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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

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

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 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!

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in February 2020

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

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

Tuesday, February 4 – King Kong Lives

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

Friday, February 7 – Rush Hour 3

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 18 – Sonic the Hedgehog

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

Tuesday, February 25 – King Kong (2005)

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

But wait, there’s more!

February Patron Review – Closer

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

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

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

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

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

10. The New Mutants (April 10)

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

9. Fantasy Island (Feb 14)

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

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

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

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

8. Black Widow (May 1)

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

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

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

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

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

7. Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5)

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

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

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

6. Underwater (January 10)

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. No Time to Die (April 10)

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

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

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

3. Ghostbusters: Afterlife

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

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

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

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

2. Tenet (July 17)

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

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

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

1. Top Gun: Maverick (June 26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katasumi (片隅In a Corner)

4444444444 (Ten Fours)

Ju-On: The Curse

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

Ju-on: The Curse 2

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

Ju-On: The Grudge

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

Ju-On: The Grudge 2

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

The Grudge (2004)

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

The Grudge 2 (2006)

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

The Grudge 3

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

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

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

Ju-On: White Ghost

Ju-On: Black Ghost

Ju-on: The Beginning of the End

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

Ju-On: The Final Curse

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

But wait, there’s more!

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

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

Everything Coming to Now Playing Podcast in January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 7 – King Kong vs. Godzilla

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

Friday, January 10 – The Grudge (2020)

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

Tuesday, January 14 – King Kong Escapes

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

Tuesday, January 21 – Bad Boys for Life

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

Friday, January 24 – Rush Hour

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

Tuesday, January 28 – King Kong (1976)

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

Friday, January 31 – Rush Hour 2

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

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

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

Arnie’s Top 25 Films of the 2010s

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Hateful Eight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear the full Now Playing review of Deadpool

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Hereditary

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Social Network

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Baby Driver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Inception

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of It Follows

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s review of Maniac (2012)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Django Unchained

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Kick-Ass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arnie’s Best Films of 2019

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

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

Now to the list:

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full Zombieland: Double Tap review

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

Hear Now Playing’s full Toy Story 4 review

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full Joker review.

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full Terminator: Dark Fate review

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

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

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

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

Is it 2021 yet?

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

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

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

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

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

Hear Now Playing’s full Avengers: Endgame review

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

Friday the 13th (2009) – Revisited

by Arnie Carvalho

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still Now Playing 10 Years Later…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I honestly never looked back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Review

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

SPOILERS BELOW for this 10-year-old movie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Verdict

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

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

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

So is it a recommend or not recommend?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Podcast: Hitman

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

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

New Podcast: After Earth – For Annual Subscribers

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


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

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

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

New Podcast: After Earth

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

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

Star Wars Cyber Monday Savings Give Your Wallet Force!

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

Black Series/The Vintage Collection Hasbro Toys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Hasbro Toys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


For gamers, Amazon has several discounts as well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Hasbro Q&A — HasLab Sail Barge (and Yakface!) Update

From Left to Right, Steve Evans, Mark Boudreaux, and  Joe Ninivaggi

From Left to Right, Steve Evans, Mark Boudreaux, and Joe Ninivaggi


Today Star Wars Action News was privileged to be one of only three fan sites participating in a Q&A with the Star Wars Brand Team at Hasbro. The topic was, of course, their current crowdfunding project for the Khetanna — Jabba the Hutt’s Sail Barge playset that measures 4-feet long.

Participating in the conversation were our long-time friends from Hasbro: Steve Evans (Design Director for Star Wars toys), Mark Boudreaux (Senior Principal Designer for Star Wars toys), and Joe Ninivaggi (Director, Global Brand Strategy & Marketing – Star Wars).

The conversation revealed some new information about the current campaign, and also had a nice video tour of the newly painted Sail Barge.

You can read the transcript of the interview below, but the high points are:

  • The Yakface figure included with the Khetanna, on the Power of the Force card with the silver coin, will have the lowest production run of any modern Star Wars figure (assuming the Barge’s numbers don’t end dramatically above 5,000)
  • If you live in the US or Canada the crowdfunding is the only way you will ever be able to buy the Barge.  If the Barge is backed then Hasbro will make a small quantity of Barges available, but only for those living outside of the US and Canada.
  • The paint on the barge took over 200 man-hours. (The design of the barge took over “one thousand” Mark half-joked.)
  • The team is looking at only one Star Wars HasLab project per year.  HasLab will do multiple projects per year, but the others will be for Marvel, Transformers, and My Little Pony.
  • This is the team’s first crowdfunding effort and they’re using it as a learning experience. Future HasLab projects will take current feedback into account regarding payment plans, cost of items, duration of the campaign, etc.
  • The Barge is incredibly cool with so many details that can only be seen close-up, including a sink faucet in the galley and a retractable microphone in Jabba’s dais.
  • If the Barge is funded the Hasbro team is looking at producing an updated Jabba the Hutt figure with an improved paint application and perhaps facial sculpting from their previous efforts.

Below is an rundown of the conversation.

The team started with a run-down of the Entertainment Weekly reveal of the painted Sail Barge, and the inclusion of the Power of the Force Yakface figure.  Steve said the paint job was “200 man and woman hours” of work, to which Mark added “And that’s just to paint it. Not including the work that’s been done since… another 1,000 hours there.”  They also noted a pick-up in orders since yesterday’s news, but they still need almost 1,800 orders in 12 days.

Then the Q&A Began

Question: What is your ideal rate for Star Wars campaigns? One per year, two per year, etc?

Answer:  Joe said HasLab will likely have multiple initiatives per year across Transformers, My Little Pony, and Marvel, but they are starting with only one Star Wars initiative per year “and take it from there.”

Q: Why was a payment option not made available for the Barge as other companies do for items of similar price.

A: Joe replied, “I think this will answer a number of questions but this is our first time doing this. We’re learning a lot on this. HasbroToyShop, which, of course, is our partner that allows us to sell directly to fans, they’re set up a certain way and we went out with this particular model. There’s always opportunity to learn in the future, we’ve definitely seen that come up as a request and something that would hopefully make the product more accessible to all fans.”

Q: At Toy Fair Steve told Star Wars Action News that if the Barge is funded then there may be opportunities for it to be sold other methods. And on the HasLab FAQ it states “We reserve the rights to make the products (or similar versions of the products) available at other sources, such as online stores and retail locations, but such availability is not guaranteed.”

But in an Instagram post on March 19 Hasbro said the Barge would not be available via traditional retail outlets.

Can you clarify these statements? Is it possible the Barge will be available at retail if it is funded?


A: Steve clarified that if you live in the US and Canada then backing at is the only way you will be able to purchase the barge.  There are no plans to take this to retail in the US and Canada. However, since only US and Canada can purchase from then, if the Barge hits its 5,000 orders, they would make an additional, limited quantity available to international buyers only.

Q: People say there’s not enough time to budget for a $500 item in the time of the Barge.  In the future can we get a bit more notice?

Steve said they are getting insights daily and have learned a lot going for future projects like this. Their team read studies indicating 45 days is the optimal time for crowdfunding* and that longer campaigns have lower success rates.  For future crowdfunding campaigns they will look at “everything” and see how to adjust timing.

(Note: In my own research I’ve read campaigns over 30 days have a lower success rate. Either way, Steve’s point is valid. -Arnie)

Q: Perhaps in the future could Hasbro announce the campaign at Toy Fair, but launch it at San Diego Comic-Con so collectors have a few months to save up, not just 45 days.

A: Joe said that is a good idea and they may look at doing that next time.  They added that projects do not get much more ambitious in terms of size and price than the Sail Barge. They’ve wanted to do it for decades. But they know that price points for future items don’t always have to be this expensive.

Q: The Jabba on display in the published Sail Barge photos looks like the Toys R Us exclusive from a few years ago.  Is it an old Jabba or is it a new Jabba?

Mark clarified that Jabba is the same sculpt that came with the Jabba/Rancor set, but they wanted to make a special Jabba for the barge so they’re looking at enhancing his deco. The photos released show more weathering on the body and highlights to the face than the Jabba/Rancor set had. They’ll be looking at techniques, either photo-real or more traditional techniques, to make this new Jabba noticeably different from the older version.

Q: Can Slave Leia be rereleased to pose in the Barge

A: Steve said for characters that enhance the Barge, they’re doing Yakface and Skiff Guard. They’ll look at other background characters from these scenes if the Barge is successful.  As for Slave Leia–no plans but they’ll look at it.

Q: If the Barge meets its goal of 5,000, but not much higher, will this carded Yakface with the coin have the lowest production run of any modern Hasbro Star Wars figure?

A: Steve gave an emphatic “yes”. Historically Hasbro does not give production numbers for its products, but Steve compared the Yakface to their San Diego Comic-Con exclusives. For that convention he said they produce more than 5,000 of the exclusives (“not a lot more, but more”).

Steve added that Yakface on the Power of the Force card will not only be a “physical rarity” but also an “emotional rarity” given how Yakface and Blue Snaggletooth are the holy grails to many vintage Star Wars figure collectors.

Q: How will Hasbro handle broken/missing parts, and keep backers informed of progress?

A: Steve said for broken parts the usual Hasbro policy to contact Customer Service applies.

But Joe went on to say that the packaging team has been challenged to make the box secure. Additionally, they hope for the box to have nice presentation, including perhaps trays that slide out when packaged.  They hope to make the experience of the unboxing as cool as the item itself.  They feel presentation is really important with this, so it needs more than just printed inserts.  “This is a vintage item, after all, and we want to make sure to present it,” Mark said.

In regards to communication with buyers, Joe said “It’s not everyday you buy something for $500 and don’t get it for a year afterwards.” As such, if the project is successful, the Hasbro team plans to take backers on a behind-the-scenes journey, keeping them updated with the inner workings of Hasbro on how the Barge is made and shipped.

Q: Will there be tape on the Vintage box?

A: The team asked what we would be interested in, and unanimously the sites requested no tape on the Vintage box, just a flap-fold, and tape the shipping carton.

There was also discussion if the Yakface will be shipped inside the same box as the Barge. Steve said they don’t know for sure–currently it is in the box but that could change.

Q: With less than two weeks away from the end of the campaign, with about 1800 orders needed, what is the mood at Hasbro? How has this impacted you emotionally?

A: Steve said, “We’re on the edge of our  seats.  The trajectory is what we expected. It spikes, levels off, and spikes in the end.” He said that the released pictures of the painted Sail Barge helped make it real for some people, and adding the exclusive Yakface also helped.

They all agreed the campaign is emotionally draining. “It’s taken up a lot of our time personally and we have invested ourselves greatly on something that doesn’t yet exist,” Steve said. “I feel confident because it’s a great project but it’s up to the fans.”

“You don’t want to see a grown man cry,” Mark added on as the interview came to an end.


Then we were treated to a video tour of the painted Sail Barge and the Hasbro team pointed out many features that have not had much attention from fans:

  • The jail in the lower level has a sliding metal door to differentiate from the wood.  The Barge will come with two metal chains of different sizes to put different character sizes (perhaps a human and a Wookiee?) in the jail.
  • In the galley they wanted to “set a tone for the interiors” and then let fans embellish and fill it out to what they felt their fantasy for Jabba would be.  The Barge has a kitchen counter, a couple sinks, faucet, and Chupas hanging from the wall in the back, setting the stage for how fans might like to complete their diorama.  That’s one of the reasons they wanted to go with the Sail Barge: it’s awesome to start with, they said. Very iconic, a great movie beat with lots of characters involved, so they wanted something that could really push dioramas to the next level and interact with a lot of your characters both new and old.

    And they have some “Work in progress” images of painting that will be coming soon.

  • Next to the galley is the armory. Axes are mounted to the wall as decoration. They also have some horn racks on the back wall where you can hang your blasters, staffs, etc. and there’s a table in the back where you can repair your weapons.

    There are a couple staffs in the model photographs that were released, but those are not included with the barge.  You will need to supply your own weapons and staffs.  The axes on the wall are permanently attached decoration.

  • Moving into the lounge it’s more about comfort. A lot of wooden surfaces, wooden walls, wooden floors. There are opening and closing shutters on either side, as well as the dais which you can move back and forth a bit to adjust the floor plan.
  • You can actually pull the microphone out of the control panel on Jabba’s dias. It’s attached to a cable and for production they’re going to increase the length of the cable so you can have a C-3PO figure hold it.
  • One question they had was about foot pegs. They talked about it and, other than 2 foot pegs on the platform on the deck cannon, they’ve elected to not include foot pegs in the vehicle itself. They didn’t want to disrupt the aesthetics by putting traditional foot pegs and they didn’t want to limit character placement.
  • They have the rancor trophy mounted to the wall, Ishi Tib heads, a Gammorrean Guard head, and Jabba’s mural mounted to the wall. They wanted to include all the details seen in the film and then let you embellish with your own accessories.
  • There is a side hatch with a larger port where the Weequay can come out to surprise Luke (it’s larger as the barge isn’t QUITE to scale with 3.75 in figures).
  • They worked closely with Lucasfilm for all the details on the cockpit. They went to the archives and looked at all the reference photos, and also went into the vault to get any inspiration they might need to include other details.
  • There is a corridor so a figure can walk from the Cockpit all through the ship.
  • There will also be a trap door in the deck above that goes down into the jail.  A button on the side will allow you to activate the trap door.  “Gotta have some fun right? It can’t be all serious display stuff,” Steve said.
  • They’re making a subtle revision to the rail so if you have a Vism with a cannon open stock it will be able to fit onto the rail.
  • The sails would be removable so if you wanted to open the deck up for play it’s easy to do. The sails will stay in tact but you’re able to lift them off!


And with that Steve concluded the interview saying “Thank you for all your support.  Fingers crossed, trust in the force, #BacktheYak, #BacktheBarge!”

If you want to order, the campaign is open until April 3, 2018. You can back the project now at

You can see newly released photos of the Barge and its accessories in the gallery below!

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

THE LAST JEDI Comes Home in 4K Ultra HD Mar 27


The biggest movie of 2017 comes home this month! Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is available in HD and Ultra HD 4k digitally via Movies Anywhere on March 13. Physical Blu-ray and 4k discs will be released March 27.This marks the first 4k releases of a Star Wars film, and it is Disney’s first title available on 4k Ultra Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

Bonus features accompanying this release include*:

  • The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
  • Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
  • Scene Breakdowns
    • Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
    • Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
    • Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
  • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
  • Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
  • Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.

* Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s Review of The Last Jedi 

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on THE LAST JEDI Comes Home in 4K Ultra HD Mar 27

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Dimond Select Toys’ Marvel Selects, Minimates, Gallery Statues, and More

Diamond Select Toys have long been the go-to company for Marvel fans who like highly-articulated, finely detailed figures with their Marvel Select line.  And for fans of articulated mini-figs, the Diamond Select Minimates are up to Assortment 76!

But the past couple of years Diamond has expanded their Marvel offerings with the Diamond Gallery PVC statue line and the Marvel Milestones statue line, and this will leave collectors like me with a problem:  not enough space for all the cool things they have coming!

Check out all the items in the video below, and see detailed photos in our gallery!


March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Conventions, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Dimond Select Toys’ Marvel Selects, Minimates, Gallery Statues, and More

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel & Movies Come to Life with Mezco

The clear winner of Best in Show for Toy Fair 2018 is Mezco.  Their One:12 series of Marvel figures is entering its third year, and Mezco unveiled some truly awesome and surprising upcoming releases!

On display at the Javitz center were some figures we’d seen before at San Diego Comic-Con, such as the Gladiator Hulk and Thor from Thor: Ragnarok, and the Spider-Man in his homemade suite from Homecoming.  New additions to the line however include Black Panther with his movie-style outfit. The silver accents and the detail in the black outfit really make this six-inch figure stand out!

Also new in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was revealed Hela–Mezco’s first female Marvel One:12 figure!  She comes with her large headdress and a Cate Blanchett likeness that is downright perfect.  My only hope for this figure would be an alternate head (or variant released) without the helmet.

Similarly, in the Marvel Television Universe, three figures were shown. Daredevil is coming in both his Season One black outfit and his season two red. And also from Daredevil Season Two (and his own series) comes The Punisher. He is wearing an armored chestplate, and has an amazing beat-up Jon Bernthal likeness.

For comic-based Marvel fans, though, there was some real excitement! Revealed at the show were two new mutant figures, Cyclops and his son from the future, Cable!  Cyclops is in his classic yellow-and-blue outfit, and the soft goods fit the figure perfectly. The shade of blue is spot-on with the ’90s version of the character.

Cable is on a much larger buck than usual, and has more solid plastic than soft goods from what I could see. The robotic arm has incredible sculpting detail, and he is a good size to stand among your other One:12 figures without dwarfing them!

Finally, for horror movie fans of Now Playing Podcast some of Mezco’s horror line of One:12 figures were revealed. They continued their look into the many iterations of Jason (leaving me hoping for a Jason X in the near future!), plus Michael Myers and Ash from Evil Dead 2.  I did ask if a Pinhead might be joining this One:12 series soon. Mezco has the Hellraiser rights (as shown with their large figure and fuzzy-dice puzzle boxes).  Drake could not confirm Pinhead being slated for the line, but he gave me hope stating, “I’m not saying no…”

Two surprising reveals included John Wick–with an uncanny Keanu Reeves likeness.  With the third film, and a TV series, in production there seem to be several companies looking to light the fuse on this new action star.

Plus–in the single most incredible valut-pull I saw at Toy Fair, they are making a One:12 figure of Diabolik from the 1968 film Danger: Diabolik! This is a movie championed in Now Playing’s book Underrated Movies we Recommend and to see the John Phillip Law character realized in six inches was nothing short of astonishing.

Check out our video and photo coverage of Mezco below, and be sure to follow Marvelicious Toys for updates and reviews as these products start to ship!

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Conventions, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , | Comments Off on Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel & Movies Come to Life with Mezco

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel Collecting with Monogram International

Monogram International was out in full force during February’s Toy Fair International!

Of course, for collectors the hot item from Monogram is their blind-packaged foam keyrings, and they had two new sets on display.  More, they were one of the only companies showing their new Infinity War merchandise–including a new set of keyrings with a blonde-haired Black Widow, Dr. Strange, Nebula, and others!

They also showed an assortment of X-Men related keyrings with characters including Professor X, Magneto, and Cyclops, and a Marvel Zombie Villians themed set with ghoulish versions of Venom, Thanos, and others

But the Marvel goodies didn’t stop at keyrings. Their vinyl bust banks continued to make a showing, with a Gladiator Hulk from Thor: Ragnarok and a new Black Panther joining the ranks of classics like The Punisher, Spider-Gwen, and Deadpool.

A new line of collectibles was shown — blind packaged, figural magnets.  These items measure about 2-3 inches tall, and have environmental bases showing the superheroes popping out at you! Initial offerings showed Iron Man, Daredevil (in both Red and Yellow outfits), Deadpool (in his gray X-Force outfit), Captain America, Black Widow, and others.

Finally, for the more practical, there were a number of household items including Marvel chracter-themed neck pillows for flying. There were also pens which are topped with Marvel characters in the same style as their cute keyring collection.

Check out the gallery below for pictures of their booth, and stay with Marvelicious Toys for updates and reviews as these hit retail!



March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, News, Podcasts | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel Collecting with Monogram International

New Podcast: Marvelicious Toys Issue 188: Toy Fair 2018 Video Tour

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Justin Kozisek, and Marjorie Carvalho

2018 is a big year for Marvel fans. Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and The Wasp…and there’s comic books too!

All these will have toy tie-ins, and they were revealed at Toy Fair 2018! So join the Marvelicious Toys team for this episode to see the newest reveals from LEGO, Hasbro, Funko, Diamond Select Toys, and more!

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Marvelicious Toys, News, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Marvelicious Toys Issue 188: Toy Fair 2018 Video Tour

New Podcast: Now Playing — Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Hosted by Justin Kozisek, Stuart Atkinson, and Arnie Carvalho

Five years after busty British archaeologist Lara Croft stole the hearts of PlayStation owners, the planets aligned to bring the video game vixen to the big screen in the skin of Oscar-winning bad girl Angelina Jolie. The 2001 Tomb Raider movie finds Lara racing against the clock to reach an ancient time machine before its claimed by future James Bond Daniel Craig and The Illuminati.  But will she avoid the pitfalls of other arcade-to-movie flops and flip the arrows green for fellow treasure hunters Justin, Arnie, and Stuart? Listen and find out!

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

New Podcast: Now Playing–Day of the Dead: Bloodline

Hosted by Jakob Conkling, Stuart Atkinson, and Arnie Carvalho

A new Day has come!  The third installment of George Romero’s Living Dead saga rises from the grave once more (despite Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart repeatedly shooting the hyper 2008 Day of the Dead remake in the head). Official reboot Bloodline finds a virginal med student (Sophie Skelton) stalked inside an underground military bunker by a lustful zombie (Johnathon Schaech) who holds the key to an undead vaccine.  Will her #MeToo moment result in a medical miracle, or merely leave a rotten taste in your mouth?  Donate today and find out!    

February 23, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing–Day of the Dead: Bloodline

New Podcast: Now Playing — Black Panther

Hosted by Jakob Conkling, Arnie Carvalho, and Stuart Atkinson

Chadwick Boseman bounds to the screen as Black Panther – the latest Marvel superhero to leap from comic pages into his own blockbuster movie. Will the newly crowned African Avenger continue to hide his technologically-advanced kingdom from the exploitative Western world? Or will Oakland militant Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) usurp the vibranium throne and use Wakandan firepower to finally Kill Whitey?  The revolution will not be televised… but colonizers Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart will certainly podcast about it all on this epic show.  Listen now!

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Black Panther

Win “Black Panther: The Art of the Movie” Book and the “Black Panther” Soundtrack CD!


Facebook is changing its News Feed so you see less news (ironically).

There will be less videos, less news articles, and more items that your friends have commented on.

But there is a way to keep your favorite Pages (like Now Playing Podcast) in your feed.  Below you will find  instructions how to do it on iPhone, Android, and Desktop.

And by doing this you could win a copy of Black Panther: The Art of the Movie book or the Black Panther soundtrack on CD!

Simply follow the instructions below. Then head to our Facebook page and post a screenshot showing Now Playing having priority in your timeline on our pinned post!  You have until March 31 to post it.  Two winners will be randomly selected from all entries! The first prize winner gets The Art of Black Panther book ($50 value), and the second prize winner will get the Black Panther soundtrack on CD ($15 value)

The photo posted should be of this screen, with the Blue Star on the Now Playing logo:

International winners may be responsible for some or all of the shipping costs.

Here are the instructions on how to make sure you keep seeing Now Playing’s posts on your timeline:

For Facebook app on iPhone:

1. Select the three line menu in the bottom right corner of the app



1. Scroll down in the menu and click “Settings”




3. Select “news feed preferences” from the pop-up menu




4. Select “Prioritize who to see First” on the next screen




5. Click on “Now Playing Podcast” and any other pages you want to remain in your newsfeed

For Facebook app on Android:

1. Tap on the three line menu in the top right of the app.





2. Select “News Feed Preferences” from the next screen.





3. Tap “Prioritize Who to See First” on the next screen




3. Click on “Now Playing Podcast” and any other pages you want to remain in your newsfeed




For Facebook app on Desktop:

1. Click the arrow in the top right corner to show the drop-down menu

2. From that menu choose “News Feed Preferences.”



3. Select “Prioritize who to see first”



4. Find Now Playing (and all other pages/people you want to see in your feed) and click on them. The Blue Star means you’ll see us in your feed!

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Books, Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, Music, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Win “Black Panther: The Art of the Movie” Book and the “Black Panther” Soundtrack CD!

New Podcast: Star Wars Action News — 501st Episode: Marching on Toy Fair

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho and Marjorie Carvalho

Toy Fair international begins TOMORROW! In this episode Marjorie and Arnie discuss the things they hope, and expect, to see at this weekend’s show. Listen now, and then follow Star Wars Action News on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for live VIDEO updates from the show!

Also in this episode, Arnie talks to Nathan P Butler, author of A Saga on Home Video about his Star Wars video collection, his book, and what the digital revolution means for physical media.

With Brock reviewing the novel Cobalt Squadron and more, it’s all in this pre-Toy Fair episode of Star Wars Action News!

February 16, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Podcasts, Star Wars | Comments Off on New Podcast: Star Wars Action News — 501st Episode: Marching on Toy Fair

New Podcast: Now Playing — Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Justin Kozisek, and Stuart Atkinson

It took 15 years for filmmakers to hit the reset button on Street Fighter, with a second movie ditching JCVD’s paramilitary squad in favor of an origin story for kung fu pianist Chun-Li.  Does Smallville star Kristin Kreuk prove legendary in the title role? Is Oscar-nominated giant Michael Clarke Duncan slumming for work by teaming up with unconscionable real estate developer Bison (Neal McDonough)?  Is embarrassment the reason Black Eyed Peas rapper Taboo won’t remove that mask?  I gotta feeling confused video game players will have a good good night when they listen now.        

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li

New Podcast — Star Wars Action News Episode 500!

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Marjorie Carvalho, Daryl Whitlow, Andrew Harrison, Brock, and more!

This weekend is Toy Fair International 2018! Tons of new Star Wars collectibles will be revealed (including, likely, the first look at SOLO toys)!  Star Wars Action News will be there to cover all the releases.

But before Toy Fair, here’s a look back at the state of collecting in 2017 and expectations for 2018.
So please enjoy this 500th episode of Star Wars Action News!

February 12, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on New Podcast — Star Wars Action News Episode 500!

New Podcast: Now Playing — Street Fighter

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Justin Kozisek, and Stuart Atkinson

Podcasters Justin, Stuart, and Arnie have been taken hostage by Street Fighter, the infamous 1994 movie adaptation of the popular arcade fighting game. How much Van Damme-age can the boys withstand when the “Muscles From Brussels” goes American in a blue beret to beat down villainous megalomaniac Bison (the last movie role for terminal song-and dance man Raul Julia). And does this Shadaloo showdown improve when con artists Ryu and Ken, yellow-skinned mutant Blanka, fake news crew Chun-Li, Honda, and Balrog, and even Aussie pop star Kylie Minogue join the fray? Listen now and find out.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Street Fighter

New Podcast — Now Playing: The Last Dragon – Patron Exclusive Review

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Justin Kozisek, and Stuart Atkinson

Motown founder Barry Gordy made a movie like no other when he produced the 1985 musical curiosity The Last Dragon. Frustrated martial artist “Bruce” Leroy Green searches the Big Apple for a new master, and winds up defending a beautiful VJ (Vanity) from a cadre of villains – including a mafioso jukebox tycoon, a sea monster in a tank, and the belligerent “Shogun of Harlem.”  You’ll sho’nuff find out if limp wimps Arnie, Justin, and Stuart give this camp classic a “Glow-ing” recommendation when you become a Now Playing Patron.

February 2, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast — Now Playing: The Last Dragon – Patron Exclusive Review

Facebook is Changing. Here’s how to keep up with Now Playing Podcasts

Facebook is changing its News Feed so you see less news (ironically).

There will be less videos, less news articles, and more items that your friends have commented on.

But there is a way to keep your favorite Pages (like Now Playing Podcast) in your feed.  Here’s instructions how to do it on iPhone, Android, and Desktop:

For Facebook app on iPhone:

1. Select the three line menu in the bottom right corner of the app



1. Scroll down in the menu and click “Settings”




3. Select “news feed preferences” from the pop-up menu




4. Select “Prioritize who to see First” on the next screen




5. Click on “Now Playing Podcast” and any other pages you want to remain in your newsfeed



For Facebook app on Android:

1. Tap on the three line menu in the top right of the app.





2. Select “News Feed Preferences” from the next screen.





3. Tap “Prioritize Who to See First” on the next screen




3. Click on “Now Playing Podcast” and any other pages you want to remain in your newsfeed





For Facebook app on Desktop:

1. Click the arrow in the top right corner to show the drop-down menu

2. From that menu choose “News Feed Preferences.”



3. Select “Prioritize who to see first”



4. Find Now Playing (and all other pages/people you want to see in your feed) and click on them. The Blue Star means you’ll see us in your feed!

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, Music, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on Facebook is Changing. Here’s how to keep up with Now Playing Podcasts

Now Podcast: Now Playing — Double Dragon

Hosted by Justin Kozisek, Arnie Carvalho, and Stuart Atkinson

The fly-kicking Lee Brothers were quick to mimic Mario’s leap from coin-ops and cartoons to a live-action feature film… and just as quick to fail. The 1994 action flick Double Dragon finds video game heroes Billy Lee (Party of Five heartthrob Scott Wolf) and Jimmy Lee (martial artist Mark Dacascos) scouring post-apocalyptic LA for the second half of a magic medallion.  Will Justin, Arnie, and Stuart find their battle with Robert “T-1000” Patrick less tortuous than a repeated knee to the face? Listen now and find out.

January 30, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, Music, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Now Podcast: Now Playing — Double Dragon

Toys R Us to Close Up to 182 US Stores Beginning in February

This morning Toys ‘R’ Us announced their plans to close several of their stores. Other stores will become combined Toys ‘R’ Us/Babies ‘R’ Us locations.

Per court documents filed, the company may close as many as 182 stores as part of its bankruptcy reorganization process.  That would be up to 20% of Toys ‘R’ Us’s US stores.

The full release from Toys ‘R’ Us’s CEO Dave Brandon is below.

See a full list of closing stores at USA Today



To Our Valued Customers,

I want to take a moment to thank you for your continued support of Toys”R”Us. As you may be aware, we launched a financial restructuring of our business last fall. As we begin the new year, I want to provide an update on our progress to date, as well as our plans for the future.

Our primary focus is on reimagining our business with you in mind. We want to make it easier for you to shop with us, whether online or in our stores. This past season, we were successful in accomplishing this objective for millions of customers. However, there were also far too many transactions where this wasn’t the case – due to our operational missteps. As the leader of this company, I want you to know that we can and will address the gaps in the experience that you may have had when shopping this holiday. My team is already hard at work to make the improvements necessary to ensure that we have the products you want, when, where and how you want them.

In addition to convenience, we also recognize that you want fair and competitive prices and it is our job to deliver on that expectation. We recently relaunched our price match program to give you greater confidence when buying from us, and in 2018 we are taking additional steps to ensure that we provide greater overall value to you and your family. We will do this through compelling promotions and by providing an improved loyalty program and a more personalized way of communicating with you – in email, online and social media.

The reinvention of our brands requires that we make tough decisions about our priorities and focus. To that end and following a top-to-bottom assessment of our business, we have decided to close a number of our U.S. stores. We also intend to convert a number of locations into co-branded Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us stores. The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company that will provide the level of service and experience you should expect from a market leader.

We estimate store closing sales to begin in early February with the majority of locations closing in mid-April 2018. During this time, we welcome you to take full advantage of the deep discounts and deals available.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • We are open for business and ready to serve you. We will continue to operate stores in all major markets across the U.S. and around the world. And as always, you can also continue to shop online at and
  • We are honoring customer programs. Our customer, registry, credit, warranty and loyalty programs will continue as normal. We will continue to sell and accept gift cards as always.

While our store roster may be getting smaller, what is not changing is our desire or commitment to serving you. For the past 70 years, we have worked hard to earn your business and look forward to being champions of play and a best friend to parents everywhere for decades to come.

Thank you for your support and for choosing to shop with us.



Dave Brandon
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Marvelicious Toys, News, Podcasts | 1 Comment


No matter how far you run, the past will always catch up to you.

That is the tagline for Children of the Corn: Runaway — and the same could be said for this franchise.

Stephen King’s eponymous short story, originally published in a 1977 issue of Penthouse magazine, has now spawned ten movies–the first starring Linda Hamilton in 1984.  The previous installment, Children of the Corn: Genesis was released by Dimension Films in 2011.  Now it’s harvest time once more.

Children of the Corn: Runaway tells the story of young, pregnant Ruth, who escapes a murderous child cult in a small Midwestern town. She spends the next decade living anonymously in an attempt to spare her son the horrors that she experienced as a child. Ruth and her son end up in a small Oklahoma town, but something is following her. Now, she must confront this evil or lose her child.

The film is directed by John Gulager (Piranha 3DD, Feast) and written by Joel Soisson (Children of the Corn: Genesis, Dracula 2000Hellraiser: Judgment).  It stars Marci Miller, Lynn Andrews, Mary Kathryn Bryant, and Jake Ryan Scott. (Bryant is also in Dimensions’ upcoming ).

The movie will be on VOD, DVD, and Blu-Ray March 13th. The Blu-Ray is priced at $21.99; the DVD at $19.98.  All formats have only one special feature: a deleted scene

The hosts at Now Playing Podcast have already reviewed the first nine Children of the Corn films.  Their review of Runaway will be coming later in 2018.

Here is the teaser trailer and cover art for the film:

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast | Comments Off on You Can’t RUNAWAY from CHILDREN OF THE CORN 10

New Podcast: Now Playing — Super Mario Bros.

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Justin Kozisek.

Pixelated plumbers Mario and Luigi spent a decade warping through various video games, cartoons, and comic books before finally arriving on the big screen as Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo in the 1993 live action adventure Super Mario Bros. Hosts Justin, Stuart, and Arnie dredge up this moldy oldie to assess whether Hollywood’s first attempt at adapting an arcade hit deserved to Bob-omb so badly. Devolve your lizard brain and listen to this super show now.

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Super Mario Bros.

New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers 3

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Marjorie Carvalho

The Creeper is changing his tune. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” might be a more appropriate theme song for the amputated monster as he circles back to the farmland where he lost a limb 23 years before, and tries to stop Meg Foster and a posse of orphaned vigilantes from finding his weak spot. But are Marjorie, Arnie, and Stuart more inclined to give the predator the finger for this final chapter of the Jeepers Creepers trilogy?  Donate today and find out how well this long-delayed Victor Salva effort flies.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers 3

Star Wars Toy Sales Down as “Movie Fatigue” Sets In

Are you suffering from “Movie Tie-In Fatigue?”

Per a Bloomberg article, Star Wars toy sales are down. Specifically adult collectors are still buying (but, judging by some “fan” sites, they’re complaining the entire time they shop); however, kids have less interest in the Star Wars toys.

The article states: “While ‘Star Wars’ was still the top-selling toy line during the nine-week holiday period, sales fell from 2016 and the brand lost its No. 1 position for the year…This was despite “Last Jedi” being the top-grossing film released in the U.S. last year “

The most telling quotes? “Adult collectors, who grew up with the brand, are still buying a lot of merchandise when the toys come out, but demand dies down afterward… That doesn’t bode well for Hasbro, which has the main “Star Wars” toy partnership, or Jakks Pacific Inc., which has a secondary license. ”

What do you think? Is the problem fatigue? Is a new movie per year too much? Is it the types of toys offered? Why do YOU think sales are down?  Let us know in the comments!

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hellraiser – Pinhead’s JUDGMENT – A Video Interview With Paul T. Taylor

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho

In the tenth HELLRAISER film a new actor gets nailed with the starring role — Paul T. Taylor. In this video Taylor discusses his acting past, how he got the role, how the production went, and his hopes on how the new HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT is judged by fans!

Join Arnie and Paul now in this spoiler-free behind-the-scenes look at this upcoming Hellraiser film!

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hellraiser – Pinhead’s JUDGMENT – A Video Interview With Paul T. Taylor

New Podcast: Now Playing — The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Justin Kozisek

The Now Playing Arcade is now open!  Justin, Stuart, and Arnie are reviewing every movie based on a video game in a new retrospective that kicks off with The King Of Kong. Is this 2006 documentary about the heyday of coin-op machines (and the geeks who never stopped playing them) worth your quarters? Listen now and find out!

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Video Games | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

New Podcast: Now Playing — The Wizard – Patron Exclusive Review

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Justin Kozisek

Justin, Stuart, and Arnie have video games on the brain in 2018, starting with the 1989 family film The Wizard.  Future rocker Jenny Lewis convinces TV star Fred Savage that his special needs half-brother Jimmy has the Nintendo skills to pay their bills. The trio hit the open road, hustling gamers in every arcade from Utah to Los Angeles. But will Jimmy get played by a bully in a Power Glove when he enters a high-stakes Super Mario 3 contest? Sign up today to be a Now Playing Patron and find out!    

Become a Now Playing patron and you can hear this exclusive bonus review!

January 14, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Video Games | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — The Wizard – Patron Exclusive Review

New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers 2

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Marjorie Carvalho

Fans of The Creeper didn’t have to wait 23 years to see the monster renew his hunt for body parts on the big screen. Jeepers Creepers 2 was quick to put a brokedown bus full of high school jocks and cheerleaders on the menu.  But did the beast bite off more than it could chew when it snatched the son of psycho farmer Ray Wise? Donate Today to find out how Arnie, Marjorie, and Stuart see this sequel.

January 12, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers 2

THOR: RAGNAROK Video Release: Streaming Feb 20, Disc Mar 6

Marvel’s God of Thunder will roar in your home starting next month!

One of 2017’s biggest super hero movies, and recipient of three green arrows from the Now Playing Podcast criticsThor: Ragnarok will strike digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD on Feb. 20. The 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs will follow on March 6.

The 4k Blu-ray release will include HDR as well as Dolby Atmos audio.

The movie will also be part of the digital “Movies Anywhere” program where a digital copy purchased at a participating digital retailer will be available through all of the following platforms: Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu

In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok – the destruction of his home world and the end of Asgardian civilization – at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela (Cate Blanchett). But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger – the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – and grapple with his silver-tongued adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the fierce warrior Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the eccentric Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).

Fans who bring home the Ultimate Cinematic Universe Edition (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital) of “Thor: Ragnarok” will experience all the thunderous action and lightning-fast wit in stunning 4K Ultra HD with next-generation high dynamic range (HDR) visuals and Dolby Atmos immersive audio. Exclusive, never-before-seen bonus features include deleted scenes; hilarious outtakes; an exclusive short: part three of the mockumentary “Team Thor,” retitled “Team Darryl” and featuring an eccentric new roommate; the evolution of MCU’s heroes culminating in “Avengers: Infinity War;” numerous making-of featurettes which explore the unique vision of director Taika Waititi; the story’s unstoppable women; the effortlessly charismatic Korg; the tyrannical leader of Sakaar, the Grandmaster; and the film’s comic-book origins;  audio commentary by Waititi; and more.

You can hear Now Playing Podcast’s review of the film now.   Stay tuned for a review of the 4k Blu-Ray set when available.

See below for further release specifications:

Bonus features may vary by retailer, but there are disc and digital exclusive videos:

  • Blu-ray:

    • Director’s Introduction
    • Deleted/Extended Scenes – Deleted Scenes: The Sorcerer Supreme, Skurge Finds Heimdall & Hulk Chases Thor Through Sakaar and Extended Scenes: Thor Meets the Grandmaster, Stupid Avenger vs. Tiny Avenger & Grandmaster and Topaz
    • Gag Reel – Watch a collection of goofs, gaffes and pratfalls starring the cast
    • Exclusive Short/Team Darryl – Fresh off being unseated as the ruler of Sakaar, the Grandmaster makes his way to Earth to start a new life. It’s been over a year since Thor left Australia and Darryl has been struggling to pay his rent. Now Darryl needs a new roommate to help make the monthly payments. Unfortunately for Darryl, the Grandmaster was the only one who answered Darryl’s “Roommate Needed” ad and with no viable options, the Grandmaster moves in.
    • Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years – The Evolution of Heroes – Marvel’s universe is vast and transcends both time and space. We’ll examine the Cinematic Universe as a whole and revisit each of our heroes’ current location and their place in the current MCU timeline, as it all leads up to the one culminating event: “Avengers: Infinity War.”
    • Getting in Touch with Your Inner Thor – “Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi has brought his unique sensibility and sense of humor to the film in a great many ways but it is the evolution of Thor’s own sense of humor, which stands out the most in the new film. This piece explores the impact Chris Hemsworth has made on the development of his widely-loved character and celebrates the mighty cast and crew who reveal the fun and hard work that went into assembling Thor’s eccentric counterparts.
    • Unstoppable Women: Hela & Valkyrie – This piece explores the strong female characters in “Thor: Ragnarok,” their importance in the MCU, their incredible casting and their epic comic origins.
    • Finding Korg – A tongue-in-cheek interview with Taika on casting Korg. He describes the difficult search for just the right evolution of the character design, and the nuances of this instantly classic character in the MCU. This conversation will also delve into all the extraordinary visual effects that brought Korg, Sakaar and the worlds of “Thor: Ragnarok” to life.
    • Sakaar: On the Edge of the Known and Unknown – Sakaar is the collection point for all lost and unloved things. This documentary will answer all known and unknown questions while also exploring the hard work and creativity that went into creating the look and feel of Sakaar. From design inspired by Jack Kirby’s classic artwork to the dedication of the visual development team to the awe-inspiring physical and digital production, you will see this distant world come alive.
    • Journey into Mystery – A deep dive story piece with the writers, director and producer Kevin Feige about the inspirations for “Thor: Ragnarok” within the comics. Most notably, the contest of champions limited series where the Grandmaster pitted our favorite heroes against one another as he does in the film. This piece also further explores Thor’s comic book origins and classic arcs through interviews with some of the most important comic creators, such as Walt Simonson and Jack Kirby.
    • 8bit Scenes – Final Bridge Battle + Sakaar Spaceship Battle. Dive into these climactic sequences presented in retro video-game format.
    • Directors Commentary

    Digital Exclusives:

    • Evolution of Thor and Hulk’s Bromance – We’ll examine this Super Hero friendship, which has spanned through several Marvel films. From their original Helicarrier fight match to the now iconic Hulk punch from Avengers 1, see how Marvel’s most powerful Super Heroes become the most extraordinary Super Hero buddies.
    • Additional Deleted Scenes – Travel to Asgard & Race To The Wormhole


DISC SPECIFICATIONS (applies to film content only):

  • Product SKUs:   Cinematic Universe Edition (4K UHD+Blu-ray+Digital), Multi-Screen Edition (Blu-ray+DVD+Digital), Digital HD/SD/4K UHDDVD and On-Demand
  • Feature Run Time: Approximately 130 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Audio:
  • UHD BD: English Dolby Atmos 7.1.4, English & Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Blu-ray: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish & French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • DVD: English, Spanish & French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Digital UHD: English Dolby Atmos 7.1.4, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Digital HD: English & French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital
  • Languages/Subtitles:               UHD BD: English SDH, Spanish, French Canadian
  • Blu-ray: English SDH, Spanish, French Canadian
  • DVD: English SDH & CC, Spanish, French Canadian
  • Digital UHD: English CC, Spanish, French Canadian
  • Digital HD: English CC, Spanish, French Canadian

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on THOR: RAGNAROK Video Release: Streaming Feb 20, Disc Mar 6

New Podcast: Now Playing — Insidious: The Lost Key

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Marjorie Carvalho, and Stuart Atkinson

Before elderly psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) faced her mortality battling “Veilhead” in Insidious, she had to confront literal and figurative skeletons in her family closet. New prequel The Last Key shows the Spectral Sightings team going back to Elise’s childhood home and taking on “Keyface”, a demon who locks up your vocal cords and preys on your most violent thoughts. But can he silence criticisms that Arnie, Marjorie, and Stuart previously voiced about this franchise, and deliver an electrifying fourth chapter? Listen now and find out!

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Insidious: The Lost Key

HELLRAISER: JUDGMENT – Trailer Released, On Video Feb 13

Lionsgate continues to breathe life into seemingly dead franchises. First Day of the Dead: Bloodline, now they bring us the first footage from Hellraiser: Judgment.

This new direct-to-video Hellraiser was filmed in 2016 but only recently completed post-production. It was written and directed by Gary J. Tunnicliffe, writer of Hellraiser: Revelations and make-up designer on the Hellraiser series since 1992’s Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.  Tunnicliffe had previously directed (and starred in) a Hellraiser “fan film” No More Souls which was included in Arrow Video’s recent box set (and can be seen on YouTube).

Hellraiser: Judgment appears to be based on Tunnicliffe’s existing Judgment script, which only reached 4% of its crowdfunding goal. Like Hellworld and Deader before it, this is (at least) the third Hellraiser film to be made from previously Pinhead-less ideas.

Judgment’s official synopsis is: “The dreaded Pinhead returns in the next terrifying chapter of the classic Hellraiser series. Three detectives trying to stop a diabolical serial killer are sucked into a maze of otherworldly horror, where hellish denizens including the Auditor, the Assessor, and the Jury await to pass judgment.”

Starring in the film is Randy Wayne (The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning) as David Carter, Damon Carney (“Jackson’s Henchman” in Logan) as Sean Carter, Rheagan Wallace (Malcolm in the Middle) as Allison Carter, and Paul T. Taylor (Super, Sin City) as Pinhead.  Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare) is on board in the cameo role of “Landlady.”  The movie is scheduled for release on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video on Demand February 13th. You can pre-order it now on Amazon.

The Blu-Ray, Digital HD, and DVD with all include bonus features of Deleted & Extended Scenes and a Gag Reel.

Now Playing Podcast has reviewed all nine released Hellraiser films. Their review of Judgment will be released in February.

What do you think of the Judgment trailer? Can it be the first great Direct-to-Video Hellraiser?  Let us know in the comments!

Hear NOW PLAYING PODCAST’S reviews of all the HELLRAISER films! Their review of JUDGMENT will be out in February.

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | 1 Comment

Day of the Dead: Bloodline — on Blu-ray Feb 6

Lionsgate has announced their new Day of the Dead: Bloodline will be released on DVD and Blu-ray February 6.

The film is described as a “terrifying retelling of George A. Romero’s zombie horror classic” starring Jonathon Schaech (Prom Night, Ray Donovan) and Sophie Skelton (Another Mother’s Son, Outlander).  Romero’s Day of the Dead was previously remade in a 2008 film starring Mena Suvari and Ving Rhames.

Bloodline is currently available for rent through Video on Demand. On February 6 it will be available to own on VOD as well as on physical media.

All versions of the movie will come with the featurette: Day of the Dead: Bloodline: Reviving Horror.  The Blu-ray will be 1080p with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

You can see the trailer for the new Romero Remake below–and Now Playing Podcast’s review will be coming in February!  Stay tuned…


January 9, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Day of the Dead: Bloodline — on Blu-ray Feb 6

New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Marjorie Carvalho, and Stuart Atkinson

Arnie, Marjorie, and Stuart have caught the scent of a new horror icon… The Creeper!  And Jeepers, the lengths this supernatural scavenger will go to get some new eyes!  Will road-tripping siblings Justin Long and Gina Phillips stay ahead of the monster truck driver and avoid a psychic’s dire vision of their future?  And can the podcasters overlook the controversy that plagues writer-director Victor Salva?  Donate Today and find out!

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Jeepers Creepers

New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Episode 499: The Last Jedi Roundtable

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Marjorie Carvalho, Daryl Whitlow, Andrew Harrison, Justin Kozisek, Curtis Stevenson, Steve Nixon, and Chris.

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has earned a billion dollars, is loved by critics, but also seems to divide fans online. Now the Star Wars Action News team comes together to give their reviews–and they’re divided as well. Join them to find out where the common ground lies, and their excitement for Solo in this new Star Wars Action News podcast!

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Conventions, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on New Podcast: Star Wars Action News Episode 499: The Last Jedi Roundtable

New Podcast: Now Playing — The Disaster Artist

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Cult audiences love midnight movie The Room for being crazy melodrama, but the story of how it got made might be even more nuts.  Does James Franco show his talent, or just his ass, stepping into the skin of wannabe writer/director/actor Tommy Wiseau?  And will Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart find a new appreciation for this Disaster Artist when the truth behind his bad plots is dramatized?  Listen now and find out!  

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — The Disaster Artist

New Podcast: Books & Nachos — Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho and Stuart Atkinson

This year’s Twin Peaks: The Return revival polarized audiences and seemed to ask as many questions as it answered. With that series complete, series writer Mark Frost is free to discuss it all in Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier — the intended final book based on Twin Peaks. Join Stuart and Arnie now to find out if Peaks goes out on a high note!

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Books & Nachos, Movies & Television, News, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Books & Nachos — Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier by Mark Frost

Marjorie’s Top 10 Films of 2017

by Marjorie Carvalho



10. Kong: Skull Island

I expected not to like this movie and was pleasantly surprised. A nice action film with some solid acting, it’s interesting enough to keep you watching. It seems as if they played fast and loose with the historical accuracies, and some of the characters actions don’t make sense (looking at you Tom Hiddleston) but it was an enjoyable movie.

9. The Belko Experiment

An over the top gore fest written by James Gunn, The Belko Experiment is full of inventive kills, human prey and suspense. A mysterious voice tells captive office employees that 2 employees must be killed or double that will die. The audience, nor the characters, are given any clues as to why this is happening or who is responsible. Trapped inside the office, things turn chaotic and brutal. The twist ending is original and an oddly satisfying end for the movie.

8. It

If the opening scene of this movie doesn’t get you, I don’t know if you have a heart. Little Georgie’s encounter with Pennywise is terrifying, sad and had me on the edge of my seat. The children in this movie are all fantastic actors and Bill Skarsgard undeniably scary as Pennywise. While it felt a little long in places, it still delivered creepiness and I’m looking forward to part 2.

Now Playing will review It (2017)It (1990) and the It sequel upon its release September 6, 2019.

7. Baby Driver

A crime caper by Edgar Wright shines due to it’s stellar use of music as a character. From the opening scene, down to the end scene, music is as part of this movie as any human. The soundtrack is eminently playable. In addition to the music, the visuals are top notch. A coffee run early in the movie, filmed continuously is a great sequence, almost like a music video. And let’s not forget the clean cut Jon Hamm portraying a foul mouthed criminal.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Baby Driver

6. Logan

Wolverine is by far my favorite X-Men character and until Logan, he had not had a proper movie to showcase his tortured soul. With self healing powers, he has suffered while those around him have perished and he is left caring for a demented Professor X in a strange future with self driving cars. When he meets a child with similar powers, I feared he would turn fatherly, when instead we get a meaningful redemption movie and the door left open for future X-Men.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of Logan

5. The Disaster Artist

A movie about the making of the worst movie of all time might be one of the best movies of 2017. James Franco, along with brother Dave, make you feel both pity and empathy for Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. Dave really pulls off the earnest star seeking Greg while James, well, he is Tommy better than Tommy can be Tommy. Both Franco brothers really shine in this movie. You don’t need to have seen The Room to get the jokes or the movie, it’s enough itself so you never feel like you are missing anything.

Hear Now Playing’s full review of The Room now. The full The Disaster Artist review will be out 1/31!

4. Atomic Blonde

If the 80’s were a movie, this would be it. From the stellar New Wave soundtrack to the use of neon, and the Hasselhoff nod, Atomic Blonde is thoroughly 80’s. Charlize Theron is seriously badass in her role as a spy, while James McEvoy was great as a spy who has spent too much time in Berlin. Between double agents, and brutal fight scenes, you still don’t know who is double crossing who.  The cold gray and starkness of the Berlin on both sides of the wall adds a dreariness to this movie in stark contrast to the bright neon and music of the decade.


Hear Now Playing’s full review of Atomic Blonde

3. I, Tonya

A tongue in cheek biopic about the everyone’s favorite working class hero Tonya Harding, I, Tonya paints a brutal picture of her upbringing, as well as her tumultuous marriage to Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) leading into “The Incident” and its aftermath. Margot Robbie’s Harding is wickedly trashy and Allison Janney, playing Tonya’s mom, is a national treasure. Often breaking the 4th wall, this movie doesn’t get too serious, how can you when the actual events are crazier than any movie?

2. Ingrid Goes West

In a hard to look at portrayal of social media in our lives, Ingrid Goes West shows what happens when reality can’t be separated from social media. Ingrid moves to California because an Instagram influencer, Taylor, replied to her comment. She then works her way into Taylor’s life via kidnapping Taylor’s dog. It’s painful to watch Ingrid attempt to achieve #bestie status with Taylor, it’s so #desperate and #cringeworthy but you can’t stop watching. Aubrey Plaza is astounding as awkward Ingrid and her performance makes you feel sorry for Ingrid, even when she is making bad decisions.

1. The Big Sick

At times sweet, and at times heartbreaking, Kumail Nanjiani true story of the courtship of his wife is a great story. Not only does he stand by when his estranged girlfriend falls seriously ill, he also wins over her parents while at the same time, trying to break free from his parents and Pakistani traditions. Though a bit long, the movie is touching and sweet and that mushy stuff I usually don’t fall for.

Marjorie Carvalho is a movie critic on Now Playing Podcast. Read more of her reviews in the Now Playing Podcast book–Underrated Movies We Recommend. You can also follow her on Twitter.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Marjorie’s Top 10 Films of 2017

Jakob’s 10 Notable Films for 2017

by Jakob Conkling

I feel I’ve never seen an adequate number of films to declare of “best of” until at least half way into the next year. As of writing this, I haven’t seen many of the films I’ve been anticipating in 2017, such as The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread, and Baywatch. Rather, here are 10 films that stood out to me (and focusing—with one exception—on films not reviewed on the podcast) for better or for worse in 2017…

A Dog’s Purpose

Worst film of 2017

This story of a dog’s soul inhabiting various breeds is saccharine drudgery. Marketed as a family film, have fun dealing with your crying children, moms and dads! The movie believes reincarnation makes numerous dog death less traumatic for kids (and pet-loving adults). WRONG! Melodramatic, sappy, manipulative trash; I hope Dennis Quaid wishes finds a real life shrink ray from Inner Space so he can disappear from the public eye for staring in this. This film’s only redemption is that it can never be worse than Kevin Spacey-turned-cat in Nine Lives.

The Great Wall

Most entertaining bad movie of 2017

Matt Damon speaks in a baffling, generic European accent not heard since Kevin Costner’s in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Costume design inspired by the Power Ranger’s colorful armor. Willem Defoe looks as confused as I was about why he was on set. There is a whole wing of the military dedicated to fighting monsters via bungee jumping (with inelastic rope???). And the evil creatures having a weakness so bizarre, you’ll be asking, like the Insane Clown Posse, “Magnets? How do they work?”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Best first five minutes in a 2017 movie

Luc Besson’s Valerian is a galaxy-sized mess but features an awe inspiring first five minutes. Set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” various nations of Earth come together on an international space station, and then are joined by aliens across the universe. It’s full of the optimism and discovery space travel can arouse. Truly, it is a moment of genius that balances out this very uneven film from its most embarrassing moments (any scene featuring Rihanna as a shape-shifting burlesque dancer).

Batman & Bill

My favorite documentary of 2017

Liked the caped crusader, documentarian Don Argott seeks justice. While everyone knows about Batman’s credited creator, Bob Kane, there was another. Behind the scenes, Bill Finger contributed the most iconic elements to the Dark Knight. Finger died alone in poverty and, reportedly, buried in a potter’s field. Argott’s journey for an eligible heir to bring suit against DC Entertainment to have Finger’s name added to the creator byline is full of twists and reveals in this engaging journey for recognition.

The Founder

Best anti-commercial of 2017

I was expecting another (alleged) heartwarming, inspiring ad for a giant corporation the way Saving Mr. Banks tried to convince me Disney knows best and was the savior for a financially struggling artist. While Michael Keaton brings a lot of charm with his portrayal of down-on-his-luck, milkshake-mixer salesman Ray Kroc, the actor is equally capable of depicting the sinister turn Kroc takes as he steals the McDonald’s brand from the brothers who conceived the fast food restaurant. Forget about the high calorie count in its food, this dark tale of capitalistic greed preying on naive innovators should keep you away from purchasing that next Big Mac.

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

The best Sundance film that went straight to Netflix in 2017

Having starred in violent thrillers Blue Ruin and Green Room, Macon Blair’s directorial debut reframes those movies’ violence and tension into a dark comedy. Melanie Lynskey plays Ruth who undergoes an existential crisis after her house is robbed. She befriends Tony (Elijah Wood), a religious, heavy metal loving, ninja-weapons enthusiasts. The two go about reclaiming Ruth’s stolen property; but, their attempt at vigilante justice goes horribly wrong. Funny, violent, quirky, tense, bittersweet. The film hits the right beats to balance its various tones to create a comedic thriller.

Get Out

Best 2017 film reviewed on Now Playing

Patrons have heard my thoughts (along with Arnie’s and Stuart’s). A smart and tense social commentary on race in America, Get Out isn’t only relevant but also a masterfully crafter horror-thriller. Sketch-show-comedian-turned-director Jordan Peele obviously loves horror and has studied the greats in this story that warns us about the dehumanizing effects of racism even if the stereotypes are positive. Reviewed on the podcast or not, this film deserves to be recognized on any top movie list.

Hear Now Playing’s Full Review of Get Out

A Ghost Story

Best 2017 movie based on It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I only slightly jest. Looking at the poster of Casey Affleck dressed as a ghost—wearing a sheet with eye-holes cut out—I thought I was in for an indie comedy. Rather, this is a poetic story of the living haunting the dead. The camera holds on images until you stop asking what their narrative purpose are and, rather, focus on what you feel in each moment. Never have the folds and frayed edges of a bed sheet portrayed so much loss and sorrow. Director David Lowery channels Terrance Malick and Stanley Kubrick with this slow paced, beautifully framed journey through time and the cosmos.



Best film of 2017 most have an opinion about based on their politics before even seeing it

Political. Polarizing. Inflammatory. If you’re inclined to ignore this film because you think you know what it is, I ask then to focus on the craft. Katheryn Bigelow has created one of the tensest hours in film as she retells the Algiers Motel Killings during the 1967 Detroit 12th Street Riot. I would hope that anyone could watch this film and walk away with a little more understanding of why people of color have a seemingly innate fear of police authority. Fifty years later and these real life events feel more relevant than ever.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best acted film of 2017

There’s good reason Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell received Golden Globe nominations for their acting in this film about horrible people trying to cope with loss and hard times in the unhealthiest of ways. Even Woody Harrelson and Caleb Landry Jones (who plays the opposite of his menacing character from Get Out) are at the top of their game. Writer-director Martin McDonagh knows how the audience expects this movie to play out and, therefore, zigs when we expect it to zag to create an unpredictable, emotional story of damaged characters.


Jakob Conkling is a movie critic on Now Playing Podcast. Read more of his reviews in the Now Playing Podcast book–Underrated Movies We Recommend

December 29, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Jakob’s 10 Notable Films for 2017

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Revelations

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

A weekend in Tijuana goes to hell when two LA party boys open the infamous Cenobite puzzle box.  Relatives back home try to piece together their missing sons’ fate by perusing footage found on a camcorder, but the real Revelations come when fans get a good look at Stephen Smith Collins – the new face of Pinhead.  Donate today to hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart tear into this ninth installment of the Hellraiser retrospective series!

December 29, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Revelations

New Podcast: Now Playing — Lord of Illusions – Patron Exclusive Review

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

It took a decade for Hellraiser director Clive Barker to realize the dream of bringing his cursed private eye Harry D’Amour to the big screen. Lord of Illusions was intended to launch Scott Bakula into a new hardboiled horror franchise, but box office black magic quickly shuttered Harry’s detective agency.  Will Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart join the character’s small cult of devotees when they exhume Clive’s final film for Now Playing Patrons? Sign up today and find out!

Become a Now Playing patron and you can hear this exclusive bonus review!

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Lord of Illusions – Patron Exclusive Review

Stuart’s Top 10 Films of ’17

by Stuart Atkinson

This whole year seemed riddled with animosity, upheaval, and social breakdown – qualities reflected in most of my favorite 2017 films.    

10.  Downsizing – Hang the marketers for pushing this apocalyptic sci-fi story as a broad comedy.  It’s fairly short on jokes once Matt Damon gets small, and definitely leaves audiences uneasy with unanswered questions.  Still, I found Downsizing to be a thought-provoking look at a man who is never sure whether he should be living for himself or others.
09.  The Florida Project – A coming-of-age story that draws a sharp contrast between “have” and “have not” families.  A 6-year-old girl living in a fleabag motel gets into all kinds of trouble playing in trash created by neighboring Disney World.  I futilely tried to think of options available to single mom Halley that would lead to better outcomes, but ultimately left the theater just grateful I wasn’t a parent.
08.  Call Me By Your Name – Wealthy academics living in 1983 Italy might sound a world away from the dead-end squalor of Florida Project.  But both coming-of-age stories keenly demonstrate how problems in childhood can often go unspoken. Timothee Chalamet gives a remarkably intimate performance as a teenager wrestling with being gay and Jewish in a household where everyone can identify obscure artifacts, but no one dares to articulate their carnal desires.
07.  The Big Sick – Can a coma bring two cultures together?  Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani wrote and starred in the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in ages (which becomes even more impressive when you find out its the true story of how this Pakistani comedian met his wife).
06.  The Disaster Artist  – Watching The Room is no longer enough.  Fans of “brown arrow” bad movies must also include a screening of behind-the-scenes tell-all The Disaster Artist.  It’s the role of a lifetime for James Franco to be able to star and direct himself as wannabe star/director Tommy Wiseau.

Hear Now Playing’s Full Review of The Room The Disaster Artist podcast will be released Sunday, 1/31!

05.  The Square – As fun and feel-good as The Disaster Artist is, I loved Swedish film The Square even more for taking a deeper dive into the tension between art and mainstream society.  It’s the story of a museum curator who desperately wants to provide context for the unexplainable nuttiness found in modern art, only to realize how little he knows about being a good man.   
04.  Good Time – I’m going to let Robert Pattinson out of movie jail after seeing how great he is as a failed bank robber going to extremes for his mentally slow brother.  The best way to enjoy Good Time is to go in knowing nothing (though I recommend putting lots of pillows on the floor to catch your dropping jaw once the crazy schemes begin).
03.  Get Out – Much has been made about this Blumhouse horror movie getting nominated for a Best Comedy Golden Globe.  But no genre label captures all the things that Get Out does so well.  From the tender romance between Daniel Kaluuya and Alison Williams, to the stinging social commentary about cultural appropriation, a climax full of blood and brain splatter, and yes the comedic stylings of scene-stealing TSA agent Rod… there’s something for every taste in this one.

Hear Now Playing’s Full Review of Get Out

02.  Detroit – I was shaking when I left Katherine Bigelow’s intense re-enactment of the 1967 Detroit race riots.  But then to come home, turn on the TV, and immediately see the fallout over Confederate statues in Charlottesville… it was like I never left the movie theater!  Detroit was too hot topic to succeed as escapist summer box office fare, but future generations will likely declare it one of the great summations of our times.
01.  Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Still, nobody captured small town American rage better than British writer-director Martin McDonagh.  His story of a grieving mother who takes to shaming the local police via unused billboard space held a mirror up to the world and dared us to laugh.  How WILL we ever come together if everyone thinks their pain gives them the right to lash out in whatever manner they see fit?  Watching Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell squash their beef and head into an uncertain future together summed up everything I’ve been feeling in 2017… and advertised a sequel I desperately want to see (but assume they’ll never make).


Stuart Atkinson is a movie critic on Now Playing Podcast. Read more of his reviews in the Now Playing Podcast book–Underrated Movies We Recommend

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | Comments Off on Stuart’s Top 10 Films of ’17

New Podcast: Now Playing — The Room

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling


Audiences have been tearing delusional actor/writer/director Tommy Wiseau apart for the last 14 years over his self-funded melodrama The Room. Can you ever really trust anyone who would recommend a movie this preposterous? Oh hi Jakob!  Three’s a crowd when the die hard Room-mate, his best friend Arnie, and manipulative bitch Stuart come together to explore this midnight movie phenomenon.

December 26, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — The Room

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Hellworld

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling


The eighth chapter of Hellraiser breaks the internet as it invites five online gamers (including Man of Steel Henry Cavill) to an all-night rave to the grave.  Party favors include roofies with Lance Henriksen, blow jobs from Butterface, and selfies with the Cenobites. Donate now and hear if Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart think Hellworld takes the franchise to the next level, or ruins Doug Bradley’s game in his final performance as Pinhea

December 22, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Hellworld

New Podcast: Now Playing — Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling



Episode VIII finds General Leia (Carrie Fisher), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), and a dwindling number of Resistance fighters beating a hasty retreat from the rising armies of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis). Their only hope lies with recently located Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – The Last Jedi in the universe.  But can Master Luke trust feisty apprentice Rey (Daisy Ridley) to learn the ways of The Force without succumbing to the Dark Side like his previous pupil, the murderous tyrant Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)?  Join Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart for a deep dive into the biggest movie of 2017.

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Deader

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Former MTV personality Kari Wuhrer’s career was Deader than the doornails in Pinhead’s face when she hopped a party train to Budapest, and signed up for the lead in a seventh Hellraiser movie.  But should the self-proclaimed crack whore put her faith in a cult leader who literally stabs his followers in the back?  Donate Today to hear if Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart’s prayers for another good entry in the franchise are answered

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Deader

JIGSAW Coming to Blu-Ray and 4k January 9 — Bonus Features Announced

In the latest terrifying installment of the legendary SAW series, law enforcement find itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun.  Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life?  Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?

Immerse yourself within Jigsaw’s world with the release’s extensive Special Features, including an all-new 7-Part Documentary, an Audio Commentary with Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block, and “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” featurette. The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions feature Dolby Atmos audio mixed specifically for the home, to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray also features Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), growing Lionsgate’s library of titles featuring both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Dolby Vision transforms the TV experience in the home by delivering greater brightness and contrast, as well as a fuller palette of rich colors. Together with the captivating sound of Dolby Atmos, consumers will experience both cutting-edge imaging and state-of-the-art sound technology for a fully immersive entertainment experience.

The must-see Jigsaw will be available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD for the suggested retail price of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.95, respectively.


  • Audio Commentary with Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block
  • “I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw” 7-Part Documentary

o   “A New Game”

o   “You Know His Name”

o   “Survival of the Fittest”

o   “Death by Design”

o   “Blood Sacrifice”

o   “The Source of Fear”

o   “The Truth Will Set You Free”

  • “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” Featurette



  • “I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw” 7-Part Documentary

o   “A New Game”

o   “You Know His Name”

o   “Survival of the Fittest”

o   “Death by Design”

o   “Blood Sacrifice”

o   “The Source of Fear”

o   “The Truth Will Set You Free”

  • “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” Featurette



  • Audio Commentary with Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block
  • “The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props” Featurette


Hear Now Playing’s review of Jigsaw then pre-order it now at Amazon!

December 15, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast | Comments Off on JIGSAW Coming to Blu-Ray and 4k January 9 — Bonus Features Announced

New Podcast: Now Playing — 12 Monkeys

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and special guest Matt Wessel

In 12 Monkeys Bruce Willis plays James Cole – a man from the future who’s come to witness the start of an extinction-level pandemic. Or he’s insane, filled with a Cassandra complex. He encounters Brad Pitt’s Jeffrey Goines, who is insane, but also may know more than he’s letting on. Yet perhaps the real time traveler is nonconformist, eclectic director Terry Gilliam whose underrated 1995 film foreshadows both stars’ roles in more popular films. Now, join Arnie, Stuart, and guest host Matt as they travel back to 1995 and examine this dystopian sci-fi film.

December 12, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — 12 Monkeys

New Podcast: Now Playing — 12 Monkeys – Early Release for Patrons

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and special guest Matt Wessel

In 12 Monkeys Bruce Willis plays James Cole – a man from the future who’s come to witness the start of an extinction-level pandemic. Or he’s insane, filled with a Cassandra complex. He encounters Brad Pitt’s Jeffrey Goines, who is insane, but also may know more than he’s letting on. Yet perhaps the real time traveler is nonconformist, eclectic director Terry Gilliam whose underrated 1995 film foreshadows both stars’ roles in more popular films. Now, join Arnie, Stuart, and guest host Matt as they travel back to 1995 and examine this dystopian sci-fi film.

December 11, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — 12 Monkeys – Early Release for Patrons

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Hellseeker

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

The sixth installment of Hellraiser goes searching for the series’ original Last Girl, Ashley Laurence.  But no one has seen Kirsty Cotton-Gooden since her shady husband Trevor (Dean Winters) drove their car off a bridge.  Eels and sex tapes are among the treasures that Hellseekers Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart dredge up as they mine the watery depths of the franchise.  Will they find some Green Arrows inside this DVD box too?  Donate Now and find out!

December 8, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Hellseeker

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

New Podcast: Now Playing — Death Sentence

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Saw director James Wan wished to leave the horror genre behind when he signed on to adapt Death Sentence – author Brian Garfield’s previously unmade sequel novel to Death Wish. A buttoned-down Kevin Bacon cuts loose, kicks off his Sunday shoes, and follows in the footsteps of Charles Bronson’s pistol packin’ Paul Kersey once a street gang targets his perfect family. Listen now and find out if Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart give this failed reboot a stay of execution.

December 5, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Death Sentence

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Inferno

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Q: What’s a seven letter word for a diminished movie series?

A: INFERNO.  The fifth installment of the Hellraiser franchise returned to Earth, bypassed theaters, and banished Pinhead to a DVD box.  But the Cenobite still hopes to make legendary suffering by collaborating with future Sinister and Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, and facing off with a dirty Denver cop (Nightbreed star Craig Sheffer) who fingers Pinhead for a series of occult murders.  Donate Today to learn if Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart think this sequel is killing Clive Barker’s spirit.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser: Inferno

New Podcast: Now Playing — Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Edited Version)

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Fledgling spy Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) barely had time to assume his place as Galahad before chirpy drug czar Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) reduced the whole Kingsman Round Table to rubble. Now the English gentleman must dust off his suit and accept assistance from newfound American allies Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Pedro Pascal.  How many shots of whiskey will it take to ply recommends from Yank hosts Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob?  Their review of this highly anticipated sequel is finally available to listeners who missed the September live-stream podcast!     

Hear the live, unedited version of this podcast exclusively on Now Playing’s 10th Anniversary DVD-ROM Set!  It includes every show released since our 5th Anniversary set and tons of bonus material! Details are found on our donation page.

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Edited Version)

Now Playing Announces Bonus Review, New 10th Anniversary DVD-ROM Bonus Features


There’s a couple big pieces of news for Now Playing Podcast listeners!

First, the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle is now available through Video on Demand, and its Blu-Ray release is set for December 12.  To coincide with this release, Stuart, Arnie, and Jakob’s review of the second Kingsman film will be released on our main podcast feed!  This review was broadcast live back in September when the movie was new in theaters and listeners have been anticipating the release of the edited show.  Wait no more…it will be tomorrow–November 30!

Plus with this being Now Playing’s 10th Anniversary we are offering listeners and collectors our 10th Anniversary DVD-ROM set. This will be a 6-disc set filled with every podcast we’ve done from 2012 through 2017!  But we have three new bonus features just added:

  • Hear the unedited audio from our first live review of Kingsman: The Secret Service from February 2015!  Including the listener chat after the show!
  • Watch the review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle! We broadcast that review as live split-screen video. On this DVD-ROM set you will get a nicely edited version of that review–PLUS the Q&A done with listeners after that show!
  • Plus, if you pre-order the DVD-ROM set you can be on it! This Sunday all the Now Playing hosts (Arnie, Marjorie, Brock, Stuart, Jakob, Jerry, and Justin) will be getting together for a no-holds-barred conversation. This recording will be exclusive to this DVD set.Anyone who orders the set by the end of Saturday, December 2nd can submit a question either through e-mail, MP3, or iPhone Voice Memo, and it will be answered by the team!  If you send MP3 or the Voice Memo, YOUR voice will be immortalized in this celebratory event!

Those are in addition to all of our podcasts done from 2012-2017 including

  • Return of the Living Dead
  • Psycho
  • The Matrix
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Leprechaun
  • Quentin Tarantino Series
  • And if you missed the Now Playing Kickstarter in ’15 it’s the only way to hear those exclusive reviews:
    • A Clockwork Orange
    • Xanadu
    • Shocker
    • Super 8

See all the details at our donation page!  And the 5th Anniversary DVD-ROM set is also available!  If you order both (even if you ordered the 5th Anniversary disc previously) you also get the free bonus Now Peaking DVD-ROM set!

So we hope you enjoy tomorrow’s free bonus review, Friday’s review of Hellraiser: Inferno, and all the shows we have coming up!


Now Playing Podcast


November 29, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on Now Playing Announces Bonus Review, New 10th Anniversary DVD-ROM Bonus Features

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Humble 18th Century toy maker Phillip L’Merchant put a curse on his Bloodline the day he manufactured a puzzle box that opened a portal to Hell.  Now it falls to L’Merchant’s descendants in modern day New York, as well as on a futuristic space station, to build a trap big enough to recapture demon Angelique and her Cenobite co-conspirator Pinhead. Donate now to hear Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart beam aboard this ambitious fourth installment of the Hellraiser franchise and boldly go where astro-slashers Jason Voorhees and the Leprechaun flopped before.

Jakob, and Stuart can find room in their hellbound hearts for this third installment of the Hellraiser franchise.

Now Playing is a podcast with no sponsors or advertisements. We rely solely on listener support to keep going. Our Fall 2017 Donation Drive is underway and from now through July 31, 2017, the Hellraiser Retrospective Series is available as a “thank you” to those who support Now Playing.

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

The full podcast series is available through a Paypal donation to Now Playing, or individual episodes are available on our Podbean page. Details can be found on our Spring 2017 Donation page.

Thank you in advance for your support of our show!

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser IV: Bloodline

New Podcast: Marvelicious Toys — Issue 186: Sweet Christmas 2017 – Black Friday & Holiday Shopping Guide

Hosted by Justin Kozisek, Arnie Carvalho, and Marjorie Carvalho

Happy Thanksgiving, Marvelicious Toys listeners! And welcome to our 8th Annual Holiday Shopping Guide!

In this issue Marjorie, Arnie, and Justin run down all the major Black Friday toy sales. Find out where to get Marvel Legends, movies, games, and other toys with the biggest savings! Then follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the best online Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals!

Then the hosts, aided by the entire Marvelicious Toys team, run down the best Marvel themed gifts for 2017.  With prices from $5 to $800, there’s something for fans of all ages and interests!  What are the must have collectibles this year?  Join us to find out!

Marvel Black Friday

Marvel Items




HASCON – Hasbro Deadpool Marvel Legends figure   SDCC – Thor Battle For Asgard Marvel Legends 5 pack set   Deadpool Duck Pop Vinyl figure – Walgreens Exclusive

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, News, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Marvelicious Toys — Issue 186: Sweet Christmas 2017 – Black Friday & Holiday Shopping Guide

New Podcast: Star Wars Action News — Episode 498: Black Friday & Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Hosted by Marjorie Carvalho and Arnie Carvalho

Video by Berent Lawton and Daryl Whitlow


Happy Thanksgiving to all our listeners from the entire Star Wars Action News Team!

It’s time for Star Wars Action News’13th annual Black Friday sale report, and holiday gift guide!

Join Arnie & Marjorie as they tell you where the best savings are for Star Wars games, toys, and more.  Then the entire Star Wars Action News Team have gathered their ideas of the best Star Wars collectibles are this season. From books to games, figures big and small, and so much more, listen now to hear it all!




Hot Toys



Household Items



November 23, 2017 Posted by | Books, Comic Books, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Podcasts, Star Wars Action News | Comments Off on New Podcast: Star Wars Action News — Episode 498: Black Friday & Holiday Gift Guide 2017

New Podcast: Now Playing — Justice League

Hosted by Jakob Conkling, Stuart Atkinson, and Arnie Carvalho

How does a DC Comics super-team come together when the Man of Steel is dead, Batman is suicidal, Wonder Woman won’t lead, and the most promising recruits are an aloof Merman, a renegade robot, and a neurotic runner who’d rather eat than fight?  It will take the Classic Rock threat of Steppenwolf, reuniting with the Mother Boxes of Invention, to unify this Justice League.  But is there any hope for Recommendations from Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie when the clashing visions of director Zack Snyder and last minute replacement Joss Whedon create such a chaotic production?  Find out who wins and loses when you listen now!

Thirsty for more Justice? Become a Now Playing patron to get a special extended version of this review with over 30 minutes not included in the regular release! Sign up to be a Now Playing patron now and get this extended review as well as bonus and exclusive review podcasts! 

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Justice League

New Podcast: Now Playing — Justice League – Extended Cut for Patrons

Hosted by Jakob Conkling, Stuart Atkinson, and Arnie Carvalho

How does a DC Comics super-team come together when the Man of Steel is dead, Batman is suicidal, Wonder Woman won’t lead, and the most promising recruits are an aloof Merman, a renegade robot, and a neurotic runner who’d rather eat than fight?  It will take the Classic Rock threat of Steppenwolf, reuniting with the Mother Boxes of Invention, to unify this Justice League.  But is there any hope for Recommendations from Stuart, Jakob, and Arnie when the clashing visions of director Zack Snyder and last minute replacement Joss Whedon create such a chaotic production?  Find out who wins and loses when you listen now!

This is an special release only for Now Playing Patrons pledging $10 or more. This version of the show has over 30 minutes not included in the regular release! Sign up to be a Now Playing patron now and get this extended review as well as bonus and exclusive review podcasts! 

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | 1 Comment

New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth


Hosted by Jakob Conkling, Stuart Atkinson, and Arnie Carvalho

Pinhead is back and ready to turn New York City into a HELL ON EARTH! But first the Cenobite will need to convince a sadistic nightclub owner to free him from the carbonite confines of a modern art sculpture. Meanwhile a leggy TV journalist with daddy issues, partnering with a homeless Goth girl and the ghost of a WWI soldier, search for a way to put Pinhead back inside his box. Donate now to find out if Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart can find room in their hellbound hearts for this third installment of the Hellraiser franchise.

Now Playing is a podcast with no sponsors or advertisements. We rely solely on listener support to keep going. Our Fall 2017 Donation Drive is underway and from now through July 31, 2017, the Hellraiser Retrospective Series is available as a “thank you” to those who support Now Playing.

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

The full podcast series is available through a Paypal donation to Now Playing, or individual episodes are available on our Podbean page. Details can be found on our Spring 2017 Donation page.

Thank you in advance for your support of our show!

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast: Now Playing — Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

New Podcast — Now Playing: The LEGO Batman Movie – Patron Exclusive Review

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

The LEGO Movie turned plastic bricks into box office gold. Now the world’s number one toy maker hopes to build upon that success with an entire LEGO Movie franchise. Its first installment took arguably the best supporting character from that first film and made him the star–Batman.  Is this comedic tale of The Dark Knight kiddie-only fare, or is there something Batfans of all ages can appreciate? Become a Now Playing Patron and you can listen and find out!

Become a Now Playing patron and you can hear this exclusive bonus review!

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Comic Books, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast | Comments Off on New Podcast — Now Playing: The LEGO Batman Movie – Patron Exclusive Review

New Podcast — Books & Nachos: The Hellraiser Chronicles Edited by Stephen Jones (and a look at Damnation Games by Phil and Sarah Stokes)

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho

Continuing his look at nonfiction Hellraiser books, Arnie is back with a review of The Hellraiser Chronicles–a 1992 behind-the-scenes look at the first three Hellraiser films. But seeking even more pleasures Arnie continues on to look at Damnation Games which also gets under the skin of those first three films. Are either or both of these worth a read? Join Arnie to find out!

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Books, Books & Nachos, Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast — Books & Nachos: The Hellraiser Chronicles Edited by Stephen Jones (and a look at Damnation Games by Phil and Sarah Stokes)

New Podcast — Now Playing: Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Paul Kersey gets topical with his fourth killing spree in Death Wish 4: The Crackdown! This time he’s going to whack the crack dealers in Los Angeles. It’s the type of film only Cannon Films could make. But is it any good? Join Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob to find out!

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast — Now Playing: Death Wish 4: The Crackdown

New Podcast — Now Playing: Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling.

For its second film the Hellraiser series was Hellbound, bringing back Pinhead and the Cenobites from the first film, and adding a few new twists. The mythology deepened, but the central struggle remained between Julia (Clare Higgins) and step-daughter Kirstie (Ashley Lawrence). Is this labyrinthine vision of hell pain or pleasure for horror movie fans? Find out! Open the box–donate to Now Playing and get hooked on this review!

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast — Now Playing: Hellbound: Hellraiser II

New Podcast — Now Playing: Thor: Ragnarok

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

The God of Thunder was ready to change his image after Now Playing and so many others hammered his solo films as the silliest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Third effort Ragnarok not only puts Thor in the arena with longtime frenemies Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston), but pits him against powerful new characters Hela (Cate Blanchett), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).  Should the studly superhero have been so quick to chop off his golden hair, or would those shears have been better served cutting out some jokes in this 130 minute epic? Find out if hosts Arnie, Jakob and Stuart rain on Marvel’s latest parade by listening now!

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast — Now Playing: Thor: Ragnarok

New Podcast — Books & Nachos: Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho


Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and it’s immediate follow-up Hellbound: Hellraiser II were low-budget productions, shot in the UK. Despite their small beginnings their impact was global, skyrocketing Clive Barker to fame and fortune and terrifying a generation. How did that happen? The book Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II details the making of these first two Hellraiser films. What insights does it provide, and is it worth a read? Join Arnie on this review to find out!
Source: Books and Nachos

November 5, 2017 Posted by | Books, Books & Nachos, Movies, Podcasts | | Comments Off on New Podcast — Books & Nachos: Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart

New Podcast – Now Playing: Hellraiser

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson, and Jakob Conkling

Clive Barker exploded onto the horror scene in the mid ’80s, bringing a fleshy physicality to his tales and pushing body horror to new extremes. His landmark creation is Hellraiser — his directorial debut. 30 years later it stands as a seminal horror film and Barker’s greatest achievement. The series’ biggest star is Pinhead who’s pierced visage has graced countless toys, T-Shirts, and tattoos. Ironically, he and his cenobites were but bit players in Barker’s original tale of terror. Now, open the box–DONATE to Now Playing Podcast–and you won’t get chains, you’ll get bonus podcasts: Arnie, Stuart, and Jakob will bring you untold pleasures with this review of Hellraiser!

November 3, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Hellraiser

New Podcast – Now Playing: Jigsaw

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Jakob Conkling and Marjorie Carvalho

Seven Year’s Later…it’s again Halloween; it’s again Now Playing reviewing Saw! The “torture porn” genre had fallen out of vogue, and Saw‘s grosses fell to match. Now, not quite a decade later, is the world ready for more traps and (plot) twists? Does the Saw cut as deep in its eighth iteration? Strap on your bucket and join Arnie, Jakob, and Marjorie to find out!

October 31, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Jigsaw

New Podcast – Books & Nachos: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Download this episode (right click and save)

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho

In 1987 Clive Barker took the world by storm with his film Hellraiser, but his first draft of that movie wasn’t in screenplay form–it was a short story. Written with the express intent of being a low-budget movie, Barker explores the concepts of love, deceit, murder, and damnation. It became his defining work, but how good is it? And how does the prose differ from the film? Open the box, unchain this podcast, join Arnie in Hell, and find out!
Source: Books and Nachos


October 29, 2017 Posted by | Books, Books & Nachos, Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | | Comments Off on New Podcast – Books & Nachos: The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

New Podcast – Now Playing: Cult of Chucky

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson and Brock

Guess who’s back? Back again? Chucky’s back! With his friends! It’s the Cult of Chucky…but what does that mean? Our Now Playing hosts examine this second direct-to-video movie in the Child’s Play series.  With Chucky creator Don Mancini again writing and directing, do our hosts join the Cult? Find out by joining the cult of Now Playing donors! Support the podcast and get all the bonus Child’s Play movie reviews!

October 27, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Cult of Chucky

New Podcast – Now Playing: Leatherface (2017)

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Stuart Atkinson and Brock

Texas Chainsaw 3D was a success in 2013, but the fast-tracked sequel got mired in studio bureaucracy and changes in creative teams. Finally, nearly five years later, comes Leatherface–a prequel to Tobe Hooper’s original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It has been available to DirecTV customers for the past month, but now it’s streaming through all major platforms. Can this new prequel give a better origin story for Leatherface than Platinum Dunes’ attempt? Join Arnie, Stuart, and Brock to find out!

October 24, 2017 Posted by | Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Leatherface (2017)

New Podcast – Now Playing: Phantasm: Ravager

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Jakob Conkling and Stuart Atkinson

After nearly 20 years dormant the Phantasm series was resurrected for one last time. Filmed shortly before Angus Scrimm’s death, his Tall Man has one last hurrah with his spheres and dwarfs going against the freedom fighters Reggie and Mike. Yet this Phantasm returns to the original where you’re left questioning what you saw. Join the hosts of Now Playing Podcast to find the truth in the dream!  Donate, support independent podcasting, and listen now!

October 20, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Phantasm: Ravager

New Podcast – Now Playing: Death Wish 3

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Jakob Conkling and Stuart Atkinson

Paul Kersey has returned to New York (or London). He didn’t come intending to fight a gang war, but he finds his war buddy gunned down. It’s a fight Kersey didn’t start, but he intends to finish it in Death Wish 3.  It’s the first Death Wish that is officially a Cannon film. Does their Over the Top aesthetic help Charles Bronson’s franchise? Join the Now Playing Podcast hosts to find out!

October 17, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Death Wish 3

New Podcast – Now Playing: Phantasm: OblIVion

Hosted by Arnie Carvalho, Jakob Conkling and Stuart Atkinson

The fourth Phantasm film was shaping up to be major. Written by Pulp Fiction Academy Award Winning writer Roger Avary, the film would be a post-apocalyptic action film starring Bruce Campbell!  But…that’s not the film that was made. Unable to find the money for that film, Don Coscarelli and company made a film that didn’t go to the future, but instead to the past. Is this The Tall Man’s Oblivion? Donate to Now Playing and hear all about the film that was made, and the film that wasn’t!

October 13, 2017 Posted by | News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | Comments Off on New Podcast – Now Playing: Phantasm: OblIVion