter Donation Drive. 

Mark your calendars, listeners, here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2020:

Tuesday, February 4 – King Kong Lives

It took 10 years to produce a sequel to the Dino De Laurentiis King Kong remake, and after you get a taste of King Kong Lives, you’ll wonder why the hell anyone bothered. The 1986 monster movie, starring Terminator icon Linda Hamilton, was a notorious bomb in theaters, putting the ape on ice for nearly 20 years. King Kong Lives could be “so bad it’s brown arrow good,” but we’ll have to hear what Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob think. Their review arrives on February 4.

Friday, February 7 – Rush Hour 3

The third (and so far, final) entry in the East-meets-West buddy cop franchise caps Now Playing’s 2019 Fall/Winter Donation Drive, a 20-episode run that includes the I Am LegendZombielandJu-on/The Grudge, and Rush Hour franchises. The second Rush Hour sequel sees Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan take their act to Paris, where audiences are treated to, presumably, a series of comic misunderstandings, stunt sequences, and old married couple bickering between the two leads. 

Tuesday, February 11 – Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn escapes the stench of Suicide Squad and splits from the Joker in this DC Extended Universe team-up, which partners the villain with Black Canary, Huntress, Gotham PD’s Renee Montoya, and future Batgirl Cassandra Cain. The Quinn-tet will face off against Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask and a new iteration of serial killer Victor Zsasz. We’ll see if there are any other cameos in store for loyal DC fans. 

Tuesday, February 18 – Sonic the Hedgehog

Now Playing’s long running video game retrospective makes a return in February, as Arnie, Stuart, and Justin chase down Sonic the Hedgehog. The 90s video game mascot makes his big screen debut in a hybrid CGI/live-action caper that, so far, is famous for botching the hero’s familiar design. After social media-induced hysterics forced the filmmakers to retool Sonic’s look, the film will finally hit theaters on Valentine’s Day, with Now Playing’s review arriving on February 18.

Tuesday, February 25 – King Kong (2005)

Peter Jackson’s 2005 take on King Kong grossed more than a half-billion dollars back in its day and remains one of the most critically acclaimed in the franchise. How the CGI spectacle holds up in the era of the Monsterverse will be one of the topics up for debate when Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob review the picture on February 25. If you missed the first episodes in the King Kong retrospective, which covers the 1933 original and its sequel, along with a pair of Toho-produced sequels, you can hear them in the Now Playing archives. 

But wait, there’s more!

February Patron Review – Closer

Now Playing gets serious – seriously romantic – in February with a new review chosen by one of its listeners. The hosts will cover Mike Nichols’ acclaimed 2004 romantic drama Closer, starring Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, and Clive Owen as part of its monthly Patron-sponsored series of reviews. This one comes courtesy of listener Jeff Roy, who chose the movie after backing Now Playing on Podbean.

January 26, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2020

Now Playing Podcast Host Arnie’s 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2020

It seemed in 2019 I was anxious each month for a new film. From Glass (a super-villain team-up!) to Avengers: Endgame (how can they follow up infinity war?) to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Tarantino back with DiCaprio and Pitt in a Charles Manson story!) to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (can they end on a high note?) there were so many films that had me hyped.

As we start 2020 my list is much shorter than 2019’s, but there are still some films that have me shivering with antici…….pation. Here’s the top 10:

10. The New Mutants (April 10)

Anticipation doesn’t always mean I expect it to be good. The X-Men films have been on a steady decline since First Class, and the years of delays, rumors of reshoots, then rumors that the reshoots didn’t happen, mean this film is likely to be a incomprehensible mess. Still…after wondering if it would ever come out, that they released a new trailer and it looks to actually be happening has me ready.

9. Fantasy Island (Feb 14)

How I picture a few dozen Valentine’s Day conversations (or maybe just mine):

Him: “Hey honey, for Valentine’s Day let’s go to Fantasy Island!”
Her: “Sure!”
Him: “This Fantasy Island has Hostel like torture and Wishmaster level ironies”
Her: “Ummm… How about dinner out instead?”

I can’t imagine why Blumhouse took a license like Fantasy Island only to make something so vastly different from the Aaron Spelling cheese-fest that ruled early ’80s television.

It could be laughably bad, or it could actually be Happy Death Day level fun. I’m hoping for the latter.

8. Black Widow (May 1)

Post Endgame I find little excitement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its stars have left. They’re in what a sports team would call a “rebuilding year.” So they’re banking on their biggest marquee star, Scarlett Johansson, to launch us into Phase 4 with the second female-led Marvel film.

But…why? Didn’t she die in Endgame? If this is, as Marvel claims, a movie set in the past, between Civil War and Infinity War, what does it have to offer the Universe?

It looks exciting, the jokes in the trailer are funny, but there’s lots of funny action films. That alone wouldn’t put this movie on the list.

Two things make me ready for the Widow‘s sting–first, Johansson has taken Black Widow from a horrible inconvenience (Iron Man 2) to a rich main player (I still think The Winter Soldier featured her best). She deserved a solo film, and it will likely be very good.

But…is it possible Marvel is lying? Could there be bigger surprises in store? The glimpse of a very de-aged General Ross (William Hurt) in the trailer makes me hope there will be some Universe-impacting surprises yet to come…

7. Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5)

The DC connected movie universe has more hits than misses, but the original Wonder Woman was one of the brightest spots. I was skeptical about this sequel when I heard Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters 2016, SNL) was hired to play Cheetah…but when that first trailer arrived I was hooked.

The ’80s aesthetic, the idea that the bad guy is what defined the ’80s–ambition–and the humor in the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) makes this look like a DC movie that would actually be fun! So let’s go to the mall…today!

(But, I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for New Order and so putting “Blue Monday” under any trailer is likely to get my hype level up.)

6. Underwater (January 10)

This movie seems to have no buzz about it. The premiere showings are tonight as I write this, but no one is talking about Underwater…and I don’t know why.

Kristen Stewart has proven herself a capable actress, and was practically the only good part of last year’s Charlie’s Angels. To see her take on a Ripley role in this film that looks completely like Alien underwater has made this a must-see.

5. Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21)

When we last saw the Wild Stallyns they seemed ready to become a global phenomenon of hair metal music. Unfortunately their music never lead to nirvana as Nirvana brought a new sound that changed public tastes.

I’ll admit on paper the idea of bringing these two righteous dudes back together 31 years after their Excellent Adventure seems like a bad idea. And I imagine Alex Winter wasn’t one to turn down a gig. But Keanu Reeves has had his (2nd? 3rd?) career renaissance. He doesn’t need Bill & Ted. Something in Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon’s screenplay (the writers of the two original Journeys) must have captured his imagination. He even shaved his beard for the role!

I’ll be there opening weekend, ready to air guitar with this blast from the past.

4. No Time to Die (April 10)

At 51 Daniel Craig may feel a little old to play Bond…James Bond, but he’s still six years younger than Roger Moore in A View to a Kill so let’s have some optimism!

Craig has produced two of the best Bond movies in Casino Royale an Skyfall (still my favorite all-time Bond film). Then there were the forgettable Quantum of Solace and ill-advised Spectre.

If the pattern holds, then Craig’s odd-numbered films are the great ones…and Rami Malek impressed the hell out of me with his performances in both Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody. No Time to Die has me ready to be shaken, not stirred, by another spy flick.

3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

I hate saying bad things about the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot because the issue has become so politicized by ugly people (one of whom was so butt-hurt by the idea of women Ghostbusters he leaked naked photos of Leslie Jones). Still, if I’m being honest, that movie didn’t match the quality of Ghostbusters 2, let alone the classic original.

The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife seems to reach for an ’80s Spielberg vibe–or at least a variation on Stranger Things. Having Egon Spengler’s grandson rediscover a spectral world both honors the original (including the late Harold Ramis) and feels fresh for a new generation.

That the original Ghostbusters are also returning (for a cameo? bit part?) for a proper reunion has me very anxious for this new film.

But…please…can they not hire any more modern bands to play Ray Parker Jr’s song? Please?

2. Tenet (July 17)

Christopher Nolan has a large contingent of fans anxious for whatever his next project may be. I’m not one of them. Several of his movies, especially period pieces, failed to excite me. (You can hear me, Stuart, and Jakob review every Nolan film at NowPlayingPodcast.com).

But when Nolan does sci-fi tinged action films like The Dark Knight and Inception I feel he has no equal. While the teaser trailer for Tenet doesn’t give me much to go on, I get a big Inception feel from the trailer.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being my favorite film of 2020.

1. Top Gun: Maverick (June 26)

It’s been 34 years(!) since Tom Cruise lost that lovin’ feeling at the Top Gun academy in a film that tends to polarize modern audiences. It’s a movie I’ve come to adore (along with that near-impossible to beat NES game)…but Cruise donning his Maverick helmet again wasn’t something I need.

Besides, do we still need fighter pilots? It seems the future is here and fighter jets have been replaced with drones, our servicemen safely in a building, not at risk of dying in a dogfight.

Still, when Cruise partners with Christopher McQuarrie the results are usually good (I’ll forgive them The Mummy). I do wish McQuarrie was directing Maverick, not just co-writing, but he knows a tight script.

But what really got me excited is when Paramount announced only one shot in this movie is CGI. Nearly all aerial stunts took place with real FA-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets. The dogfights, the navigating through a canyon, it’s all real. The actors are even in the planes pulling the G-forces (though, no, they didn’t fly the planes) and I can feel it in the trailer.

Plus Cruise seems surrounded by a great cast, with Jon Hamm, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller (forgive him his Fant4stic mistake, he was amazing in Whiplash and Bleed for This).

So enlist me now for an opening weekend seat back at Top Gun!

Will these movies live up to my expectations? You can follow me on Letterboxd where I log and rate every movie I watch.

Do you agree with my list? Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

January 9, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | 1 Comment

Where to Watch the ‘Ju-On/Grudge’ Series Online

As Now Playing Podcast winds down its Ju-On/Grudge retrospective series with the January 10 review of 2020’s Sam Raimi-produced Grudge remake, curious and casual fans may be surprised when they look back and see just how deep the J-horror retrospective goes. 

If you’re brave enough to look closer, you’ll see there’s much more than the 12 episodes covered by hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie. Some of the Japanese films can be found and watched on YouTube, others are harder to hunt down. The American versions are floating around on DVD and can be streamed on some websites. Here’s a roadmap to help you find and navigate the series. 

Katasumi (片隅In a Corner) and 4444444444 (Ten Fours)

These two 1998 short films, precursors to the main Ju-On series, were released as extras on The Grudge (2004) DVD. Both were directed by Takashi Shimizu and can be found on YouTube.

Katasumi (片隅In a Corner)

4444444444 (Ten Fours)

Ju-On: The Curse

Takashi Shimizu brought The Curse into homes in 2000, and the installment kicked off our retrospective series in November 2019. You can find the Ju-On: The Curse review at the Now Playing Podcast website, but the full movie has been removed from YouTube. 

Ju-on: The Curse 2

The sequel to Ju-On: The Curse, released direct-to-video the same year as its predecessor, can be watched in its entirety on YouTube with English subtitles. Check it and then hear the Ju-On: The Curse 2 review at the Now Playing Podcast website

Ju-On: The Grudge

The first in the series to be released theatrically, 2002’s Ju-On: The Grudge made a tremendous impact when audiences first saw it, and its success helped spawn the American remake series. The Grudge can be watched with English subtitles on YouTubeand you can hear the review at the Now Playing Podcast website.

Ju-On: The Grudge 2

Takashi Shimizu’s 2003 sequel to Ju-On: The Grudge was a monster hit in Japan, grossing $1.1 billion Japanese yen. Finding the film online isn’t that easy, however, as it’s been removed from YouTube and cannot be rented or purchased from sites like Amazon. You can hear our hosts thoughts on Ju-On: The Grudge 2 at the Now Playing Podcast website

The Grudge (2004)

Our hosts were not too fond of Sam Raimi’s 2004 The Grudge remake, but listeners know the worst horror movies often make the best Now Playing reviews. If you’re looking for the film, you can easily find it on DVD, or watch a very low quality version on YouTube. 

The Grudge 2 (2006)

Takashi Shimizu came back again to helm the sequel to his own American remake, and though 2006’s The Grudge 2 did conjure about $70 million at the box office, it was not a critical success. The film is available to rent or buy online.

The Grudge 3

A second American sequel to The Grudge went straight to DVD in 2009. It failed to impress our hosts and is probably best left forgotten. But if you’re a completist, there’s a version on YouTube that you can watch for free.

Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost

While American audiences were treated to a direct-to-DVD stinker, Japanese Ju-On fans got back-to-back sequels in honor of the franchise’s 10th anniversary. Now Playing listeners were treated to separate podcasts for Ju-On: White Ghost and Ju-On: Black Ghost but both films only managed one green arrow between them. You can watch both on YouTube.

Ju-On: White Ghost

Ju-On: Black Ghost

Ju-on: The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End kicked off a new reboot continuity for Ju-On in Japan. It still mustered just one green arrow from our hosts, but you can watch the film in its entirety on YouTube and judge for yourself.

Ju-On: The Final Curse

In 2015, Ju-On: The Final Curse promised an end to the series, but as horror fans know very well, franchises very rarely end. The film is streaming free on YouTube, and you can hear our hosts analysis at the Now Playing Podcast website

But wait, there’s more!

YouTube even has a nearly two-hour video of the Ju-On: The Grudge Haunted House Simulator game. If you like walkthroughs, you might like this.

January 6, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Where to Watch the ‘Ju-On/Grudge’ Series Online

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2020

The arrival of the new year brings new episodes of Now Playing Podcast, with fresh takes on The Grudge and Bad Boys franchises, along with the King Kong and Rush Hour retrospectives.

The “Best of the Decade” lists have been filed and the big ball dropped in Times Square, so that means we’ve officially entered the 2020s. With the new year comes a fresh look at the Now Playing Podcast schedule, which will continue to churn out weekly (and frequently bi-weekly) episodes of ongoing and anticipated retrospectives. 

For those listeners who are always looking forward to Tuesdays and Fridays, here’s a look at what’s coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2020.

Friday, January 3 – Ju-On: The Beginning of the End

Now Playing Podcast’s The Grudge/Ju-On series kicked off in November 2019 as the Gold Level series of its 2019 Fall/Winter donation drive, and marked the show’s first extensive foray into the J-Horror genre. January 3 sets up The Beginning of the End for the retrospective, as Now Playing hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie examine the 10th installment of the Ju-On franchise, a reboot that debuted in Japan in June 2014. 

Sunday, January 5 – Ju-On: The Final Curse

Picking up where Beginning of the End left off, Now Playing’s review of Ju-On: The Final Curse drops on January 5, the same weekend that the American reboot hits theaters.   

Tuesday, January 7 – King Kong vs. Godzilla

Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t arrive until November, but Now Playing’s King Kong retrospective will sate your desire for giant movie monsters while you wait. The first Tuesday of 2020 brings a review of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho Studios’ 1962 mashup of the two characters, a film that also marked their first appearances in color. Having already covered 1933’s King Kong and its sequel, Son of Kong, one of the most discussed subjects will likely be Kong’s design, which changed drastically when Toho brought the monster into its universe. 

Friday, January 10 – The Grudge (2020)

After the buildup that began with the Ju-On: The Curse, Now Playing will cross another long-requested horror franchise off its list when producer Sam Raimi and Piercing director Nicolas Pesce unveil their reboot of The Grudge. The new film arrives in theaters on January 3, with Now Playing’s review to follow a week later. 

Tuesday, January 14 – King Kong Escapes

Spoiler alert: King Kong survives his brush with Godzilla and makes another appearance in 1967’s King Kong Escapes. The Toho production not only features classic Kong but also Mechani-Kong, a robot replicant of the giant ape, which debuted in the 1966 King Kong animated series. This film would mark the last of Kong’s Toho film appearances, as the Dino De Laurentiis reboot would be coming in the 1970s. 

Tuesday, January 21 – Bad Boys for Life

Now Playing dropped its Bad Boys retrospective in June 2017 when, at the time, it looked like a second sequel to the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence franchise had stalled permanently. “I’m thinking this is never gonna happen,” Arnie said of Bad Boys for Life, but Smith and Lawrence eventually reunited, with Belgian directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah taking the reins of the franchise. Bad Boys for Life sees Miami cops Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett ending their longtime partnership before teaming again to take down a new villain. There will be explosions.  

Friday, January 24 – Rush Hour

With The Grudge capping the Gold Level of Now Playing Podcast’s 2019 Fall/Winter donation drive, the hosts press the accelerator on Platinum Level and bring you the first episode of the Rush Hour retrospective series. A mismatched buddy cop comedy in the vein of Beverly Hills CopLethal Weapon, and the aforementioned Bad BoysRush Hour was a monster hit when it bowed in September 1998, setting up big paydays for star Chris Tucker and spawning two sequels, both of which will be featured on Now Playing Podcast in February 2020. Donors of $35 or more can hear the entire Rush Hour retrospective, as well as all episodes in the Ju-On/GrudgeZombieland, and I Am Legend retrospectives when they donate via PayPal or Now Playing’s Podbean page.  

Tuesday, January 28 – King Kong (1976)

For many Now Playing Podcast listeners, their first exposure to King Kong came in 1976, when Dino De Laurentiis tapped stars Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, and then-unknown Jessica Lange for his version of the giant ape tale. This time, the explorers setting foot on Kong’s Skull Island homeland are in search of oil, and the hosts will certainly discuss the influence of 1970s culture and politics on the finished product. 

Friday, January 31 – Rush Hour 2

The final Now Playing Podcast episode of January follows Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan from Hong Kong to Las Vegas and beyond in 2001’s Rush Hour 2Tucker famously held out for a $20 million salary to star in the sequel, but the box office results speak for themselves. How does it hold up nearly 20 years later? That’s for Now Playing’s hosts to decide.

Want to talk movies with Now Playing Podcast? Join your hosts and fellow listeners at the Now Playing Podcast Facebook Page.

January 1, 2020 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2020

Arnie’s Top 25 Films of the 2010s

I keep reading articles and posts about how movies aren’t what they used to be. From Martin Scorsese, bitter about his Irishman distribution woes, to Spielberg decrying the “movie-ness” of streaming services, to box office reports of lower attendance.

Yet I maintain the 2010s have had as many great films as any decade before.

When putting this list together it was literally impossible to only do ten movies. I finally cut it off at 25, and then which order became a frustrating rearranging.

Finally, here are my Top 25 films of the 2010s:

25. It: A movie that genuinely horrified, and did Stranger Things better than Stranger Things. The opening scene is (pardon the pun) a grabber, and it didn’t let up much after that point. Had the sequel been as good there’s a chance this would rank even higher on the list as a duology. As it is, It is still the 25th best of the 2010s.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It

24. The Hateful Eight: Tarantino gets two slots on this list, and the first is his underrated suspense film from 2015. Both funny and gruesome, I was unexpectedly pulled into this period piece.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Hateful Eight

23. Wind River: Jeremy Renner does his fair share of franchise films, but when he escapes those films he brings a depth and realism to his characters. He showed this in the incredible The Hurt Locker, and he did it again in this 2017 murder mystery. Likewise, Elizabeth Olsen keeps up with Renner as a FBI outsider investigating a murder on Native American lands (the best rookie FBI performance since Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs)

22. The A-Team: I was skeptical any new cast could capture the magic, the chemistry, and the unique personalities of NBC’s ’80s The A-Team. I was wrong. Christian Kaplan, the film’s executive in charge of casting, deserves an award for finding four performers who simply are the 2010 personifications of Hannibal Smith, Face, BA Baracus, and Howling Mad Murdock.

More, director Joe Carnahan’s use of montage to show how the team went from planning to execution was invigorating.

I love it when a movie comes together, and this one surely did.

Read Jakob, Arnie, and Marjorie’s reviews of The A-Team and 124 other movies in the Now Playing book Underrated Movies We Recommend. The eBook is available now, the print book is shipping soon!

21. Deadpool: Funny and irreverent–I’d expect nothing less from Ryan Reynolds or Deadpool. Romantic and exciting–those are the surprises in store in Fox’s R-rated (relatively) low budget comic book movie. While Fox studios is no more, the risks they took with first Deadpool and then Logan showed the big boys at Disney and Warner Bros. that comic book movies aren’t just for teenage boys. Without Deadpool there’d be no Joker.

Hear the full Now Playing review of Deadpool

20. Her: Joaquin Phoenix had his biggest box-office hit with 2019’s Joker. Likewise, moviegoers hail his lead performance (quite a trick to follow up Heath Ledger’s ’08 turn). But Joker wasn’t Phoenix’s best performance of the decade–that was in 2013’s Her.

For much of the film Phoenix’s character Theodore is the only person on screen. While Scarlett Johansson’s voice speaks to him in most scenes, but still Phoenix alone must carry the physical performance. He must be visually and emotionally bare as he alone has all the actor’s tools at his behest.

Moving and thought-provoking, I recommend spending an evening with Her.

19. Hereditary: That scene, right? That one scene (that I won’t spoil)… it is to Hereditary what the shower is to Psycho, the pig’s blood to Carrie, or the orgasm scene of When Harry Met Sally. But to focus only on that scene is to ignore the other 126 minutes of a deeply disturbing and creepy film. Toni Collette takes you with her on her spiral into…madness? And Alex Wolff’s physical performance creates a moment second only to that scene. Hereditary gripped me like a nightmare from which I didn’t want to wake.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Hereditary

18. The Social Network: Facebook is so central to communication that it’s difficult to remember the time before. It has become so engrained in American life that The Social Network is perhaps even more important today than when it was released in 2010.

The story of Facebook’s creation is so dramatic and sensational it’s hard to believe it’s real. In fact, the real Mark Zuckerberg disputes this movie’s accuracy saying, “This is my life, so I know it’s not so dramatic.” Still, it’s hard to not be drawn into the world of Facebook’s creation.

“Nerds” programming at computers could be terribly stale to watch, but director David Fincher brings his trademark visual panache and makes Facebook’s creation feel as suspenseful as Seven. And Jesse Eisenberg was a great choice to play Zuckerberg, bringing the right amount of whiny and nerdy.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Social Network

17. Baby Driver: Is Baby Driver a movie, or is it a 113 minute music video? The concept–thievery perfectly timed with music–was originally a music video for Mint Royale’s “Blue Song.”

Yes, the hook of Baby Driver is its gimmick–its soundtrack dominates the film. It makes a scene of getting coffee fun and visually appealing. Really, Baby Driver is an old-fashioned musical, only no one in this film sings–they listen to iPods.

But the magic of Baby Driver is the cast, specifically lead Ansel Elgort. This “one last job” story is given extra depth when it collides with Baby’s love story with Debora (Lily James). Jamie Foxx brings true menace with his character “Bats”, and Jon Hamm’s arc as “Buddy” is almost as involving as Baby’s.

Almost three years since the film’s release I still can’t stop listening to the soundtrack, but mostly those songs now make me remember the film.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Baby Driver

16. Whiplash: I came late to the 2014 film Whiplash. By the time I watched it I’d already watched J. K. Simmons accept his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. I really thought I knew what I was in for…and I was wrong.

Whiplash isn’t your standard “exceptional student” film like Finding Forrester or Good Will Hunting. It also isn’t the cliche “evil teacher” movie like 21 or Real Genius. No, Whiplash is a story of obsession where the student’s ambition is as big an enemy as his teacher.

Simmons earns his Oscar as abusive music teacher Terence Fletcher. It’s a role that, in the wrong hands, could have become camp, but Simmons rides that line. He’s not evil, just amoral and obsessed.

The film ends on a number of twists, the first of which made me roll my eyes…but writer/director Damien Chazelle is too smart to let this film end in a tired cliche, and the film’s final scene sticks with me.

15. Inception: I’ve gotten some guff for not being a paid member of the Christopher Nolan fan club. That said, I love three of his films: Memento, The Dark Knight and Inception. \

Nolan has a way of shooting a cityscape that is gothic and expansive, dwarfing its characters in a Metropolis. It worked so well in Dark Knight and he uses it to great effect in Inception where he adds another dimension as cities change and reshape themselves.

It’s a cinematic equivalent of a M.C. Escher artwork.

But the plot is as exciting as its visuals–a heist film with constant escalation. Add great performances from the entire cast (Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Cillian Murphy are stand-outs) and Inception is a movie that’s incredible, and incredibly fun, to watch.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Inception

14. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: How unexpected is it that not only is the best Spider-Man feature film animated, but it doesn’t even star Peter Parker?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the most comic-booky of all comic-book movies. It’s not afraid to tackle topics that live-action movies eschew, including multiverses and alternate versions of characters. But comics do that constantly.

Miles Morales was a Spider-Man created by Brian Michael Bendis in Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe. When Peter Parker was killed Miles Morales stepped up and inherited the Spider-Man mantle. Being biracial, young, and hip, Morales quickly developed his own following as Spider-Man. Now he got a big-screen starring turn…with Peter Parker (actually two Peter Parkers) in supporting roles.

Yes, it’s yet another superhero origin story–but it’s so fast-paced, and the characters come so quickly, that it manages to feel fresh despite audiences having seen hundreds of movies like this before.

I get more out of this film every time I enter the Spider-Verse

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

13. It Follows: Elevated horror often focuses too much on the “elevated” and too little on the “horror.” Not so with It Follows. The metaphor of death coming after intercorse is clear. Yet the horror and paranoia of being stalked by an unstoppable, invisible assailant pulled me in. I empathized with the protagonists and joined them in their fear of “it.”

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It Follows

12. Kingsman: The Secret Service: Matthew Vaugn’s visual style brings three movies to this list of 25…more than any other director. The first is this 2014 spy comedy. It both mocks the James Bond spy formula while also adhering to it, a post-modern, self-aware thriller. From its opening (to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”) to its end (to Brian Ferry’s “Slave to Love”) the movie is exciting and fun–but it’s the church scene (choreographed to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird”) that cements its place as one of the decade’s best.

11. Maniac (2012): Lately movie reboots (and even sequels like The Force Awakens and Jurassic World) seem to only retell or remake the original film. Maniac does not fall prey to that lazy device. It takes inspiration from the grimy 1980 film, but director Franch Khalfoun and producer Alexandre Aja bring a totally different vibe to this slasher film.

Replacing large, grimy Joe Spinell with small, refined Elijah Wood already indicates this film will be vastly different than the original. But more, the choice to show most of the film in first-person, to in effect make the viewer the killer, is unlike anything in the 1980 film.

We’ve seen first-person slashers before (Halloween’s opening scene may be the best known, but Friday the 13th and others have used this technique). Doing an entire film in that style is a gimmick–but one that works so well here.

With Wood’s creepy performance as Frank Zito (and one of Frank’s arms) and the haunting score by Rob, Maniac is one of the best films I only watched because of Now Playing’s review. Truly one of the most original and best horror films of the decade.

Hear Now Playing’s review of Maniac (2012)

10. Contagion: Few things frighten me more than a fast spreading, highly contagious disease wiping out the population. From The Stand to Outbreak to even Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this all-too-possible scenario scares the hell out of me.

That fear is realized in Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 film Contagion. The disease spreads through the global population as the film focuses on both the race for a cure and some of the individuals living in this crumbling world.

Never have I rooted more for a film’s protagonists. And Soderbergh’s ensemble cast of familiar faces from Gwyneth Paltrow to Laurence Fishburne helped me connect with nearly every character.

Contagion doesn’t end on the bleakest of notes, but it carries with it the bleakest of horrors. I hope to never find out if Soderbergh made a realistic film, but he made a thrilling one.

9. 12 Years a Slave: I can think of several horror films that start with a kidnapping and forced enslavement. Seven, Saw, and Hostel just to name a few. But imagine that horror told as a period-piece biopic–a true story of the worst American horror.

It’s unbelievable and horrible that a free African-American in New York could be kidnapped and sold as a slave, with no recourse to regain his freedom. Yet in 1840s America such a scam was commonplace, and happened to Solomon Northup (played here by Chiwetel Ejiofor).

The film is sad, and yet shows a genuine triumph of human spirit and perseverance. I was moved by the tale.

8. The Cabin in the Woods: Is this a horror film or a parody? It rides the line with its trite story of five college students going to a cabin for a weekend of partying. Yet the scenario is reframed here as manipulation by people who look like extras from Office Space. They release pheromones and use drugs to turn these five people into horror stereotypes…but the deaths caused are too real.

With a final twist and cameo appearance that work perfectly, I revisit The Cabin in the Woods often.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Cabin in the Woods

7. Django Unchained: Tarantinos’ second film on this list ranks with Reservoir Dogs as his best work. Django (Jamie Foxx) and King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) are a tremendous on-screen duo as bounty hunters who infiltrate the slave trade to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda.

The movie starts as an action film, but ends up becoming a heist movie along the lines of Ocean’s 11 as the two protagonists plot their rescue. And Foxx brings a gravity to his role as a freed slave, while also being funny with his character’s clothes and turn-of-phrase.

To see Samuel L. Jackson play someone other than Samuel L. Jackson is a delight here as well. The strongest of recommends.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Django Unchained

6. Kick-Ass: Matthew Vaughn’s second entry in this list is this 2010 comic-book adaptation. Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman smoothed out the bumps in Mark Millar’s original graphic novel, creating an escapist super-hero fantasy. Voiceover narration and early hero patrols mimic Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man. But Aaron Johnson as the titular hero is an underdog that you can truly root for.

Then Kick-Ass teams up with Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and the film goes to another level of madcap carnage.

Like Kingsman: The Secret Service this film has over-the-top fights and a “happy” ending that works like a fairy tale. Yet the sheer joy of watching these performances and these characters really does Kick-Ass.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Kick-Ass

5. Mad Max: Fury Road: For 20 years or more I’ve read articles and heard complaints from movie critics and fans that sequels and franchises are univentive and tired, ruining American cinema. (Once more, see Scorsese’s comments regarding Marvel films).

I contend franchise films are like all films–there are some that are lazy and poorly made, but then there are moments of genius. Mad Max: Fury Road epitomizes that phenomenon.

Everything could go wrong with a fourth Mad Max film. The titular character was recast to Tom Hardy, and the last installment, Beyond Thunderdome, came 30 years earlier and was hardly a blockbuster. Yet septuagenarian director George Miller injected this film with high-octane action creating one of cinema’s best chase films.

More than just action-for-action’s sake, the film also co-stars Charlize Theron as female liberator Imperator Furiosa, giving the series a kick-ass woman who outshined Hardy and gave Mad Max a feminist bent.

Whether you watch it in the Black and Chrome edition or the color release, watch it on as big a screen as you can find, crank the sound system, and unleash the Fury.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Mad Max: Fury Road

4. The Nice Guys: Writer/director Shane Black seems unable to recapture the box-office magic he had in the ’80s when he wrote Lethal Weapon (Iron Man 3 excluded as, let’s face it, Black was not the reason that film made a billion dollars). It’s a shame audiences are ignoring Black because his best screenplays have come in the 21st century (and I don’t mean The Predator).

In 2005 Black wrote and directed a buddy-crime film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang — a funny and exciting noir mystery set in Hollywood (and featured in Now Playing’s Underrated Movies We Recommend book). It barely broke even for the studio.

In 2016 he tried again with the comedic noir mystery The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Set in late ’70s Los Angeles the movie follows private eye Holland March (Gosling) as he investigates the death of porn star Misty Mountains. The case leads him to be beaten-up by tough-guy Jackson Healy (Crowe). Soon the two team-up to investigate a complex mystery. They are both aided and hampered by March’s daughter Holly (Angourie Rice).

Gosling and Crowe are perfectly cast. Crowe’s cinematic history and his large frame perfectly fit his character, while Gosling’s charisma makes a mediocre private eye fun to watch. The mystery is as complex (or is that convoluted) as Lethal Weapon, but the joy is in the characters.

But The Nice Guys did finish last, barely making its budget back, and Black went on to do the atrocious The Predator. I hope his creative spark wasn’t squashed when his two best films didn’t find an audience.

3. X-Men: First Class: Matthew Vaughn’s third film on this list may prove controversial. X-Men: First Class is a polarizing film among fans…though I can’t understand the view of people who dislike this fourth X-Men installment.

A prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, First Class is set in the early ’60s and shows the origins of classic X-Men characters Charles “Professor X” Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), Raven “Mystique” Darkholme (Jennifer Lawrence) and others.

It’s impossible to not be impressed with this cast. They got Lawrence one year before she became a superstar with The Hunger Games and an Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook. McAvoy and Fassbender never reached the popularity of their co-star, but both are magnificent actors able to bring a variety of emotion and pathos to their roles. With Nicholas Hoult, Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne, Zoe Kravitz,and Kevin Bacon in supporting roles, the cast is captivating and interesting.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as First Class offers a bit of revisionist history to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The story spans the globe from Germany to England to Russia and more.

Once again, Matthew Vaughn brings his visual style to a comic book adaptation in a way that’s fresh and fun, and gives us one of the best cameos I’ve ever seen.

With its message of “Mutant and Proud”, its character evolution, and its infectious score by Henry Jackman, there isn’t a moment of this movie I don’t love.

2. The Avengers: Honestly, this entire list could be films from Marvel Studios. Their output is remarkable in consistent quality, and their cast and characters improve from film to film.

Truthfully, I limited myself to one Marvel Studios movie for this list…but which one? Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame all truly deserve spots in any “best of the decade” list.

Marvel’s films have become a cultural touchpoint for people around the world. People who would never deign to read a comic book now wear Captain America T-Shirts and buy Funko POP! figures of their favorite characters.

So which to pick? The one that really started it all-2012’s The Avengers. Sure, you can argue Iron Man started it in 2008, but Marvel’s films were only moderately successful through 2011. While both Iron Man films made over $300mil domestic, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor all failed to reach $200 million (2015’s Ant-Man is the only post-2012 film to not gross over $200m).

It took Joss Whedon to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe coalesce, bringing a god, a super-soldier, a rampaging monster, and a playboy in an armored suit together to fight each other, and then an alien invasion.

In only 143 minutes Wheadon gave satisfying character arcs to six characters…the four listed above, plus Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), both of whom failed to impress in their previous MCU films.

Wheadon did that and made it look effortless, while keeping the film moving at a good clip and having enough quips to keep the audience smiling.

The Avengers truly did assemble here, and an unstoppable cinematic juggernaut was the result. You may love that or hate it, but damn if that isn’t an impressive feat.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs the World: How is it the number 1 film is a comic book but isn’t a Marvel movie? Leave it to Edgar Wright’s action-romance fable Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s eponymous series of graphic novels, Scott Pilgrim takes place in a fantasy land where video game rules apply. Skateboarders grind down flights of stairs like in Tony Hawk games. People throw punches and kicks in the streets like Mortal Kombat. Battles of the Bands create large electronic kaiju. And when someone dies, a bunch of coins fly from where their body used to be.

But inside this video game is a romantic comedy where listless Scott Pilgrim (a perfectly cast Michael Cera) falls for the woman of his dreams–Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead at her most alluring). As with any rom-com there are obstacles to their romance. Not only is Scott dating high-school girl Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), but to date Ramona Scott must fight her seven evil exes.

Scott has never fought for anything, so can he keep up the fight for Ramona? Should he even do that?

The result is a light-hearted but emotional film where Scott and Ramona have ups, downs, and battles with the likes of Chris Evans and Brandon Routh.

I also love the entire cast here. Comic book movie veterans Evans and Routh are joined by Thomas Jane, plus future Captain Marvel Brie Larson. Yet the standout supporting character is Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay and snarky roommate Wallace Wells. Culkin delivers his lines with such snide sarcasm I can’t help to smile.

Get a life and don’t miss out on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Read Jakob, Arnie, and Marjorie’s reviews of Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 124 other movies in the Now Playing book Underrated Movies We Recommend. The eBook is available now, the print book is shipping soon!

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Arnie’s Top 25 Films of the 2010s

Arnie’s Best Films of 2019

As we approach New Year’s, it’s a time to look back at what 2019 brought…and that means best of/worst of lists.

I readily admit my movie watching in 2019 was dominated by Now Playing Podcast’s calendar. Many of the films in this list were reviewed on that podcast.

Now to the list:

10. Between Two Ferns: The Movie: I always found Funny or Die videos to lean more to the “die” side. But the awkward humor of Zach Galifianakis interviewing celebrities always made me chuckle. Thrown into narrative form for the Netflix movie, I laughed out loud often. The bloopers at the end, showing the celebrities cracking up at the jokes, made it even better.

9. Zombieland: Double Tap: It took 10 years to bring the Zombieland team back together. No doubt, my love of that original film and those characters tint my view of this lesser sequel. Yet the addition of new character Madison (Zoey Deutch) brings a new energy and life to this picture. The cameo at the very end cements this sequel on this best-of list.

Hear Now Playing’s full Zombieland: Double Tap review

8. Toy Story 4: When I was a kid I’d love my new toys, but after a while I’d get bored and want to move on to a new toy line. Smurfs went in a box to make way for Transformers, etc. Such is the case with Woody and Buzz on their fourth outing (not counting TV specials and shorts). The bloom is a bit off the rose as these character age and lead their post-Andy life. Still, Toy Story 4 finds a way to still have toys build a metaphor for real life, and the horror of the puppet minions was highly effective. Plus, once again Pixar blazes new trails in the realm of CGI animation.

Hear Now Playing’s full Toy Story 4 review

7. Us: Jordan Peele proved himself a master of horror with Get Out (hear Now Playing’s review), but could he repeat that success in his second film? Happily, Peele avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with this story of evil suburban dopplegangers. Like Get Out, it works both as horror and social commentary.

6. Marriage Story: A Kramer vs. Kramer for our time, Marriage Story features Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as parents going through a divorce. It starts amicable, but turns bitter as the stakes escalate. I do wish the film made me feel more for these characters’ loss, but the two lead performances are both impacting and real. I’d not be surprised to see both Johansson and Driver nominated at the 2020 Academy Awards (unless this being a Netflix film dooms it politically).

5. Knives Out: I wasn’t sure what to make of Rian Johnson’s whodunnit when I saw the trailers, with Daniel Craig being called out for his Kentucky Fried accent. But I am a sucker for a good murder mystery, and Knives Out is a great one. With a roster of A-list stars, Johnson counterintuitively makes the film’s focus the lesser known Ana de Armas. This works very well as she is a working-class maid surrounded by parvenu, the star wattage surrounding her sells that difference. The end reveal got me. I hear there’s now rumors of this $200mil grosser becoming a franchise. If Johnson can make them all this clever and funny, I’m ready for another cut.

4. Joker: DC had one of their best years in 2019. Shazam was a solid entry in their DC Extended Universe (hear the Now Playing review)–a movie that played it safe. Then the studio took some creative risks letting Todd Phillips, a director most known for comedy, co-write and direct the R-Rated Joker. With its Scorsese feel and a captivating performance by Joaquin Phoenix, Joker stopped anyone from laughing at DC’s movie offerings and proved comic book movies can span genres and achieve greatness. The camerawork and score emphasize the film’s theme while keeping the film visually interesting.

I fear what Joker’s success may bring (rumors of a sequel, as well as a series of more R-rated comic origins frighten me) but Joker truly is the Clown Prince of comic movies.

Hear Now Playing’s full Joker review.

3. Terminator: Dark Fate: I hear the derision now… “Anyone that includes Dark Fate on a best-of list needs to watch more movies.” The film was a commercial flop costing the studio over $100mil in losses. It was released to an audience seemingly tired with franchise revivals (or, at least, tired of Terminator‘s string of lackluster sequels).

But I am a champion of underrated movies (I even co-wrote a book about them) and Dark Fate fits that bill. Following the Halloween (2018) model, the film has creator James Cameron producing, and Linda Hamilton returning in a co-starring role. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s terminator is both funny and sympathetic, making this the muscle-man’s best performance since before he was elected Governor of California.

With action that packs a punch, a cool two-for-one Terminator Rev-9, and a pace that rarely lets you catch your breath, I was hoping this Dark Fate would be back for more…but I’m positive this is “hasta la vista, baby” for the series.

Hear Now Playing’s full Terminator: Dark Fate review

2. Spider-Man: Far From Home: After the drama and high stakes of Avengers: Endgame audiences needed a breather. Something a little lighter. A funny film that is just a good popcorn film. Far From Home meets all those targets perfectly.

Spanning several European countries, Far From Home works as a road movie, a travelogue, a teen comedy, and a comic book action film.

Tom Holland has proven himself to be the best live-action Spider-Man in five movies from 2016-2019 (two more than any other Spider-Man actor). In his second solo outing, Holland’s Spider-Man still struggles with teen drama but also brings in a good villain in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. Gyllenhaal and Holland have great on-screen chemistry, as do Holland and love-interest Zendaya.

The cliffhanger ending (with a cameo sure to make Spider-Man fans smile) makes the web-head’s return to the screen my most-anticipated MCU film.

Is it 2021 yet?

Hear Now Playing’s full Spider-Man: Far From Home review

1. Avengers: Endgame: When I think of the duology of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame I’m reminded of a cliffhanger from Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Best of Both Worlds.” The first episode of that duology was dark, exciting, and ended with a feeling that all is lost. When the conclusion aired three months later…they just couldn’t stick the landing. Everything was neatly wrapped up easily…and unsatisfactorily.

Avengers: Infinity War ended on a similar note with Vision dead, along with half the population in the universe. Could the Avengers’ rematch with Thanos meet the adventure-filled Infinity War?

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo didn’t just give Infinity War’s story a satisfying conclusion–they made an amazing film that works on its own. It’s a final hurrah for the original Avengers, and the scaled-down cast allows Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor to each have their own satisfying character arcs. I cheered during the film’s high points, and tears streamed down my face as I bid farewell to some characters I’ve lived with for over a decade.

It feels like a conclusion to the MCU as a whole…I’m not sure Shang-Chi and The Eternals will bring as much to the table as the original Avengers, but damn…what a high note to end on!

Hear Now Playing’s full Avengers: Endgame review

December 30, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | , , , , | Comments Off on Arnie’s Best Films of 2019

Now Playing’s Halloween Playlist: Like a Heart Attack On a One Way Street

Need a soundtrack to fuel your Halloween festivities? The Now Playing Podcast team did the work for you!

To celebrate the spooky season, and one of our favorite times of the year, we’ve compiled a collection of our favorite tracks from our favorite horror and slasher flicks. This playlist, which you can find on the Now Playing Podcast YouTube channel, celebrates the best of the best from the Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, and more.

We purposely steered away from scores, so you won’t find John Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme or “Tubular Bells” from The Exorcist. We love them, but we went with songs you could sing-along to at your party, in the car, or wherever.

Hope you enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Track List

  1. Prologue (From The Fog) – John Carpenter
  2. Nightmare – Tuesday Knight
  3. The Darkest Side of the Night – Metropolis
  4. Transylvania Terror Train – Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures
  5. He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask) – Alice Cooper
  6. Dream Warriors – Dokken
  7. Who Made Who – AC/DC
  8. Love Is a Lie – Lion
  9. XIII – Crazy Lixx
  10. Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You) – Dramarama
  11. His Eyes – Pseudo Echo
  12. Pet Semetary – Ramones
  13. Good Man In a Bad Time – Ian Hunter
  14. Back to the Wall – Divinyls
  15. Bloodletting (The Vampire Song) – Concrete Blonde
  16. Partytime – 45 Grave
  17. Fright Night – J. Geils Band
  18. Are You Ready for Freddy – Fat Boys
  19. Dance or Else – Freddy Krueger
  20. Tonight (We’ll Make Love Til We Die) – SSQ
  21. I Want Your Hands On Me – Sinead O’Connor
  22. Silver Shamrock Commercial (Interlude) – John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
  23. Summer Breeze – Type O Negative
  24. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) – Marilyn Manson
  25. Cry Little Sister – G Tom Mac
  26. Love Kills – Vinnie Vincent Invasion
  27. I Still Believe – Tim Capello
  28. Black No. 1 – Type O Negative
  29. Red Right Hand – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  30. Why Was I Born (Freddy’s Dead) – Iggy Pop
  31. My Misery (Demon Knight) – Machine Head
  32. Living Dead Girl (Subliminal Seduction Mix) – Rob Zombie
  33. Disposable Teens – Marilyn Manson
  34. Hellraiser – Motorhead
  35. Dark Night – The Blasters
  36. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  37. Lost in the Shadows – Lou Gramm
  38. I’m Your Boogieman – Rob Zombie
  39. Prom Night – ???
  40. Theme from Friday the 13th Part 3 – Harry Manfredini
  41. The Monster Squad Rap – The Monster Squad

October 25, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing’s Halloween Playlist: Like a Heart Attack On a One Way Street

Star Wars Action News Review: X-Wing Miniatures Second Edition

By Curtis Stevenson

“I’m not such a bad pilot myself.

 -Luke Skywalker

We all have seen the great pilots — Luke, Vader, Han, Kylo, Boba Fett, Rey, Anakin, and Chewbacca — on the big screen. Now, with the newest wave of pre-painted miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games, you can fly with all of them in X-Wing Miniatures Game 2.0, right on your kitchen table.

As of March 2019, Fantasy Flight Games (FFG) has released ships and pilots from all eras of the Star Wars saga, from the Jedi and clones of the Republic to Kylo Ren and the hordes of the First order. You and a friend can take flight in epic starfighter combat in your own home or local game store.

I had a passing interest in the detailed models FFG released since Star Wars Celebration 6, when I saw them demonstrating games on the convention floor. With the release of a 2.0 version last summer and the announced release of the Republic and Separatist factions, I knew now was a good entry point into this game — one that seems easy to learn but hard to master. X-Wing also feeds the collector side of the player base with dozens of ships all pre-painted and some with alternate paint jobs to reflect great pilots and ships over the whole saga. X-Wing and Tie Fighters have had numerous paint applications, the Falcon has 3 iterations depending on where in the saga it has been pulled from, and the droid armies of the separatist are on the way with an exclusive paint color vulture droid, at Adepticon 2019.

Gameplay is learned via a simple scenario included with the Core set (two Tie Fighters and one X-Wing) that teaches the basics of movement and combat. But within the simple game is a deeper game of decisions and consequences.  Focus, Evade, Target Lock, and Barrel Roll are just a few of your options, depending on what ships you are flying. With the 2.0 launch, FFG added online squad building via an application on your smartphone. 

The community for X-Wing in my experience, both at my Friendly Local Game store and online, is great. The online community for X-Wing is rich with content both for head-to-head and alternate format objective play, with dozens of sites and forums posting ideas and list examples, some great reviews of new and old content, along with breakdowns of organized play results. Customizers within this slice of fandom also have an amazing outlet for custom painted ships and the braver ones adding lights to these tiny Starfighters truly are works of art. One group holds an annual event called Campaign Against Cancer, X-Wing tournament to raise money for various charities around the world! This group will have a booth at the upcoming Star Wars Celebration (#1648). This year, they will also be having a painting show/raffle. The painted ships will be on display at Celebration and fans will be able to vote on their favorite custom ship. The ship with the most votes will also be raffled off to one of the voters at Celebration. The other ships will be used as prizes for the Campaign Against Cancer event being held May 18t, 2019 at local game stores all around the country.

FFG will also be at Celebration, with an exclusive Darth Vader for another one of their miniature games, But I have a feeling they will have demo times for all their Star Wars product during the convention.

Getting started is as simple as the Core Set (MSRP) and then, as your skill grows, more ships are available in expansion packs from $20-$40 adding more gameplay and abilities to ensure victory. A simple game can take 45 minutes according to the rules (official play is limited to 75 minutes) and the application tracks pilot and ship points up to 200 (the max for official events). So far, I have enjoyed collecting ships and facing the collector’s dilemma of what to collect. I have decided to keep with Empire and Rebels for now. If you’re a fan of the scrappy underdog, or want to fly a full swarm of Tie Fighters, or battle as the Ace pilots that make up the Scum and Villainy faction, X-Wing Miniatures can give you all that, on your kitchen table.

March 27, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Star Wars Action News Review: X-Wing Miniatures Second Edition

4 Spoiler-Free Thoughts on That Spoiler-Free ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Trailer

We didn’t see that coming.

Marvel Studios dropped a poster and second trailer for Avengers: Endgame on Wednesday morning; dialing the hype machine up to 22 for fans still floating on air following Captain Marvel’s mid-credits tease. The blockbuster (and it will be) arrives in theaters April 26, and while the gap between Captain Marvel and Endgame is just a little more than a month, the wait feels eternal.

Surely, those of us at Now Playing Podcast and Marvelicious Toys are not the only fans have spent much of the day speculating about the plot while rewatching the trailer at every opportunity. For those trying to avoid speculation and spoilers, this is a safe space. Instead, we offer just a few quick thoughts on our current state of mind.

1. Marvel, You Spoil Us

The truth is, we didn’t need an Avengers: Endgame trailer this morning. We really don’t need any more trailers at all. April 26 is burned into our brains and the first trailer, combined with the Super Bowl spot footage, combined with the aforementioned Captain Marvel tease, is good enough. The Endgame hype machine rises above traditional marketing strategies in the sense that we don’t need new footage to tide us over.  Our collective thirst for what comes next started with the “snap” (or the “decimation” as it’s referred to online) and all we want is for April 26 to get here.

2. Marvel, You’re Not Spoiling Us

There’s nothing that today’s Endgame trailer could do to increase our hype, and that’s fine, because the trailer shows us nothing. Yes, there are scenes that offer a glimpse of a post-snap world and we see what’s left of the Avengers rally in the end for a space adventure of some sort, but this is generally a spoiler-free trailer. Just like the early Avengers: Infinity War trailer, it relies heavily on callbacks to remind you of how much Marvel has accomplished in 10-plus years. If this is the final trailer before Endgame, we’re going in with no clue what’s going to happen. Score one for Marvel marketing. 

3. These 6 a.m. Trailers Need to Stop

Waking up to a brand spanking new Avengers: Endgame trailer should be a nice way to start your day, and it is. An early morning trailer launch ensures that everybody will be posting about it first thing and then talking about it with their co-workers the rest of the day. But lordy, it is a productivity murderer. Once that trailer hit this morning, it pretty much ruined the rest of the day because all that matters now is Endgame. Yes, that means we’re falling right in line with Marvel’s marketing plan and we’re pawns in their little game and blah, blah, blah, “insert your cynicism here.” The point is, we’d get a lot more done if this trailer had dropped at 9 p.m. last night, or maybe not at all?  

4. Those 3-Hour Runtime Rumors Are Looking Right, and We Don’t Care

You’ve likely read the snippets online about Endgame running three hours, which would make it the longest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Too long? Not really. We’re talking, what, 30 minutes longer than Infinity War? That’s nothing. Clearly, the varying hairstyles amongst a couple characters in the trailer hint at a film that’s going to take its time getting to its resolution. That’s fine. It’s what we came for. You might have also read online rumors about an intermission? That’s fine too. We’ll treat it like a hockey game. Hell, throw in an overture at the beginning. It’s an event, after all.

Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 26. Now, continue your conversation about Hawkeye’s haircut.

Whatever it takes.

March 14, 2019 Posted by | News | 1 Comment

Friday the 13th (2009) – Revisited

by Arnie Carvalho

“No matter how much you love the original films in the Friday the 13th series,
 it’s virtually indisputable that the 2009 remake/reboot/re-
imagining is far and away the best made of all of them.” 
— Adam-Troy Castro, Syfy.com

“Can we now admit ‘Friday the 13th’ 2009 was damn good?” 
— Michael White, Bloody-Disgusting.com

“It is one of the best film franchise reboots put out in theaters in the past 15 years.” 
— Jason Parker, Friday The 13th Franchise.com

“I’ve always been of the mind (and it’s a hill I’ll die on), that it kinda just 
makes no sense to be a fan of the original Friday the 13th movies and yet not
 a fan of Friday the 13th ’09”
 — John Squires, Editor in Chief of Bloody Disgusting.com, on Twitter

“Stay away from this movie. It really is one of the bad ones…
Run from this movie. Do not reward the makers with your money” 
— Arnie, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

“In three years no one, absolutely no one, will remember that they saw it, that
 they liked it, it will have no aftertaste whatsoever. People will remember 
the original, they will not remember this movie.” 
— Stuart, Now Playing’s 2009 Podcast review

Still Now Playing 10 Years Later…

Today is a momentous day in my life. It’s a birthday of sorts.

While Now Playing Podcast started in 2007 it (like many shows, TV, radio, podcast, and otherwise) went through some growing pains. Cast changes, an irregular release schedule, and format changes all marred the first two years.

That began to change on January 9, 2009 — the date we released the first episode in our first retrospective series: a review of 1980’s Friday the 13th leading up to the 2009 reboot. The show went from two hosts to three (that would begin rotating later that same year). The “Recommend/Not Recommend” finale was solidified, as were patterns of series-specific opening credits, art, and titles for each film series.

Yet it’s arguably today, Friday, February 13th, that could be seen as Now Playing’s true 10th anniversary. It was the day we recorded our final Friday the 13th review. By that point we knew the retrospective was a big hit. Despite initial misgivings, we decided to immediately continue the format and review Star Trek leading up to its reboot. Stuart even went out and bought a microphone and literally stopped “phoning it in.”

I’ll never forget the night of Friday, February 13th, 2009. I was in New York City covering Toy Fair International. I went to see the Friday the 13th reboot in a Times Square movie theater, accompanied by my wife Marjorie. The excitement that caused me to begin the retrospective series was reaching its peak as the lights went down and the movie started.

Flash forward to five hours later. I’m in our hotel room (small, as most all NYC rooms are). I’m pacing. My iPhone 3G is hot against my face from being on a call for so long. I’m on a telephone recording my disappointment with the 2009 Friday the 13th reboot. Brock is in Chicago recording the call, and he would edit the show released to our listeners the following Monday.

All three of us had very similar reactions, and the reboot became the fourth Friday the 13th, out of 12, to get three red arrows on our website.

I honestly never looked back.

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity” — Robert Morgan

As the 10th anniversary of the Friday the 13th reboot approached I came upon an interesting and unexpected turn of events: a number of think pieces were published celebrating the film. Even those who had reacted poorly to the movie initially had come around and not only enjoyed but celebrated director Marcus Nispel’s fresh take on iconic slasher Jason Voorhees (played by Derek Mears).

I started to question my own memory. Could they be right? Could that movie have aged well?

Having been a movie critic for over a decade I know from experience one of the hardest things to do when reviewing a film is to separate expectations from the final product. Movies are marketed to create expectations–to get you into a theater seat and spending money expecting delivery on what trailers, interviews, and even posters have sold.

Going into Friday the 13th in 2009 my expectations were sky high. I had loved Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake far more than the original Tobe Hooper film. I loved Jason as a killer. Jason’s last appearance on screen in 2003’s Freddy vs Jason was one of his best, and that movie’s writing team of Damian Shannon and Mark Swift were writers for the remake.

Could the movie have been good, or at least recommendable, but simply not met my expectations?

10 years have passed, so I decided to find out. For this re-review of 2009’s Friday the 13th I watched the extended “Killer Cut” released on Blu-Ray and Video on Demand. This cut was nine minutes longer than what I saw in theaters.

The Review

I watched the movie having not listened to our 2009 podcast since it was released. I remembered very little going in, only that Stuart thought Jason was a pothead. Then after watching the movie I listened to our old podcast to see what it was that got me so worked up.

SPOILERS BELOW for this 10-year-old movie!

I liked the opening. This is a reboot, and people want Jason as the killer, not old lady Pamela Voorhees. Yet Pamela’s plight from Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 original Friday is integral to the Jason mythos. To have the climax of the original movie done in montage fashion pays homage and checks the boxes. It does create a confusing timeline as to Jason’s supposed drowning, but handled well.

Then we have the second prologue and, not having seen the movie in a decade, I was faked out. I thought this would be the movie and these five characters, Wade (Jonathan Sadowski), Richie (Ben Feldman), Mike (Nick Mennell), Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and Amanda (America Olivo), were going to be our core cast. They actually seem like a fun group and call back to so many earlier Friday the 13th casts where there’s couples hooking up…and the lonely odd man out. That Jason comes in and killed so many so quickly was a shock.

Then comes our new Jason by Derek Mears. One of my big problems in 2009 goes back to expectation: I was used to the Jason played by Kane Hodder. Jason had gone through many iterations, from bag-wearing woodsman to space-zombie, but the walking after people who run, the nearly supernatural way of catching the prey, seemed like a staple.

This Jason was fast and aggressive. He killed brutally. And he used tools and more thought power than earlier Jasons. Hanging one woman over the campfire to burn while setting a bear trap for another victim really wasn’t in Jason’s modus operandi. But then I had to remember, this is a reboot, not a remake. The Friday the 13th series had lost its luster by doing the same things again and again. In 2009 I couldn’t reconcile this Jason with the ones before. Now I realize this reboot gives us an entirely new Jason.

If I just accept this is a new character, perhaps call him “Jimmy Voorhees”, I’d have no trouble with these new killings. Nispel wanted to revitalize the character and return him to his violent, horror roots. Nearly 30 years had passed since Jason first wielded his machete. It may not be the Jason I wanted, but this viewing I can accept this “Jimmy Voorhees.”

The two characters coming upon Jason’s cabin (plus the bag over Jason’s head) took me back to 1981’s Friday the 13th Part II, and I can go with it.

Not only did the prologue surprise me in killing (seemingly) everyone so fast, I also understand the need to have a body count. One of the pressures with each new horror movie installment was to have more kills. Here, we establish Jason as a badass killer, and we got five good kills. And for those who expect topless women in your Friday films, you got that out of the way too.

Plus, the gore! I was watching the unrated cut, but I marveled at how freely the blood flowed.

Then we actually get to the movie. Again, my expectation was, since we had Shannon and Swift writing again, that we would have a group of fun, believable characters like they gave us in Freddy vs. Jason. Instead, we have a group of character types that would never be friends. I had a real problem with that in theaters.

Yet, when watching it at home on a television, I found myself more forgiving. How many groups of totally different people went camping together in the past? Sure, Parts 1 and 2 made them counsellors thrown together, and 8 had them as classmates, but the victims in parts 3 and 4, and especially 7, don’t feel like they’d hang out together either. So, is this bad writing…or is this an intentional homage to the bad writing in previous installments? More, if I can accept these weird groups in earlier films, why not here too? So, I compartmentalized that complaint and, instead, found these seven young adults appealing, flawed characters, most of whom were obviously going to end up impaled on a machete.

Trent (Travis Van Winkle) is a great douche you love to hate (and with a rich boy name like Travis Van Winkle I wonder how much he was acting). Bree (Julianna Guill) is a wonderful seductress, and the attraction Chewie (Aaron Yoo) shows for Bree takes me back to Crispin Glover’s character in The Final Chapter.

Lawrence (Arien Escarpeta) is a stoner that feels like he would hang out with Chewie. The other couple of Chelsea (Willa Ford) and Nolan (Ryan Hansen) aren’t in the film long enough for me to get a bead on them.

Which does raise one flaw–this group is too big to keep track of. They’re here for a body count, but I’m not sure they are disparate enough where I can even assign them tropes of “the smart one” and “the shy one”, etc. Especially Chelsea and Nolan, they are the flattest of characters.

Then we have typical last-girl Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). Like so many Jason survivors in films past, she’s a brunette, she’s smart, she doesn’t smoke weed, and she doesn’t get naked. And when she encounters, and partners with, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) who is searching for his missing sister Whitney, I’m taken back (in a positive way) to the similar plot in The Final Chapter.

The kills also are varied. I had a problem with Jason using an arrow to kill Nolan, but he used a crossbow in Part II so this wasn’t so far off. And again, this is the new “Jimmy Voorhees.” He’s a survivalist. He has to hunt to survive. It makes sense he’d be good with a bow. (It equally makes sense that this Jason is far more intelligent than the previous incarnations and so he uses Kerosene to power his home). And Chelsea’s machete-in-the-head gave Jason his usual, nearly supernatural sense of where his victims hide.

So halfway in the movie I wonder…was I too harsh on Friday the 13th? Did I allow my expectation to cloud what was delivered?

The answer is….partially, for the movie really does fall apart in the second half.

Nispel was best known (and may still be best known) for his Texas Chainsaw reboot. I don’t know if Nispel rewrote any of Shannon and Swift’s script, but the second half does turn this new Jason into a wannabe Leatherface. Why are there catacombs underneath Camp Crystal Lake? It makes no sense. Why did Jason kidnap Whitney? It makes no sense. Why does Whitney look so good after six weeks of captivity? It makes no sense.

Yet the deaths continue to impress. In this “Killer Cut” Chewie’s slow death in the tool shed was painful to watch as he writhes, groans, and bleeds for a very long time. Lawrence’s kill by Jason throwing an ax goes back to the survivalist skills, and creates a more “realistic” Jason who can’t just walk after every person who runs.

The best death/fake-out may belong to Trent, though. Waving down a tow truck, a silent hand waves Trent to get on. Can this Jason drive a car? No…it’s an old man on oxygen, unable to shout to the young man whose hesitation results in his being impaled on the truck as it drives away.

Yet another decent fake-out is Jenna. She seemed like the perfect “last girl” and, echoing The Final Chapter‘s Trish, I thought it was a given she’d escape. But two brunettes is one to many in a Friday the 13th film so when Whitney is discovered alive Jenna had to die.

The rest is pretty rote action with Jason just dead enough for a climax, yet, of course, always ready to come back for another sequel.

The Verdict

So, was I too harsh on the 2009 Friday the 13th? Yes, I clearly was. My expectation of what the previous Fridays had given clouded my ability to appreciate the changes Nispel tried to bring to make a Jason that could be scary in the 21st century.

Yet, the writing becomes very lazy in the second half. The film is almost a straight downward line, its quality decreasing with every passing frame of film, start to end. At no point does the body of the film reach the highs of its two prologues.

While this is a totally new Jason, much of the film, including the group of victims, is a throwback to the installments released 1980-1984. I wasn’t a fan of many of those early groups, so this is not a success, but it’s not worthy of the damnation I gave on the podcast.

So is it a recommend or not recommend?

It is on the borderline. I think that slasher fans will have a lot to enjoy, while old school Friday the 13th fans will have a lot to swallow.

The ridiculous ending, including everything after the rescue of Whitney (the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.



(the tunnels under the camp, the convenient machinery, the obvious final “jump scare”), make me stand by my red arrow. But it’s a close call, and it’s what I’d call on the podcast “A very weak not recommend”…which is the most positive thing said about this movie in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast.

Yet the film has had a longer lifespan than I had imagined ten years ago today and, had it not been for endless legal wrangling over Friday the 13th’s IP rights, I have no doubt “Jimmy Voorhees” would have returned to slay again.

Yet while lawsuits continue over who has the right to make the next Friday film, I look forward to it. Ten years is the longest Jason has ever gone without a movie since his inception in 1980. He is missed, and hopefully Jason Voorhees, not “Jimmy”, will return to the silver screen again in the near future.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s original retrospective series, 12 reviews of Friday the 13th films (plus a bonus recap episode), all available now at NowPlayingPodcast.com

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Create a Custom Dengar Figure In Just 7 Steps

Star Wars Action News Photo Editor Curtis Stevenson shows you how

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

With Sideshow finally finishing the Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter series, many collectors had already broken out their old Hasbro figures to see what could be salvaged and upgraded with a little paint or some simple mods to display with their other figures.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson
Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

Curtis: After Sideshow released Dengar in 2017 for $239, I knew could make a display-worthy figure to put on my shelf. Dengar is not, after all, a very dynamically posed figure. 

STEP ONE

Curtis: I started with the old 2002 Hasbro figure, thinking his armor could be used, and perhaps the head wraps if I could just give him a better face sculpt. Sideshow/Hot Toys armor is so expensive to part out so I figured a paint job and some weathering and I’m set. The base figure set me back $17.

STEP TWO

Curtis: For the body, I went with an extra Sideshow body from an older Han Solo figure. It has modern articulation and is compatible with extra hands and neck peg adapters to fit all types of heads. Plain bodies can be found online for $14-$20 if you don’t have an extra on hand.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson
Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

STEP THREE

Curtis: Dengar has a “unique” glove shared by a bunch of on-screen characters that have not been made yet. But very similar to the AT-AT driver glove and the AT-AT added some extra details I like. I found them for $7.

STEP FOUR

Curtis: The trusty blaster for this bounty hunter changes in the film. The base is an MG34 however of course in 1/6 scale that is not available and the few loose blasters form this figure sold very quickly online. However, an MG42 kit is online for $1-$2! I was able to score one on eBay for $0.76, a great deal to help build this figure on the cheap. It needed to be repainted and weathered. Simple black acrylic paint thinned with water to weather after simple black and silver paint.

Courtesy: Curtis Stevenson

STEP FIVE

Curtis: For the jumpsuit, I did find a Tan/Green flight suit, online  $5 and it arrived for this custom.  After trying the suit on the body, it really didn’t look right.  So I went back to the Hasbro tan Hasbro suit.  For that was $5 ‘wasted’ but now I have a suit for another custom.

STEP SIX

Curtis: Now, the worst part of the Hasbro (outside the stiff body) figure is the face. Using heat treatment or a warm hairdryer and a sharp knife I cut the face away from the head wraps. I had a few options for head wraps but figured I should save the Hasbro ones if I could. The original head is hollowed so that makes it a simple task of stuffing a new head in the wraps.

STEP SEVEN

Curtis: The toughest part was to find a head with the quality to match my other Sideshow and Hot Toys figures on display. Online, you can find heads parted out from nearly any 1/6 figure released in the past few years. I found a “bloodied” head and thought that would look good under the head wraps and the lived in the universe of Star Wars.

STEP EIGHT

Curtis: Putting the figure together, I kept the Hasbro armor stock. I honestly did not think I could improve on the weathering and depth of colors in his armor. Not a big deal, again, this was going to be a 1/6 scale figure on the cheap and easy.

Curtis: Sideshow’s figure looks good but the lack of dynamic display options made it hard for me to justify the $240+ purchase. So I attempted a good enough version. I know he’s not the best, and I do see areas for simple improvements, but for $66 I think it was a good start to building a custom figure. Perhaps I will keep finding low-cost Hot Toys/Sideshow armor to replace and upgrade, but for now, I am quite happy with him and moving on my next custom figure.

I have also found a comparison between the Hasbro and Sideshow figure.

RECIPE

  1. Hasbro 2002 figure as base $17
  2. Upgraded Hot Toy KO body $14
  3. Tan jumpsuit $5- did not use for this figure
  4. Repainted Hasbro armor- changed mind and kept original
  5. Custom head modified to fit Hasbro headwrap -$26
  6. New stormtrooper legs/boots- Perhaps a future upgrade?
  7. White/grey gloves- At-At driver hands $7
  8. MG42 kit from eBay $0.76 + paint(free)

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Create a Custom Dengar Figure In Just 7 Steps

‘Child’s Play’ Teaser Saves Chucky for Later

Friday’s Child’s Play teaser drop left plenty of wanting, and not much to unpack. Those hoping for a full reveal of a reanimated Chucky doll will have to wait for the next trailer to arrive, which will come sometime between now and June 21.

The few clues dropped in the 60-second ad hint at a (somewhat) fresh take on the franchise. The remake still revolves around mother Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza), son Andy (Gabriel Bateman), and the series’ iconic villain, though it has seemingly scrapped the “doll possessed by a serial killer” plot in favor of a “technology gone wrong” angle — a bit of speculation based on an early video tease describing the Buddi doll line (from which Chucky hails) as the “greatest, most interactive toy on the market.”

That tease will likely lead more than a few fans to assume the new Child’s Play serves as a cautionary tale about artificial intelligence and the facial/voice recognition technologies currently permeating our culture. If that is indeed the angle the remake takes, at least it’s a fresh approach.

Still, some will be disappointed if series star Brad Dourif doesn’t reprise his role as the voice of Chucky, although the actor is believed to be doing so for a Child’s Play television series from creator Don Mancini, one that would continue with the established canon and pick up after the events of 2017’s straight-to-video Curse of Chucky.

At the very least, fans can be thankful for is the return of Chucky on the big screen, something they’ve missed since 2005.

Child’s Play hits theaters June 21.

You can hear the complete Child’s Play retrospective in the Now Playing Podcast archives.

February 8, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on ‘Child’s Play’ Teaser Saves Chucky for Later

‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Gives ‘Fast & Furious’ a Fresh New Direction

Dwayne Johnson saved Universal’s flagship franchise once before. Now he’s turned it into a full-blown superhero spectacle.

By Jason R. Latham

“I’m trying to save the world, which, for the record, will be my fourth time,” boasts Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs in the debut trailer for Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, the spinoff to Universal’s long-lasting and lucrative franchise.

Fast & Furious turns 18 in June and while it has, over the years, outrun the wrath of critics and survived the sudden death of original co-star Paul Walker, 2017’s The Fate of the Furious (despite a $1.2 billion global haul) showed obvious signs of an aging series in need of a tune-up. Exhibit A: the out-of-nowhere revelation that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto had unknowingly fathered a son sometime between Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6 – a Cousin Oliver-sized shark jump, even for a series that has employed amnesia as a plot device.

Likewise, Fate’s addition of Scott Eastwood as a secret agent who joins Toretto’s team failed to boost cast chemistry and only served as a reminder that Walker’s presence is sorely missed. 

So, where can the franchise turn for a fresh coat of paint? Re-enter Johnson, a.k.a. “Franchise Viagra.”

The wrestler-turned-actor-turned-box office lucky charm has already saved Fast & Furious once, when his Luke Hobbs character joined the fray in 2011’s Fast Five. In doing so, he not only revived interest in the series, but resurrected his own career from the doldrums of kiddie fare such as Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain.

With Johnson’s arrival, the Fast & Furious films not only made more money, but they became more and more outrageous, with cars fighting tanks, cars jumping through skyscrapers, and cars outracing a nuclear submarine on a frozen lake. Like Johnson’s Hollywood profile, Hobbs’ presence in the films has expanded with each successive Fast entry, with the character evolving from a hulkish foil into a lawman who loves his family as much as loves cracking skulls.

Along the way, Hobbs made a frenemy in Jason Statham’s rogue secret agent Deckard Shaw, and the pair’s scene-stealing chemistry in Fate added some much-needed levity to counter Diesel’s dour performance. Recognizing this, Universal rightly gave Johnson and Statham room to grow in their own spinoff, one that pits them against Idris Elba’s bulletproof supervillain, Brixton.

The Hobbs & Shaw trailer bills Brixton as “human evolutionary change,” a huge leap forward from the street-level drug dealers and cyber-thieves that have comprised the Fast & Furious rogue’s gallery. An outsized villain needs outsized heroes. Hobbs and Shaw fit the bill, and the trailer thrills by showcasing Elba as a bad guy who can go toe-to-toe with both. 

The concept of “superhero fatigue” can be overblown. Audiences are still drawn to charismatic stars, and Johnson has always had charisma to spare. The spinoff at last gives him the spotlight – where he belongs – and further expands the Fast & Furious universe, which is now free to leave street racing behind and rally around its characters instead of cars.

With Hobbs & Shaw, Fast & Furious can fully evolve into Universal’s superhero franchise, further embracing James Bond-ian levels of action (and absurdity) reminiscent of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. 

Johnson’s name has been bandied about superhero (and supervillain) circles for years. As Hobbs, an original creation, he’s not bound by the restraints of comic book continuity or fan expectations. From the moment he burst through the window of a Rio de Janeiro favela — hot on the heels of Toretto — he’s been the hero Fast & Furious needed.

Now, with Statham’s smart-ass super spy serving as his sidekick (although I wouldn’t tell him that) and Elba’s indestructible baddie in his sights, Johnson is set to steer the franchise into unexplored territory. Suddenly, the idea of Fast & Furious in space doesn’t seem so strange.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw hits theaters August 2.

Need more F&F? Head to our archives to revisit the Now Playing Podcast retrospective!

February 1, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ Gives ‘Fast & Furious’ a Fresh New Direction

New Podcast: Hitman

Justin, Arnie, and Stuart use the 42nd installment of the Now Playing Arcade to celebrate being 47… that is, video game Hitman: Codename 47. Die Hard 4 villain Timothy Olyphant hoped to make a killing at the box office when he suited up to play this mysterious baldie with a barcode back in Thanksgiving 2007.  But can his follically-challenged assassin deliver enough carnage and believable romantic chemistry with beautiful Russian target Olga Kurylenko to satisfy audiences not holding a joystick?  Find out when you slip on some headphones and Listen Now.

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Hitman

New Podcast: After Earth – For Annual Subscribers

Are you entertained watching ungrateful children sass their parents in public places? Check out After Earth – M. Night Shyamalan’s documentary on the trials and tribulations Will Smith goes through trying to turn son Jaden into a movie star. (Ostensibly, it’s also a sci-fi saga about a father and son marooned on inhospitable future Earth, working together to find enough cell signal to call an Uber.) Is the twist ending that Shyamalan is working for Scientologists?  Find out when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Series.

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: After Earth – For Annual Subscribers

New Podcast: After Earth

Are you entertained watching ungrateful children sass their parents in public places? Check out After Earth – M. Night Shyamalan’s documentary on the trials and tribulations Will Smith goes through trying to turn son Jaden into a movie star. (Ostensibly, it’s also a sci-fi saga about a father and son marooned on inhospitable future Earth, working together to find enough cell signal to call an Uber.) Is the twist ending that Shyamalan is working for Scientologists?  Find out when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Series.

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: After Earth

Bumblebee

The Last Knight left many Transformers fans feeling stung, but Hasbro hopes to reawaken nostalgia for the 1980s toy line with their retro-minded solo film Bumblebee. Can the lovable VW bug connect with a grieving gearhead teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) using only a car radio to speak? And will Sector 7 jarhead John Cena, or Decepticons Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux), undermine the Autobot plot to relocate to Earth? Don’t take this high dive back into dicey waters alone.  Roll out with Jerry, Arnie, and Stuart. Listen Now!

January 1, 2019 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bumblebee

Bumblebee – Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Bumblebee will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, January 1. This is an early, (mostly) unedited release for our Gold level patrons of $25 and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows, join our Patron campaign today!

December 29, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bumblebee – Early Unedited Release for Patrons

The Last Airbender – Donation Bonus

M. Night Shyamalan’s career continued to deflate as he turned The Last Airbender, a beloved Nickelodeon cartoon series, into the Razzie award-winning Worst Film of 2010.  Are podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob ready to tattoo red arrows on their foreheads and go to war with this sham cinematic genius?  Or can they bend the rules for badly directed karate kids riding a flying bison, and let it all pass as children’s entertainment? Join our Gold Level Tribe and rediscover the lost art of breaking wind. Donate Today!          

December 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Last Airbender – Donation Bonus

Aquaman

DC Comics invites audiences to dive under the sea and get chummy with Aquaman – a character who got a lot of sand kicked in his face back in the days of Superfriends.  Now tough guy Jason Momoa is on the hook to win the bastard Atlantean some cinematic justice. Will he stop half-brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson) from becoming Oceanmaster, and uniting the seven seas against the surface world?  More importantly, can “Fishboy” talk crabby podcasters Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart out of torpedoing his first stand-alone feature? Listen and find out.

December 25, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Aquaman

Aquaman — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Aquaman will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, Chrismas — December 25th. This is an early, (mostly) unedited release for our Gold level patrons and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows (including next week’s A Nightmare Before Christmas), join our Patron campaign today!

December 22, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Aquaman — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

The Happening – For Annual Subscribers

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Happening – For Annual Subscribers

The Happening – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $25 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Bad things keep Happening to M Night Shyamalan!  Was his foray into R-rated horror simply a creative way of committing career suicide?  Or was the Sixth Sense creator under the influence of some kind of psychotropic herb (or $6 cough syrup) when he concocted this loony environmental parable?  And should science teacher Mark Wahlberg be running away from the wind or his traitorous, tiramisu-eating wife Zooey Deschanel? Walk it all backwards with Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level Shyamalan series!

 

December 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Happening – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Our review of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse will be out for everyone on Totally Free Tuesday, December 18th. This is an early, mostly unedited release for our Gold level patrons and higher.

If you want to hear this and many other shows early, plus get access to over 20 exclusive bonus shows, join our Patron campaign today!

December 15, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — Early Unedited Release for Patrons

Lady in the Water – For Annual Subscribers

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – For Annual Subscribers

Lady in the Water – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $25 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Lady in the Water – Donation Bonus

Everybody out of the swimming pool!  There’s a Lady in the Water who keeps insisting M. Night Shyamalan is the most important and inspirational writer of the 21st Century… even after making this flop fairy tale!  Can schlubby building superintendent Paul Giamatti set sea nymph Bryce Dallas Howard straight, and keep this vanity project from going sideways? Or will Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob be forced to tear apart the Story like a pack of wild Scrunts?  Donate Today and find the hidden messages in this unofficial remake of Splash!  

December 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Lady in the Water – Donation Bonus

Max Payne

Mark Wahlberg aimed to please fans of the popular shooter Max Payne, but his 2008 movie adaptation missed its target audience and clipped the wings of a potential franchise. Will this vigilante cop have better luck scoring points with Now Playing Arcade hosts Justin, Arnie, and Stuart?  And can they coherently link the man who murdered Max’s family to a wild conspiracy involving hallucinogenic street drugs and C-list celebrities Mila Kunis, Chris O’Donnell, and singer Nelly Furtado? Your best shot at finding answers is to Listen Now!       

December 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Max Payne

The Village – For Annual Subscribers

M. Night Shyamalan built a wall between himself and some of his fan base when he set his encore to Signs in a 19th Century Village full of superstition and suppressed passion. Can podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob turn a blind eye to a controversial twist that makes a fool out of Adrien Brody? Or do you have to be Bryce Dallas Howard not to see “the Bad Color” popping up on their arrows, pointing audiences away from these monster-filled woods? Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level series and be led by love through the pitfalls to the painful truth!  

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

December 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Village – For Annual Subscribers

The Village – Donation Bonus

M. Night Shyamalan built a wall between himself and some of his fan base when he set his encore to Signs in a 19th Century Village full of superstition and suppressed passion. Can podcasters Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob turn a blind eye to a controversial twist that makes a fool out of Adrien Brody? Or do you have to be Bryce Dallas Howard not to see “the Bad Color” popping up on their arrows, pointing audiences away from these monster-filled woods? Donate for Now Playing’s Gold Level series and be led by love through the pitfalls to the painful truth!

December 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Village – Donation Bonus

Creed II

The Rocky series continues to go the distance with its eighth installment: Creed II. But is this really Adonis Creed’s story, or is it Rocky’s, as old nemesis Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) brings his son Viktor to the US for a fight? Will history repeat itself? And can Creed II still pack a punch when Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler is replaced with his buddy Steven Caple Jr? Go for it! Listen to Now Playing’s new movie review to find out!

December 4, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Creed II

Signs – Donation Bonus

Unbreakable showed no Signs of derailing M. Night Shyamalan’s plans to reclaim summer box office glory with another story of spiritual crisis, suspense, and unseen supernatural forces. Was it coincidence or an act of God that brings Mel Gibson to the role of a troubled holy man turning the other cheek to mysterious crop circles in his field? And will Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie need tin foil hats to decipher the motivations of hydrophobic aliens showing up to the farm in time for batting practice? Things all make sense when you Donate for Gold Level!

November 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Signs – Donation Bonus

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Wreck-It Ralph not only Breaks The Internet with his second movie, he shatters Thanksgiving box office records. But never fear… it’s Tech Support Tuesday, and hosts Justin, Arnie, and Stuart have the antivirus to all the holiday weekend hype. Will entering a violent racing game help glitchy Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) connect with her inner Disney Princess, and save her Sugar Rush friends? Or will John C Reilly’s 8-bit oaf bring down the franchise with a series of humiliating viral videos? CLICK HERE to get your next Now Playing Arcade fix!

November 27, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Ralph Breaks the Internet

Star Wars Cyber Monday Savings Give Your Wallet Force!

May the Savings be with you on this Cyber Monday where, finally, there are some great bargains to be had on Black Series and Vintage Collection Hasbro Toys, LEGO, and more!

Black Series/The Vintage Collection Hasbro Toys

The best bargain at Amazon today is the Black Series Force FX Z6 Riot Control Baton. This $200 prop replica is 1/3 off today–just $134.39!

Also in the Black Series Roleplay, the Stormtrooper Helmet is 38% off, down to $49.99 from $80 today only!

The Vintage Collection Imperial Combat Assault Tank from Rogue One is now 40% off at Amazon — just $47.99, down from $79.99.  I jumped and got one at that price.

The Black Series Dewback with Sandtrooper is also over 25% off, marked down to $42.97 (not the cheapest it’s been, but a good price on a great toy)

Also in the Black Series, the Kylo Ren Centerpiece set is almost half off, just $28.96 (which is the right price for a non-articulated figure and diorama base)

It’s also a good time to army build your Jawas! The Black Series Jawa figure is down to $12.41.

Also the troop builder Black Series Range Trooper from SOLO is 41% off, just $11.77

And it seems stores can’t give away the Vintage Collection Snoke figure.  You can get one now from Amazon for just $6.96 (down from $13), but it’s an Add-on item only.

Other Hasbro Toys

The Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie is a great gift for kids (or those who are still kids at heart).  This $130 toy is almost half off today only, $69.92!

In the 5POA line, the ForceLink 2.0 Resistance A-Wing with Pilot Tallie is 42% off, just $17.31.  Likewise the ForceLink 2.0 Millennium Falcon with Escape Craft is 20% off, down to $23.99

And can you ever have enough Rathtars? The 3.75-inch Rathtar with Bala-Tik is 70% off–just $6.07

From Solo in the 5POA line, the Han Solo Landspeeder with figure is 15% off, $25.49 shipped.

In the kids focused Galactic Heroes line, the Galactic Rivals 10-Figure pack, with Grievous, Yoda, Luke, Vader, Sidious, Obi-Wan, and more, is 43% off, $17.14.

In that same line, Amazon’s exclusive Galacitc Heroes Millennium Falcon with Han and Chewie is $25, down from $40.

Amazon also still has the Sphero R2-D2 for just $39.99. Given that it’s sat at that price for about a week I could see a cheaper lightning deal, but that’s still a great price.

LEGO

Amazon has many Star Wars LEGO sets on deep discount today.

It’s the perfect time to get the 2018 LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. it’s 18% off, and you’ll get it in time to start opening on the countdown to Christmas!

The LEGO Imperial Patrol Battle Pack is also 27% off — just $10.99.

The Imperial TIE Fighter set is 20% off, $55.99.

LEGO Brickheadz Boba Fett is 20% off, down to $7.99

The Jedi & Clone Trooper Battle Pack is also 20% off, just $11.99

Also LEGO, Entertainment Earth has the Jakku Quadjumper for 35% off, just $32.49

The LEGO Porg Building Kit is 20% off, down to $55.99

From SOLO, Moloch’s Landspeeder set is 20% off, down to $31.99

Getting to the OT, from Empire Strikes Back comes Yoda’s Hut, marked down 20% to $23.99

GAMING

For gamers, Amazon has several discounts as well:

Star Wars CLUE is almost half off, marked down to $24.95

The Black Series Star Wars Trivial Pursuit is also almost half off, just $20.50

The Star Wars: Rebellion game is over 20% off, just $78.99

The Star Wars: Legion core set is $54.69, down from its usual $90.

The Star Wars: Legion Snow Troopers Expansion is 24% off: $18.99

Star Wars: Edge of Empire – Beyond the Rim is 11% off, down to $21.01

And many more Gaming Bargains can be found on Amazon’s site!

 

Got a deal we didn’t list here? E-mail us at show@swactionnews.com and let us know about it!

Finally, if you’re a Star Wars Action News listener, you may want to know about the Cyber Monday deal our sister podcast Now Playing Podcast is having right now — for just the next 18 hours!

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on Star Wars Cyber Monday Savings Give Your Wallet Force!

Ralph Breaks the Internet – Early Release Rough Edit for Patrons

For Thanksgiving Arnie, Justin, and Stuart watched and reviewed the second Wreck-It Ralph movie.  Did they wreck this blockbuster sequel? 

The fully edited show will be on our main feed Tuesday, for everyone, for free! But Now Playing Patrons who are at the $25 level or higher for early show releases can hear the (mostly) unedited, show now! 

 

Get the unedited recording now at NowPlayingPATRON.com 

November 24, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Ralph Breaks the Internet – Early Release Rough Edit for Patrons

Unbreakable – Donation Bonus

The bond between writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and superstar Bruce Willis was Unbreakable in 2000, as the Dynamic Duo quickly reunited for another tale of secret supernatural powers. Yet their brooding comic book movie didn’t come close to shattering Sixth Sense box office records, and a sequel sat in movie jail for nearly twenty years.  Before Sam “Mr. Glass” Jackson unleashes his next diabolical plot this January, join Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie for issue number two in our Gold Level M. Night Series. Donate Today!    

November 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Unbreakable – Donation Bonus

Wreck-It Ralph

Good video games typically “go Turbo” and become crummy movies, but Walt Disney animators try to “Fix-It” with Wreck-It Ralph – a love letter to classic coin-ops. Can an 8-bit villain voiced by John C. Reilly step into a first person shooter and rebrand himself a hero? And do Arnie, Justin, and Stuart get a sugar rush seeing so much pixelated nostalgia from their childhood, like Q*bert and Sonic the Hedgehog? Or will they inevitably find something to glitch about? Save your quarters, because the answers are free when you press play and Listen Now!

November 20, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Wreck-It Ralph

Apocalypse Now – For Annual Subscribers

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie have a mission for all listeners this November: become a Now Playing Patron and enjoy an epic review of 1979 ‘Nam classic Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen put his life on the line to play a shell-shocked soldier traveling a war-torn river on the hunt for rogue colonel Marlon Brando. Is this boat trip into the heart of darkness worth the risks creator Francis Ford Coppola took with his sanity and Godfather profits? And does napalm smell even sweeter in the extended 2003 Redux Cut? The dossier is declassified when you Enlist Today!

November 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Apocalypse Now – For Annual Subscribers

Apocalypse Now – Patron Exclusive Review

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie have a mission for all listeners this November: become a Now Playing Patron and enjoy an epic review of 1979 ‘Nam classic Apocalypse Now. Martin Sheen put his life on the line to play a shell-shocked soldier traveling a war-torn river on the hunt for rogue colonel Marlon Brando. Is this boat trip into the heart of darkness worth the risks creator Francis Ford Coppola took with his sanity and Godfather profits? And does napalm smell even sweeter in the extended 2003 Redux Cut? The dossier is declassified when you Enlist Today!

November 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Apocalypse Now – Patron Exclusive Review

A Message from Stuart about our Sixth Sense Movie Review

This week Now Playing starts its M Night Shyamalan Thrillers Retrospective series of podcast movie reviews. M Night is a director Stuart has long wanted to cover on Now Playing and now, with the upcoming release of Glass, the third part in Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy, he’s getting the chance.

Here Stuart has a message for all listeners of Now Playing, as well as a preview of our review of THE SIXTH SENSE.

Listen to his message, then sign up today to hear all 11 M Night movie reviews!

November 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on A Message from Stuart about our Sixth Sense Movie Review

Silent Hill: Revelation

It’s homecoming weekend in Silent Hill, as teenage runaway Sharon reunites with her darkside doppelganger Alessa for a 2012 sequel in 3-D!  Will the Revelation that cultists have kidnapped adoptive father Sean Bean provide a good reason for moviegoers to head back into the fog and solve new puzzles? And is Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington much help in the fight against Pyramid Head, a lunatic Malcolm McDowell, and a staff of faceless demon nurses?  Find out when you take another merry-go-round ride on the Now Playing Arcade!

November 13, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill: Revelation

Silent Hill: Revelation – Early Release for Patrons

This podcast was released early for Now Playing Patrons of $25 or more.  It will be made publicly available on our usual “new podcast” day, Tuesday, November 13.

It’s homecoming weekend in Silent Hill, as teenage runaway Sharon reunites with her darkside doppelganger Alessa for a 2012 sequel in 3-D!  Will the Revelation that cultists have kidnapped adoptive father Sean Bean provide a good reason for moviegoers to head back into the fog and solve new puzzles? And is Game of Thrones hunk Kit Harington much help in the fight against Pyramid Head, a lunatic Malcolm McDowell, and a staff of faceless demon nurses?  Find out when you take another merry-go-round ride on the Now Playing Arcade!

November 12, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill: Revelation – Early Release for Patrons

Suspiria (2018) – For Annual Subscribers

40 years after Dario Argento burned down Tanz Academy, the school for dancing and occult sciences is open again in divided Berlin for an epic 2018 remake of Suspiria! Can 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson keep pace with all the new steps that Oscar nominee Luca Guadagnino has added to this horror exercise? And is witchcraft, delusion, or too much spinning the reason we keep seeing Tilda Swinton in triplicate? Catch your breath when you Donate to hear Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob dig their hooks into this dense and dizzying Silver Level finale.    

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

November 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (2018) – For Annual Subscribers

Suspiria (2018) – A Podcast Preview

40 years after Dario Argento burned down Tanz Academy, the school for dancing and occult sciences is open again in divided Berlin for an epic 2018 remake of Suspiria! Can 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson keep pace with all the new steps that Oscar nominee Luca Guadagnino has added to this horror exercise? And is witchcraft, delusion, or too much spinning the reason we keep seeing Tilda Swinton in triplicate? Catch your breath when you Donate to hear Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob dig their hooks into this dense and dizzying Silver Level finale.    

November 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (2018) – A Podcast Preview

Silent Hill

The Now Playing Arcade finally has a reason to put down the flamethrower!  Hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Justin stumble through the falling ash of Uwe Boll films to arrive at Silent Hill – the rare video game movie to earn box office success. Will stranded mother Radha Mitchell find any Green Arrows while searching the West Virginian ghost town for her missing adoptive daughter Sharon?  And is that a pyramid, or a dunce cap, atop the head of the sword-wielding monster that follows close behind her? Quiet your questioning mind with another podcast review!

November 6, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Silent Hill

Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers) – A Podcast Preview

Before she battled David Bowie in the Labyrinth, Jennifer Connelly fought off a deformed serial killer at her Swiss boarding school in Dario Argento’s demented fantasy Phenomena.  Better known as Creepers in the States, the movie finds the teenage beauty using paranormal powers to befriend flies, lightning bugs, and swarms of flesh-eating insects (not to mention crippled entomologist Donald Pleasance and a razor-wielding monkey). Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series and help convince Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart they didn’t just dream the whole thing up while sleepwalking.  

November 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers) – A Podcast Preview

Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers)

Before she battled David Bowie in the Labyrinth, Jennifer Connelly fought off a deformed serial killer at her Swiss boarding school in Dario Argento’s demented fantasy Phenomena. Better known as Creepers in the States, the movie finds the teenage beauty using paranormal powers to befriend flies, lightning bugs, and swarms of flesh-eating insects (not to mention crippled entomologist Donald Pleasance and a razor-wielding monkey). Donate for Silver Level and help convince Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart they didn’t just dream the whole thing up while sleepwalking.

November 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Phenomena (a.k.a. Creepers)

Hereditary

Because we consider you family, Now Playing is releasing a bonus podcast review of Hereditary for your Halloween enjoyment.  Will Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob lose their heads over what’s become the most hyped horror flick of 2018?  Or is the sight of Toni Collette’s model household going insane more likely to induce headaches than heart palpitations?  You don’t need to worship King Paimon to acquire these answers. This show is free for everyone, and available now, as our way of saying Happy, Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Hereditary

Children of the Corn: Runaway

Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie tried to Runaway from their Stephen King duties in 2018, but the tenth installment of Children of the Corn has found its way onto the Now Playing calendar in time for Halloween!  Join these podcasters as they catch up with Ruth – a fugitive of the Gatlin corn cult who is forced to fight He Who Walks Behind The Rows for custody of her teenage son. Will Feast director John Gulager find a kernel of a good idea in a franchise that’s yielded a steady crop of Red Arrows?  The only way to know if the hosts survive this harvest is to Listen Now!

 

 
Watch our exclusive interviews with Courtney Gains John Franklin at the Now Playing YouTube Channel

October 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Children of the Corn: Runaway

Terror Train – A Podcast Preview

All aboard Terror Train – the final stop on Jamie Lee Curtis’ world tour as Scream Queen of 1980.  The horror icon now finds herself stalked on a steam-powered locomotive by a fraternity pledge in a Groucho Marx mask. Donate at the Platinum Level and watch magician David Copperfield’s acting career disappear before you eyes!  Marvel at the Dr. Loomis impersonation given by Oscar-winning train conductor Ben Johnson! And enjoy this VIP ticket with Now Playing podcasters Brock, Arnie, and Stuart on their last ride together for 2018! All aboard Terror Train – the final stop on Jamie Lee Curtis’ world tour as Scream Queen of 1980.  The horror icon now finds herself stalked on a steam-powered locomotive by a fraternity pledge in a Groucho Marx mask. Donate at the Platinum Level and watch magician David Copperfield’s acting career disappear before you eyes!  Marvel at the Dr. Loomis impersonation given by Oscar-winning train conductor Ben Johnson! And enjoy this VIP ticket with Now Playing podcasters Brock, Arnie, and Stuart on their last ride together for 2018!

October 26, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Terror Train – A Podcast Preview

Halloween (2018)

Return to Haddonfield with Brock, Arnie, and Stuart as they celebrate the 40th anniversary of Halloween with a podcast review of the blockbuster 2018 requel (rebooted sequel)! Former babysitter Laurie Strode is the one stalking Michael Myers this time, as the captured killer is transferred to a new sanitarium. Can Jamie Lee Curtis’s pistol-packin’ grandma hit the bull’s eye without original director John Carpenter? And will her therapist daughter Karen (Judy Greer), or rebellious grandkid Allyson (Andi Madichak), inherit her Scream Queen title?  Listen Now and find out!

October 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Halloween (2018)

Movie Review – The Theta Girl

The Theta Girl

Director:  Chris Bickel

Writer: David Axe

Starring:Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio, Shane Silman, Darelle D. Dove

Studio:  Barron Perter Productions

Release Date:  October 13, 2017

The Theta Girl is a psychedelic horror/thriller made for $14,000 by first-time filmmakers. Director Chris Bickel stated his main goal was just to finish the project no matter what the final product was. That could have resulted in something like one of the many direct-to-video sequels from the Children of the Corn or Hellraiser franchises we’ve reviewed on Now Playing (or even worse if you’ve experienced the movies of Neil Breen). However, The Theta Girl‘s end product is a must watch for anyone into grindhouse cinema and surreal storytelling.

Read more »

October 21, 2018 Posted by | Movies | Comments Off on Movie Review – The Theta Girl

Halloween (2018) – Early Release (Unedited and Extended) for Patrons

The New Halloween film broke records for its box office, and Stuart, Arnie, and Brock broke a record for one of our longest recordings — nearly 2.5 hours discussing this sequel/Reboot.  

 

The edited, much shorter, show will be on our main feed Tuesday for everyone for free! But Now Playing Patrons who are at the level for early show releases can hear the (mostly) unedited, full 2.5 hour show now! 

 

Get the unedited recording now at NowPlayingPATRON.com 

October 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Halloween (2018) – Early Release (Unedited and Extended) for Patrons

Prom Night (1980) – A Podcast Preview

 

Fans crowned Jamie Lee Curtis a Scream Queen on Halloween, but the actress didn’t receive her tiara until she walked the catwalk on Prom Night.  Is the actress playing another innocent  high school student under attack? Or could Curtis be the one under that glittery ski mask, slicing up the bullies responsible for her sister’s fatal hide-and-seek accident?  Most important of all, does this flick deserve to rank with Friday the 13th as one of the biggest holiday-themed slashers of 1980?  Cast your vote with Brock, Arnie, and Stuart when you Donate Today!   

October 19, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Prom Night (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Postal

Notorious filmmaker Uwe Boll has gone Postal – firing back at his many critics with a raunchy adaptation of one of the most offensive video games ever made. Can one unlucky Dude with a shotgun (Zack Ward) stop a Taliban plot to spread bird flu, and earn the respect of his trailer park? Or will he simply kill his cheating wife, cult leader uncle (David Foley), a corrupt cop, that rude lady at the welfare office, and Uwe Boll himself playing the owner of a Nazi-themed amusement park? Find out if Now Playing can make peace with it all when you listen now!

October 16, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Postal

The Fog (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Jamie Lee Curtis kicked off 1980 by re-teaming with Halloween director John Carpenter for a tangle with zombie lepers in The Fog.  Does accepting rides from crusty Tom Atkins successfully change the actress’ image from virginal babysitter to promiscuous hitchhiker?  Or will our Scream Queen be upstaged by Carpenter’s busty wife Adrienne Barbeau, making her big screen debut as a radio DJ giving weather reports atop a lighthouse?  Brock, Stuart, and Arnie will clear the air on this horror classic when you Donate at the Platinum Level.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Fog (1980) – A Podcast Preview

Venom

WE are Now Playing, and this week WE are watching Venom – the gooey space alien who tries to survive a new movie without Spider-Man as his host.  WE will see if reporter Tom Hardy and his black-and-white parasite can bring down unethical tech guru Riz Ahmed, repair a broken relationship with lawyer/fiancee Michelle Williams, and stop a second symbiote named Riot from eating the heads of everyone in San Francisco. (But WE will be the ones spitting venom if this character hasn’t received an upgrade from his Spider-Man 3 debut). WE will Listen Now!

October 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Venom

Venom – Unedited Recording Early Release for Patrons

Now Playing’s review of Venom will be on our main feed Tuesday, June 19, 2018 — for free, for everyone, forever. But patrons of $25 or more can enjoy this early unedited release.

Being a (mostly) unedited podcast.  It has no opening or closing credits and will contain background noises, misspeaks, and other errors. Also a couple corrections or “inserts” may be in the final version and not in this release.

But we are releasing this for our Patrons of $25 or more who want the fastest access to the show! 

October 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Venom – Unedited Recording Early Release for Patrons

The Witch – A Patron Podcast Preview

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.  But before you sign that book, here’s a preview of the full show!

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – A Patron Podcast Preview

The Witch – For Annual Subscribers

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – For Annual Subscribers

The Witch – Patron Exclusive Review

Now Playing Patrons have damned podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to make sense of The Witch, the spooky 2016 indie that divides genre fans over the label “elevated horror”.  Is black magic at work when baby Samuel goes missing, and a 17th Century family of Salem exiles start blaming each other for their sudden streak of misfortune?  Or should Split star Anya Taylor-Joy fear her parents’ extreme religious teachings more than demonic goat Black Phillip?  Thoust will find out – and live deliciously – when you Become a Now Playing Patron this October.

October 5, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Witch – Patron Exclusive Review

House of the Dead II

Uwe Boll’s reviled adaptation of Sega’s House of the Dead video game won’t stay dead, lumbering back to life with a SyFy Channel sequel. AMS agents Nightingale (Saw 2 babe Emmanuelle Vaugier) and Ellis (Ed Quinn) lead a team of soldiers into a college campus overrun with “hyper-sapiens”.  Can they retrieve a blood sample from Patient Zero, and cure the zombie outbreak, before Dick Cheney decides to drop the bomb?  And do Justin, Arnie, and Stuart see the franchise evolving now that it’s in new directorial hands? Listen and find out!

October 2, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on House of the Dead II

Mother of Tears – For Annual Subscribers

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

 

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – For Annual Subscribers

Mother of Tears – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $10 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Mother of Tears – A Podcast Preview

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears – A Podcast Preview

Mother of Tears

30 years after Suspiria put Italian splatter movies on the map, Dario Argento completes the Three Mothers trilogy with an apocalyptic 2007 finale.  Museum curators unseal an ancient urn, and unwittingly unleash a kinky witch named Lachrymarum (Moran Atias) onto the streets of Rome.  But if she’s the Mother of Tears, why can’t podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob stop laughing?  Find out if novice spellcaster Asia Argento stems the wave of crazy violence her father puts up on screen when you Donate for Now Playing’s Fall 2018 Silver Level series!  

September 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Mother of Tears

Inferno – A Podcast Preview

The second chapter in Dario Argento’s wicked witch trilogy finds Suspiriorum’s younger sister Mother Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar) working her black magic in the flooded basement of a New York highrise.  Can music student Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) stop his sibling Rose (Irene Miracle) from falling under the spell of this Mother of Darkness? And is the neighbor attempting to exterminate the building’s feral cats actually creating a bigger flesh-eating rat problem?  Find out if the sequel is a towering Inferno or a reeking dumpster fire. Donate Now!    

September 26, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Inferno – A Podcast Preview

House of the Dead

The 1996 shooter House of the Dead invited gamers to pick up light guns and mow down scores of charging zombies.  But the 2003 movie adaptation has podcasters Justin, Arnie, and Stuart taking aim once again at immortal writer/director Uwe Boll.  Should bad movie lovers take that boat ride with Clint Howard, and attend a Sega-sponsored rave on Seattle’s Island of the Dead? Or will the hangover live forever in viewers’ minds?  You’ll find out if the Now Playing Arcade escapes this overturned porta-potty when you listen now!

September 25, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on House of the Dead

Inferno

The second chapter in Dario Argento’s wicked witch trilogy finds Suspiriorum’s younger sister Mother Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar) working her black magic in the flooded basement of a New York highrise.  Can music student Mark Elliot (Leigh McCloskey) stop his sibling Rose (Irene Miracle) from falling under the spell of this Mother of Darkness? And is the neighbor attempting to exterminate the building’s feral cats actually creating a bigger flesh-eating rat problem?  Find out if the sequel is a towering Inferno or a reeking dumpster fire. Donate Now!

September 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Inferno

The Predator

30 years after his foul-mouthed mercenary Hawkins was slaughtered in a South American jungle, actor Shane Black returns to write and direct the fourth installment in The Predator franchise. Will audiences be missing Arnold when sniper Boyd Holbrook (Narcos), his autistic son Jacob Tremblay (Wonder), and a busload of looney war vets tangle with the space hunter?  And can centerfold-ready scientist Olivia Munn help Sterling K. Brown determine if these new predators got milk, or some other juice, enlarging their bones? “Stick around” and find out!          

September 18, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Predator

Suspiria (1976) – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $10 or more.  This podcast will only be available until March 31, 2019, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

Before producing Dawn of the Dead and Demons, Italian horror master Dario Argento shocked the world with Suspiria – the first installment in a feverish trilogy of witch films known as The Three Mothers. Is American ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) cracking under the high demands of a prestigious German dance academy?  Or are her grueling new instructors really part of a black magic coven? Become a Silver Level Donor this fall and hear the sighs of delight and frustration as hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie review this beguiling, gory fairy tale.

September 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (1976) – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Suspiria (1976) – A Podcast Preview

Before producing Dawn of the Dead and Demons, Italian horror master Dario Argento shocked the world with Suspiria – the first installment in a feverish trilogy of witch films known as The Three Mothers. Is American ballerina Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) cracking under the high demands of a prestigious German dance academy?  Or are her grueling new instructors really part of a black magic coven? Become a Silver Level Donor this fall and hear the sighs of delight and frustration as hosts Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie review this beguiling, gory fairy tale.

This podcast is not available for general download.

Now Playing is a podcast with no sponsors or advertisements. We rely solely on listener support to keep going. Our Fall 2018 Donation Drive is underway and from now through March 31, 2019, the The Three Mothers Retrospective series is available as a “thank you” to those who support Now Playing.

You can listen to this preview of the show for free now using the link above.

The full podcast series is available through a Paypal donation to Now Playing, or individual episodes are available on our Podbean page. Details can be found on our Fall 2018 Donation page.

You can get this review now and help support Now Playing! It is available on our Podbean page.

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You can also get this episode and every donation show we’ve done– plus a 12 month subscription for all new shows! Details can be found on our Podbean Subscription page.

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Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

 

September 14, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Suspiria (1976) – A Podcast Preview

The Nun

Are podcasters Arnie, Marjorie, and Stuart ready to put their faith in The Nun after spitting on most of The Conjuring universe?  The latest installment in the franchise traces the origins of demon-in-a-wimple Valak to a war-torn monastery in Romania.  Can a free-spirited novitiate (Vera’s little sis Taissa Farmiga), and a guilt-ridden exorcist (Oscar nominee Demian Bichir), find the strength… and that misplaced vial of Christ blood… to combat this unholy sister act?  Our vow of silence ends when you click play. Listen Now!

September 11, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Nun

Vanilla Sky – Patron Exclusive Review

Open your eyes and take another look at Vanilla Sky, the much-maligned puzzle movie that Tom Cruise and director Cameron Crowe made as an encore to Jerry Maguire.  Audiences in 2001 thought the toothy mega-star would always play handsome, infallible heroes, and recoiled when the fantastical melodrama remade Cruise into a disfigured murderer. Will podcasters Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart see new virtues as they pull the intricate story out of deep freeze, or are they just de-thawing a 17-year-old dog?  Find out when you become a Now Playing Patron!

September 7, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Vanilla Sky – Patron Exclusive Review

D.O.A. – Dead Or Alive

D.O.A. brought a healthy dose of T&A to fighting games in 1996, and the same holds true for the campy 2006 movie adaptation.  Everything jiggles when a trashy American wrestler (Jamie Presley), shinobi ninja princess (Devon Aoki), and slinky British cat burglar (Holly Valance) compete in the lucrative Dead Or Alive competition. Will the vixens put aside their differences and unite against Eric Roberts as he uses nanotechnology to extract and sell off their combat skills? Hear the Now Playing Arcade hosts receive another ass whuppin’ when you Listen Now!  

September 4, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on D.O.A. – Dead Or Alive

Righteous Kill – A Podcast Preview

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – A Podcast Preview

Righteous Kill – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

 

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Righteous Kill – For Annual Subscribers

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

 

NOTE: This listing is for annual subscribers to our show. You can also get this movie review individually for a small donation.

Every dollar you donate goes to make this show the best it can be. Thank you for your support and we hope you enjoy the podcast!

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill – For Annual Subscribers

Righteous Kill

The prospect of seeing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shoot up the screen together still generated enough box office heat in 2008 to earn them a Righteous Kill. Now the iconic duo  work side-by-side as police detectives on the trail of a demented poet who targets the crooks they weren’t able to put behind bars. Could a movie with this much acting talent be without virtue?  Donate Today to hear Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie perform the autopsy on this final installment of the Platinum Level Pacino Series.

August 31, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Righteous Kill

The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Before it became one of the most beloved movies of all time, The Godfather was a blockbuster novel with characters and plot points that never made it to the screen.  Join long lost podcaster Stuart as he comes home to his Books & Nachos family and parses out all the changes made to Mario Puzo’s classic.

August 30, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (Movie Review)

Because the first Tekken movie didn’t prove fatal, podcasters Arnie, Justin, and Stuart must now survive Kazuya’s Revenge!  But could the emotionless amnesiac drifting through this low budget prequel be the same Kazuya who so rashly seized control of the Iron Fist Tournament last time?  And what good could possibly come from partnering with future champ Bryan Fury (Gary Daniels) to take down the assassin school that trained them?  Things are gonna get messy, even with a crazed janitor mopping up the arena. Assume a defensive position and Listen Now! 

August 28, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Tekken 2: Kazuya’s Revenge (Movie Review)

Donnie Brasco

Johnny Depp stars as a real life FBI agent who spent six years infiltrating the New York mafia as Donnie Brasco.  Will a close friendship with veteran gangster “Lucky” Ruggiero, played by veteran actor Al Pacino, convince the fresh-faced lawman to fuhgetabout his wife, daughters, and Uncle Sam and switch allegiances to The Family?  Or will suspicious new capo Michael Madsen find out Depp is really a fugazi and whack that mole? You’ll find out, and be a “friend of ours,” when you donate for this final installment of Now Playing’s 2018 Gold Level series.  

August 24, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Donnie Brasco

Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach

Ben’s three-year-old brother Eric disappeared five years ago, but Ben continues to search. When Ben takes a job at the store where Eric vanished things are not all that they seem. Join Brock for his spoiler-free review of Bad Man to see if this is the perfect thriller to cap off your summer reading list!

August 23, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach

Tekken (2009) Movie Review

Arnie, Justin, and Stuart climb into yet another arcade arena for a round with Tekken – the classic 1996 fighting game that inspired a not-so-classic 2010 science fiction flick. Can lowly thief Jin Kazama (John Foo) hold his own in a “kill or be killed” cage match with eight corporately-sponsored gladiators? Or will he take the fight to the evil organizers of the Iron Fist Tournament, and expose reigning champ Bryan Fury (Gary Daniels) to be a cyborg? Find out if the most damaging blows to the head are delivered to the audience when you Listen Now!

August 21, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Tekken (2009) Movie Review

Heat – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Note: This podcast is available to Now Playing Podcast Patrons of $50 or more.  This podcast will only be available until August 31, 2018, so be sure to listen (and, if you want to listen after, to download) before that date!

You can also get this podcast through the Now Playing Spring 2018 Donation Drive, or individually for a small donation.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro both appeared in Godfather Part 2, but they never had a scene together until they faced off in Heat.  Michael Mann’s 1995 heist epic finds the iconic Italian actors giving it all they’ve got – Al is an LAPD detective better at catching bad guys than holding on to good women, while Bobby is a thief who prides himself on being able to walk away from everything he steals.  Find out who scores with podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Platinum Pacino Series!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Heat – Limited Time Release for Patrons

Heat – A Podcast Preview

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro both appeared in Godfather Part 2, but they never had a scene together until they faced off in Heat.  Michael Mann’s 1995 heist epic finds the iconic Italian actors giving it all they’ve got – Al is an LAPD detective better at catching bad guys than holding on to good women, while Bobby is a thief who prides himself on being able to walk away from everything he steals.  Find out who scores with podcasters Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob when you Donate for Now Playing’s Platinum Pacino Series!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | News | Comments Off on Heat – A Podcast Preview