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Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In March 2021

The theatrical business is nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, BUT the streaming revolution is in full swing in March 2021. Is “revolution” still the right word? Haven’t the streamers won? 

ALL of the new releases on the Now Playing Podcast schedule are debuting (or have already debuted) on streaming, and this month the show’s hosts will sample heavily anticipated projects from Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and HBO Max. Better get used to it, listeners, this is the way.

Here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in March 2021. 

March 2 – Coming to America

December 2020 was supposed to be all about GOAT comedian Eddie Murphy, with reviews of the 48 Hrsfilms, Trading PlacesComing to America, and its sequel. Alas, the latter got delayed to March, and so Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart will review the 1988 smash comedy and the all-new Coming 2 America beginning March 2. Like many of today’s new releases, Coming 2 was intended for theaters, but Amazon acquired the film from Paramount last year. The best part? The first Coming is streaming now on Prime. 

March 5 – London Has Fallen

The third Platinum Level entry in Now Playing’s 2021 Spring/Summer Donation Drive finds Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent Mike Banning trying to rescue a kidnapped president (Aaron Eckhart) from Middle Eastern terrorists. This time, the locale switches from the White House to London. The same Secret Service agent rescuing the same president for the second time is pushing it, but Die Harder was a hit 30 years ago and London was a hit as well. 

March 9 – Coming 2 America

So, Akeem has a son? After more than three decades, Eddie Murphy’s newly crowned king of Zamunda learns that he fathered a boy during his brief stint in America – thus a setup for the sequel is born. Who’s the mother? Spoiler alert: It’s not the lady who worships the devil. It’s Leslie Jones!

March 12 – Angel Has Fallen

Aaron Eckhart’s president is term-limited out of the series, and now the leader of the free world is Morgan Freeman. Gerard Butler’s Secret Service agent Mike Banning is still around, though the character is clearly “getting too old for this s***” by the time our Now Playing hosts get to Angel Has Fallen. In this second sequel, Butler’s Banning is framed for a terrorist attack and must clear his name before more chaos ensues. He’s aided by his homeless survivalist father Nick Nolte. You don’t want to miss this reunion. Supporters at the Platinum Level will also get a review of the forthcoming Night Has Fallen sequel when that film is released.

March 16 – WandaVision

The first live-action Marvel miniseries on Disney Plus will get the Now Playing Podcast treatment on March 16, when Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob put a bow on the series that sees Wanda Maximoff and the resurrected Vision living the suburban life we’ve seen on decades of television sitcoms. Those that have been following the show know there’s much more to it than that, and our hosts will break it down just weeks before the launch of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (which Now Playing will also review).

March 19 – Dragon Ball Super: Broly

The 2018 anime film, based on the Dragon Ball series, is the exclusive Podbean Patron episode for March 2021. Chosen by Now Playing listener Brian White, the film “follows series protagonists Goku and Vegeta as they encounter a powerful Saiyan named Broly.” And if that sentence didn’t make a whole lot of sense, just imagine what our hosts must be thinking. 

March 23 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League

For a minute, it was unclear whether Now Playing Podcast would return to the DCEU for this recut of 2017’s failed Justice League. But listeners demanded it, and the #ReviewtheSnyderCut hashtag motivated Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart to get back in front of the television for what will either be total vindication for Snyder or just an unmemorable director’s cut, with Darkseid.

March 26 – Dirty Harry

How many “Do I feel lucky” jokes do you think we’ll make between now and the end of our Dirty Harry retrospective? The over-under is at seven, so place your bets. On March 26, Now Playing begins the long-requested Dirty Harry series with a review of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 crime thriller, which pits the San Francisco cop against the “Scorpio” killer (inspired by the real-life Zodiac killer). The film’s success led to four sequels, all of which will be reviewed at the Silver Level of the 2021 Spring/Summer Donation Drive. 

March 30 – Godzilla: King of the Monsters

This 2019 monster mash was supposed to be reviewed in 2020, on the heels of Now Playing’s King Kong Retrospective Series and just before the long anticipated Godzilla vs. Kong hit theaters. We all know what happened next. Now, nearly a year later, and with GvK set to debut on HBO Max on March 31, Now Playing will cover the third film in Legendary’s Monsterverse.

February 23, 2021 Posted by | News | , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In March 2021

Coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2021

It’s happening again. With COVID-19 vaccinations lagging in parts of the country and America’s leading immunologist warning that a “return to normal” may not come until fall, Hollywood studios are pushing their 2021 films back several months, hoping to release would-be blockbusters at a time when moviegoers can safely return to theaters.

That’s thrown the Now Playing Podcast schedule off balance once more, but fear not, there’s still plenty to talk about in the month of February, including The Omen retrospective finale, a return to Stephen King, and the 2021 Spring/Summer Donation Drive.

Here’s what’s coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2021.

February 2 – Needful Things

After several years reviewing adaptations of Stephen King’s 1970s and 1980s stories, Now Playing delves deeper into the author’s 90s works. The adaptation of King’s 1991 novel Needful Things arrives on February 2. Released in 1993, the film stars Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, and J.T. Walsh as residents of a small town that is suddenly afflicted with mayhem and murder following the arrival of soul-sucking antique store owner Leland Gaunt (Max von Sydow).

February 5 – The Omen (2006)

Now Playing’s The Omen Retrospective Series wraps on February 5 with a review of the 2006 Omen remake, with swaps Gregory Peck and Lee Remick for Liev Schrieber and Julia Stiles. This time, Damien is played by creepy AF kid actor Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick. The story sticks close to the original, although fans will notice some differences and obvious updates for the period. Listeners can get the complete five-film Omen retrospective by supporting Now Playing’s 2020 Fall/Winter Donation Drive.

February 9 – Sleepwalkers

The buzz around 1992’s Sleepwalkers is that it was the first Stephen King project written specifically for the big screen, with the author penning a script that was helmed by frequent collaborator Mick Garris. Sleepwalkers tells the story of shapeshifting energy-suckers who are afraid of cats. Also, there’s incest. And Ferris Bueller’s parents. It’s as weird as it sounds, and for some reason, the script includes a lot of unintentional and intentional-but-poorly-executed humor. Should make for a fantastic conversation.

February 16 – Gerald’s Game

A woman and her husband decide to get freaky in a secluded cabin, but things go bad when the husband dies, leaving the wife handcuffed to the bed with no hope of escape. Nuff said. The Now Playing review of the 2017 Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game arrives on February 16.

February 23 – The Stand

If you’re not all caught up on the CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount Plus) adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, you’ll want to get there before our hosts review the series on February 23. The Stand limited series is the first on-screen adaptation since the four-night ABC miniseries in the 1990s, and arrives with a bigger cast, bigger budget, and a whole lot of fanfare. But can it outdo the original and live up to the decades-long expectations of King fans. We’ll find out.

Podbean Patron Exclusive – The Manitou 

February will also feature another exclusive review for Now Playing’s Podbean patrons. This time, the honor goes to 1978’s The Manitou, starring Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, and Burgess Meredith. The Manitou tells the tale of a woman who discovers the tumor growing on her neck is actually a creature of some sort, and it wants to live! The episode will be available to Podbean patrons of $25 or more, and patrons will also unlock access to the Silver Level donation drive episodes. 

And if that’s not enough for ya, Now Playing’s 2021 Spring/Summer Donation Drive kicks off on February 19. We’ll announce the new retrospectives in our February 5 The Omen review, and you can look forward to fresh episodes every Friday throughout the donation drive. 

January 27, 2021 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , | Comments Off on Coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2021

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2021

Now Playing Podcast enters its 14th year in 2021 and still hasn’t run out of movies to talk about. 

The first month of the new year is very much like many months in 2020 – devoid of new theatrical releases, save for the latest effort from Resident Evil duo Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson. But the month will also see the kickoff of two all-new retrospectives; the highly requested The Omen series and the Uwe Boll adaptations of the Bloodrayne video game franchise. 

January 2021 also includes an exclusive review for Podbean patrons, one chosen by a Now Playing listener. Without further ado, here’s everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2021.

January 1 – Pumping Iron

Now Playing listener and Podbean patron Clark Fisher chose 1977’s acclaimed bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron as January’s exclusive Podbean review. The film famously follows the efforts of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno, and others as they compete for the Mr. Olympia title. For many, Pumping Ironwas their first exposure to Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno, before their Hollywood breakthroughs in the late 1970s and 1980s. If anything, it will also provide some exercise and muscle-building tips for those looking to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions at the gym.

January 5 – Bloodrayne

In the early aughts, Hollywood was still giving director Uwe Boll a chance to turn video game franchises into hit movies. For 2005’s Bloodrayne, Boll cast up and comers — Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast & the Furious), Matthew Davis (Blue Crush), and Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) – alongside established actors Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) and Ben Kingsley (Ghandi) in a tale of a fearless vampire heroine battling the forces of evil. Bloodrayne was not a hit, but still managed to spawn two sequels, both directed by Boll. Arnie, Stuart, and Justin will attempt to suppress their gag reflexes while reviewing the trilogy in January.

January 8 – The Omen

Who is he? What does he want? Where does he come from? And can he be stopped? Before Superman, director Richard Donner had a smash with the horror hit The Omen, which tells the tale of Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, and his unsuspecting parents. Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens, and David Warner, The Omen spawned a franchise that includes three sequels and a 2006 remake. It is available via Podbean and PayPal as part of Now Playing Podcast’s 2020 Fall/Winter Donation Drive.

January 12 – Bloodrayne: Deliverance

Two years after Bloodrayne bombed, Uwe Boll delivered a sequel set in the Old West. This time, vampire heroine Rayne is portrayed by Norwegian model/actress Natassia Malthe, with the backing of Boll regular Brendan Fletcher, A Christmas Story’s Zack Ward, and Eddie and the Cruisers star Michael Pare. Bloodrayne: Deliverance currently boasts a 0 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, but surely it has one fan out there? Maybe Boll? 

January 15 – Damien: Omen II

Spoiler alert: Damien survives the first Omen and returns for the 1978 sequel, this time a little older and portrayed by Bugsy Malone’s Jonathan Scott-Taylor. William Holden and Lee Grant are also on board for the horror sequel, along with science fiction and horror vet Lance Henriksen and Mannequin star Meshach Taylor. If that’s not enough to get you fired up, just wait until you see the finale. 

January 19 – Bloodrayne: The Third Reich

Uwe Boll brought back Natassia Malthe and company for the third Bloodrayne film, which takes place in 1943 and sees vampire Rayne taking on the Nazis. This time, Clint Howard is also on board, so that might entice a few people to give it a shot. Maybe?

January 22 – Omen III: The Final Conflict 

Sam Neill took over the role of Damien for the third Omen film. This time, Damien is all grown up and looking to fulfill his destiny as the Antichrist. “He’s one step away from the most important position on Earth,” boasts the trailer, and Neill is especially devilish in one of his earliest on-screen roles.  

January 26 – Monster Hunter

The month’s only theatrical release will likely have gone to premium streaming by the time our hosts get around to it on January 26. Monster Hunter is the latest video game adaptation from director Paul W.S. Anderson and star Milla Jovovich, and follows a squad of soldiers that are transported into a world full of giant monsters. That’s all we can tell from the trailer. Also, Tony Jaa and T.I. are also there.

January 29 – Omen IV: The Awakening

Though The Omen films had performed well at the box office, the series turned to television for its fourth entry. Omen IV: The Awakening focuses on Damien’s daughter, Delia, who terrorizes her adopted parents while learning of her heritage and destiny. Omen IV debuted on FOX in May 1991, during the coveted sweeps period, and then promptly disappeared from memory. Many listeners, however, may recall watching it during its debut screening. Perhaps the trailer will ring some bells.

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2021

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in December 2020

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in December 2020.

It’s been a long and exhausting year, but Now Playing Podcast is leaving 2020 on a positive note, with nineall-new episodes for listeners and supporters. It’s a good thing December has 31 days. 

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

December 1 – 48 Hrs.

December was supposed to be the month of Eddie Murphy, with our hosts taking their first real deep dive into the actor/comedian/singer/GOAT’s filmography. But now that Amazon has moved the Coming to America sequel to March, it’s going to be the “half-month” of Murphy. Now Playing kicks things off December 4 with a review of 1982’s 48 Hrs. Directed by Walter Hill and co-starring Nick Nolte, this was the film that launched Murphy’s film career and gave audiences a glimpse at the star beyond Saturday Night Live. Let’s see how some of the movie’s rougher edges hold up with modern audiences. 

December 4 – Rosemary’s Baby

Roman Polanski’s classic horror tale headlines the Gold Level of Now Playing’s 2020 Fall/Winter Donation SeriesRosemary’s Baby follows Mia Farrow’s expectant mother, who fears a satanic cult is after her baby. The film is recognized as a hallmark of the art-horror genre, spawning a television film sequel and a 2014 remake.

December 8 – Another 48 Hrs.

Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte got back together in 1990 for a sequel to their first team-up. Another 48 Hrs. arrived at a time when sequels were experimenting with titles that didn’t involve numbers. That’s how we got movies like Another Stakeout and Teen Wolf Too. There was even a made-for-TV sequel to Splash called Splash, Too

December 11 – Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby

Speaking of made-for-TV sequels, a very loosely connected sequel dubbed Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby premiered on ABC in October 1976. This time, it’s Patty Duke in the lead role. While the first Rosemary’s Baby has been enshrined in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the sequel has been uploaded to YouTube. You can watch through the link below and ready yourself for the review on December 11.

December 15 – Stephen King’s Golden Years

Now Playing makes a quick pivot back to its long-running Stephen King retrospective on December 15, with a review of 1991’s CBS miniseries, Stephen King’s Golden Years. It’s about a man named Harlan Williams – not the comic actor Harland Williams – who realizes he’s aging in reverse. The miniseries ran for seven episodes in the summer, so you’re forgiven if you’ve never heard of it. 

December 18 – Rosemary’s Baby (2014)

NBC tried to reinvent Rosemary’s Baby with a two-part, four-hour adaptation that aired during the 2014 May “sweeps” ratings period. This time, Zoe Saldana takes over the Rosemary role, with Patrick J. Adams and Jason Isaacs also on board. The miniseries wasn’t a ratings or critical hit, but our hosts will give it another look on December 18.

December 22 – Tenet

At last, Now Playing gets a chance to review one of the many would-be blockbusters that got pushed back by the pandemic. Tenet got a theatrical release in September, but with so many theaters closed it failed to meet expectations in the U.S. It’s hitting disc and digital on December 15, so all of our hosts will have a chance to watch and review it. 

December 25 – Trading Places

It will truly be a happy and merry Christmas when the Now Playing review of Trading Places arrives on December 25. The 1983 comedy further solidified Eddie Murphy’s reputation as a box office draw and helped Jamie Lee Curtis break away from “scream queen” roles she’d been stuck playing since Halloween. The Trading Places review will be released exclusively for Now Playing’s Podbean patrons, and can be unlocked with a pledge of $10 or more. 

December 29 – Wonder Woman 1984

First Tenet, now Wonder Woman 1984. It’s like Christmas here at Now Playing. Actually, it is Christmas. The long awaited sequel to the 2017 blockbuster will hit theaters and HBO Max on December 25, giving our hosts enough time to watch and prepare for the December 29 review. The road to Wonder Woman 1984’s release is one of the most talked-about stories of the year, as WarnerMedia took the unprecedented step of releasing the big budget film on streaming. By doing so, they’re risking as much as $1 billion in box office, but many analysts believe it will be worth it in the long run

November 25, 2020 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in December 2020

An Oral History of Now Playing’s ‘Friday the 13th’ Retrospective

In a crowded field of competing film-focused podcasts, Now Playing Podcast has managed to separate itself from the pack via its acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week after week as the show’s panel of critics chronicle decades of Hollywood franchise hits (and misses). 

But it wasn’t always the plan. Now Playing Podcast launched in 2007 as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review program focused on new releases. Early reviews of Spider-Man 3Iron Man, and The Dark Knight not only lacked the in-depth conversation that listeners are now accustomed to, but the randomness of the chosen reviews prevented the show from gaining a foothold in the budding podcast space.

Format changes were desperately needed if the show were to succeed in attracting a loyal following. On January 9, 2009, Now Playing debuted its first retrospective; a 12-episode exploration of the Friday the 13thfranchise, building up to the release of the Platinum Dunes-produced remake. 

The revised format struck the right chord with listeners. More than 11 years later, the original trio of Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Brock have reunited. THIS is an oral history of Now Playing’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series

Arnie: As a completist, retrospectives have always appealed to me. I remember the day Star Trek V: The Final Frontier came out; I woke up at 1 a.m. so I could watch the first four Trek films and still make it to the first showing of Final Frontier. In the 90s I did a game site in which I’d review all installments of a game series in order of release. I’d even done some podcasting along those lines, with the Star Wars Action News book club, reviewing every Star Wars novel in order of release. Sadly, I can never watch Leonard Part 6 because I can’t find Leonard Parts 1-5.

Stuart had visited Springfield a few months before, and we saw The Midnight Meat Train, since Barker films were something we often watched together. After, Marjorie pretty much stuck a microphone in Stuart’s face and, without him knowing what was really going on, we had our normal post-movie conversation, but on the mic, and it became a podcast. But I also had real fun doing it.

Released on August 8, 2008, The Midnight Meat Train review marked host Stuart Atkinson’s first appearance on Now Playing Podcast. One week later, Brock would join the rotating panel of hosts for a review of Pineapple Express. The podcast continued to utilize two hosts, rather than the standard three that appear in every new episode. 

Arnie: I’d mostly stepped away from hosting Now Playing, letting Brock and his wife Elisha take the reins. I’d always insisted the show review current movies, and Brock and I had discussed if it was worth doing new-to-video releases, etc. But then the Friday the 13th reboot arrived, and I got really hyped. 

Brock: I remember having a conversation with Arnie about the download numbers on Midnight Meat Train being something we weren’t seeing on other episodes. The horror genre was clearly needing more podcasting content, yet I never thought I’d be involved there; it wasn’t my preferred genre. With a baby on the way, my wife and I knew we weren’t going to be able to see new releases each week, and so we recorded a few new-to-DVD episodes, like Burn After Reading, as a way to stay current enough. But it all changed when Arnie came to me with an idea that combined all of these ideas. 

Arnie: I’d had so much fun with Midnight Meat Train that I thought it would be fun to come back and channel my hype for the new Friday film through a podcast. I really wanted Stuart to be a part of it because of Midnight Meat Train.

Stuart: I thought it was an idea slightly worse than when Arnie and I decided to open a detective agency in sixth grade. I couldn’t imagine I’d have 13 minutes of thoughts on the whole franchise, but then I remembered how much I like to talk and it went fine.

Arnie: We’d always had a two-person format, but since Brock had never seen a Friday the 13th film I thought it would be great to bring in that third perspective to balance my fandom and Stuart’s jaded dislike of the series.

Brock: I rented the first Friday the 13th back in high school because I was curious enough to see what spawned all the endless sequels. And I had enough with that first movie. Didn’t feel I was missing anything. I prefer suspense horror movies to slashers. I acknowledged the brilliance of the idea – a fan, a casual or jaded fan, and a newbie discuss each movie in the series leading up to the new movie. But wow, some of those movies felt like I wasted my time watching them, though talking with the guys about the movie didn’t feel like a waste of time at all. Who knew my lack of horror movie experience would pay off?

Arnie: Brock and his wife came to visit us while we were recording the series. As a foursome, Brock, Elisha, Marjorie, and me, we watched Jason Takes Manhattan. I was laughing at the movie, but laughing more at the mortified looks on Brock’s and Elisha’s faces. They weren’t seeing the humor I was in it.

Brock: I found the movie insulting, like it was challenging the viewer to see what depths of dreck they could get us to watch. Being from the suburbs of New York, what nonsense that they think they’d get away with anyone believing that was shot in Manhattan! On a positive side, Arnie and Marjorie were great to have us over to watch the movie, and it was a blast to record with Arnie in person for the first time. Arnie and Marjorie also introduced me to the infamous Springfield culinary concoction known as The Horseshoe! 

Arnie: It was never intended to be a long-term thing, just a one-off that wouldn’t even be in the main Now Playing series. Then we saw the download numbers skyrocket, and the rest was history.

Brock: Week after week the numbers kept exploding, getting larger and larger. I remember phone calls with Arnie about the numbers, how the first shows in the series continued to rise, meaning new people were finding the show as we went on, and likely people were returning to listen again. We were just flabbergasted by the response. It was unbelievable. 

The Friday the 13th retrospective would establish a number of Now Playing firsts. In addition to establishing the three-host format, it was the first series to receive its own credits – narrated by Brock – with the famed Part III theme used in the introduction and outro. However, longtime listeners recognize the “rawness” of the first retrospective, which lacks the standard plot summary, outtakes, and was plagued by recording challenges. 

Brock: I was helping to edit the show back then, and to make it sound as good as it does was a bit of a challenge. Listening now you can clearly hear a difference in sound quality with this first series, but still completely listenable today. The headset mic I had back then wasn’t very good, and my “p’s” would pop something fierce, especially recording the credits. If you listen to the end credits of the Friday the 13th series you can hear how the “p” was edited to be softer on the word “retrospective,” and less noticeably on the ones in “Now Playing Podcast.” It was so hard to not pop my “p’s” saying the name of the show. I recorded those three words over and over and over to get a cleaner recording. The credits back then were so much simpler than what we have today. They were perfunctory, blatantly explaining the format and the concept of the show to the listeners. Arnie was really just starting to skim the surface with interspersing the quotes from the movies into the credits. We took both the podcast concept explanation and movie quotes so much further with the next series, Star Trek

Arnie: When we recorded the Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan episode, it was a laugh riot, but a mess. I told Stuart and Brock that we had to redo the show because we were all laughing so hard; we were having fun but there wasn’t any context to the jokes — only those who were intimately familiar with Jason Takes Manhattan could follow along. 

Brock: While watching the movie was not so enjoyable, the three of us had such a blast busting on that movie together, making each other laugh. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a cohesive show.

Arnie: So we re-recorded the entire episode (one of only four or five shows that we’ve had to do that with in more than a decade). That second recording was solid and had a great explanation of the film, but not the mirth because we’d told each other the jokes. It was pretty flat. 

Brock: To recreate it was no fun, we spent all the jokes. It was like your dad having you tell that same stale joke he likes to another one of his friends.

Arnie: I knew what had to be done. I spent about a dozen hours Frankenstein-ing the two conversations into one. The second recording was the skeleton, giving the conversation structure, and the first recording was the meat, the really good part of the show. So I found a place for all of the first recording to liven up the second, and to this day I still think it’s one of our best shows.

Stuart: It’s hilarious to think about now, but I was actually worried that being so opinionated on the podcast would turn me into a Hollywood pariah. Like, Kane Hodder would totally be asking me to write his big horror movie comeback, but then somehow the Jason Takes Manhattan show would reach his ears and he’d start smashing my face in a typewriter or something. Turns out I was pretty good at getting industry doors slammed in my face without Now Playing’s help.  

Brock: I too was worried that if I crossed over to the movie critic side of things it would come back to bite me. Like if I ever decided to come out of retirement from performing I would be confronted, chewed out and denied opportunities by angry performers, producers, and filmmakers. 

Despite two edits to make the show listenable, there remained some issues that took years to iron out.

Arnie: When I saw Jason Takes Manhattan in theaters I was 14 and my (much) older sister and brother-in-law took me. At that showing my brother-in-law went on and on about how Peter Mark Richman, who plays the McCulloch character, was the guy who played Dr. Smith on Lost in Space. He talked about it endlessly and, him being older and having watched a lot of Lost in Space, I believed him; and I passed that misinformation on to our listeners on the show. Man, did I get lambasted for that. For a decade I’d constantly get emails from new listeners telling me that the actor was Peter Mark Richman, not Jonathan Harris. Finally, in 2019, for that episode’s 10th anniversary, I went back to the original file and edited the show again to remove that error. I hadn’t edited it before because it seemed like a cop out but finally I excised that one sentence that people fixated on.

With no new entries since 2009, Friday the 13th is the oldest Now Playing retrospective without a sequel, remake, or reboot on the horizon. A legal battle between the first film’s director and screenwriter has kept Jason Voorhees off the screen for more than a decade; fortunately the hosts have their favorite entries to fall back on. 

Stuart: Sticking with the “proper” entries in the series, Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives  is still the most technically proficient and exciting. Plus, that Alice Cooper song was dope!

Arnie: For the solo Jason films, I agree that Part 6 is the best, but I like Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter  just a little bit better. Corey Feldman was the best Tommy Jarvis of the three, plus there’s Crispin Glover’s weirdness, Teddy watching vintage porn; it had so many memorable characters and moments that I always enjoyed watching it most. It’s the only Friday the 13th to cast a shadow. No other protagonist returned for any other sequels, only Jarvis came back.

Brock: The one I remember liking the most is Jason X, because it had all sorts of enjoyable moments, I felt I was in on the joke the whole time, and what a fun ending. It is absolutely wonderfully insane enjoyable entry in the series. 

Stuart: Freddy vs. Jason is clearly the best movie, though maybe not the best Friday the 13th movie.

Brock: Recording Freddy vs Jason for this series I felt so lost when the guys were talking about how it was more of A Nightmare on Elm Street movie. When we came back to it again for the Nightmare series, it was an entirely different experience. 

Arnie: The outhouse death in Part V is classic [but] Freddy vs. Jason is the best movie with Jason in it. It’s funny, fun, and brings a lot of action into the brawl. I think that movie was why I was so excited for a new Jason film. 

The Now Playing Podcast Friday the 13th Retrospective Series wrapped on February 20, 2009, with a “wrap-up” episode in which the hosts looked back at the series. To this day, it remains the only “wrap-up” for a retrospective. The state of the Friday the 13th franchise remains in limbo, with no new film in production as of November 2020.

November 13, 2020 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast | , | Comments Off on An Oral History of Now Playing’s ‘Friday the 13th’ Retrospective

‘Navigator’ Star Recounts Pitfalls of Child Stardom, Redemption in ‘Life After’ Documentary

By Heath Chamerski

On August 1 1986, Walt Disney released Flight of the Navigator. Considered a seminal family sci-fi flick, it grossed $18 million at the box office on its way to becoming a cult hit on VHS and cable. Navigator is the story of 12-year-old David Freeman, who mysteriously disappears in 1978 only to return eight years later, not having aged a day, and before long he’s whisked away on an alien spacecraft and with the help of a robot named Max, discovers the truth behind his disappearance.

Flash forward to 2016, and the film’s star, Joe Cramer, who battled drug addiction in the intervening years after deciding to step away from an acting career, found himself in the spotlight once again as he was arrested for holding up a bank in British Columbia, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison. The motivation for the crime, Cramer explains, was not financial; rather, it was a way to gain access to a rehabilitation program at Nanaimo Correctional Centre, which was only available to those incarcerated at the facility. 

The 2020 documentary Life after the Navigator chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of the film, but more importantly, it is the story of Cramer himself, as he begins his recovery and attempts to get his life back on track. In the lead-up to Life after the Navigator’s Blu-ray release on November 9, Now Playing Podcast Heath Chamerski discussed the documentary with Cramer, Flight of the Navigator director Randal Kleiser and Life after the Navigator writer/director Lisa Downs.

Fall of the Navigator
Cramer’s story is a tragic one. After carving out a promising career as a young actor in films such as Runaway and D.A.RY.L., Cramer, still in his early teens, left Hollywood not long after finishing work on Flight of the Navigator, and his issues with drug addiction began shortly after leaving his acting career behind. But as he discusses in the documentary, he thinks his decision to do so probably saved his life, as he believes he would have gone down an even darker path if he had remained in Hollywood.

Cramer’s decision to take part in the documentary was an easy one after Downs made contact with him while he was still serving his sentence. 

“Lisa had written me.” Cramer explains. “I was still in jail at that point and she wrote me a letter talking about it and I right off the bat thought ‘Wow, this could be a really cool thing.’ After speaking with her a bit more and kind of becoming pen pals and writing back and forth, I really found that her vision and intention for the film was something authentic and from the heart — a love of the movie, as well as a real candid look at my life after the Navigator, and what happened. So that’s when I really got excited and felt like it was really an exciting opportunity for me just to get my story out there and share with people in a really authentic way.”

What Happened?
After completing work on her previous film, Life after Flash, which chronicled the production of 1980’s Flash Gordon and the life of the actor who played Flash, Sam J. Jones, Downs said the idea to make a film on Flight of the Navigator came to her long before she knew about Cramer’s troubles, but after reading articles about his arrest, she knew there had to be more to the story than the headlines told us.

“When I started to look at news articles, I thought that this would be an amazing film because when you read the headline, there’s gotta be more to Joe’s story than that,” Downs says. “Like, why did it happen? What happened from him being in the film to getting arrested? And when you read those headlines you think, ‘Oh, another child actor, another product of the Disney machine,’ and it might not necessarily be the child actor thing. So, after reading that, I was just really curious and knew that Flight of the Navigator was the next one I wanted to do.”

Flight of the Navigator seemed like a natural follow-up for Downs as it’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. 

“For me, I grew up with it as part of this collection of films, such as LabyrinthThe GooniesThe NeverEnding Story, that I absolutely loved and I desperately wanted to be David and fly in the ship with him,” she adds. “It stuck with me from such an early age and has just been ingrained in my childhood.”

After completing his sentence in 2017, Cramer and Downs continued their contact and plans for the documentary were underway, with filming commencing in 2018. Cramer notes that the experience made his recovery process so much easier and that the film was just what he needed at that point in his life.

“I had been through a lot of self-development and a lot of work over the years but especially in the time leading up to the actual filming.” Cramer says. “The therapeutic community that I went through was really helpful and I worked through a lot of underlying issues and trauma, so I was really at a point where I was okay about opening up about what had happened.

“Lisa and [producer] Ashley Pugh made it so easy. Their film is a celebration of the movie for the fans, and including my story in there of the trials and tribulations of child stardom or just life in general that can in ways happen to the most normal people. You know, anyone can go sideways in a way that isn’t expected.”

Reuniting the cast and crew of Navigator nearly 35 years later turned out to be an easier task than expected, thanks to the tireless efforts and support of Kleiser, who personally tracked down many of the film’s cast and crew, including actors Veronica Cartwright and Cliff DeYoung, for a reunion seen in the documentary.

Taking Flight
Kleiser is still incredibly proud of his movie and recalls it being one of his favorite directing experiences in a career that has spanned more than five decades and has included iconic films such as GreaseThe Blue Lagoon, and White Fang.

“It holds up pretty well I think, it’s really two types of movies – an action film and then it’s a family drama because there were two companies doing it.” Kleiser says. “I think it’s very easy to identify with the character Joey plays — you know, being lost and having a family gone and being confused about what’s going on around you and then having an adventure and then being reunited with the family. 

“It has a really good structure – beginning, middle, and end — so I think the fact it has this fantasy type of sci-fi feeling, and the idea that a kid gets to become friends with an alien, always works. I mean look at E.T.? So, all those elements came together.”

Cramer too fondly recalls his time working on the movie, even with the heavy workload of having to carry a $9 million Disney film on his 12-year-old shoulders, with his character of David appearing in almost every scene of the film; and there’s a good portion of the film where he’s the only (human) character on screen. But it’s been a part of his life ever since.

“You know, having to carry a whole film at such a young age was quite a bit of work and Randal made it really easy,” Cramer says. “We had a great relationship, he’s a wonderful director and I felt comfortable. 

“Like, looking back on some other films I worked on, I remember tough things and having difficulties with scenes because it wasn’t as great an environment; but Navigator just flowed really nicely, and it made it really easy to do. I was really fortunate to work with all the people I did on that film, for sure. But to revisit it now these past few years and connect with these fans who still love it after all this time has been such a gift. I’ve heard these wonderful stories from people who still love the film, I’ve heard stories of parents showing it to their kids and now their kids love it and it’s spanning generations. And then reconnecting with Randal and reconnecting with the cast and hearing their stories, it’s just really amazing to be part of that.”

A Decade in Review
The 1980s often stands above all others when it comes to nostalgia and seems to be an exalted era among film fans. For Downs, her love of 80s movies is still as strong today as it was for when she was growing up.

“The 80s was just this innocent, magical period of storytelling and fantasy and adventure and it was this magical time with this amazing run of films with amazing stories and amazing characters and they’re films that are so special that they stay with you,” she says. “I don’t know what films coming out now might stay with kids who are 9-12 years old in 20 or 30 years. 

“And I just think ’80s kids were really lucky that they happened to grow up in the greatest decade for children’s films. I do think the 80s is still special for the magic it created with the physical models and I think that’s why audiences and filmmakers still connect with this era is because of how magical these films feel.”

Kleiser believe it was the hard work and effort that it took to get sci-fi and fantasy films on screen and the focus on storytelling back in the 80s that is part of the reason why they endure to this day.

“Today I think because films like the Marvel movies have so many effects, it’s like a firehose in your face and you know it’s all fake so it’s not the same as looking at something and knowing it’s actually there and being photographed,” he says. “And also, the effects were so hard to achieve, you used them sparingly, nowadays they’re so easy that they do so much of it that you can’t have a break.”

Life After the Navigator achieves the not inconsiderable task of being both a retrospective documentary and also a very human story of hope and redemption. It is this aspect of the film that Downs thinks sets it apart from similar documentaries.

“I wanted to have that point of difference because you do have this trend at the moment of having these celebration documentaries come out but as amazing as those films are and they celebrate the Back to the Futures and the Ghostbusters, they’re still just the making-of element,” she says. “I wanted to have a point of difference and so for me the point of difference was having that extra access to the main star and spending more time with them and getting to know them and telling their personal story and I think that’s a side of these people that you don’t normally know. 

“You can Google the headlines of Joe but you can never know what happened. Why did he end up like that? I hope that’s a point of difference in these Life After films.”

Family Reunion
The paternal bond evident between Kleiser and Cramer during the production of Navigator is still something the duo share to this day, with Cramer stating that he always looked up to Kleiser as a father figure, particularly as his own father was absent for much of his life, and Kleiser is proud of the progress Cramer has made in recent years.

“Well, I do feel kind of parental towards him” Kleiser says. “Because I see he went through a lot of troubles and I’m happy to help him get back on his feet and I think that’s what this movie has done so far. I’m just hoping that he gets some nice acting parts now. You know it would be great if he could continue on and do what he really wants to do.”

It’s impossible not to be moved to tears by certain aspects of Cramer’s story while watching Life after the Navigator, especially in the moments where he discusses the tough decisions his mother made in an effort to help him beat his addiction and also as Cramer discusses the robbery itself and the sadness he feels for the trauma and pain he caused the bank employee he confronted. While people may not have lived through the same circumstances Cramer has, he believes everyone can take something positive away from his story.

“Everyone goes through stuff, maybe not as extreme as I have been through, but people go through things, so I think to see that we’re all human and we’re all just living our lives the best that we can and that we can always overcome and connecting to people is one of the best ways to do that,” Cramer says. “We can all relate to feeling insecure, feeling unworthy, feeling less than — all of those self-doubts that come in, and then realizing, ‘It’s okay, that’s what makes us human; all of those little flaws.’ 

“When we can just embrace those things, it opens up our lives to so many other amazing opportunities. Once I shared all of those deep dark secrets it almost freed me from this prison.”

Life After ‘Life After the Navigator’
Downs is currently in production of her third Life After movie, titled Life After Atreyu, which explores the life of The NeverEnding Story star Noah Hathaway. 

Cramer, meanwhile, has rediscovered his love of acting again, having already completed work on a few short films, with the documentary a catalyst for him to rediscover his love of the craft. As seen in the movie, he’s become part of the convention circuit and has enjoyed connecting with Navigator fans for the first time in a long time.

“It’s a journey, it’s an ongoing process, but it’s been wonderful,” he says. “When I was younger, I fell into acting and everything exploded and I went from a play to a commercial to features and then boom; everything blew up and I understand that’s like one in a million. 

“So, I’m not expecting anything like that to happen but what I’m finding is that I just love learning the craft and realising that all of my experiences in life are helping me become a better artist. It’s exciting and I absolutely have faith that we’ll see me again. I’m going step by step.”

November 6, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Navigator’ Star Recounts Pitfalls of Child Stardom, Redemption in ‘Life After’ Documentary

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In November 2020

Despite all that’s happened in 2020, there’s a lot to be thankful for at Now Playing Podcast. This year, we’ve launched our IN FOCUS newsletter, hosted a series of summer watch parties, started up a Letterboxd channel, and we never missed a week of podcasting. That last part is only possible because of the support of our listeners, and so we’re rewarding you in November with a full slate of  new episodes every Tuesday and Friday. This month’s schedule features two all-new retrospectives, a long-requested sci-fi horror series for donors, and a pair of exclusive episodes funded by Podbean patrons.

Here’s a look at everything coming to Now Playing Podcast in November 2020. 

November 3 – The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

John Frankenheimer’s political thriller hits the main podcast feed on Election Day in the United States, and explores a conspiracy involving soldiers reprogrammed as sleeper agents and an attempt to subvert democracy at the highest levels of government. Recognized as one of the 20th century’s best films, The Manchurian Candidate stars Frank Sinatra (back on Now Playing for the first time since The Detective), Angela Lansbury, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh.  

November 6 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

A “spiritual sequel” to 2008’s Cloverfield, the underground bunker thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane is the second installment in Now Playing’s Platinum Level donation series. The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman hiding in a fallout shelter with John Goodman’s not-quite-stable survivalist; the latter convinced the world is under attack. Listeners supporting the show with a donation of $35 or more will receive all three Cloverfield episodes, as well as the Rosemary’s BabyThe OmenThe Hills Have Eyes, and The Last House on the Left retrospectives.  

November 10 – The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Denzel Washington fronted the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, which hits theaters in the months before the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), the remake was not a box office smash but received critical acclaim. 

November 13 – The Cloverfield Paradox

Remember when Netflix dropped The Cloverfield Paradox right after the 2018 Super Bowl? It was a stroke of genius from a marketing perspective, but the critical reception was savage. Paradox tells the story of astronauts transported to a parallel universe while conducting a particle accelerator test in space. What does that have to do with Cloverfield? Watch it and then join Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob for the conversation

November 17 – The Craft

“We are the weirdos, mister.” The Craft hit theaters in May 1996, serving as the kickoff to the horror renaissance that would define the latter half of the decade. It helped to have future Scream stars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich in the cast, alongside Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Robin Tunney, Breckin Meyer, and Christine Taylor. The film focuses on a coven of teenage witches and the trouble they stir up when casting spells for revenge, power, love, and vanity.  

November 20 – JFK

Oliver Stone’s examination of the events surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was a massive hit in 1991; but also sparked numerous controversies and blowback in the press, with many accusing the director of distorting history and stirring up conspiracy theories. One thing no one can argue is that JFK has an all-time cast, with Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, Joe Pesci, Laurie Metcalf, Wayne Knight, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Gary Oldman, Sally Kirkland, Bob Gunton, John Larroquette, Donald Sutherland, Ed Asner, Frank Whaley, Lolita Davidovich, and many, many more notable actors appearing on screen. The Now Playing Podcast review of JFK is made possible by listener Sean Ray, who contributed to our Podbean Patron campaign.

November 24 – The Craft Legacy

Actress, producer, and director Zoe Lister-Jones helms The Craft: Legacy, a sequel to the aforementioned supernatural horror flick. In the film, a new quartet – Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, and Zoey Luna – brew up trouble when they dabble in witchcraft. The film hit video-on-demand platforms October 28, so there’s time to catch it before the review drops on November 24.

November 27 – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

What better time to drop Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner than the week of Thanksgiving? The 1967 Best Picture nominee put the national spotlight on race relations and interracial marriage, as Katharine Houghton brings home her black fiancée, Sidney Poitier, to meet her white parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Now Playing Podcast listener “Kyle” chose the review through our Podbean Patron campaign, and it will be served up for patrons on Friday, Nov. 27. 

October 27, 2020 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast In November 2020

The Scariest Films Our Hosts Have Ever Seen

Do you remember which film gave you the biggest jump scare of your life?

All of us can point to at least one example of, “The scariest movie I ever saw!” but as we all know, one person’s nightmare fuel is another person’s fandom. For every viewer so freaked out by Freddy Krueger that they can’t watch another A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, there’s another happy to indulge in annual Nightmare marathons and endless replays of that Freddy’s Greatest Hits album.

But enough about the Springwood Slasher. After all, the lasting impact of a horror film is subjective, right? 

Not if you ask science. Recently, a study conducted by sought to determine the scariest movies ever made by measuring the rising heart rates of its participants. 

The “Science of Scare Project” determined 2012’s Sinister to be scariest of them all. Other films that made the Top 25 include InsidiousThe ExorcistHushHalloween, and the aforementioned A Nightmare on Elm Street

See the Complete ‘Science of Scare Project’ List

But do those results hold up with our Now Playing Podcast hosts? Certainly, they’ve seen enough horror to be considered experts on the subject. So, we asked them.

Here are the movies that terrified, and still terrify, the hosts.

Jakob – The Thing
“Even after multiple watches, the blood test scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing is so tense I’m always on the edge of my seat. When the shapeshifter is finally revealed, it never fails to get my pulse pounding.”

Marjorie – Poltergeist
“I still don’t like TV static. Nor do I like looking under my bed. As an adult, it’s Fire In the Sky. I couldn’t even make it through the movie and had nightmares about what I did see.”

Brock – The Shining The first time I watched The Shining I recall being very uncomfortable. Psychological horror movies get me going more than slasher movies ever can. The Shining just keeps building the tension and creepiness as it pulls you in.”

Arnie – Contagion 
“Are we all picking Contagion? Or is that just me? I am hard pressed to think of a horror movie that has scared me, as in made me want to sleep with a night light on. Some gross me out, but to me that’s different than fear, it’s revolting.”  

Stuart – 2001: A Space Odyssey
“It’s not a horror movie, but 2001 elicits primal terror when the computer, HAL, clips unlucky astronaut Frank Poole’s air hose. I can’t watch that little guy float off, gasping into a silent abyss, without needing to grab an arm rest or something grounding. The worst death imaginable!”

October 23, 2020 Posted by | News | , , , , | Comments Off on The Scariest Films Our Hosts Have Ever Seen

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in October 2020

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 | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in September 2020

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. 

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 | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in August 2020

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 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

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

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

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. 


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


  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

John Carpenter’s “The Fog” Getting a 4K Theatrical Re-Release

As Halloween fans wait patiently for this year’s John Carpenter-endorsed sequel, word comes that a bonafide Carpenter original is coming back to the big screen with a full 4K restoration.

Rialto Pictures will showcase the director’s Halloween follow-up, 1980’s The Fog, in a limited run beginning October 26 at New York’s Metrograph theater, Landmark’s Nuart in Los Angeles, and The Music Box Theatre in Chicago.

For those who missed the film when it first screened in theaters, and for those who only know of the its much-maligned 2005 remake, The Fog stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook, and Janet Leigh as residents of a coastal California town that is besieged by the titular fog, which carries with it a crew of ghosts bent on revenge for a 100-year-old sleight.

Carpenter filmed the picture for $1.1 million, and it grossed more than $21 million in theaters.

Following its October 26 re-release, Rialto Pictures will screen The Fog in select Alamo Drafthouse and other specialty theaters.

The announcement comes on the heels of Now Playing Podcast’s planned Fall 2018 Donation Drive, which includes The Fog as part of Jamie Lee Curtis-centric “Scream Queen” retrospective.

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Movies | , , , , | Comments Off on John Carpenter’s “The Fog” Getting a 4K Theatrical Re-Release

Why Now Is the Best (and Worst) Time to Remake ‘Child’s Play’

Child's Play remake Chucky

Our beloved ‘Friend til the end’

Chucky the killer Good Guys doll is having one helluva third act.

On the heels of two well-received VOD sequels, an announced television series, and the best cameo in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, the iconic Child’s Play villain has seen his stock rise among his 80s-era slasher movie counterparts.

Now, Chucky (a.k.a Charles Lee Ray) is getting the remake treatment, according to The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of Norwegian director Lars Klevberg.

The announcement surprises for a few reasons, not the least of which is the aforementioned television series conceived by series steward Don Mancini, whose name has appeared in the writing credits of every Child’s Play film and who has directed the last three sequels.

After seven films, there’s a case to be made that it’s time to reboot Child’s Play. However, an examination of how far Chucky has come shows an equally strong case for staying the course.

The Case for a Remake

In his first act, an era that spans 1988’s Child’s Play to 1991’s Child’s Play 3, Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) had charisma but never enjoyed the success – in popularity and box office – of A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees.

The character’s breakout moment finally arrived with 1998’s Bride of Chucky, which debuted a new scarred and stitched facial design for the doll, ditched his pursuit of former owner Andy Barclay, and paired him with Jennifer Tilly’s fan favorite Tiffany.

With its self-referential approach (a must in the era of Scream), Bride at last put Chucky in the conversation with Krueger, Voorhees, Halloween’s Michael Myers, and Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface – a quintet of modern slashers on par with Universal Studios’ monsters.

While each of those villains saw their respective series’ rebooted in the horror remake craze of the 2000s, Chucky’s comeback came in the form of another sequel, doubling down on meta commentary until the soufflé collapsed with 2005’s Seed of Chucky.

The second act was short-lived. Fans waited nine years for a new film, and while Curse of Chucky and 2017 sequel Cult of Chucky were both well-received, Chucky was now a straight-to-video villain.

Those same fans might be eager to see Chucky back on the big screen, with industry-changing advancements in CGI and motion capture that could bring a more realistic, more agile, and more frightening iteration of the doll to life.

At the same time, Klevberg may be inclined to continue the original film’s commentary on consumer culture.

The Chucky doll that debuted in 1988 was an obvious play on Hasbro’s My Buddy line of dolls, with Mancini and company also satirizing the Cabbage Patch craze years before Jingle All the Way.

A new Child’s Play could see Chucky enter a world in which kid culture has embraced smartphones over dolls, and the Good Guys franchise could be just another failed attempt to compete.

Chucky could find himself fighting not for the thrill of the kill, but for Andy’s love and attention!

Perhaps an introspective Chucky isn’t top of mind for Klevberg and screenwriter Tyler Burton Smith, but Child’s Play works best when the wit and satire is at its sharpest.

What better time for a remake than right now, with Chucky fresh off two acclaimed sequels and enjoying a peak in popularity he hasn’t experienced in 20 years?

The Case Against a Remake

Most arguments against a film’s remake include a reading of the popular “Why can’t Hollywood come up with original ideas?” monologue.

In the case of Chucky and Child’s Play, there’s a much better reason: The last two films are among the best in the series.

Mancini kicked off Chucky’s third act with Curse, which introduced a new protagonist in Fiona Dourif’s Nica and gave the character a personal connection (via retcon) to killer Charles Lee Ray.

Nica went on to appear in Cult, a film that [SPOILER ALERT] sees Chucky posses his new nemesis while being hunted by his old nemesis, Andy (played by original series star Alex Vincent). In the finale, the possessed Nica rides off into the sunset with Tilly’s Tiffany, with the promise that Andy and Child’s Play 2s Kyle (a returning Christine Elise) would be hot on their trail in the next adventure.

Despite being the sixth and seventh films in a franchise that had faded from the big screen to VOD, Curse and Cult are the most critically lauded entries, with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 83 percent and 82 percent, respectively. The next highest rated film in the series is the original Child’s Play, with 69 percent on the review aggregator.

Is it wise to reboot a series just when it’s getting good? Fans hoping to see the next film tie up its various plot threads will now be treated to an entirely new canon, possibly without Tiffany, Nica, Kyle, or even Andy.

And what of the television series? While Child’s Play hasn’t made it to air, genre fans can point to the well-regarded Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as an example of a show that deserved extended life rather than face abrupt cancelation in favor of a subpar theatrical film (in Chronicles case, 2009’s Terminator Salvation).

Fortunately, the fate of Mancini’s Child’s Play show hasn’t been determined, and it’s worth pointing out to worried fans that 2013’s Evil Dead reboot didn’t prevent that series’ original canon from continuing on the small screen with Ash vs. Evil Dead.

While there are arguments for and against a remake, at the end of the day, fans should rejoice that Chucky will live on in some form or another. Perhaps two versions will even grace our theater and television screens simultaneously, and eventually treat us to a “Chucky vs. Chucky” collision of both canons.

That would be a very Child’s Play thing to do.

The Now Playing Podcast Child’s Play Retrospective Series debuted in September 2010, and the reviews can be accessed via the show’s archives.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Halloween’ 40th Anniversary Convention Announced

Halloween 40th Anniversary Convention

Halloween fans crossing off the days until October 19 need to circle a few more dates on their calendars.

Longtime series producer Trancas International Films announced on Monday that the 40th anniversary Halloween convention, “Forty Years of Terror,” is set for Oct. 12-14 at Pasadena Convention Center, just blocks from where John Carpenter’s original film was filmed in 1978.

The fourth official gathering of fans, cast, and crew since 2003, “Forty Years of Terror” is set to be the biggest convention in series history, coming one week before the eleventh film – a direct sequel to Halloween ‘78, and again starring Jamie Lee Curtis – bows in theaters.

Pasadena has hosted the convention – celebrated every five years – since 2003. For the 2018 show, Trancas and fan favorite con promoters HorrorHound will take over an expanded area of the Convention Center for, “more exciting vendors – including notable Halloween licensees – and a number of not-to-be missed events, such as a special Horror’s Hallowed Grounds filming location tour, special gallery offerings, cast Q&As, exclusive H40 and Halloween merchandise offerings” and professional photo ops.

Guest announcements for the 40th anniversary convention will trickle out in the coming weeks, although fans will focused on two names: Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter. While neither appeared at 2013’s “35 Years of Terror,” it would not surprise anyone to see the pair on stage as part of the promotional blitz for the upcoming sequel.

The nine years between 2018’s Halloween and the last film released in the series – Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 – is the largest gap between entries in the 40-year-old franchise. Historically, fans could always count on a new film within five years of the last.

“Forty Years of Terror” marks the first convention held during the year of a new Halloween release. Previous conventions in 2013, 2008, and 2003 occurred in “off” years, but have been well attended by stars of the series.

Ticket prices (including VIP packages) will be announced “within the month,” according to Trancas, on the Halloween 40 website.


June 25, 2018 Posted by | News | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Halloween’ 40th Anniversary Convention Announced

Questions for the new ‘Halloween’ and 6 trailer Easter eggs to look for

By eschewing the nine(!) sequels separating John Carpenter’s Halloween from the 2018 follow-up, the latter group of filmmakers (which includes writer/director David Gordon Green, writer Danny McBride, producer Jason Blum, and Carpenter himself in an executive producer role) have freed themselves from four decades of the slasher series’ tangled canon.

Audiences are simply asked to forget the events of Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake (and its lesser sequel), the “Cult of Thorn” arc that link Halloween’s 4-6, and even the well-received 20th anniversary Halloween H20, itself a sequel that ignored the events of four prior films.

That’s not easy to do, though it should be noted that fans have likely erased their memories of H20’s follow-up, Halloween: Resurrection, in which series villain Michael Myers faced off with a karate-kicking Busta Rhymes.

Yet, by making the new Halloween a direct follow-up to the 1978 original, Green and company are raising questions that will deserve answers once the film bows on October 19.

Chief among them: How was Michael Myers captured following his disappearance at the end of the first film? For those who haven’t gone back recently, in the climactic moments of Carpenter’s Halloween, Myers was shot by his psychiatrist, Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance), and fell from the second-floor balcony of a home in which he’d cornered Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode.

However, when Loomis goes to inspect the body he finds Myers gone, setting up the first sequel, which picks up at that very moment.

The 2018 Halloween trailer opens with a pair of investigative journalists visiting Myers in a prison/asylum. How he ended up there? Only the filmmakers know, for now.

On that note, how will the sequel explain Loomis’ fate? Pleasance’s character is referenced in the trailer, and if he wasn’t killed at the end of 1981’s Halloween II (again, it’s been wiped from canon), the new film should reference what became of Loomis.

Judging by the trailer’s approach to Laurie Strode – she’s armed and waiting for Myers to escape – it appears the one-time “final girl” has assumed Loomis’ role as the series’ Van Helsing, the hunter/harbinger, prepared to face her mortal enemy while warning the rest of fictional Haddonfield, Illinois of their approaching doom.

For fans who still hold the sequels (or at least, some of them) close to their hearts, they can take comfort in the fact that this new Halloween is peppered with homages and Easter eggs they’ll surely recognize, if they’re paying attention.

Here are six that stood out from the first trailer:

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

1. Wandering Patients

Myers’ escape in the sequel is the result of a yet-to-be explained bus accident. The trailer shows a family in their car braking suddenly when the killer and his fellow asylum patients are wandering in the road.

The scene bears resemblance to the opening of the 1978 film, in which Pleasance’s Loomis and Nancy Stephens’ Nurse Chambers come upon the escaped patients of Smith’s Grove Sanitarium.

2. Sibling Rivalry

While Laurie Strode’s connection to Michael Myers initially felt forced in the first Halloween sequel – the two are brother and sister, with Laurie put up for adoption after he committed murder as a 6-year-old – the familial bond went on to become a critical thread in chapters 4-8 and Zombie’s films.

In the new trailer, a character hints at the relation between killer and survivor, until Strode’s granddaughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) responds, “that’s something that people made up.”

Unless there’s a curveball coming in the finished film, this is just another way Halloween’s writers are tipping their caps to the series’ fans.

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

3. Restroom Horror

In the trailer, Myers is seen terrorizing one of the investigative journalists inside a gas station restroom. Fans of the series will immediately be reminded of a scene in Halloween H20 in which Myers stalks a mother and daughter in a restroom, only to steal the keys to their car.

The scene could also be a reference to Zombie’s Halloween, in which Myers acquires his familiar coveralls in a to-the-death fight with Ken Foree’s Joe Grizzly.

4. Watch Where You’re Going

Another trailer callback to the first Halloween occurs when a pair of trick-or-treaters run into Myers on the sidewalk. The scene in the trailer (at 2:00) even makes use of Carpenter’s original score, and mirrors the moment in 1978’s Halloween when young bully Ritchie Castle (Mickey Yablans) runs into Myers.

A similar scene occurs in Halloween II when a young boy carrying a boom box (Lance Warlock) accidentally crosses paths with Myers.

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

5. Ghosting

One of the iconic scenes in Carpenter’s Halloween sees Myers approaching his victim in the guise of her boyfriend, wearing a “ghost sheet” with two eyeholes cut out.

The trailer shows a similarly dressed shape waiting in a chair as Will Patton’s cop surveys a bedroom. We’ll have to wait until October 19 to see who’s under the sheet.

6. Silver Shamrock is Back!

The decision to abandon the Michael Myers character and go with a brand new storyline for 1982’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one that flummoxed critics and audiences back in the day.

Those in line to see babysitters stalked by a killer were instead treated to a somewhat incomprehensible plot to murder the children of the world using Silver Shamrock brand Halloween masks fitted with microchips and pieces of Stonehenge.

It’s a Twilight Zone-meets-Body Snatchers plot that never quite comes together and derailed the franchise just as Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street would begin to dominate the 80s slasher scene.

Decades later, Season of the Witch has found its cult audience, and fans looking closely at the just-released trailer will notice — for a split second at 2:07 — children running in fear wearing the classic Silver Shamrock masks.

What other Easter Eggs did you spot in the trailer? Let us know and revisit the series with Now Playing Podcast’s Halloween retrospective.

June 8, 2018 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

5 Questions for Jakob’s 500th Now Playing Podcast Review

Jakob Brewster celebrates his 500th episode of Now Playing Podcast

As Justice League limps out of theaters, anguished studio executives are lamenting the superhero flick’s failure to capture box office glory. Little do they know the arrival of DC’s team-up did capture one long-awaited milestone: Jakob Brewster’s 500th episode of Now Playing Podcast.

The host joined the show on November 6, 2009 during the Saw retrospective (a series that recently came back from the dead) and has since lent his perspective to some of Now Playing’s biggest retrospectives, including the Marvel, Children of the Corn, and Fast and the Furious films.

To mark the anniversary of his 500th show, Jakob took part in a Q&A with the Venganza Media Gazette.

Gazette: First, congratulations on 500 episodes of Now Playing Podcast. When you first signed on, did you ever think you’d get the chance to review the fifth sequel to Hellraiser?

Jakob: Thanks! I know it wouldn’t have been possible to make it to 500 if it weren’t from some great franchises out there like Children of the Corn and Leprechaun that churn out so many quality sequels to push Now Playing to keep going and mining these cinematic gems.

You always hope a franchise makes it to a fifth sequel, because that’s when the mythology is really developed and some rich stories can finally be told. Hellraiser: Hellseeker really completes the circle by bringing back Kirsty (played by the original Ashley Laurence) and finishing her story in such a way that even the best fanfic couldn’t achieve.

The shame is that not every franchise capitalizes on this opportunity. Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their sixth film in was The Avengers. Wow, what a misstep! They had set up such a great nemesis when hinting of The Leader (Tim Blake Nelson) in one of the only passable MCU films, The Incredible Hulk. And they do nothing with him! He’s the only villain that would require a whole team of heroes to defeat him. Also, that CGI model for Bruce Banner looked nothing like Edward Norton in The Avengers.  

Gazette: You recently celebrated your milestone with a review of Justice League, how has that movie raised the bar for superhero films?

Jakob: It accomplished so much! On a technical level, it proved that computers can create 1000 percent realistic humans. This is great because it will let actors really focus on perfecting their craft instead of having to spend all their time grooming and looking perfect. No longer exists the burden of wasting time getting your hair styled or shaving a beard when the magic of CGI can render you as perfect and real looking as Henry Cavill’s upper lip.

It also introduced a layer of subtext that has never been explored in the superhero genre (Halle Berry’s Catwoman came close). I mean, Batman dresses as a bat to scare bad guys. But he also has a giant robot spider to ride around in? That’s two animals, plus lots of people are afraid of robots. So Batman is two kinds of phobia plus both animals? Chris Nolan wishes his Dark Knight trilogy plumbed the depths of psychology like this.

I could go on for hours gushing about Justice League. It feels as pivotal as when people were first awed by the last great achievement in superhero cinema, Superman and the Mole Men.

Gazette: Now that he’s directed both the Avengers and Justice League, which superhero team should Joss Whedon tackle next?

Jakob: Honestly, it feels like Justice League has reinvigorated Whedon. The Avengers felt like a clip-show episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think Whedon’s real calling is to make sense of production disasters. He saved Justice League from [Zack] Snyder and created a front-runner for the Best Picture Oscar. I’d like to see him save a franchise cut from the same cloth as superheroes. Something with a history of cartoons, comic books, toys, a whole team of good guys fighting evil. I say give him Michael Bay’s Transfor — all of [his] released films. Have him reshoot some scenes with Shia LaBeouf and a few of the action scenes and I think everyone will understand how great that franchise could be.

Gazette: Your 500 episodes of Now Playing Podcast are longer than the combined runs of Knight RiderBaywatch, and Baywatch Nights. Besides Looking for Freedom, what’s your favorite David Hasselhoff album?

Jakob: I’m going with his latest album, 2012’s This Time Around. This was a redemption album for the drunken cheeseburger incident. It took a lot of courage to put himself out there again like that. His fans… and the world, really, have embraced him for being so brave.

Gazette: Lightning round: Three thoughts on that Avengers: Infinity War trailer?


  1. Disney has destroyed the Marvel movies. They used to be edgy and, while never achieving the greatness of, say, Return of Swamp Thing, they felt like they had something to say about our lives. Now because Disney needs a new Disney Princess to market to little girls, they’ve created this new princess… The Anos, or something, who goes around collecting jewelry?
  2. Again, Disney is now putting its own characters in these films?! At the end, Thor asks some people who they are and I swear Mickey Mouse is standing there. Though the CGI model is waaaay off. He looks like a raccoon, not a mouse.
  3. A group of heroes come together to fight hoards of aliens and a being from another dimension who is powered by a magic box? I’ve already seen this in Justice League. It was first, it was better, and it just has better characters. For example: Cyborg vs. Iron Man. One is made of space metal and the other iron (which I think is getting rusty because it is so red from oxidation). No contest.

Hear Jakob in Now Playing Podcast’s current Death Wish retrospective, and read his thoughts on underrated movies in the podcast’s first book, Underrated Movies We Recommend

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 5 Questions for Jakob’s 500th Now Playing Podcast Review

On 10th Anniversary, ‘Now Playing’ Hosts Talk Milestones, Memorable Moments

Let’s jump back in time 10 years to summer 2007. Sam Raimi had just tanked the Spider-Man franchise, the Fast & Furious films had stalled with Tokyo Drift, and nobody knew if George Lucas would ever launch another Star Wars trilogy.

This was when Now Playing Podcast first went on the air. Back when we still believed Crystal Skull might be good and before they rebooted Freddy’s origin story to make it, just, icky.

Not only does 2017 mark Now Playing’s 10th anniversary, the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes review marks its 700th episode. That’s a lot of movies (and also the occasional failed TV pilot or one of those superhero shows that played theatrically in Bulgaria or wherever).

To mark the occasion, the show’s hosts came together for a Q&A about their time behind the mics and what’s changed during the last 10 years.

Venganza Media Gazette: What do you remember thinking after you heard your voice for the first time on Now Playing?

Arnie: “Well our first episode was recorded in a car in the parking lot of a Toys r Us. So my thought was, ‘For being in a car that doesn’t sound TOO bad.’”

Marjorie:I was used to hearing my voice on Star Wars Action News but I still thought I sounded under 13. And then you have the thoughts such as ‘I really sound like that?’ or ‘What if people find my voice irritating?’”

Stuart: I like to be behind the scenes — directing, writing, evaluating other people’s art. It was pretty painful to step in front of a mic and even more awkward listening to myself on some of my early shows. I was grateful that there weren’t too many listeners back in 2008 and early 2009.”

Jakob: “I was no stranger to hearing my voice; I had sang in bands and had been podcasting on and off for a few years prior. But at the time a huge part of our listenership were horror fans, a genre I wasn’t very familiar with. So there was some anxiety with having my introduction with the SAW movies and having to speak about a genre I just didn’t have a lot of exposure to.”

Venganza Gazette: What’s changed about you as a host?

Jakob: “I watch a lot more movies and I discuss them a lot more — not just with my co-hosts, but with my family. We spend a lot of time discussing why a film does or doesn’t work.”

Marjorie: I have a different view of movies now. I see so much more that goes into a movie. More than just ‘it was good.’ I also can’t ever ‘turn off’ reviewing. When I see movies I’m not reviewing, I tend to dissect them.” 

Jakob: “My wife and I share what we consider great scenes with our girls, even if they may be too young for the entire movie. Is it crossing a line that we reenacted the ‘I drink your milkshake’ scene from THERE WILL BE BLOOD for our 10 and 6-year-old?”

Stuart: ”The biggest change for me is the zip code where I record. I’m no longer ‘Stuart In L.A.’ When I started Now Playing I always worried that things I said might come back to haunt me working in the Los Angeles entertainment industry. Now that I’ve stepped away from that scene, I sleep better at night.”  

Arnie: The differences are greater than the similarities, in my mind. What’s the same? A rotating cast of hosts and we devote one episode to one movie. What’s different? Everything else. Now Playing started as a show where we would record short, spoiler-free movie reviews.”

The first Now Playing Podcast episode, a review of "Spider-Man 3" was released on May 4, 2007.

The first Now Playing Podcast episode, a review of Spider-Man 3 was released on May 4, 2007.

Stuart: “A long show in 2007 was 30 minutes. Now we go twice as long on an episode of Twin Peaks.”

Arnie: “They weren’t going to be edited at all, as editing takes five-to-10 times the length of a given show.”

Brock: I do remember editing the first show I did with my wife – back then it was a two person review show, much like what Arnie and Marjorie do on Star Wars Action News.”

Arnie:As I had Star Wars Action News already I didn’t feel I had the time to undertake more editing. So they would be instant reaction thoughts, recorded immediately upon leaving the theater, and published as-is [with] minimal editing, [and] we also were going to focus on new releases only. Now we go through the history of film, with spoiler-filled critiques that are very long, and very well edited by a great team including Heath and David.”

Jakob: “We just go so much more in depth now. But for me, personally, I approach the show with a different attitude. When I first came on, I had a MST3K mentality. I mean, I had to review a bunch of SAW films — not really my thing — so I thought, ‘How many jokes can I make?’ Now, while we still shoot for humor at times, I try focus on the filmmaking and storytelling so I can articulate how those contribute to a film, good or bad.”

Brock: “Today we are a well-oiled machine, even more comfortable sharing our opinions and talking with one another. The shows back then, and especially when we started the roundtable format, had the best we could do technically at the time, and now the production values are insanely great thanks to our equipment, sure, but mostly because of the countless hours Arnie puts in producing each and every episode. And also the incredible, tireless work of our talented editors who make us all sound so good.”

Marjorie: “We are all so much older and wiser! I think that we all found our rhythm with each other. I have a natural rapport with Arnie because we are married and therefore spend a lot of time together. But Stuart, Jakob and myself had to build that.” 

The July 14 review of War for the Planet of the Apes will mark Now Playing Podcast's 700th episode.

The July 14, 2017 War for the Planet of the Apes review marks Now Playing Podcast’s 700th episode.

In addition to hitting the 700th episode milestone, several of the hosts are racking up big numbers behind the microphone. When the War for the Planet of the Apes review is released, Arnie will have hosted 676 Now Playing episodes, Stuart will have hosted 618, and Jakob will have hosted his 469th show.

Venganza Gazette: Do you have a favorite Now Playing episode?

Stuart:INCEPTION was an early favorite of mine because I think it was such a turning point for the show. Now Playing proved in that podcast that we could do more than heckle. On top of really liking the movie, I was proud of the way we broke down all of Nolan’s multi-level storylines and daunting thematic readings in a very concise 73 minutes.”

Arnie: I really am proud of PROMETHEUS. That was a film with disparate, and surprising, opinions from the hosts, and yet the conversation was always lively, and I think everyone made such great points. I re-listened to that show recently because of ALIEN: COVENANT and so it’s recent to my memory, but even before that it was a go-to for me to see three of the hosts bringing their A-game.”

Brock:I really liked what the guys did with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Sometimes with a really good movie, a classic, practically flawless movie the show can be a little harder for us panelists to do. You can’t tear it apart, and there aren’t always opportunities to make jokes because the jokes have been made for 30 years already. Everyone is so familiar with the movie itself and the behind the scenes information already and on top of that the listeners know going in it that the hosts are all going to give it a green arrow. The team embraced all these challenges and showed us why Now Playing is as good as it gets with review shows. The guys did a great job with the commentary, the trivia, and played off one another beautifully making an entertaining show that was structurally and technically proficient. So much so that I have enjoyed listening to that show multiple times over. A highlight for me is when Stuart brought up the CASABLANCA correlation; not many people get that aspect of RAIDERS and I’m glad he did and shared it with the audience.”

Jakob: “I’m really enjoying our current Now Peaking discussions for TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN. What’s fascinating is we had the chance to do a whole David Lynch retrospective building up to this new series. With Lynch, as an auteur, there is so much of him in this return to Twin Peaks. It feels like a culmination of his entire aesthetic and viewpoint. Within the first two episodes we had brought up the influences of ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET, LOST HIGHWAY, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, and INLAND EMPIRE. I’m still not sold on this third season, but it has been insightful to discuss it in the context of Lynch’s complete works and not just the original run of the television show.”

Venganza Gazette: What’s the most positive feedback you’ve ever received from a listener?

Arnie: I can’t begin to express how touched I am by some listeners’ messages to us.  From troops stationed overseas who use our show to experience movies they can’t yet see to adults who say our show is like a conversation with friends, each message means so much.”

Marjorie: There have been a few people who have written to us about how listening to Now Playing got them through a rough patch in their life. And I think it’s utterly amazing that, even remotely, I was able to help someone.” 

Stuart: I never thought three people riffing on movies had the potential to heal, but I have been incredibly moved by all the stories fans have shared over the years about how we helped them laugh away depression, death, and some real big life challenges.”

Arnie:A handful of people have e-mailed with a very specific message and I’m humbled every time I read them.  These are people who have been in bad situations: illness or accident, divorce, job loss, the death of someone close to them, or sometimes a combination of those.  These are people who tell us they felt hopeless.  One person said, ‘I felt like I would never be able to laugh again.’  A couple people mentioned contemplating suicide.  These are deeply personal moments being shared via e-mail with us. Then their notes change tone and discuss how our show helped them through. We entertained them, in that one case we gave him the first laugh he’d had. We took their minds off their troubles and brought them a bit of happiness. That is my dream come true — to be able to entertain people and give them a few moments where they aren’t thinking about their day, their responsibilities, and their problems.”  

Stuart: “I never expected to have such impact on anyone, and I’m incredibly humbled by that.”

Arnie:It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I considered being a lawyer or a stockbroker. But in high school I realized the importance of entertainment in my life.  I had my own dark days in my teen and early adult years. What got me through those times were video games, movies, television, books – entertainment. So starting in high school, and really for the rest of my life, my goal has been to entertain. I wanted to give people that escape the way Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Will Wright, and Stephen King helped me to escape. My path to finding podcasting as that vehicle was a winding one, but it was the outlet I found. And I can’t express how touched I am when I read what we do does provide that for some of our listeners.  It fills me with purpose, and reminds me that we’re not just discussing the eighth in a bad series of direct-to-video sequels, we’re hopefully also entertaining and informing at the same time.”  

Venganza Gazette: What’s the strangest feedback you’ve ever received from a listener?

Brock: “I was at a Comic Con, talking to the vendor on the other side of the table about an action figure or something, and this guy standing next to me exclaimed ‘Hey, you’re Brock! I recognize your voice!’ That was pretty cool to be picked out by my voice alone.”

Marjorie: “I had some weird messages from guys who liked my voice.” 

Stuart:It was pointed out very bluntly a few times on Facebook that I have a ‘squeaky voice’ when I get excited. Hey, I’m not going to say that’s untrue, but there’s only so much I can do about that until I finish going through puberty. How I wish I could hire Barry White to say all the things I’ve got to say!”

Brock: “There was this one [comment] we received years ago that accused me of trying to sound professional, putting on a radio voice when I talk or something. Arnie told Stuart and I about this thing one night when we were recording, and we all got a great laugh because this is how I talk! I wouldn’t have the patience or the discipline to put on a fake voice for hours on end, each and every time we do a recording session. I mean, I guess that is sort of a compliment, that my voice sounds that way, but the guy clearly didn’t have a clue about what he was talking about.”

Jakob: “One listener offered to pay for my dental work after he punched my teeth out because of my views on one film. I wonder if the police I had to involve became fans of Now Playing after I reported [him]?”

Arnie: I need to be vague about this for privacy, but a listener wrote in and told me how, in 2012, he had a workplace encounter with Bradley Cooper [and] he ended up turning Cooper on to Now Playing, specifically our HOWARD THE DUCK show. The next day Cooper told him he laughed his ass off listening to that podcast. He said he downloaded some other shows, including our ROCKY reviews. That is totally surreal to think of the voice actor who performed in GUARDIANS has listened to our HOWARD THE DUCK review.”  

Stuart: We get a lot of positive feedback when we slam a problematic movie like HOWARD THE DUCK or HALLOWEEN III.”

Venganza Gazette: What’s the one film you’re still waiting to review?

Jakob: I’d love the work through Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER. It’s a film that I’ve done a complete 180° on since its theatrical release. Originally, I recognized the amazing acting but the story left me cold. I recently re-watched it with my wife, who is a huge Phillip Seymour Hoffman fan. As we worked our way through the film, she helped me realize what a heartbreaking romance it is in the midst of some heavy ideas about religion and post-war America. I would love to discuss such a dense piece of work.”

Stuart:THE MANITOU! There is no crazier horror movie from the 1970s. It would be a perfect Easter Egg pairing with THE OMEN and ROSEMARY’S BABY franchises.”

Marjorie: “I would love to do a 70s disaster movie retrospective. There was a small heyday of disaster movies.”

Arnie: DONNIE DARKO is a favorite film of mine that I think is so rich for analysis, even if the director did make it so obvious with various supplements and the director’s cut.  

Brock: BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID. It’s my favorite movie, and the first movie I say when people ask me for a film recommendation. Every time. Not enough people watch it anymore but they really should. It’s not a traditional western, but can be a hard sell to people who deeply dislike westerns. Perhaps we can bundle it THE STING and that sequel they made in 1979 with Tom Berenger. I have avoided watching that sequel but I’d watch it for Now Playing.”

Arnie:I made a vow to never watch S DARKO, the cash-grab DONNIE sequel with hardly anyone from the original involved.  If we reviewed DONNIE I’d probably have to watch S, and I really don’t want to taint my love of the original with a super-shitty sequel.”

Now Playing Podcast will release its War for the Planet of the Apes episode as part of its 2017 Spring Donation Drive. Supporters of the show can hear the review, along with all of the episodes in the Planet of the Apes series, at


July 10, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

On Oscar eve, Now Playing Podcast hosts name their Best Picture picks

Let’s face it: Deadpool was never going to get a Best Picture nomination.

Despite the Golden Globes nom and those articles building up its Oscar chances, there was no way an R-rated superhero flick about sex and guns and unicorns was going to end up in the same category as 2016’s prestige films.

Now Playing Podcast host Arnie Carvalho put it best the morning the nominees were announced: #OscarsSoPredictable.

The Oscars are the Oscars. Movies like The Artist win Best Picture. Movies like Deadpool win MTV Movie Awards, which are still a thing all these years later.

So, in honor of the many films that won’t be celebrated at the 89th Academy Awards ceremony, the Now Playing hosts made their picks for Best Picture of 2016.

And the awards go to:

         The Nice Guys

“I rarely give any movie a perfect 5-star ranking. It seems every movie has something that could be fixed, tightened, or improved in some way. For this score I demand a movie that feels perfect immediately. This year I only ranked one movie 5-stars. Only one film had the intelligence, the entertainment, and the charm for such a ranking. It’s a film I loved when I first saw it in May, and each home viewing has deepened my appreciation.“ — Arnie 

“Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe are surprisingly good together. Being a period piece, you never know if it’s going to come off schlocky, but this worked. This movie turned me around on Gosling, who I had not been a fan of previously. The action and drama is just the right pace to keep you in the movie. And let’s not forget Angourie Rice, who played Ryan Gosling’s daughter. She was plucky and had an amazing presence for such a young actress.” — Marjorie

           The Lobster

“Easily 2016’s most cracked and surprising discovery for me. I kept thinking as I was watching this crazy sci-fi story about people forced to mate or be changed into animals that it couldn’t possibly sustain its delirious energy for much longer… AND the thing just kept opening itself up to bold, new interpretations! You laugh because the situations are as absurd as our own deeply held conceptions of love and marriage.” — Stuart

         The VVitch

“The VVitch is an almost perfect horror film that held me in suspense as American puritanism faces off against the supernatural. The movie spends great effort on authenticity, from its stylized spelling to sets and costumes to the dialect, making it easy to get lost in its haunting atmosphere. But even better is the depth of the film with its layered subtext commenting on religion, class, and gender.” — Jakob

         Edge of Seventeen

“I think many people dismissed it as a Juno ripoff, but this movie has a big heart and Hailee Steinfeld’s performance as an outcast teen dealing with the death of her father and the inevitability of growing up is impressive and emotional. Woody Harrelson is surprisingly charming and down to earth here as well.” — Justin

February 25, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on On Oscar eve, Now Playing Podcast hosts name their Best Picture picks

Why ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ was Now Playing Podcast’s toughest show

To mark the 10th anniversary of Now Playing Podcast in 2017, hosts and staff are looking back at defining moments throughout the show’s history.

On February 4, 2009, Now Playing Podcast released one of its most memorable early episodes. On the eighth anniversary of the Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan review, host Arnie Carvalho reflects on the behind-the-scenes craziness that listeners never heard on the air.

Friday the 13th Part VII was our most loved show on that series. It was also our first big failure. It was our third recording on a Sunday night. We suddenly learned recording this many shows is exhausting, even for shorter shows. We made a ton of jokes about Friday the 13th but there was no content. More, it was our shortest recording of the series by far.

I walked away from the conversation with my sides hurting from laughter, but exhausted and frustrated the show wasn’t better. Stuart the e-mailed me and said he didn’t think the show was very good either. We roped Brock into the conversation, he agreed, and we re-recorded that show top to bottom.

BUT… that attempt wasn’t very good either. We were much better about explaining the beats of the movie, but we had told each other all of our jokes, and the fun wasn’t there.

I spent about 60 hours working on that show. I took both versions into the editing software and I took the funny from Recording No. 1 and put it with the thoughtfulness and the structure of Recording No. 2. The result was what some people still call our funniest show.

By the way, while doing the series it was Brock that started pushing for Star Trek. He seemed as excited for the Trek reboot as I was for the Friday the 13th one. I wasn’t feeling it, but then when we saw the download numbers for Friday the 13th, and when we realized how much fun we were having, we were all excited to boldly go into our next retrospective!

Now Playing Podcast’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series was released from January 9 to Feb. 20, 2009. The 13 episode series can be heard on the Now Playing Podcast website.

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , | Comments Off on Why ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ was Now Playing Podcast’s toughest show

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Fifteen years ago Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich transformed Resident Evil from a successful video game franchise to a hit movie series. They released a new film every two to three years, and made almost one billion dollars worldwide.  Now, after a five year absence, they are back to conclude the series in The Final Chapter. Can Alice defeat the big boss and give the series a fitting ending–or do our hosts just want to hit the “reset” button and start the game over?  Join Stuart, Justin, and Arnie to find out!

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , | Comments Off on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Now Playing Podcast Q&A: ‘Twin Peaking,’ Podbean, and More

Now Playing Podcast 10th Anniversary Banner
The launch of Now Playing Podcast’s Podbean support page has given listeners something many have been demanding for years: access to the show’s celebrated bonus episodes, which had previously been available exclusively during Now Playing’s bi-annual donation drives.

With those episodes now available via Podbean purchase and subscription options, listeners have been able to catch up on classic series’ including Jaws, Alien, and Planet of the Apes.

Yet, the question remains, does this mean Now Playing’s donation drives are going away?

Host Arnie Carvalho answered that question and more in a Q&A with the Venganza Media Gazette.

Venganza Gazette: How does the new Podbean option affect the donation drives?

Arnie C: We’re going to have a Silver Donation Series for a new retrospective: Pirates of the Caribbean. That’s a five-episode series, one that listeners have been demanding for some time. The Silver level series will be available both through PodBean and, due to listener demand, also through the “classic” method through PayPal for those who want the shows in iTunes.

The classic donation wiill be $10 for all 5 shows. With Podbean, the new Pirates series will be available for $2.99 per episode, pick which episodes you want.  After the donation drive ends the Podbean episodes will increase to $3.99 per episode.

That will be the only new movie series reviewed for donation this Spring.  While we normally do three movie series, with Now Peaking and the opening of the vault we don’t want our listeners to feel over-extended.  So the Gold and Platinum series will just be rereleases of series that are currently on PodBean, but getting new installments this Spring or Summer.

All that said, there will be a couple other bonus episodes.  We usually did some Easter Egg podcasts with donation drives.  Now we are going to release those types of one-off reviews to Patrons who support the show on an ongoing basis.  Details for that are on our Podbean Patron page.

Venganza Gazette:  How long will the episodes be available through PodBean?

PodBean’s technology allows us to offer these old shows. Until now we’ve have had to process all donations by hand and could not balance offering so much. If we continue past our 10th anniversary depends on listener feedback.

Venganza Gazette: What are the major differences between Podbean and the “classic” donation?

Arnie C: The advantage to going Podbean is instant access. In the past, donors received those shows via email, now they don’t need to wait, and they can choose which episodes they want if they don’t want the entire series.

The advantage of going “classic” is a slightly lower donation for the entire bundle. Those donors will also be grandfathered in for any future sequels, much like current donors with Alien, Jaws, etc.  But we are still processing all donations by hand, sending out weekly e-mails by hand, and so on.  PodBean purchases are by the episode so any new installments received would require an additional payment.

Venganza Gazette: And there’s a new Alien on the way…

Arnie C: And a new Planet of the Apes film. Both retrospectives will be available on Podbean — Alien is there now – but, again, those series’ will also be available through the “classic” donation method. Alien will be our Gold level series, for the traditional donation of $25 or more, also getting you the Pirates shows.

The Platinum level series will be all three: Pirates, Alien, and Planet of the Apes. In total, that’s going to be 20 reviews for a donation of $40 or more.

And of course, anyone who previously donated through Kickstarter, our 5th Anniversary DVD, or the original Apes and Alien series will get these new episodes e-mailed to them with no additional donation needed.

Venganza Gazette: What’s the plan for your Twin Peaks retrospective, Now Peaking?

Arnie C: Now Peaking is sort of a sub-show to Now Playing.  It will not be on the Now Playing site, it has its own web site at  It also has its own Twitter and Facebook feeds.  That said, it is being made by us at Now Playing. It will be hosted by me, Jakob, and Stuart, and edited by our crack team.

Twin Peaks had an interesting formula–each episode of the series was one day in the life of Twin Peaks.  We will follow that pattern.  Our first show will be released February 24th (the day Laura Palmer’s body was discovered in Twin Peaks).  That review of the pilot episode will be available for free both on the Now Playing Podcast feed and on

After that, future episode reviews will be part of a donation series, the money covering the costs of Now Peaking and also supporting Now Playing.  These podcasts will come out one a day until late March, keeping up with Twin Peaks’ in-universe timeline.  Then, when the Showtime series starts in May, we’ll release new episodes weekly.

There will be a total of 40 episodes or more, depending on how many Showtime releases this summer.  They will only be available through PodBean with each episode costing $0.99 each. You can also get a Season Pass of all the episodes for $29.99.

We are all really excited about Now Peaking and a chance to deep dive into the Twin Peaks universe.  Every book from The Secret Diary of Larua Palmer to The Secret History of Twin Peaks will be reviewed on Books & Nachos, the show itself will be reviewed on Now Peaking, and the Twin Peaks movie, Fire Walk With Me, will be reviewed on Now Playing, free for everyone to hear, on March 28, 2017!

The Now Playing Podcast Pirates of the Caribbean Retrospective Series begins May 5. The entire show schedule can be seen on the Now Playing Podcast website.

January 27, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Resident Evil: Retribution – Patron Early Release

Thank you to all our Patrons who support our show!

We are humbled by the amount of support we have received from you Patrons, exceeding all our expectations in just a few weeks!

So we are happy to give you this early release of our review of Resident Evil: Retribution.  This will be available on the main feed for everyone on Tuesday, Jan 24th

Ten years after Resident Evil first hit screens it came back for Retribution!  This fifth movie brings back actors, and plot points, from previous installments. Can the return of Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Colin Salmon, and Oded Fehr breathe new life into this zombie series? Join the Now Playing hosts to find out!

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , | Comments Off on Resident Evil: Retribution – Patron Early Release

Resident Evil: Afterlife

It was no surprise that Resident Evil would return for a fourth film. That original series creator Paul W.S. Anderson returned, however, was surprising. Bringing James Cameron’s 3-D cameras he attempted to make the most eye-popping yet. Did this breathe new life into Afterlife or should we call in the executioner? Join the Now Playing hosts to find out!

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , | Comments Off on Resident Evil: Afterlife

Now Playing Podcast hosts reflect on ‘Friday the 13th’ series

To mark the 10th anniversary of Now Playing Podcast in 2017, hosts and staff are looking back at defining moments throughout the show’s history.

This week a Now Playing Podcast listener generously pointed out that Jan. 9, 2017 marked the eighth anniversary of the show’s first retrospective series, Friday the 13th. While eight years – the bronze and pottery anniversary – doesn’t get the attention of 10 or 15 years, there are a couple of reasons Now Playing listeners will want to look back on the occasion.

A New Beginning

The Now Playing Podcast hosts look back on the Friday the 13th retrospective.

The original “Friday the 13th” poster.

Today’s listeners take for granted Now Playing’s weekly releases, the hosts’ heavy research, detailed plot summaries, and professional production value. But before that first retrospective in 2009, the show was still finding its footing. Episodes were released once or twice a month, with revolving pairs of hosts, and, most notably, very brief runtimes. Most shows averaged about 20 minutes, a far cry from the 90-120 minute format it’s known for today.

Those Friday the 13th reviews started Now Playing on the path, but at the time it was just an experiment. With a reboot of the series on the way, the idea was to go back and review all previous entries (unusual for a show that largely focused on week-of releases and had “Now Playing” in the title), take a new approach to the editing process, and add a third host.

Brock:Friday the 13th was my first introduction to Stuart. I remember Arnie telling me he had a friend in mind for the third host – the one who did the Clone Wars cartoon movie review – but [Arnie] wasn’t sure if Stuart would want to do it.”

Arnie: “Stuart had also done the review of Midnight Meat Train with me and that long-time friendship led to great chemistry on the mic.”

Stuart: “I remember feeling uncertain about the necessity of a retrospective, or what I could contribute. I was very reserved, and was actually playing chess on my computer until my mouse clicking busted me. [I thought], ‘You mean I can’t do that?’”

Brock: “Those first few shows were not only an experiment in format, but also in our chemistry.”

Arnie: “We were getting a feel for what we were doing. My notes were scattered, Brock didn’t want to share points ahead of time, and Stuart sent long, written reviews of each film before recording.”

Here is an excerpt from Stuart’s write-up of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter:

I’m now convinced there never was much merit to this series, and the only reason it was so profitable was because it was created the ideal date scenario for teens in the 80s.  Kids snuck off to watch a forbidden R-rated movie where they would be stimulated by nudity, sex, and violence.  And like a gateway drug, watching would lead to doing and I wish we had statistics on how many station wagon back seats saw action post-screening.  And since they came out in such quick succession, and movies didn’t get rushed to videotape in less than a year, you could practically guarantee that you could attend a FRIDAY film and get laid at a theatre or drive-in near you whenever you could land a date.  Who would have guessed Jason had so much in common with Dr. Ruth?  And why do I keep having to review soft porn like it’s worthy of intellectual discourse?

Brock: “I remember editing some of the Friday the 13th shows and how (by today’s standards) rudimentary our tracks were that it made for some, let’s call them ‘challenges’ in the editing process.

Arnie: “It was intended that each movie recording would be only 10 minutes. When I started sending notes Brock was afraid the shows would be too long.”

Brock: “Once the download numbers started coming in and the response we were getting exceeded all expectations Arnie and I were just blown away. We knew we hit in something. “

Arnie: “Before the Friday the 13th series we would get between 50 and 500 hits per show. With Friday the 13th we started at 5,000 and went up from there. I remember being ecstatic at getting 40,000 downloads in one month!”

Brock: “And then I advocated we do Star Trek as a follow up. That was a tight window but we made it and well, look where Now Playing is now.”

New Blood?

The eighth anniversary of Now Playing’s Friday the 13th retrospective is also a reminder that it’s been eight, EIGHT years since we last saw Jason Voorhees on screen. Proposals for a sequel, reboot, and television series have been discussed for years, but the most significant (and it is significant) development for the property has been Gun Media’s Kickstarter-funded Friday the 13th video game, which is expected to be released later this year.

As for the next theatrical film, that’s anybody’s guess. The Now Playing hosts will be there, but they’re not holding their collective breaths for any of the rumored release dates.

Arnie: “I expected a sequel in 2011 or 2012, especially after seeing the huge opening for the 2009 film.”

Stuart: “That Platinum Dunes reboot was not something to build on (ditto Freddy) so it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve been unable to come up with a proper sequel.  That said, I thought for sure we’d have another TV series. A CW show with kids at a lake house that worry about pimples, peer pressure, and getting impaled by a guy in a hockey mask.”

Brock: “Studios keep coming back to Leatherface and his chainsaw, so it is only a matter of time before Jason dons the hockey mask once again.”

Arnie: “Paramount does have that new film about to go into production (theoretically). Is it coming out this year? It’s supposed to shoot this Spring for release…October? Next February? With so many false starts (the found footage idea being the worst) I’m not making any plans just yet. I’m ready to go camping whenever Jason returns to Crystal Lake, and hey, this Friday is Friday the 13th!”

Now Playing Podcast’s Friday the 13th Retrospective Series was released from January 9 to Feb. 20, 2009. The 13 episode series can be heard on the Now Playing Podcast website.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Movies | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Sith Unleashed in Your First Look at STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1!



A Sith Unleashed in Your First Look at STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1!

On Sale February 1st!


New York, NY – January 9th, 2016 – This February, hatred has a new face. But first, Marvel Entertainment & Lucasfilm Ltd. are pleased to present your first look inside STAR WARS:  #1 – the next thrilling Star Wars limited series comes to comic shops and digital devices everywhere! Blockbuster writer Cullen Bunn (Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, Monsters Unleashed) and artist Luke Ross (Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation) take you inside the mind of Darth Sidious’ star pupil as he embarks on a personal quest – with deadly consequences!


Bred on hate, fear, and anger. Steeped in the ways of darkness…trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as an apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge. His master tells him to embrace his anger, but to stay hidden and bide his time. Maul has waited long enough – his patience growing ever thinner. His moment to step into the light has finally come. Prepare for a tale of unbridled rage as Darth Maul readies one of his first encounters with his mortal enemy…with the Jedi.


Go inside the mind of the fan-favorite character as Bunn and Ross bring you the highly anticipated STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 – available February 1st!


For more info, visit for a full interview with writer Cullen Bunn.


STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1 (of 5) (DEC161069)

Written by CULLEN BUNN

Cover by ROD REIS

Variant Covers by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE (DEC161071)


Action Figure Variant by JOHN TYLER CHRISTOPHER (DEC161073)

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Variant by TERRY DODSON (DEC161074)

Movie Variant (DEC161076) and Animation Variant (DEC161075) Also Available

Reis Sketch Variant Also Available (DEC161070)

FOC – 1/9/17, On-Sale – 2/1/17



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January 12, 2017 Posted by | Comic Books, News, Star Wars | , | Comments Off on A Sith Unleashed in Your First Look at STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL #1!

Resident Evil: Extinction

Alice goes Beyond Thunderdome on the Fury Road in Resident Evil: Extinction — a Mad Max movie for gamers (it even ends with a final fight in a cage!). In this post-apocalyptic wasteland a group of survivors band together to travel to Alaska, where they are promised a civilization free of zombie infection. But who is their biggest obstacle — the zombified birds and humans, or Umbrella Corporation’s middle management?  Grab a game controller and join the Now Playing hosts to find out!

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , | Comments Off on Resident Evil: Extinction

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The first Resident Evil film ended with what seemed like the end of the world — Alice alone in a desolate, abandoned Raccoon City.  Picking up from that very moment Apocalypse reveals all is not lost as there is plenty of life in the city, but not for very much longer.  With new friends Jill Valentine and Carlos Olivera, can Alice make a deal to escape before the city is nuked, all while dodging attacks from Project Nemesis?  Do the hosts care, or do they want to see the city burn? Listen to find out?

Discuss this movie with the hosts in the Now Playing Podcast forums

January 5, 2017 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Now Playing Opens the Vault for 10th Anniversary

For years Now Playing Podcast listeners have received bonus podcasts for supporting the show during its bi-annual donation drives. These exclusive retrospective series’ have included some of the most sought after reviews – Alien, Child’s Play, Jaws, and others. When the donation drives end, those series’ have always gone back into the Now Playing “vault,” rarely to be heard again.

But we recognized that not every listener has been with Now Playing since the beginning. Maybe you first caught the show during the Marvel retrospective, and never had a chance to hear The Thing series. Maybe you became a listener during the Fast & Furious series, and have always wanted to hear The Matrix review.

So, as Now Playing Podcast enters its 10th year, we are opening the vault in a brand new way, through our Podbean Hosting Site. Now listeners who previously missed out can download every donation series in Now Playing history. And, because so many of you have been asking for an a la carte option, you can download individual shows, even our exclusive secret Easter Egg podcasts such as our 2010 San Diego Comic Con review of I Know Who Killed Me.

Another option available is the subscription option, which allows you to support Now Playing and receive all previous donation series’ plus every additional bonus show for 12 months.

How it Works

To access these bonus episodes you will need a PodBean account and a Web browser. Once you’ve made your donation for the episode you can listen on the PodBean player (available in the App Store), download it to your device, or listen on your computer.

We are in the process of adding all previous retrospective series’ to Podbean, but you can access the first series, Child’s Play via the Now Playing website.

Crowdsourcing Support

If you’re not interested in the vault series’ and just want to support the show, you can do so through our PodBean Patron page. You’ll be helping our show and still receive campaign rewards — including exclusive, bonus podcasts! These shows will not be available for purchase — they are only available to our backers, or those who get an annual subscription for all our shows.

Now Playing Podcast couldn’t have made it 10 years without listener support. Here’s to you and another 10 years!

January 4, 2017 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing Opens the Vault for 10th Anniversary

Child’s Play 3

Andy Barclay has joined a military base, so it’s time for Chucky to be doll that he can be, in Child’s Play 3! Is the third-time the charm for our psychopathic plaything, or should this torturous toy be recalled? Listen to find out!

NOTE: This Podcast was originally made available to donors for a limited time. As part of Now Playing’s 10th Anniversary we are making this show available again!

You can get this review now and help support Now Playing!

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 3, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Child’s Play 3

Child’s Play

Originally Released September 27, 2010

Charles Lee Ray has a problem. He’s a strangler, but having used voodoo to transfer his soul into the body of a doll, he cannot wrap his little doll hands around anyone’s neck. So he has to find a way out of the doll by possessing the body of 6 year old Andy, before he stays a doll too long and is trapped in the doll forever! Listen as Arnie, Stuart, and Brock do the voodoo that they do so well and review this 80’s classic slasher film!

NOTE: This Podcast was originally made available to donors for a limited time. As part of Now Playing’s 10th Anniversary we are making this show available again!

You can get this review now and help support Now Playing!

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 3, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Child’s Play

Kristy Swanson Signed Our ‘Deadly Friend’ DVD and You Could Win It!

Kristy Swanson signs cover of "Deadly Friend" DVD

Kristy’s autograph on the “Deadly Friend” DVD cover.

We fired a lot of basketballs at “Deadly Friend” during our Fall Donation Series, but Now Playing Podcast will always have love for its star, Kristy Swanson. She’s our first Buffy. She’s Christie Boner. She’s the mannequin in “Mannequin Two!”

Kristy proved she’s also a friend of the show by signing our “Deadly Friend” DVD at Days of the Dead Chicago, and now it could be yours!

Enter to win the signed DVD by going to the Now Playing Podcast forums and leaving a post about one of the 16 films in our Fall Donation Series. Supporters have heard us review all five films in “The Fly” series and our “Horror of ’86” reviews will lead into our “Re-Animator” retrospective before year’s end. Tell us which of the films we’ve covered is your favorite and why, and you could be our winner!

The contest runs through Dec. 31, when our donation series comes to an end, and a winner will be contacted shortly thereafter. You don’t have to be a donor to participate, so don’t miss your chance to win!


November 19, 2016 Posted by | Conventions, Movies, News | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Venganza Q&A: Why 1986 was a huge year for Now Playing Podcast

Cover art for the Now Playing Podcast Horror of 1986 retrospective series

The Now Playing Podcast Fall Donation series runs through December 31, 2016.










Now Playing Podcast has a thing for 1986. The proof is in the archives. If you count nine of the films on tap for this fall’s donation drive, you’ll find the hosts have reviewed at least two-dozen pictures that are celebrating their 30th anniversary. That includes Howard the Duck, Aliens, The Golden Child, Transformers: The Movie, – man, 1986 was the best year. If Now Playing Podcast ever reviews Solarbabies I’ll die happy.

In a Venganza Media Gazette Q&A, hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob talk about that year in movies, and why it’s one for the ages.

Venganza Gazette: What do you remember about 1986 and that huge summer at the movies?

Jakob: By 1986 I was just old enough to start to really understand that some movies were good and some were bad. I remember begging my parents to take me to Howard the Duck. This was the first time I remember feeling hyped for a film — it was from George “Star Wars” Lucas — and then coming out of the theater thinking, “What’s this strange new feeling? I’m disappointed with that film. Movies can be bad?” Now I can see the man behind the curtain as opposed to being at a point filled with all the emotions and memories that come from discovery.

Arnie: It was the year I started to go to the movies every week of my summer vacation, and often more than once. I was 11 years old and starting to read behind-the-scenes articles and magazines, novelizations and source material. If you read my 40-Year-Old Critic review series on the Gazette you know movies were always in my blood, but in 1986 they also became the air I breathed. So we have a perfect storm–the studios producing big franchise films, and me being very nostalgic of that period having seen so many of these with friends and family.

Stuart: I had seen half of those [donation drive] movies as a child the year they were released and had a strong sense of nostalgia reflecting on them – remembering the theater I went to, my thoughts as a kid. Every decade has its own flavor, and the 80s was certainly an era that excelled at producing franchise ready summer entertainment that put big special effects and youth centric storylines at the forefront of moviemaking. For me 1986 was the greatest concentration of that type of film.

Arnie: If you look at the [1986] calendar, from May 9 to August 22, almost every week had a big blockbuster or franchise film release. Short Circuit, Top Gun, Poltergeist II, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Invaders from MarsKarate Kid II, Psycho III, Aliens, Nothing in Common, Friday the 13th Part 6, and even Maximum Overdrive – Stephen King himself being a movie franchise.

Stuart: Everyone seemed to be chasing after the Spielberg aesthetic and box office.

Venganza Gazette: Can you compare it to another year or era in film?

Stuart: The 1990s was a return to that 70s emphasis on director driven stories and provocative visions. But the millennium has definitely brought us back to a 80s blockbuster mentality.  I think 2012 was just as big a year for Now Playing as 1986 because we saw new installments to big long franchises like Marvel, Batman, Alien, not to mention the kickoff to new series like Hobbit and Hunger Games.

Venganza Gazette: What did you think about going back 30 years for the 2016 donation drives?

Stuart: to have the opportunity to go back and see the influential films of my youth is a great way of charting my own personal growth, as well as the evolution of genre films. I’ve reached an age where my childhood feels like a very distant memory.

Jakob: Especially the sci-fi series. I think many of our listeners had similar feelings — why else would they be so excited to listen to us talk about Space Camp? The horror series is a little different because I was too young and my parents would never allow me to see these films when they were released. But there is still that nostalgia – that era with the VHS box art. I remember looking at House and April Fools Day and just thinking they must be the scariest movies ever!

Stuart: Even the turkeys and one-off curiosities not deemed box office successes are fun to go back to because they all reinforce the virtues and values of the era’s film movement.

Jakob: I guess I’ll find out if these films can live up to their great poster art.

Venganza Gazette: Any chance of a sci-fi or horror of 1987 series coming?

Stuart: I don’t know that I hold every summer in such high regard as the one from 1986. I don’t think we’re looking to do this every year. No “Sci-Fi of Summer 1987.”

Venganza Gazette: Do you think it’s important for younger filmgoers to go back and see films released before they were born – and not just the classics?

Arnie: Important isn’t a word I would use. I don’t spend my time seeking out obscure films from the 1920s through the 1960s – it’s the classics that are important to see.

Jakob: I think anyone who cares about film as an art form and an ongoing story – both from a technical viewpoint and humanities – will want to search out films from any era. The concept of “canon” or “classics” are useful as starting points. But the “losers” can be just as interesting as the winners of film history.

Arnie: There is a lot of fun to be had in films 20, 30, and 40 years old, sometimes because the movies are great, and sometimes because they’re now so out of date or fantastically awful. God knows not every film we’re covering is one that deserves preservation in the Library of Congress’ vaults.  I’d simply hope that younger film enthusiasts are open to older films.

Stuart: It’s often been lamented that there is nothing new under the sun, and all ideas have been done before.  But I see that as the reason why someone would bother to look at old films.  I find it fascinating to see how previous generations of filmmakers tackled the same genres and storylines.

Arnie: I have found some great enjoyment in films before my time, many of which I was initially resistant to see – The Maltese Falcon and Curse of the Fly for example.

Jakob: Stuart’s excitement for director Samuel Fuller convinced me watch his movies from the 1950s and 60s. Many of these old, B-movies by Fuller are so brazen in their politics and viewpoint that it is hard to forget them.

Stuart: While some film grammar from certain eras may seem obtuse and off putting to modern audiences, I’ve found that almost every decade excelled at at least one kind of art form (be it musicals, romantic comedies, or Westerns). Going back to the ’80s is about watching a generation hit its stride with horror and science fiction.

Jakob: If someone’s top 10 is a list of blockbusters from the last five years, they’re probably pretty boring. Don’t be boring. Don’t let someone else define your classics, greats, and canon.

The Now Playing Podcast 2016 Fall Donation Series runs through December 31, 2016 and features three retrospectives: The Fly, Horror Movies of 1986, and the Re-Animator series.

Now Playing Podcast is reviewing 9 films from 1986 as part of its Fall 2016 Donation Drive

Cover art to Now Playing Podcast’s “Horror of 1986” retrospective series

October 2, 2016 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Venganza Q&A: Why 1986 was a huge year for Now Playing Podcast

Oh Yeah, Now Playing Podcast Reviewed ‘Ferris Bueller’s’ 30th Anniversary Soundtrack

In the pre-Napster days, there was nothing more frustrating than having to scour every record store in a 40-mile radius to find that rare song that for some inexplicable reason had been left off the soundtrack to a hugely popular movie. (Do you have any idea how many years it took me to find Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything” because my worn out, taped-off-WGN copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 shrunk the end credits to the point where I couldn’t read the name of the band? Yes, I’m still mad about this Chrysalis.)

Now Playing Podcast reviews the 30th anniversary edition soundtrack to Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Front cover art

Fans of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off know that pain. They’ve known it for 30 years as they desperately tried to recreate the film’s greatest moments but came up short where it really counted. Sure, it’s easy to get “Day Bow Bow” and “Twist and Shout” on your playlist, but good luck getting your hands on “Beat City.” How are you supposed to make that traffic-free morning commute into Chicago without The Flowerpot Men riding shotgun?

At long last, the search for scratchy bootlegs has come to an end. Specialty label La-La Land Records has come to the rescue (again) with the first official release of the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off soundtrack. Since 2009, producers Dan Goldwasser and Neil Bulk have been working to collect the rights to nearly all of the film’s music, and the result is a 35-track collection that includes the aforementioned Beat City (and seven other singles), composer Ira Newborn’s original score, and even the marching band overlay of Twist and Shout.

In an interview with Now Playing Podcast, Goldwasser and Bulk discussed the “daunting” task of assembling the soundtrack, why the project took seven years to realize, and why not all of the film’s music could be included.

So join Arnie, Marjorie, and Justin as they discuss the music of Ferris, and Arnie talks to Goldwasser and Bulk as well as an interview with, and performance by, the group Blue Room!


The release of the Ferris Bueller soundtrack comes during an unofficial “Celebration of ‘86” at Now Playing Podcast. The show’s bi-annual donation drives have featured “Sci-fi Summer of ‘86” and “Horror of ‘86” retrospectives, respectively, as well as a surprise July review of that year’s Short Circuit. Listeners can also expect Now Playing’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off review before the end of September.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Soundtrack Review By Now Playing Podcast

Insert page for 30th anniversary “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” soundtrack


September 16, 2016 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Venganza Q&A: ‘Fly’ On the Wall With the Hosts of Now Playing Podcast

Although the podcast is famous for chronicling Hollywood’s history of sequels and remakes, it’s not often the show ventures as far back as the mid-20th century.

Now Playing’s 2016 Fall Donation Drive kicked off Friday with a review of 1958’s sci-fi classic The Fly. The five-film Fly retrospective will cover the original Vincent Price starrer and its atomic age sequels, before leading into David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake and its 1988 sequel.

In a Venganza Media Gazette Q&A, hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob discuss remaking beloved science fiction and reinventing fear for 80s era audiences.

Venganza Gazette: First there was Carpenter’s The Thing, then The Fly, and later The Blob. What was it about remaking 50s sci-fi in the 80s?

Stuart: In the 50s we feared that scientists were dangerous, insensitive tinkerers who were always on the verge of bringing about the downfall of man with reckless experimentation in nuclear power and communication with aliens. I think that same fear can be found in 80s films, but we were putting more of the blame on robots and personal computers, as well as the conformity of mass-produced suburbia.

Jakob: Isn’t everything in the 80s about evil robots, or can I just not wait to revisit Chopping Mall?

Stuart: Just look at Jeff Goldblum – so lovable in The Fly, and yet behind his disarming quirkiness is a compulsion to enable technology to remap and transform the human body. He’s going to not only mutate, but also synthesize with the machine that causes his destruction.

Venganza Gazette: Machines did appear as recurring villains in the 80s.

Jakob: The 80s were all about materialism, so the biggest fear is the claustrophobic horror of all your “stuff” crashing in and turning against you.

Arnie: Mix that with jobless people feeling put-off by machines that can do their work for them, and a fear of the “other” due to tensions with the Soviet Union, it was a time to escape and have allegorical stories instead of bleak reality. Studies have shown that when things are bad, people actually go to horror movies more. They face a fear they can handle to cope with the things they can’t.

Venganza Gazette: And that drives Hollywood’s decision to remake old horror properties?

Jakob: Fears change decade to decade. I think if something must be remade, it should be done to reflect the fears and anxiety of the time.

Arnie: I also think many times there is a fandom involving the creators. They grew up watching these films and now, as adults in Hollywood, they have a chance to bring it back. Movies that spoke to creators at a young age and stuck with them were rife for reinterpretation. Though I would argue that the 80s remakes like The Fly and Thing brought radically new elements to the films that many of today’s remakes do not.

Venganza Gazette: Example?

Jakob: The originals had obvious limitations. You’re lucky if you get a decent rubber mask, and [1950s] social norms would never allow the extremes of a dismembered head sprouting legs and crawling across the screen in a film.

Stuart: [It was] a time when we were exploring the boundaries of movie effects and could really depict graphic deaths and grotesque things on the screen. There are lots of reasons to love and respect genre films from the 1950s, but very few of them get under your skin and horrify you.

Jakob: Vincent Price was a great actor, but he belongs to a different era of Hollywood. Can you imagine him investigating Jeff Goldblum’s transformation into a fly?

Stuart: The acting was too stilted, the special effects too embryonic, and the concepts often pulled back from the abyss so that audiences wouldn’t get too upset. It was an overall optimistic decade. Remakes don’t have the luxury of being original, but the best ones (like THING and FLY) can take familiar subject matter further into unsettling places.

Arnie: That could be why today’s remakes aren’t clicking as much as the 80s ones were. Now they’re just playing with CGI that, due to budget, is usually obvious and far from scary.

The Now Playing Podcast 2016 Fall Donation Series runs through December 31, 2016 and features three retrospectives: The Fly, Horror Movies of 1986, and the Re-Animator series.

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Venganza Q&A: ‘Fly’ On the Wall With the Hosts of Now Playing Podcast

Hear Venganza Media Podcasts on TuneIn

Venganza Media podcasts are available on TuneIn Radio

Venganza Media podcasts Star Wars Action News and Now Playing Podcast are now available on streaming audio service TuneIn, giving listeners the option to hear new and past episodes through an expanding list of platforms, including smart TV’s, gaming consoles, vehicles, and devices such as the Amazon Echo and Roku set-top box.

Users with a free or premium account can download the TuneIn Radio app to access the shows, which can be saved for quick access under the “favorites” setting.

By adding its shows to the TuneIn library, Venganza Media joins a list of content providers that includes The Nerdist, CNN, and Major League Baseball.

San Francisco-based TuneIn launched in 2002 as RadioTime and now offers users access to more than 100,000 radio stations, along with millions of audiobooks, podcasts, and on-demand programs.

August 11, 2016 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hear Venganza Media Podcasts on TuneIn

Now Playing Podcast to Deliver Summer of Sci-fi

Now Playing Podcast announced its Spring 2016 Donation Series last week, a lineup of film reviews bookended by two highly requested comedy franchises along with a motley crew of cult classics from the summer of 1986. The latter series, dubbed “Sci-Fi of Summer 1986” should appeal to some of the show’s longtime fans who have been lobbying for those films that they may have missed in theaters but grew up watching on USA “Saturday Nightmares” or Joe Bob Briggs’ “Monstervision.”

As is tradition, donors will get to choose between Silver, Gold, and Platinum tiers.


The Silver Level series ($10 or more) features Will Smith in his prime, headlining Now Playing Podcast reviews of the Men In Black franchise, along with Independence Day and its upcoming sequel.


Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 6.21.31 PM

“Invaders from Mars” ad from 1986.

The Gold Level series ($25 or more) is where things get really interesting. For the first time, the Now Playing hosts will dissect a series of non-franchise releases with no connection to one another: Critters, Tobe Hooper’s Invaders From Mars, SpaceCamp, Labyrinth (starring Jennifer Connelly and the late, great David Bowie), John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, and Night of the Creeps. While none were blockbusters in 1986, they still have their fans, most notably Big Trouble and Creeps, which listeners have long requested Now Playing review.

While there is no official Carpenter retrospective, the Big Trouble review will check off another title in the director’s filmography. The Now Playing hosts have previously reviewed Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, and They Live, with Christine somewhere on the show’s future calendar as part of the Stephen King retrospective. We can all cross our fingers for The Fog or Escape from New York someday, but in the meantime it’s more than a gift to have the director writing the foreword to Now Playing’s first book, “Underrated Movies We Recommend.”


When the summer is in full swing, the donation series will focus on one of the greatest comedies of all-time, its pretty great sequel, and the controversial remake/reboot that arrives July 15. A Platinum Level donation of $35 or more will deliver all of the aforementioned reviews, and the Ghostbusters retrospective. The director of Bridesmaids and Spy helms the latest incarnation of the New York-based paranormal investigators and eliminators, and following a mixed reception to the first trailer, it will be fascinating to see if this new Ghostbusters can amass the kind of fan following the first films earned.

The Now Playing Podcast Spring Donation Drive runs from April 1 to July 31, with the first review scheduled for release on April 22.  Sign up now to get all of these bonus shows!

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing Podcast to Deliver Summer of Sci-fi

What’s on tap for Now Playing Podcast in 2016

Looking ahead to what will be the ninth year of Now Playing Podcast, I don’t know how you top 2015. In terms of franchises — Fast & Furious, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Mad Max, Star Wars — I’m not sure you can get any bigger. But, thanks to Hollywood, there’s never been a better time to be a franchise-focused podcast, and so the show will go on!

So, listeners will hear more Marvel, DC, and Star Wars in 2016, for sure. There are even Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequels to look forward to. But the Now Playing Podcast calendar is constantly in motion, so here’s a peak at what you’ll definitely hear in the coming months.

January: The Grindhouse Universe

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 3.07.53 PM

Machete don’t podcast. But Now Playing does!

After taking listeners inside 2007’s Grindhouse experience, Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob will get even bloodier with two characters spawned from the film’s faux trailers: Machete and Hobo With a Shotgun. The former stars the great Danny Trejo, who finally got to headline his own film in 2010, and returned for a sequel, Machete Kills.

While not a runaway success, the first Machete was well received and, as this article correctly points out, was “tailor-made for the current political climate.” The sequel, released three years later, was not as well received, and that’s about all I’ll say about it. Oh, it had Mel Gibson as a villain.

The idea for Hobo With a Shotgun came from another Grindhouse trailer, but one you would have only seen if you saw the film in Canada. The feature length Hobo stars Rutget Hauer, who you might remember from 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or possibly some other films.

January-February: Listener Requests

Our heroes, ladies and gentleman.

Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen.

Things will get really interesting in late January. That’s when we’ll hear reviews of listener requests made during 2015’s Kickstarter campaign to fund the show’s first book, “Underrated Movies We Recommend.” Listeners who supported the book at a certain level had the option to choose a film for the hosts to review, and the first one to be covered is 1987’s Masters of the Universe. It’s been almost 30 years and they still haven’t gotten a new He-Man movie made, so this is all we’ve got to hang onto folks. Just Dolph Lundgren and Courtney Cox and the lady who played Bruce Willis’ cheating wife in The Last Boy Scout as Teela. It’s a treasured memory, to some people.

If you’re looking to do some extra research before the Now Playing review, I recommend checking out Electric Boogaloo: the Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films. Cannon is the company that made the film, and Electric Boogaloo is a great behind-the-scenes documentary for film industry buffs. It’s on Netflix now, as is Masters of the Universe, coincidentally.

On the heels of He-Man, Now Playing will take up another listener request, a review of 1997’s Japanese anime epic Princess Mononoke.

February: Pool, Dead.

It's the part I was born to play baby!

It’s the part I was born to play baby!

The first Marvel character to make it to the screen in 2016 is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and if he were it’s unlikely Disney would allow him to exist in a hard R film. Ryan Reynolds takes his fourth turn in a superhero flick with the part he was born to play — and played a version of in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but the less said about that one the better.

February-March: DC Heroes Return

This happened.

This happened.

The first really big retrospective of 2016 will feature a cadre of characters that aren’t connected in the same cinematic universe, but they’re all part of Now Playing’s ongoing DC Comics series. Listeners can look forward to hearing the hosts talk Stardust, American Splendor, and the animated Gen 13; as well as the 2003 adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the highly requested review of Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, which leads into the release of his Man of Steel follow up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Also featured in this retrospective is a real treat for DC Comics fans, a review of 1979’s live-action Legends of the Superheroes TV specials. Decades before the CW made quality DC shows (and I’m hoping for more of the same from Legends of Tomorrow), NBC took Adam West and Burt Ward – more than a decade removed from Batman – and gave them headlining gigs in shows that also featured appearances by Green Lantern, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, The Huntress, The Flash, Hawkman, and somebody named Ghetto Man, according to Wikipedia. Alas, two of DC’s biggest superheroes were missing from the lineup, because they were busy starring in blockbuster films and on CBS.

If you don’t know what Legends of the Superheroes is, just watch the intro on YouTube. The whole concept has a Star Wars Holiday Special feel about it, and I can’t wait to hear how this thing came about.

So that covers the first few months of Now Playing Podcast in 2016, and that’s just on the air. I can’t forget to mention that behind the scenes the hosts are furiously finishing their work on “Underrated Movies We Recommend.” It’s set to ship in the second quarter, and you can pre-order it now at the Now Playing Podcast website.

Maybe 2016 will be Now Playing’s biggest year after all.


December 31, 2015 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What’s on tap for Now Playing Podcast in 2016

Stuart in L.A.: Don’t mistake ‘Hunger Games’ for ‘Twilight’ romance

When The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 bows in U.S. theaters on Nov. 20, it will cap a film saga that has seen four films in three years, grossed more than $2 billion (at the time of Part 2’s release), and transformed leading actress Jennifer Lawrence into one of Hollywood’s most lauded, and richest stars.

The film’s release will also mark the end of Now Playing Podcast’s Fall 2015 Silver Level donation series, in which listeners can hear reviews of the aforementioned Hunger Games franchise, as well as the two Japanese Battle Royale films. Both series’ are based on popular novels that feature groups of children isolated by their governments and forced to kill one another for survival. Yet while there is no question that Battle Royale was conceived and presented as a violent thriller, The Hunger Games has occasionally been written off as a Young Adult fantasy for teenage girls – akin to the Twilight franchise.

In addition to reviewing the films for Now Playing Podcast, host Stuart Atkinson is also reviewing the Battle Royale and Hunger Games novels for Now Playing’s sister podcast, Books & Nachos. Stuart spoke with the Venganza Media Gazette about the differences between The Hunger Games books and films, the audience it attracts, and whether the franchise has a future after this fall’s sequel.

Q: Is there a misconception that The Hunger Games is geared toward young teens? The violence is very adult.

Stuart: “I think it’s a misconception to think these films could ONLY be enjoyed by teenagers. I first became aware of Hunger Games as a book phenomenon in 2010. I’d read a magazine article explaining that today’s young women and girls love reading dark science fiction involving kiddie death matches. That kinda blew my mind. I have a young niece. It made me wonder why such nihilism would appeal to girls her age. Once I read the trilogy, it was obvious that this story had much wider appeal. It touches on ideas and satirizes things that anyone engaged with our 21st century social media culture is going to find entertaining.

Q: You’ve mentioned that The Hunger Games have more in common with Stephen King’s The Running Man than Twilight.

Stuart: Yeah, I see The Hunger Games as part of a long tradition of stories involving children killing each other for sport. Battle Royale, King’s The Long Walk (which he wrote before The Running Man), and even Lord of The Flies. I haven’t read Twilight or seen any of the movies, but my perception is that it’s a soap opera where a girl must choose between two dudes. Hunger Games has a love triangle too, but it would be a real stretch to call it a romance. Lionsgate owns the film rights to both Twilight and The Hunger Games, and I think they’ve marketed them as sister franchises. Don’t believe the poster. Katniss enters the arena fighting for her life, not trying to get a date. Think of this as Disney Channel greenlighting The Running Man.

Q: Without giving too much away, what are the biggest differences between the books and the films?

Stuart: I definitely feel like the movie makers struggle with how to portray child violence in a PG-13 movie, particularly in the first movie. You read The Hunger Games and there are some really ghastly things in there that they wouldn’t dare bring to the screen. Reading the story makes your mind deliver the R-rated version Lionsgate was unwilling to make.

Q: For those who haven’t read the books or seen the films, is there a definitive end to this series? Any chance of sequels or spinoffs?

Stuart: There are characters left alive at the end of Mockingjay, so I suppose there could always be more. But I see a very definitive end to this particular story. If they made more films in the Hunger Games universe they would probably involve new characters in a new trilogy in some distant time afterward. Kinda like Star Wars Episode VII, or these not-quite Harry Potter spinoffs they have planned for next year.

Now Playing Podcast’s The Hunger Games Retrospective Series begins Friday, Nov. 6.

November 6, 2015 Posted by | News, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Comments Off on Stuart in L.A.: Don’t mistake ‘Hunger Games’ for ‘Twilight’ romance

Brock returns to co-host Now Playing Podcast ‘SPECTRE’ show

At the end of every 007 adventure the same line appears in the credits: “James Bond Will Return.”

He’s not the only one back for 2015’s SPECTRE. When Now Playing Podcast listeners start streaming the latest review in the show’s James Bond Retrospective Series, they’ll hear a familiar voice.

Brock. James Brock.

Although he’s the voice of Now Playing Podcast’s opening narration and closing credits, listeners haven’t heard longtime co-host Brock review a series since the 2013 Riddick retrospective. Brock, who sat on the panel for Now Playing’s first retrospective in 2009, talked about his return to the show as a co-host and what’s next after Bond.

Q: How much have you missed being a regular co-host? Are there any recent series’ you wish you could have been a part of?

Brock: “I do miss it, and some days more than others — especially the recording sessions, the interaction with my fellow panelists. You all got a taste of what it is like to record the episodes on the live [Kingsman] show and with each episode’s outtakes. We can have a great deal of fun recording these shows. There are times when it hits me unexpectedly, like when — and I am sure we all do it, co-hosts and listeners alike — you listen to the show and you find you are talking back to the podcast in response to something a host said. So in that warped way I am on every panel! Truth be told, I feel blessed to be part of this amazing show and am looking forward to my return to the panel.”

Q: You’re back for Bond, what about that series are you most looking forward to?

Brock: “Are you kidding? SPECTRE is back in the fold, which likely means Blofeld! Us Bond fans have been looking forward to SPECTRE and Blofeld’s return since Diamonds Are Forever. In the For Your Eyes Only pre-credits scene they strongly hint that is Blofeld of course, but they never actually call him that by name. I am also hoping they connect SPECTRE to the mysterious Quantum organization in Quantum of Solace, which is also the one Le Chiffre was working for in Casino Royale. They completely skipped over that in Skyfall, so here’s hoping we get some answers and connections. We will see soon enough.

“On paper, they made some good decisions with casting Christoph Waltz, David Bautista and Monica Bellucci, and bringing back director Sam Mendes. But it always comes down to a good script. Skyfall is the most successful Bond movie to date, so the audience expectations are at an all-time high for the series. I have hope SPECTRE will keep the Bond resurgence going strong.”

Q: Have you been practicing saying “Brock, James Brock” in the mirror?

Brock: “In the mirror, no. In the car or in the shower, absolutely. This is a podcast, after all; it’s all about how it sounds, not how it looks.”

Q: You’re also coming back for Creed, are you excited for the film? What were your thoughts when you heard there would be a spinoff to Rocky?

Brock: “I think the idea is solid, a logical progression to continue the series while allowing itself enough space within that concept to become its own thing. I much prefer this idea than yet another unwanted, unneeded remake of a classic or a gimmicky reboot. I like that Creed is focused on a new character that younger audiences will want to watch, that they can get behind and root for; and simultaneously the fans of the original series can have an instant connection with because we are familiar with the character’s father. Ideally, Creed is a strong enough movie to potentially start a whole new series of successful spin-off films.”

Q: Is this something we can come to expect in the future? Will Brock be back for the next Halloween film, the next Friday the 13th, or even a Jaws sequel??

Brock: “That is the plan, yes. I look forward to coming back to the panel as much as opportunity and my schedule will allow.”

Q: 2016 will be the ninth year of Now Playing, which means the 10th anniversary is coming fast. Did you ever see the show lasting this long, and why do you think it’s been so successful?

Brock: “Truly unbelievable, isn’t it? After that first retrospective series I knew we were on to something. The potential of this show is limitless. The only thing I ever thought would make the show stop would be the inevitable running out of movie series to review! But thankfully, with Hollywood as sequel happy as ever, and obsessed with rebooting every dormant brand name series they can find, Now Playing should be able to go on for quite a long time to come.

“I think there are three big reasons why the show is so successful. First, it is the format: we do retrospective series’ where we devote a full podcast episode to each entry in a movie series — including the sequels or TV movies — that don’t always get, or frankly deserve, that sort of scrutiny or attention. The second reason is the panel. We all get along and feed off each other nicely, you can’t fake good chemistry. But on top of that, we all come prepared. That is a big part of Now Playing, that we put the time in for each and every series, and as a result we have informed, and often hilarious, conversations about all sorts of genres of movies, no matter what grouping of hosts are on the panel for a particular series. And lastly, the show is successful because the hosts and the audience take the ride through each movie series together. We hear feedback from our fans on social media and the forums about their opinions, their ideas, which hosts they think will give the green or red arrow on the next episode and so much more. We love that we have such involved and knowledgeable fans that join us each and every week at Now Playing.”

Now Playing’s James Bond Retrospective Series continues Nov. 10 with the review of SPECTRE.


November 4, 2015 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Horror Master John Carpenter Teams With Venganza Media


Iconic director will pen foreword to company’s first book


Springfield, Ill. – Oct. 30, 2015 – John Carpenter, the visionary creator of the Halloween film franchise and director of cult classics The Thing and They Live, is teaming with the hosts of Venganza Media’s Now Playing Podcast, and adding his name to the company’s first publishing project, Underrated Movies We Recommend.

Carpenter will write the foreword to the fan-funded book, which features discussions and reviews of 125 undiscovered and underappreciated films selected by the hosts of Now Playing Podcast. The renowned “Master of Horror” will share his thoughts on films that fly under the radar, but slowly build a strong following of fans and become classics in their own right. Underrated is a celebration of filmmakers like Carpenter, the director, producer, screenwriter, and composer who is earning the respect of a new generation drawn to such memorable films as Escape From New York and The Fog.

Carpenter’s participation also adds another incredible chapter to the story behind Underrated and the fan-driven effort to bring the book to life in 2016. Launched as a 30-day Kickstarter project with a $40,000 goal, the book became an instant must-have for Now Playing Podcast listeners, who powered the campaign past its goal in the first four days, and went on to raise an astonishing $115,482 in pledges. Fans can pre-order the book now at the Now Playing Podcast website.

Underrated is being produced during one of the busiest years in Now Playing Podcast history. As the hosts write furiously behind the scenes, they continue to deliver extensive weekly reviews of 2015 biggest blockbuster franchises, including Star Wars and Jurassic Park. This fall, the show’s faithful supporters are also being treated to reviews of The Hunger Games franchise and the films of Quentin Tarantino.

Suggested tweet: Film legend @TheHorrorMaster to pen foreword to @NowPlayingPod #NowUnderrated book!

About Venganza Media Inc.

Venganza Media Inc. is an independent multimedia company and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and Now Playing Podcast. Since 2005 Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast

Since its launch as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playing’s highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

Media Contact: Jason R. Latham

October 30, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Horror Master John Carpenter Teams With Venganza Media

This is ‘The Force Awakens’ trailer

“There were stories about what happened.”

“It’s true. All of it.”

The newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer just premiered and promptly blew us all away.

What can you say? It’s glorious, and it does a fantastic job of keeping us clueless with regard to the plot. No doubt everyone who wants to see it has seen it, but here’s the trailer one more time. And just below are some hi-res screen shots provided to Venganza Media by Lucasfilm and Disney. If you have a favorite shot from the trailer, come over to the Now Playing Podcast Facebook page and share it with the rest of us!

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Courtesy: Disney

October 19, 2015 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , | Comments Off on This is ‘The Force Awakens’ trailer

Release dates set for ‘Ant-Man’ Blu-ray, VOD

Marvel's Ant-Man, courtesy Disney

Courtesy: Disney

Marvel’s Ant-Man, the 12th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Dec. 8, 2015, Disney announced on Friday.

The Paul Rudd starrer, which earned more than $400 million worldwide, will be available via digital download three weeks earlier, on Nov. 17. In its announcement, Disney revealed the releases would be stocked with bonus features that include audio commentary by Rudd and director Peyton Reed, the Making of an Ant-Sized Heist: A How-to-Guide and Let’s Go to the Macroverse featurettes, deleted scenes, and more.

Read the complete Ant-Man fact sheet

Now Playing Podcast reviewed Ant-Man following its summer release, HEAR THE SHOW NOW!

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Movies, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Release dates set for ‘Ant-Man’ Blu-ray, VOD

Win an exclusive ‘Rampaging Hulk’ statue!


Courtesy: Entertainment Earth

Even at 9 ½-inches, he’s still a big guy.

Marvelicious Toys has partnered with Entertainment Earth to give one lucky listener an exclusive “Rampaging Hulk” statue by Kotobukiya. Here’s the description from the EE website.

Incredible “Rampaging” Hulk! Jumping off the screen of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and into your collection, the incredible “Rampaging” Hulk is striding forward, ready to smash anyone and anything in his path! This Avengers: Age of Ultron Rampaging Hulk ArtFX Statue – Entertainment Earth Exclusive presents “the other guy’s” look when he was under the spell of the Scarlet Witch, including a lighter green skin tone and lighter purple pants with a darker accent of red streaks. Rampaging Hulk also boasts a darker shade of red in and around his eyes. This one-of-a-kind piece features the high-quality sculpt and dynamic paintwork of Kotobukiya’s ArtFX line. In 1:10 scale it measures roughly 9 1/2-inches tall on a special interlocking diorama base and is made of high-grade PVC.

How to Enter:

To win the exclusive “Rampaging Hulk” just click the link below and enter your Facebook account or email address. The contest runs from 12 a.m. Oct. 14 to 12 a.m. Oct. 19, and the winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter. There is no fee for shipping and handling, but entrants must reside in the United States or Canada.



October 13, 2015 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, News | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Hollywood Shuffle: Inside the Now Playing Podcast schedule

We were supposed to be getting Tom Cruise for Christmas. That was the plan anyway, as Now Playing Podcast had circled a December release date for the latest Mission Impossible film. Release dates don’t always stick. In the case of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the Christopher McQuarrie-directed sequel was scheduled to open Dec. 25, but was moved up nearly five months to July 31.

This is the reason Stuart in LA keeps two schedules – one in Excel and one in his head. The Now Playing Podcast host has been overseeing the show’s calendar for years, arranging and rearranging release dates for its many retrospectives, bonus shows, and the occasional one-and-done flop (Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens).

With Now Playing’s Mission Impossible Retrospective Series set to begin on Tuesday, Stuart took a few minutes to chat about the show’s calendar and the ongoing Hollywood shuffle.

Q: What happened with Rogue Nation’s release date?

“My personal belief is that Paramount needed to beat Bond to the screen; 007 taking on Blofeld in November’s Spectre made Rogue Nation look like small potatoes in December. Once it was clear that Bourne 5 wasn’t going to be ready until summer 2016, Cruise pounced on the open July release date. [Rogue Nation] will be on DVD by the time Bond is in theaters. Honestly, our calendar is so full in the second half of the year that we probably wouldn’t have had room to cover Mission Impossible if it had kept its original release date.”

Now Playing Podcast has already announced that its long-awaited Star Wars retrospective will arrive in the later half of the year, and just last week news broke that Now Playing’s 2015 Fall Donation Series would cover the entire Quentin Tarantino catalog, leading up to the release of the director’s The Hateful Eight.

Q: How did you end up in charge of the NPP schedule?

“I actually really enjoy lists. I make a list for everything; what I’m going to do this week, restaurants I want to try, release dates for movies I want to see, albums I want to hear, upcoming concerts, etc. It’s my way of pretending I am in control of a chaotic world, I guess. Doing the NPP schedule is just a logical extension of the way I run my life.”

Q: Because you live and work in Los Angeles, do you have an “inside track” on release dates?

“How I wish that were true! It would be great if the marketing departments from these studios leaked me their release plans early. No, I read it in the trade magazines like everyone else. Box Office Mojo is a great site.”

Q: What’s the craziest last-minute schedule shuffle you’ve had to make?

“A week before we were going to release Blade Runner Universal moved The Adjustment Bureau out of July 2010 and into Valentine’s Day 2011. So we literally had no shows to release. The only things we had in the can were the 8 other Philip K. Dick podcasts. We ended up filling the hole with really random things: the X-Files two-fer, Scott Pilgrim, The Lost Boys trilogy. Back then we also took a few weeks off between series’. That’s something we’d never do now.”

Q: How far ahead is the calendar planned?

“The calendar is set for the rest of the year. I have some very good ideas about what 2016 will look like, and I’m aware of all the continuations to franchises we’ve started coming back in 2017 and beyond. But I try not to get too attached to any plans because they are sandcastles on a very turbulent beach. One release change and it is all gone.”

Much of that future planning involves Now Playing’s Stephen King Retrospective Series, which began with the Carrie reboot in 2013. The hosts plan to review every King adaptation that has made it to the screen, but the end date is still unclear.

Q: How far ahead does the Stephen King retrospective go?

“It has been our hope to tie Stephen King back to another theatrical adaptation at some point. We were all set to sync up the NPP calendar with the release date of It. But now that Cary Fukunaga has walked away from that project, I have no idea when we’ll get to It. That said, it’s nice to have a series that can be broken up into small parts. King allows me to spackle any holes that appear in the calendar. Like, if they suddenly decide to yank Star Wars out of December, there will still be a Shawshank Redemption.”

Now Playing Podcast releases new episodes every Tuesday on its main feed. The 2015 Spring Donation Series – covering the Indiana Jones, WestWorld, Goonies, and Jurassic Park films – runs through July 31.

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hollywood Shuffle: Inside the Now Playing Podcast schedule

Keep Arnie awake at The Ultimate Marvel Marathon!

We’ve long suspected that Marvelicious Toys and Now Playing Podcast host Arnie Carvalho gets less sleep than the kids at Westin Hills. So if anyone can survive The Ultimate Marvel Marathon – an 11-film binge of the entire MCU, from Iron Man to Age of Ultron – it’s Arnie.

He’ll take his seat at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Kansas City’s AMC Studio 28, and you can show your support by printing out your own Now Playing Podcast or Marvelicious Toys racing bib!

Follow Arnie on Twitter @TheArnieC and tweet your marathon pics using the hashtags #CrazyArnie and #StayAwakeArnie.

Now Playing Podcast’s Avengers: Age of Ultron review will be released Tuesday, May 5, after Arnie’s had time to recover. By the way, that marathon is sold out. So Arnie’s looking at 29-plus hours in that theater, without a lot of room to stretch. Pray for him.

Print your Marvelicious marathon racing bib!

Print your Marvelicious marathon racing bib!

Print your Now Playing Podcast marathon racing bib!

Print your Now Playing Podcast marathon racing bib!

April 28, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Keep Arnie awake at The Ultimate Marvel Marathon!

Now Playing hosts talk Indy, Crichton and more

Dr. Jones prepares to introduce villain Mola Ram to Kali.

Dr. Jones prepares to introduce villain Mola Ram to Kali.

Twice a year, Now Playing Podcast holds a pledge drive, offering bonus shows as a “thank you” to listeners who support independent podcasting. This spring, hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob will be reviewing the Indiana Jones films and “Goonies” for Silver Level donors, and the “Westworld” and “Jurassic Park” series’ from novelist Michael Crichton at the Gold Level.

Jakob: Indiana Jones has been requested by many, many listeners for a while. It’s always exciting getting to talk about iconic films; to get into the technical side that makes them more than just a “cool” movie, but true historic cinema.

Arnie: It’s been discussed as long as we’ve been doing Retrospective Series’. I always vetoed it, not wanting to end on a lousy film — and one I’d reviewed in the early days of Now Playing to boot.

Stuart: Lucas and Ford would tease the possibility of an Indy 5, but I never believed it was imminent.

Jakob: We found a way to end [the retrospective] — not on Crystal Skull — but on another Spielberg production about hidden treasure and booby traps that will hopefully wrap this series up more positively.

Stuart: It had been so long since I’d seen most of the Indy movies, I really was looking forward to re-experiencing it through adult eyes.

Arnie: I haven’t seen Crystal Skull since theaters–and never wanted to again!

Jakob: I do have a story for the podcast about meeting someone who had only seen Crystal Skull, which brought a unique perspective.

Stuart: [Arnie and Jakob] say they could quote every line from Raiders. I only remembered it in fragments… how did that monkey eating the poison date tie in with melting Nazis? I was excited to have a loved series on the docket.

Yul Brenner as the Gunslinger in "Westworld."

Yul Brenner as the Gunslinger in “Westworld.”

The inclusion of Michael Crichton’s “Westworld” and “Futureworld” for Gold Level donors comes as HBO prepares to debut a JJ Abrams and Jonah Nolan series adaptation of the films, which tell the now-familiar story of chaos at a futuristic theme park. “Westworld” was released in 1973, while the sequel arrived three years later. The concept was also adapted into a 1980 television series, “Beyond Westworld.”

Stuart: They seemed like the right films to add to the four Jurassic Park’s to make it Gold Level.

Arnie: That was Stuart’s esoteric pick, but it makes sense as a tie-in to Jurassic Park. Both are theme parks run amok, brought to us by Michael Crichton.

Stuart: I don’t think I ever read a review of Jurassic Park in 1993 that didn’t mention Crichton’s Westworld as an influence.

Jakob: They’re not films I’m familiar with, but that’s one of the joys of Now Playing — getting the opportunity to watch movies that haven’t hit your radar.

The park is open.

The park is open.

Although “Jurassic Park” remains the most successful adaptation of a Crichton novel, there have been more than one dozen films based off his work. Crichton has also received writing credits for numerous screenplays, including 1996’s “Twister.” However, Now Playing’s Spring Donation Series may be the only time films based on his novels are reviewed on the show.

Arnie: Given that we’re doing Jurassic Park as a donation series I think we can rule out a full Crichton retrospective. It would be unfair to put “All Crichton other than Jurassic” on the main feed while Jurassic Park is locked in the vault. I don’t see Rising Sun and The 13th Warrior as big draws for a future donation drive.

Stuart: I agree with Arnie that it’s no longer a possibility as a franchise. But who’s to say a one-off of Twister or Congo might not appear when you least expect it.

Jakob: The only way I’m going to watch Twister again is if we do a “really stupid natural disaster movies” retrospective, with the likes of Volcano, Dante’s Peak, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012. And I don’t see that happening. So, no, I’m not interested.

The first episode in the Spring 2015 pledge drive — “Raiders of the Lost Ark” — will be released to donors on April 17. Details can be found on the Now Playing Podcast website

April 4, 2015 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing hosts talk Indy, Crichton and more

Listeners power Venganza Kickstarter campaign to historic finish

Venganza Media Logo


Fans pledge more than $115,000 to fund company’s first publishing project 


Springfield, Ill. – March 19, 2015 – Proving once again that they are among the most loyal and loving fans in the world, the listeners of Venganza Media’s Now Playing Podcast rallied together in unprecedented fashion to fund the company’s first publishing project, Underrated Movies We Recommend.

A 30-day Kickstarter campaign – which began with a $40,000 goal – ended Thursday having amassed $115,482 in pledges from 1,209 listeners. They gave generously throughout the campaign and many even increased their pledges to keep the momentum going down the stretch. With each milestone reached, the Now Playing Podcast hosts added rare and exclusive rewards as a “thank you” to donors supporting the campaign and the show.

“As an independent show with no sponsors we have always relied on our listeners,” said show creator and host Arnie Carvalho. “The amount of support we’ve received has floored all of us. But I shouldn’t be shocked, I’ve always known Now Playing has the best fans in the world.

Originally conceived as an e-book, Underrated Movies We Recommend is now on track to be released in hardcover and audio format in early 2016. The audiobook became a major draw in the closing days of the campaign, as listeners jumped at the chance to hear the four hosts discuss their favorite undiscovered and underappreciated films. Behind the scenes, the hosts are already deep into the writing process, and they have already revealed nearly half of the 125 Underrated titles they’ll be reviewing in the book on Facebook and Kickstarter. All of this is happening while Now Playing Podcast is in the middle of its Fast & Furious retrospective series, covering the entire series on the show’s main feed.

About Venganza Media Inc.

Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast

Since its launch as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playings highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

March 19, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , | Comments Off on Listeners power Venganza Kickstarter campaign to historic finish



Exclusive podcasts, print and audiobooks offered to supporters


Springfield, Ill. – March 10, 2015 – Having met its $40,000 funding goal in just 10 days, Venganza Media this week entered the final leg of its Kickstarter campaign to finance Underrated Movies We Recommend, the first publishing project from the hosts of Now Playing Podcast.

With 9 days remaining on Kickstarter, Underrated is closing in on a $95,000 stretch goal, which would boost the project from an e-book of 100 movie reviews to a printed copy and audiobook featuring 25 additional reviews. The audiobook is currently among the most requested options from the show’s listeners.

To reach the stretch goal, Now Playing Podcast has increased the incentive to participate, offering new, Kickstarter-exclusive podcasts to the campaign. These exclusive shows include reviews of Stanley Kubrick’s classic A Clockwork Orange and the notorious Olivia Newton-John dud Xanadu, along with previous Now Playing listener poll entries Super 8 and Wes Craven’s Shocker.

In addition to increasing their podcast output, the hosts continue to reveal the films they’ll review in Underrated. So far, 37 titles have been announced and can be viewed on the show’s Kickstarter page.

Venganza’s Underrated Movies We Recommend campaign runs until Thursday, March 19.

Suggested tweet: Support @NowPlayingPod #NowUnderrated book and get @Kickstarter exclusive podcast reviews!

About Venganza Media Inc.

Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast

Since its launch as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playings highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

March 10, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on VENGANZA KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN CLOSING IN ON STRETCH GOAL

Ride out with Now Playing ‘Fast & Furious’ series

Now Playing Podcast has unveiled the cover art for its The Fast and the Furious retrospective, a 7-film series that begins Tuesday, Feb. 24 and runs through the release of Furious 7 in early April.


The release schedule can be found on the Now Playing website. While there, fans can also choose an upcoming podcast by taking part in a listener poll. The winning film will be revealed during the March 3 review of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

February 23, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Comments Off on Ride out with Now Playing ‘Fast & Furious’ series

Poll lets you choose film for Now Playing Podcast


The poll will close Feb. 27.

Tuesday’s live episode of Now Playing Podcast featured plenty of bonus material for fans, including the chance to choose a movie for the hosts to review in the coming weeks.

A poll on the Now Playing website gives listeners the option to choose from Babadook, Wes Craven’s Shocker, Sinister, John Carpenter’s They Live, and The Usual Suspects.

Carpenter’s 1988 sci-fi actioner (starring Rowdy Roddy Piper!) immediately took the lead in early voting, but fans of Craven’s Shocker countered with a #VoteShocker hashtag on social media. As of Wednesday morning, They Live still led, followed by The Usual Suspects.

The poll closes Feb. 27, and the winning selection will be announced during the March 3 review of 2 Fast 2 Furious.

Listeners who don’t have a favorite in the poll can still choose a film for Now Playing Podcast to review by supporting the show’s Kickstarter campaign.


Now Playing Podcast needs your support to fund “Underrated Movies We Recommend”


February 18, 2015 Posted by | News, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Poll lets you choose film for Now Playing Podcast

Venganza Kickstarter campaign offers once-in-a-lifetime rewards



Take a seat and review a film with the hosts of Now Playing Podcast

This Kickstarter Campaign is now live!  Visit it at


Springfield, Ill. – February 11, 2015 – Despite logging nearly 500 film reviews in 8 years, the hosts of Venganza Media’s No. 1 ranked Now Playing Podcast aren’t ready to slow down, and for the first time they’re giving listeners a chance to join them on the air.

Today Venganza Media announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund the company’s first publication: Underrated Movies We Recommend. The project will see the Now Playing hosts leap from the podcast to the page with intense discussions of 100 films you might have missed, but are still worthy of your time.

The campaign begins during the Feb. 17 live review of Kingsman: The Secret Service at To reach its $40,000 goal in 30 days, Venganza Media is giving fans the opportunity of a lifetime: choose a film, any film, and co-host an episode of Now Playing Podcast. The show will be recorded, edited, and released to the world in early 2016.

Other rewards available on Kickstarter include printed and downloadable copies of Underrated, Now Playing Podcast artwork, autographed merchandise, lifetime subscriptions to bi-annual bonus shows, and access to the prized Now Playing Podcast vault, which contains long-sought episodes released exclusively to donors and unavailable for years, including the Jaws, Alien, Evil Dead, and Poltergeist retrospective series’.

Suggested tweet: Support @NowPlayingPod #NowUnderrated book on @Kickstarter and you could co-host the show!

About Venganza Media Inc.

Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action NewsMarvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast

From its humble beginnings as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playings highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

Media Contact:

February 11, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now Playing Podcast to open vault during live ‘Kingsman’ show


It’s true. It’s happening. There’s photographic proof.

Now Playing Podcast officially announced Monday that it will open the vault containing its previously released donation shows on February 17, following its first-ever live review of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service.


One listener will win the entire donation library, but they must be present for the live show and follow-up Q&A, starting at 9:30 p.m. EST.

Inside the vault — which I imagine is welded shut and bound in human flesh like the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis – are the precious few retrospective series’ that Now Playing Podcast offers listeners during its bi-annual pledge drives.

The Alien series, Child’s Play, Jaws, Evil Dead, Exorcist, Poltergeist – that’s not even half of what you’ll find inside. But the hosts promise all will be up for grabs.


Now Playing Podcast launched its first pledge drive in 2010 with reviews of the five Child’s Play movies (with a sixth film added to the series in 2013). Host Arnie Carvalho has credited listener support for keeping Now Playing on the air, and in return the hosts have continued to up the number of shows offered per donation drive (a total of 13 were available in Fall 2014) while sprinkling in secret shows like Garbage Pail Kids and Troll.

It’s been more than two years since Now Playing Podcast gave listeners a chance to loot the vault.

So why now? And what’s the catch?

“We’re not opening them for new donations,” Carvalho said. “What that means… what we are doing… we’ll reveal during our live show.”

Although just one fan will win it all, the host added that it won’t be the only opportunity to grab the long-sought donation shows.

“Hopefully 2015 will be Now Playing’s biggest year yet,” he added. “And giving listeners a chance to get these old podcasts is just the beginning.”


February 2, 2015 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now Playing goes live for ‘Kingsman’ review

Snip20150110_76For the first time in its 8-year history, Now Playing Podcast will review a film live and give listeners the chance to interact with its hosts, Venganza Media officially announced on Saturday.

The live breakdown of director Matthew Vaughn’s spy thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service is set for 9:30 p.m. EST on Feb. 17. It will be followed by a Q&A with hosts Arnie Carvalho, Jakob Brewster, and Stuart Atkinson, which listeners will be able to access via a live stream on the Now Playing Podcast website.  The hosts have also promised some surprising announcements on the show about a new project for Now Playing Podcast.

Now Playing recording sessions have been known to last several hours (the raw cut of 2012’s Alien 3 review clocked in at 3 hours and 30 minutes), so an edited version of the review will also be made available for listeners who can’t stay up too late.  There is no plan to release the Q&A or the unedited recording as a podcast; those are for the listeners who are able to attend the live broadcast.

Kingsman was adapted from 2012’s “The Secret Service” comic book series. Originally set for a U.S. release in November, its debut was pushed to Feb. 13, forcing Now Playing to shuffle its schedule, but opening a window to review the film with listeners in live attendance.

Carvalho, who has hosted live shows for Venganza’s Star Wars Action News and Marvelicious Toys podcasts, said the process requires four computers running simultaneously in the recording studio.

“I feel like Scotty on the Enterprise during these shows,” he said. “My office is strung up like a Christmas tree with the amount of cables running through here.”

With the addition of a live show, Now Playing continues to tinker with the format of its weekly podcast. Recent examples include November’s bonus review of the documentary Plastic Galaxy (a mash-up with Star Wars Action News) and the brilliantly edited but trippy “reverse review” of Christopher Nolan’s Memento.

January 10, 2015 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Now Playing episodes to stream while waiting for Santa

It’s December 24. You’ve already watched Scrooged and Christmas Vacation, and the only holiday options left on Netflix are Santa Paws and those ABC Family Christmas movies where Melissa Joan Hart falls in love with Mario Lopez.

It’s not all bad. Turn off the TV and turn up some classic episodes of Now Playing Podcast. If your relatives complain (or ask what a podcast is) just tell them these shows are holiday-themed. That’ll keep them quiet, and keep you entertained until TBS starts showing A Christmas Story at 8.

Here are 5 Now Playing episodes to stream while waiting for Santa:

Die Hard


That guy was also in a James Bond movie.

Does Die Hard get three recommends? The answer is obvious, but the episode is engaging for its scene-by-scene comparisons to the film’s source material; Roderick Thorp’s “Nothing Lasts Forever.” The Die Hard Retrospective Series also includes a review of Frank Sinatra’s The Detective (the first appearance of Thorp’s hero, Joe Leland) and gets better as the films get worse (there’s plenty to laugh at in A Good Day to Die Hard).



Where did they even learn to read?

Released on Christmas Eve of 2013, the Gremlins episode has hosts Arnie, Stuart and Jakob flashing back to their childhood selves and trying to figure out if they should laugh or cry during Phoebe Cates’ tragic Christmas story. There are clips of people performing that monologue on YouTube. Watch them.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2


It never gets old.

Because #GarbageDay.

Batman Returns

Honestly, I'd rather play this SNES game than watch "Batman Returns" again.

Honestly, I’d rather play this SNES game than watch “Batman Returns” again.

Hosts Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob put the spotlight on the Tim Burton sequel that was too dark for McDonalds. This episode is great for its exploration of early 90s Bat-mania and is stacked with behind-the-scenes trivia (Marlon Wayans still gets residuals for this movie?). Highlights include the story of how Batman-obsessed Arnie swayed Stuart into seeing the film, and (spoiler alert) the former’s reaction when Returns turned out to be a bust.

The Aviator

Leo listening to Arnie bash his movie.

Leo listening to Arnie bash his movie.

Because December 24 is Howard Hughes’ birthday, and because this episode could have been titled The Aviator: Arnie Unleashed. The host begins his verbal assault on Scorsese’s 2004 biopic seconds after the opening credits and refuses to let up during the hourlong episode. He’s not trying to be funny, but his criticisms are hilarious. “I don’t think you’re gonna give this movie one thing Arnie, you really seem out to kill everyone down to the caterer,” co-host Stuart says at the 43-minute mark.

December 23, 2014 Posted by | Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 5 Now Playing episodes to stream while waiting for Santa

First looks at Bond, ‘Terminator’ sequels

Snip20141204_76Thursday brought back-to-back looks at sequels for two iconic film franchises that will be on the Now Playing Podcast calendar in 2015.

Director Sam Mendes introduced the cast of the 24th “official” James Bond film at a news conference in the United Kingdom. The sequel’s title, SPECTRE, was also announced, and a one-sheet for the film was released online.

SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) battled Bond throughout many of the early films in the series. It’s not yet known what role the organization will play in the sequel, or if SPECTRE will have any ties to Quantum, the group introduced in 2006’s Casino Royale and exposed by Bond in Quantum of Solace.

While SPECTRE is the 24th film in the Bond series, the Now Playing Podcast review will be No. 26 in our James Bond Retrospective Series. In 2012, Arnie, Stuart and Brock reviewed all of the Bond films, including 1967’s Casino Royale and 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

To find out how those films fit into the Bond universe, and to hear reviews of the others, check out the retrospective at

By the way, if you want to catch up on some classic Bond, Netflix and Amazon Prime just added a handful of films from the series to their libraries.


Now to Terminator: Genisys. The first trailer went online Thursday morning, and was met with a largely negative reaction on the Now Playing Podcast Facebook page.

As one fan pointed out, it appears the filmmakers are taking a page from 2009’s Star Trek and attempting to reboot the series within itself, creating an alternate timeline where the Arnold Schwarzenegger T-800 has been protecting Sarah Connor for years and preparing her for the arrival of Kyle Reese and the Terminator in 1984.

Judging by the early reaction, fans are ready to hate Genisys. But it’s just one trailer and a couple of really unimpressive magazine covers. There’s still plenty of time to make a better impression between now and July 1, 2015.

Terminator was one of the first series’ covered by Now Playing Podcast, back in 2009 when McG helmed the hated Terminator: Salvation. It’s worth going back to that retrospective not only to hear the reviews, but also to see just how far the show has come since those early days.

Arnold’s been waiting for you.

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Movies, News | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on First looks at Bond, ‘Terminator’ sequels

Now Playing plots holiday heist with ‘Ocean’s’ crew


The “Ocean’s Eleven” series starts Dec. 16

Now Playing Podcast is ringing in the New Year Rat Pack-style, and listeners can join the caper as hosts Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie cap 2014 with reviews of the original Ocean’s Eleven and the George Clooney-led Ocean’s Trilogy.

The lighthearted series is a shift for the heavily horror, sci-fi and superhero-focused show. You’d have to go all the way back to December 2011’s Rocky series to find a Now Playing retrospective without tights, gunfights or gore (except for this part).

The hosts, who spent the better part of 2014 laboring through adaptations of Stephen King’s Night Shift stories, took some time out from recording to chat about their expectations for this A-list franchise.

Q: These movies were hard to miss, what are your Ocean’s memories?

Stuart: I have only seen the first George Clooney movie, and my memory of it is vague but pleasant. I tend to like series’ with a long history to them.

Jakob: I’ve actually seen that first one a handful of times and I remember almost nothing of [Ocean’s] Twelve. I can only hope the sequels have that party vibe of Ocean’s Eleven. That’s why we decided to transition from 2014 to 2015 with these films. Everyone wants to ring in the New Year with a great party.

Stuart: I look forward to seeing the Rat Pack define the Vegas of 1960, before the town and the franchise become more of a theme park attraction with the contemporary films.


The 1960 “Ocean’s” crew

Q: Arnie, did your recent trip to Las Vegas stir Ocean’s memories?

Arnie: I actually stayed at the Bellagio, and while I didn’t encounter Terry Benedict, I did get to watch the fountain show — with Ocean’s well on my mind. I was itching to re-watch the series after that trip.

Strangely the best Vegas connection I had wasn’t from the Ocean’s series, but from The Stand. The crucifixion scene was filmed on Fremont Street in Vegas and some of the signage was very familiar!

Q: Jakob, has there been any talk of starting a “Rat Pack Retrospective”?

Jakob: There wasn’t any talk previous to the decision to cover the original Ocean’s Eleven. Whether we are open to it now? Well, I don’t want to spoil how we feel about the film.

Having covered Sinatra previously in The Detective to kick off our Die Hard series, listener feedback wasn’t great for going back to older films. But I never want to say we absolutely won’t do a series. Maybe we’ll have a “Rat Pack Retrospective” hosted by all of our fathers.

The contemporary "Ocean's" crew

The contemporary “Ocean’s” crew

Q: Stuart, after sitting through Children of the Corn and Leprechaun, are you relieved to take a break from horror for the holidays?

Stuart: There were longer franchise options discussed – the four Gingerdead Man films might have fit nicely under the tree in a different year. But I’m not sure anyone was eager to unwrap anymore low-rent slasher flicks.

I like that we’re getting more into the spirit of New Year’s Eve with Ocean’s Eleven. We hope that listeners are feeling festive too, and won’t mind saving Santa’s Slay or You Better Watch Out for another time.

The 4-film Ocean’s retrospective begins December 16, following the 2-part Maniac series. At the same time, the Now Playing Podcast Fall Pledge Drive will continue on a separate feed, where donors can hear reviews of the Peter Jackson Hobbit films.


November 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing plots holiday heist with ‘Ocean’s’ crew

New look for Now Playing

Website redesign gives users access to new content, show release schedule

Springfield, Ill – November 5, 2014- Today Venganza Media Inc., the producers of popular collecting podcast Star Wars Action News, unveiled a new website for its flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. The show’s worldwide audience now has easier access to its extensive film review archive and schedule, as well as a redesigned streaming media player and expanded content from show contributors.

“Now that we’re closing in on 500 movie reviews, it seemed a natural step forward to improve the user experience,” said Now Playing Podcast creator and host Arnie Carvalho. “Our listeners keep us on-the-air, they’ve asked for the ability to easily view and search our upcoming review calendar as well as our archives. We want them to know that we listen to them as well.”

The new show calendar can be accessed from the Now Playing Podcast home page, and will include details of weekly film reviews as well as series’ covered during Now Playing’s bi-annual pledge drive.

The website’s revamped archive page includes a drop-down menu — another requested feature — that will allow users to easily search and select their favorite Now Playing Podcast reviews.

In addition to the updated search and schedule features, users will find expanded biographies of the Now Playing Podcast staff, as well as links to news content from the company blog, the Venganza Media Gazette.

About Venganza Media Inc.
Based in Springfield, Ill., Venganza Media Inc. is a privately-owned multimedia production facility and home to the Venganza Media Podcasting Network. Film fans and collectors worldwide know Venganza as the producer of Star Wars Action News, Marvelicious Toys, and the company’s flagship program, Now Playing Podcast. Since its formation in 2005, Venganza has delivered thousands of hours of entertainment to listeners, while its staff and fleet of contributors have established the company as a premier source for film reviews, celebrity interviews, and collecting news for audiences of all ages.

About Now Playing Podcast
From its humble beginnings as a short-form, off-the-cuff movie review show, Now Playing Podcast has grown into one of the most successful and celebrated independent programs online and consistently ranks among iTunes’ Top 10 TV/Film podcasts. Its ability to stand out in a crowded field is largely attributed to Now Playing’s highly-acclaimed retrospective format, keeping listeners engaged week-after-week as its panel of critics chronicle decades of hits-and-misses while maneuvering Hollywood’s hectic release schedule.

Facebook: Now Playing Podcast
Twitter: @NowPlayingPod

November 7, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , | Comments Off on New look for Now Playing

After lows of ‘Corn’ series, ‘Now Playing’ looks forward to Nolan films

Artwork for Now Playing Podcast Christopher Nolan Retrospective Series

Artwork for Now Playing Podcast Christopher Nolan Retrospective Series

Now Playing Podcast host Arnie Carvalho once read an email from a listener urging him to review only bad movies because it leads to funnier conversations.

“He said we should just be a comedy show,” the film critic said from his Manhattan hotel room on Saturday, while on a break from covering New York Comic Con.

Did that listener have a point?

“None of us wants that,” Carvalho answered. “We enjoy covering all types of movies, but if we only watched low-rent trash I think our souls would die.”

It’s a marvel he and his Now Playing co-hosts — Stuart Atkinson and Jakob Brewster – even have any life left in them after enduring nine films based on Stephen King’s Children of the Corn.

This week’s review of Children of the Corn: Genesis not only marks the climax of the Corn saga, but also an exhausting exploration of King’s Night Shift collection; more than two dozen reviews of mostly forgettable film adaptations like The Mangler, Graveyard Shift and Trucks.

Few films in the Night Shift series have been worthy of a recommend, but that hasn’t kept hardcore Now Playing listeners from making the show one of the highest rated on iTunes throughout 2014, with seven of the nine Corn reviews appearing in the Top 10 rankings for TV/Film podcasts.

“I really expected listenership to drop off as we got deep in those fields,” Carvalho said. “But our listeners are awesome.”

“I only half-jokingly say more people downloaded our review of Children of the Corn 7 than actually saw Children of the Corn 7.”

With Night Shift in the rear view, Now Playing Podcast launches its next retrospective on Tuesday: A five-episode study of director Christopher Nolan’s filmography, leading up to next month’s Interstellar.

After considering other horror properties to follow Corn — including Hellraiser and The Amityville Horror — Carvalho shifted gears and lobbied hard for a director-focused retrospective, targeting Nolan after Now Playing previously covered his Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception.

“The hosts needed some meatier films to chew on, and I also think listeners want to hear about movies they’ve actually seen,” he joked. “With the good movies we usually can have deeper conversations about filmmaking, themes, and intent.”

“The problem with the Corn series was that by the 9th film there was nothing left to say, it’s like the old joke about the definition of insanity.”

October 11, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Corn Connection: ‘Genesis’ brings series to close

This marks the final entry in The Corn Connection series, and much like the Children of the Corn films, it’s going out with a whimper.corn9

Now Playing Podcast released its final review in the Corn retrospective on Tuesday, and after scraping the IMDB page for Children of the Corn: Genesis, I was able to find just one “star” who appeared in another film covered on the show.

Sure, there are actors you’ll recognize, like Billy Drago from The Untouchables and Cyborg 2. But I don’t see a Cyborg retrospective in Now Playing’s future. Nor do I see the hosts turning to television for The Office retrospective, just so they can reference lead actress Kelen Coleman, who guested in a few episodes as Dwight Schrute’s love interest, Isabel.

The only true connection in this final Corn film is actor Duane Whitaker, who plays the character Pritchett.

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, the face will. Whitaker’s career is loaded with various villain and hillbilly roles, most notably 1994’s Pulp Fiction, where he played the shop owner who holds Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames prisoner until Zed shows up. You know what happens next.

He’s also shown up in a slew of genre pics, everything from Feast to Tales From the Hood to From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money.

But if you want to find Whitaker in the Now Playing Podcast archives, you’ll find him in the Halloween, Rob Zombie and Texas Chainsaw Massacre retrospectives.

In Zombie’s Halloween 2, he played one of the hillbillies who gets killed by Michael Myers in a field after calling out the killer for trespassing. It was brutal.

Whitaker also played Dr. Bankhead in The Devil’s Rejects, another Rob Zombie picture; and one of his earlier horror roles came in 1990’s Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

So that’s that. Nine entries up, nine entries down, a few dozen connections made to the Now Playing Podcast archives. Mission accomplished. Thanks for reading!

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: ‘Genesis’ brings series to close

‘Leprechaun: Origins’ director talks rebooting silly series with legit horror

When it comes time to reboot a film franchise, creators go on about returning a series or its characters to their “roots.”origins1

In the case of 90s horror-comedy Leprechaun, starting over means starting from scratch, for any attempt at a straight remake would mean sending the monster back to a farmhouse in North Dakota.

That’s one of the glaring problems with Leprechaun, pointed out by fans and critics alike. For six films, a grinning, green-suited Warwick Davis shamed the Irish in cities big and small, in outer space, and (twice) in the “hood” — everywhere but Ireland.

“That [concept] is hard to make scary,” said Zach Lipovsky, the Canadian-born filmmaker and VFX specialist helming this year’s reboot of the oft-ridiculed franchise, Leprechaun Origins.

“The ambition was to make a legitimately scary movie from something that inherently isn’t scary; it’s not tongue-in-cheek at all,” Lipovsky told Now Playing Podcast during a Q&A session at San Diego Comic-Con. “That’s something which is challenging when you have the premise of a leprechaun.”

Convincing audiences to take a chance on a series that had gone stale more than a decade ago meant reversing the Leprechaun-out-of-water formula from the previous films. This time, the human characters venture to the monster’s birthplace, an isolated village in the Irish countryside (played here by Vancouver).

“We used tons of atmosphere; everything has that misty, foggy kind of look,” Lipovsky said. “The characters are in a very old town, a place they shouldn’t be that’s kind of lost to time.”

In order to legitimize his monster, Lipovsky went about researching Celtic lore and cryptozoology, and ruled out any look that would liken it to the character on the Lucky Charms box.

Professional wrestler Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl was also brought in to replace Davis (Origins is produced by WWE Studios), and the actor underwent a daily three-hour makeup routine to become the creature.

“We thought maybe he came from underground – came from a gold mine or a natural cave that had gold deposits,” Lipovsky said. “[We researched] underground creatures like mole rats and Gollum, and things that kind of looked like walking scrotums.”

“The idea was to start fresh and look at the origins of leprechauns and what could be the creature – that isn’t a little guy in a green suit,” he added. “To be able to reinvent a mythology in that way is kind of awesome for a creator.”

Audiences won’t see Postl “full Leprechaun” in promotional materials, but Lipovsky promised a look more monster than human, and hinted that his Leprechaun is not so much a gold-hoarder as he is a gold-eater.

“There are some pretty disgusting scenes in the film where unfortunate people have gold on their body, and they’re in the wrong country for that,” he said.

When asked if Origins would include Easter eggs for Leprechaun fans, Lipovsky said he wanted to acknowledge the “legacy” of the franchise, adding that audiences should look for “certain iconic props” that tie into past installments.

“I think the previous franchise did an awesome job of being tongue-in-cheek, and that kind of made it what it was,” he said.

While it performed respectably upon its release in 1993, the original Leprechaun is best remembered today for having a then-unknown Jennifer Aniston in the starring role.

Some fans argue the series arrived late to the party; early 90s audiences that might have embraced the silly slasher during the genre’s heyday had moved on to “horror at home” thrillers like Pacific Heights, Unlawful Entry and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle – films in which established, well-liked actors took turns portraying the “psychopath-next-door.”

While Hollywood studios rode the wave, the Leprechaun and other low-rent villains (Pumpkinhead, Dr. Giggles, the Trickster from Brainscan) fell flat, and those that produced sequels were forced to go the direct-to-video route.

Leprechaun chose the latter, and producers continued to churn out below-average product, sending Davis’ character off Earth (Leprechaun 4) and later pairing him with rapper-actor Ice-T (Leprechaun in the Hood).

Lipovsky believes the series’ checkered history will work in his favor when audiences sit down to watch Origins.

“I actually kind of hope people tune in to it expecting something kind of fun and silly, so their guard is down; then as stuff starts to go haywire they’re just horrified,” he said. “That would be probably even better.”

And while the director is “wide open” to the idea of an Origins sequel, don’t count on seeing his monster in space.

“Maybe the Irish hood.”

October 3, 2014 Posted by | News | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Leprechaun: Origins’ director talks rebooting silly series with legit horror

Corn Connection: No stars, but good ‘Now Playing’ links in ‘Corn’ remake

Scanning IMDB resumes for this week’s Corn Connection entry really made me feel old. corn-2009

It wasn’t so bad during the first seven films, because I knew most of the “children” in the Corn series had aged by now, and some of them are older than I am. But I got a stark reminder of my age while looking through the credits of the 2009 Children of the Corn remake for this week’s episode of Now Playing Podcast.

But this series is not called “Gettin too old for this #&$%.” So let’s take a look at where you can find the 2009 Corn players in the Now Playing archives.

It wasn’t easy.

Kandyse McClure (Vicky Stanton)Carrie Retrospective

The biggest “star” with any link to Now Playing Podcast is McClure, who takes over for Linda Hamilton in Corn. If anyone watching the film has that funny feeling she’s been in another poorly-received Stephen King remake, it’s because she also starred as Sue Snell in the 2002 TV movie remake of Carrie.

That film was reviewed in the second entry in Now Playing’s massive Stephen King Retrospective Series. It was only last fall, but since then the show has covered so much King, there should be something to make any fan happy in the archives.

Daniel Newman (Malachai)Batman Retrospective

The actors in this Corn film are not stars, and they’re not mentioned by name on Now Playing Podcast. But at least the shows are still entertaining.

Newman, who plays Malachai in 2009’s Children of the Corn, played “Thug No. 2 in Basement” in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. That’s a really good listen in the Now Playing archives, and will help you get ready for the upcoming Christopher Nolan Retrospective Series, which is coming as soon as Arnie, Stuart and Jakob find a way out of the cornfield.

Robert Gerdisch (Preacher Boy)Superman Retrospective

Gerdisch played Whitney Fordham in 2013’s Man of Steel. I assume that character is similar to the character Whitney Fordman from Smallville, but you never know with Zack Snyder.

Leo Howard (Additional Voices)G.I. Joe Retrospective

Yes, even doing “additional voices” can count as a connection. And this kid Howard has been on camera, he appeared as “Young Snake-Eyes” in 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

So, for an unimpressive sequel with an unimpressive cast, those are some pretty impressive Now Playing links.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!


October 1, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: No stars, but good ‘Now Playing’ links in ‘Corn’ remake

Corn Connection: ‘Revelation’ boasts some of series’ best links

The seventh installment of this Corn Connection series is a step up from the previous one, even if the film we’re talking about, Children of the Corn: Revelation, is every bit as unbearable as Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return.revelation

The difference between the two is variety. While 666 featured seemed to find the same connections over and over (Robocop, Corn), the Revelation cast has connections to more than a half-dozen Now Playing Podcast series’ that haven’t been written about in this series.

So, if you’re wrapping up the latest episode in the Now Playing Podcast Children of the Corn Retrospective Series, here’s where you can find some of that film’s stars in the Now Playing universe.

Michael Ironside (Priest)Philip K. Dick Retrospective, The Karate Kid Retrospective, Terminator Retrospective, X-Men Retrospective

Let’s start with the obvious; Michael Ironside probably can’t walk down the street without someone shouting, “See you at the party Richter!”

It’s one of the actor’s best known roles, and Total Recall was reviewed by Now Playing back during the 2011 Philip K. Dick Retrospective.

Ironside also had roles in The Next Karate Kid and Terminator Salvation, two films reviewed in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

And he also appeared as the captain of a battleship in X-Men First Class, although he wasn’t credited. Why he wasn’t credited is a mystery I haven’t not yet Googled. It’s almost a distraction that he wasn’t credited, like I’m thinking more about that than I am about First Class.

Ron Selmour (uncredited)Blade Retrospective, Black Christmas Retrospective, Tron Retrospective, Riddick Retrospective

Selmour had bit parts in The Chronicles of Riddick, the Black Christmas remake and Tron Legacy. But as soon as I saw his face on IMDB and his Blade: Trinity credit I said, “I know that dude!”

He’s one of the “Nightstalkers” that teams up with Wesley Snipes for about five minutes before he gets killed. I think he gets one line and then gets taken out alongside Patton Oswalt. And his character is named Dex. And Oswalt’s character is named Hedges. That movie has the worst names.

There’s nothing I can say about Blade: Trinity that hasn’t been said on Now Playing Podcast, so please, if you like to laugh, take a listen to that show.

Crystal Lowe (Tiffany) Final Destination Retrospective, Fantastic Four Retrospective, Black Christmas Retrospective

This actress has done a few horror films, including Final Destination 3 and the Black Christmas remake; both covered by Now Playing Podcast.

But I wonder if she gets recognized most for her role as “Hot Party Girl No. 3” in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? It’s been a while since I’ve seen the picture, but I’m sure she’s the best thing about it.

By the way, Lowe will have another Now Playing mention added to her profile when the show covers Insomnia as part of the upcoming Christopher Nolan Retrospective Series.

Troy Yorke (Jerry) Final Destination Retrospective

Yorke had an uncredited role in the first Final Destination. Nuff said.

Kyle Cassie (Armbrister)Lost Boys Retrospective

Hey, it’s the first Lost Boys mention in the Corn Connection series! Cassie played the character “Jon” in the direct-to-DVD sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe.

Claudette Mink (Jamie)Philip K. Dick Retrospective

This actress had a role in John Woo’s Paycheck, another film featured in the Philip K. Dick retrospective.

So there you have it. A pretty impressive lineup of links to the Now Playing Podcast archives. I’m still excited that I found that guy from Blade 3. Seriously, that’s a show to listen to.

The Corn Connection is winding down, only two more entries left in the film series, which means two more trips to the corn for the Now Playing hosts. Get the next show Tuesday!

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 27, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: ‘Revelation’ boasts some of series’ best links

Corn Connection: Isaac isn’t only one returning for ‘666’

The sixth installment in the neverending enduring Children of the Corn series sees the return of a star from the original film. It’s not Linda Hamilton.isaac

It’s no secret either, as the title gives it away; this is the film that brings back child cult leader Isaac (John Franklin). You can hear the actor introduce this week’s episode of Now Playing Podcast, in which the hosts also explain how Franklin played a critical role in getting the 1999 sequel made.

As it turns out, he’s not the only familiar face (familiar used loosely). Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Return features a pair of famous genre stars, along with a few names who are returning to the Corn series as new characters.

That turns out to be great news for this week’s Corn Connection, as you’ll be able to get away from the fields and enjoy some of the better films reviewed in the Now Playing archives.

Nancy Allen (Rachel)Carrie Retrospective, Robocop Retrospective, Poltergeist Retrospective

Nancy Allen is one of those stars who gets a lot of coverage on Now Playing Podcast. Not only did she make an appearance in last fall’s Carrie retrospective, but her work in the Robocop series was profiled earlier this year, and she showed up in the Poltergeist donation series. The latter was available exclusively to donors.

Stacy Keach (Doc Michaels) Batman Retrospective

Keach’s resume goes back decades, but the actor only appears one other time in the Now Playing archives; he voiced Carl Beaumont and the murderous Phantasm in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

John Franklin (Isaac) Children of the Corn Retrospective, Child’s Play Retrospective

It’s all about Isaac.

Franklin, as mentioned above, returns to the Corn series more than a decade after he starred in the original film. Franklin also did voice work for the first Child’s Play film, which was reviewed on Now Playing but released exclusively to donors.

Gary Bullock (Zachariah) – Robocop Retrospective, Children of the Corn Retrospective

Bullock just showed up in the previous Corn film, credited as “Farmer.”

This isn’t the first time he’s appeared in a series as two different characters; Bullock also appeared as “Hack Doctor” in Robocop 2 and then as “Gas Station Clerk” in Robocop 3.

William Prael (Jake)Children of the Corn Retrospective

This is where it gets silly. Prael, like Bullock and Franklin, also has a previous Corn film on his resume. He appeared in Children of the Corn IV, where he is credited as “Concerned Father.”

It’s not over, there are still three Corn films to go. And, as Arnie teases in this week’s episode, there’s a very familiar face to look forward to next week.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: Isaac isn’t only one returning for ‘666’

Corn Connection: Familiar faces in ‘Fields’


The Now Playing Podcast review of Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror went online Tuesday, and while I won’t spoil the review, I will say the film has something going for it; this entry boasts the most recognizable cast in the series.

That doesn’t mean they’re all A-listers. It just means I know who they are. I’ve seen them on TV or film, some in better productions and some in ones less noteworthy than the fourth Children of the Corn sequel.

Still, it’s a welcome relief after desperately scraping the bottom of IMDB to find connections in the previous Corn films.

Check out some of these names: Kane Hodder, Eva Mendes, David Carradine, Fred Williamson, Alexis Arquette, Ahmet Zappa. There are even more; actors and actresses I recognize from Escape from New York and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and Arquette’s not the only Pulp Fiction alum in the cast.

But as much as I enjoy seeing familiar faces, The Corn Connection doesn’t list their resumes, just their places in the Now Playing Podcast archives.

So let’s get started:

Kane Hodder (Bartender)Friday the 13th Retrospective Series, Daredevil & Elektra Retrospective, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

I thought it best to get Hodder out of the way first, because he’s Jason Voorhees!

Hodder played the iconic screen slasher in four Friday the 13th films, all of them covered during Now Playing’s first retrospective series in 2009.

I didn’t want to get into Hodder’s stunt credits, because I’m focusing on films where he portrayed a character.

You can also catch Hodder in the Now Playing Podcast review of 2003’s Daredevil, part of the Marvel Movie Retrospective. He also had an uncredited role in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects, a film reviewed by Now Playing in 2009.

Alexis Arquette (Greg)Child’s Play Retrospective Series, Sometimes They Come Back Retrospective Series

At the time of Children of the Corn V’s release in 1998, Arquette already had a pretty good-sized resume, with roles in Pulp Fiction and Threesome. He was even the vampire DJ in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer (something I learned just now).

Arquette’s breakout role would also come in 1998, when he co-starred in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. But this same year he also had a role as Jennifer Tilly’s doomed neighbor Damien in Bride of Chucky, a film that was covered by Now Playing, but was only available to donors.

The actor popped up again earlier this year when Now Playing covered Sometimes They Come Back… Again as part of the ongoing Stephen King retrospective.

Eva Mendes (Kir)Ghost Rider Retrospective Series

Fields of Terror was the first film for Mendes, who was just a few years away from becoming a Hollywood star. Despite appearances alongside leading men such as Johnny Depp, Will Smith and Steven Seagal, Mendes only appears once in the Now Playing Podcast archives; when she co-starred with Nicolas Cage in 2007’s Ghost Rider.

Adam Wylie (Ezeekial)Child’s Play Retrospective Series

Wylie was a child actor in the 90s who many people remember from his role on Picket Fences.

He appeared one other time in a film covered by Now Playing Podcast; 1990’s Child’s Play 2.

Gary Bullock (Farmer)Robocop Retrospective Series

Bullock has credits in two films covered by Now Playing Podcast, playing separate characters in Robocop 2 and Robocop 3. He’s credited as “Hack Doctor” in the former, and “Gas Station Clerk” in the latter.

Edward Edwards (Lilly’s Father)Robocop Retrospective Series

Mr. Edwards’ resume include a number of minor television and film credits, including the the role of “Manson” in 1987’s Robocop.

Danny Goldring (Mr. O’Brien)Batman Retrospective Series

This actor is credited as “Grumpy” in 2008’s The Dark Knight, a film featured in Now Playing’s 2012 Batman Retrospective Series.

I had to research the name Grumpy, and I assumed he was one of the clowns who take part in the bank robbery that opens the film. I was right. Goldring is the one leading the robbery; he’s the one with the most lines, including the memorable, “What bus driver?”

So that’s a pretty good lineup for a Corn sequel. Before sneaking a peek at IMDB for next week’s entry, make sure you listen to this week’s episode of Now Playing Podcast.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!


September 17, 2014 Posted by | Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: Familiar faces in ‘Fields’

Corn Connection: ‘The Gathering’ surprises with actual stars

“This can’t be right, I know these people.” – Arnie Ccorn4

Now Playing Podcast surprised listeners Monday night with the early release of its Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering review, the latest entry in the Stephen King Retrospective Series.

The film was certainly not in award contention when it hit video stores in 1996, but many of its stars may look familiar to viewers, and one member of the cast would go on to greater fame and an Academy Award nomination.

In this week’s Corn Connection, we’re taking that star’s resume, along with the rest of the Corn IV cast, and pointing you toward their places in the Now Playing Podcast archives:

Naomi Watts (Grace Rhodes) DC Heroes Retrospective Series

Naomi Watts is a household name today, but the 21 Grams and Mulholland Drive actress had just a few indie credits under her belt when she headlined in The Gathering. Her most notable role at the time of the film’s release was alongside Lori Petty in Tank Girl, a poorly-received adaptation of the British comic book.

Tank Girl was reviewed in 2013 as part of Now Playing’s DC Heroes Retrospective Series.

Karen Black (June Rhodes) – Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

Karen Black, who passed away last year, had enjoyed a long career before appearing in Children of the Corn IV. Today she is celebrated as a pioneering “Scream Queen” and horror fans may know her best from her role as Mother Firefly in director Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.

Now Playing reviewed House and its sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, in 2009.

William Windom (Doc Larson)Planet of the Apes Retrospective Series

This actor’s IMDB resume lists more than 250 credits, but he wasn’t a star in the Now Playing universe until this past summer, when the hosts reviewed Escape from the Planet of the Apes, a show that was made available during the Spring 2014 Donation Series.

Marietta Marich (Rosa Nock)The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Retrospective Series

Marich should be recognizable to Now Playing listeners; she played Luda Mae Hewitt, the matriarch of the crazed clan that raised Leatherface in 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

Both films were covered during 2010’s Chainsaw retrospective.

Harrison Young (Drifter)Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects Retrospective Series

Another actor who went on to work for Rob Zombie, Harrison Young starred as doomed father Don Willis in House of 1000 Corpses. You might also recognize him as the elder Private Ryan in Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Overall, those are some pretty good connections. Things should pick up next week when Now Playing covers the fifth (of nine!) Corn entries. We won’t spoil it, just go to IMDB if you’re curious.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 9, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: ‘The Gathering’ surprises with actual stars

‘Corn Connection’ finds A-lister among ‘Harvest’ players


Every actor has to start somewhere, and somewhere is often low-budget horror.

There are plenty of examples; Leonardo DiCaprio in Critters 3, Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander in The Burning, and Jennifer Aniston in a film Now Playing Podcast donors can hear about very soon.

As for this week’s Now Playing Podcast review of Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, we managed to find some famous faces among the cast. Okay, make that one star, some genre actors and a couple of extras you might recognize if you watch a lot of bad flicks.

But I’m not here to reprint IMDB resumes; the Corn Connection shows you where to find the actors and actresses within the Now Playing archives. So let’s get going.

Charlize Theron (Young Woman/uncredited)Alien Retrospective Series

Harvest was Theron’s first film, before she went on to become a superstar in movies like Mighty Joe Young, The Legend of Bagger Vance and Aeon Flux. Also Monster.

It’s crazy to think that an actress like Theron was only referenced on Now Playing Podcast once, but it’s true; back during the 2012 donation drive, when the hosts covered Prometheus as part of the Alien Retrospective Series. Unfortunately, that series is no longer available.

Michael Ensign (Father Frank Nolan)Superman Retrospective Series

Ensign is an actor you’ll recognize, although maybe not for his role as a newscaster in 1978’s Superman. I’m sure he gets more looks from fans who loved him as the snooty hotel manager in Ghostbusters, or in his role as the evil bus driver in License to Drive.

Ed Grady (Dr. Richard Appleby)Children of the Corn Retrospective Series

Does it count if your Now Playing moments came twice in the same retrospective series? Because that’s the case with the late Mr. Grady, who played the same character in the second installment, Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice. Maybe someday the hosts will cover Grady’s role in The Notebook.

Rance Howard (Employer)Psycho Retrospective Series

Howard, like Theron, has had roles in major blockbusters (his son is Splash director Ron Howard). Howard, like Theron, only appears once in the entire history of Now Playing Podcast (1998’s Psycho). And Howard, like Theron, appeared in a donation series that’s no longer available on the main feed (bummer).

Rif Hutton (Arnold)Star Trek Retrospective Series

Hutton’s resume includes a long list of television and film credits, but only one of those movies was featured on Now Playing Podcast. So look for his role as a Klingon guard the next time you sit down to watch Star Trek: Generations.

Anthony Hickox (Hans, also executive producer)Return of the Living Dead Retrospective Series

Hickox appeared as Dr. Hickox in Return of the Living Dead 3, another film that’s currently locked in the Now Playing Podcast archives. But he’s also a director, with a resume that includes Waxwork, Waxwork 2: Lost In Time and Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.

Brian Peck (Jake Witman)X-Men Retrospective Series, Return of the Living Dead Retrospective Series

Peck’s resume lists a number of genre films, but his role as Hot Dog Stand Patron in X-Men and News Reporter in X2: X-Men United made him part of the Now Playing universe. He also appeared in the first three Return of the Living Dead films as the characters of Scuz, Special Zombie and Ballistic Technician, respectively. Unfortunately, those Living Dead shows are locked away in the vault.

So there you have it. A few more recognizable actors than the previous Corn film, but many who only have connections to Now Playing donation series’. Wondering how you can become a donor? This way.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

September 3, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Corn Connection’ finds A-lister among ‘Harvest’ players

Corn Connection: Thinnest threads in ‘Final Sacrifice’


In The Corn Connection, Venganza Media searches the Now Playing Podcast archives for films featuring the cast of The Children of the Corn series

Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice exists in that very odd place for low-rent horror sequels: It’s not good enough to bring back actors from the first film, and not quite bad enough to draw genre stars willing to sign on for ironic reasons, or for the chance to have their names above the title.

Even Pumpkinhead II had Punky Brewster, and those Prophecy sequels had Christopher Walken.

The Final Sacrifice has… no one.

An exhaustive search through the annals of IMDB turned up only the thinnest threads connecting the “stars” to the Now Playing Podcast archives. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge, and perhaps take a listen to some shows you might have missed along the way.

So, for your listening pleasure, here’s where you can find the cast of Children of the Corn II and the films they’ve appeared in:

Christie Clark (Lacey Hellerstat)A Nightmare on Elm Street Retrospective Series

Clark was a child when she played Jesse’s sister Angela in Freddy’s Revenge. And you probably thought you could rewind to see her in the pool party scene. Shame on you.

Wallace Merck (Sheriff Blaine)Friday the 13th Retrospective Series, Robocop Retrospective Series

Mr. Merck was one of the unfortunate paintball players that stumbled upon a resurrected Jason Voorhees in Jason Lives. Spoiler: He didn’t make it.

He also played “Gun Shop Owner” in Robocop 2, which Now Playing covered earlier this year.

Joe Inscoe (David Simpson)Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Retrospective Series

This actor appeared as “Police Officer No. 2” in the first TMNT film. Again, we’re grasping at straws here.

Marty Terry (Mrs. Burke/Mrs. West)Philip K. Dick Retrospective Series

Terry appeared in a “Pre-Crime PSA” in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. You can go back and try to spot her, or you can go listen to the Now Playing hosts talk about the picture.

Robert C. Treveiler (Wayde McKenzie)Carrie Retrospective Series

This actor appeared in another sequel to a King film that the author wanted nothing to do with: The Rage: Carrie 2. He played a “patient.” One can only assume it’s during the mental hospital scenes. Do we really have to go back and verify?

Bonus! Treveiler does have a role in Frank Darabont’s The Mist, which Now Playing Podcast will get to (eventually) as part of its Stephen King retrospective.

So there you have it. Not too much in The Final Sacrifice to link back to the archives. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Perhaps we should simply thank the actors for their participation, and part ways.

Maybe we’ll have better luck next week with Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest.

Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

Listen to Now Playing’s review of Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice now at


August 27, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: Thinnest threads in ‘Final Sacrifice’

Corn Connection: Terminator, Living Dead, and Garbage Day!

As Now Playing Podcast embarks on its nine-part Children of the Corn series, listeners are invited to take part in some behind-the-scenes fun; pointing the stars of the franchise toward their places in the Now Playing archives.

Stars? Actually, yes. It turns out, the cornfields are full of familiar faces. Perhaps the word “stars” is stretching it a bit, but there’s no doubt you’ll recognize some of them.

So, what about that 1984 Children of the Corn film? Which actors and actresses went on to further mention on Now Playing Podcast?

Here’s a look:

Linda Hamilton (Vicky) – The Terminator Retrospective Series

There will never be another Sarah Connor (just try it reboots!). Corn was released in theaters about seven months before The Terminator in 1984, and if it weren’t for her iconic role, it’s likely we wouldn’t be talking about Hamilton again unless Now Playing Podcast ever reviews King Kong Lives.

R.G. Armstrong (Diehl) – Predator Retrospective Series

This actor has a career dating back to the 1950s, with more than 180 credits listed on his IMDB page. But to Now Playing Podcast listeners, he’ll always be remembered as Gen. Phillips, the man who sent Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team of commandoes into the jungle, where they ended up facing the Predator.

Why did he pick Arnold? Cause some damn fool accused him of being the best!

John Franklin (Isaac) – Child’s Play Retrospective Series

Listeners will get to know John Franklin very well during the Corn series, as his turn as Isaac will likely be the role that defines his Hollywood career.

But Franklin did make an appearance in another Now Playing series; he did voice work for the first Child’s Play film. Unfortunately, that’s a series currently locked away in the Now Playing vault.

Courtney Gains (Malachai) – Halloween Retrospective Series and Back to the Future Retrospective Series

Gains is one of those 80s actors that you’ll swear you saw in 100 films. You’re probably right some of the time, the rest of the time you’re mistaking him for Stu Charno or Jason Lively.

But Gains has made a couple of appearances in films reviewed by Now Playing Podcast. He’s got an uncredited role in Rob Zombie’s Halloween and also the first Back to the Future film.

The latter will have you scratching your head, but pop in that disc (or tape?) again and take a look. You’ll see Gains in a pivotal scene. Here’s a hint: Earth Angel.

John Philbin (Amos) – The Return of the Living Dead Retrospective Series

Philbin is another actor that you’ll recognize in several roles, most notably as a member of Patrick Swayze’s gang in Point Break.

But he also played a role in The Return of the Living Dead, which is currently locked away in the Now Playing Podcast vault.

Eric Freeman (Israel, uncredited) – Silent Night, Deadly Night Retrospective Series

Wait, Eric Freeman? That Eric Freeman? Garbage Day Eric Freeman??

Yes, one of the most mocked memorable villains in the annals of Now Playing Podcast makes an uncredited appearance in the first Corn film. Sadly, he doesn’t get the chance to speak his most famous two-word line.

But you can enjoy the best/worst that Freeman offers as an actor during Now Playing’s hilarious 2012 holiday series. Enjoy Arnie’s Christmas jingles!

That does it for Children of the Corn. Did we miss anyone? If you spot an actor or actress with a connection to Now Playing Podcast leave a comment and help a fellow listener!

August 20, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Corn Connection: Terminator, Living Dead, and Garbage Day!

Make the ‘Corn Connection’ with ‘Now Playing Podcast’

Let’s be honest. None of us really expect to see row after row of green arrows once the Now Playing Podcast hosts emerge from their nine-part Children of the Corn Retrospective Series.

If it weren’t for their commitment to reviewing every movie spawned by the works of Stephen King, we wouldn’t, for example, be circling Sept. 23 on the calendar for the release of Children of the Corn 666: Isaac’s Revenge.

But Arnie, Stuart and Jakob are taking the plunge, and so we will join them on this epic binge of bad sequels. Only this time, we’re going to have some fun with it.

With our hosts seated in front of their microphones, those of us behind the scenes will be playing Six Degrees of Now Playing.

It’s The Corn Connection.

Every week we’ll run down the list of players from each of the nine Corn films, and direct an arrow toward their place in the Now Playing Podcast archives.

When you IMDB the casts of Hollywood horror franchises, you’ll often see familiar faces. Some are names that will soon become household (see Hellraiser: Hellworld), and some once were (Isaac’s Revenge).

So come back to the Venganza Media Gazette each week and take a trip around the Now Playing Podcast archives. And if you spot an actor or actress that’s made an appearance in another film reviewed by Now Playing, leave a comment and help a fellow listener discover what they might be missing.

We’ll start Tuesday following the release of 1984’s Children of the Corn over at the Now Playing Podcast website.


How many connections can you make?



August 19, 2014 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Make the ‘Corn Connection’ with ‘Now Playing Podcast’