It Follows (2014) a (mildly) belated review

In cinema, sex and horror go together like bread and butter or politicians and corruption.

The 2014 horror film It Follows uses this trope very…intimately (ouch) and, for the most part, effectively.

The movie starts with a very distraught young woman running from her home and, eventually, driving away.  She drives until night and finds herself sitting on a secluded beach while the lights of her car shine on her.  She’s on a cell phone talking to her father whom she treated badly before and, between tears, says she never meant to be so mean.  It sounds like a deathbed confession/call for forgiveness and, when daylight comes, we realize all too graphically that’s exactly what it was.

From there we’re introduced to Jay Height (Maika Monroe) a gorgeous young woman who lives in what we assume is a broken home.  She is not the only one.  There is very little parental supervision for seemingly everyone in this neighborhood.  Jay has a devoted younger sister (Lili Sepe) and several friends, including a young man whom she’s known since they were children and who all too obviously pines for her.

Jay heads out on a seemingly innocent date with Hugh (Jake Weary) but dark clouds are hinted at.  After driving to a distant location Jay and her boyfriend have sex.  Afterwards, Jay is knocked unconscious by her boyfriend.  When she comes to, she’s tied to a wheelchair and between apologies Hugh tells her he’s transmitted a strange curse onto Jay by having sex with her.

The curse involves a shape-shifting, and slow moving, creature that only the potential victim(s) see.  The creature follows you after you have sex with another infected person (kinda/sorta like the curse of the werewolf) and, unless you have sex with someone else to pass the curse along, this creature will follow you until it kills you.  Complicating matters, if Jay doesn’t have sex with anyone else and should she be killed by the creature, Hugh says, it will go back to hunting him down.

Of course Jay doesn’t believe him, but then the thing appears in the guise of a nude woman…

In many ways It Follows is like a horror/sexual themed game of “tag”.  You’re it, until you’re killed or you get someone else to be “it”.

It Follows features some genuinely frightening scenes, scenes which had me on the edge of my seat.  The movie accomplishes this without relying on gore (the most gory segment is presented at the start of the film).  Further, the characters -and actors who play them- are all uniformly good.

I would most certainly recommend It Follows to horror fans, but with some caveats.  First up, the film is rather slow moving, especially in the opening acts.  It takes some time for things to get going, and some may not have the patience to put up with such a slow pace.

Secondly, the film’s makers delight in offering vague possibilities of things that may have happened.  The audience is expected to think through what they’ve seen and decide for themselves on things that may have happened, and I suspect there will be those who aren’t happy with many things being up in the air like that (I’ll offer more information after the trailer in a SPOILERS section below).

Finally, as a fan of director John Carpenter, it was all too clear this film used Mr. Carpenter’s original 1978 Halloween as a template.  Depending on your tolerance for homages (or, to put it less kindly, rip offs), you may lose patience at the way this movie cribs from that one.

Regardless, I still recommend It Follows.  It’s a genuinely scary film with some well earned shocks and will leave you with a sense of unease when all is said and done.



Still here?

You’ve been warned!!!!

Ok, so I mentioned above It Follows presents vague scenarios which the viewer is meant to interpret.  I’ll get into a couple of them and offer my thoughts but, as stated, I do get SPOILERY here.

That was your last warning.

After determining there is indeed some kind of monster coming after her, Jay drives alone very far away from home and falls asleep on her car in some secluded beach area.  When she wakes up, it is daytime and she hears the sounds of men talking.  She walks to the beach and sees a boat off in the near distance with three men in it.  She takes off her pants and, in underwear, walks into the water.  We then cut to her driving back home.  Her hair is wet and we are left to wonder: Did she have sex with the three men to pass off her curse?

My guess is she did not.

The reason being that the creature is after her once again very -indeed too– quickly.  Of course, that isn’t the only interpretation.  Perhaps the three men, after having sex with her, remained together and the creature caught up with them all at once.  This is certainly a possibility, but my interpretation is that Jay very seriously flirted with the idea of passing off her problem but ultimately did not.

Later still in the film Jay and her friends go to an indoor pool they once frequented as children (water and pools are a recurring motif in this film).  The idea is to have Jay go into this very large pool and draw the creature into it.  Once inside, Jay swims out and the gang zap the slow moving creature with any of the numerous electric devices they brought with them and have plugged in and waiting beside the pool.

When the creature arrives, Jay is asked what shape it has (again, the creature is only visible to its victims).  Jay refuses to say and, in the IMDb page, it is revealed the creature took on the shape of “Mr. Height”, ie Jay’s father.  Only those with eagle eyes who notice the family portraits presented earlier in the film will realize this is the final shape of the thing.

Once at the pool area, it is clear the thing does not want to go into the water.  It tries to kill Jay by throwing the various objects the gang left around the pool at her.  Jay and her friends, however, manage to throw the creature into the water and, apparently, kill it.

The big question is: Do they?

The film ends with Jay giving in to her childhood friend.  Their relationship, however, is entirely loveless.  Though she sleeps with him, whatever “heat” the boy felt for her is dissipated by the sobering reality of the monster that may still hunt them.

Her new/old boyfriend is seen driving by a pair of (all too obvious) prostitutes after they sleep together and we’re again left to wonder if the curse, now passed on to him, he intends to pass off to them.  However, we see him drive on and are left to wonder if he gave in or, like Jay, maybe decided to take responsibility for his actions…if the creature is still alive.  (I like to think he, like Jay, realizes it is tempting to pass off the deadly “problem” but decides not to…which is my own subjective view.  Again, the movie leaves us without a clear answer)

The movie ends with the pair walking down a sidewalk, hand in hand, while someone walks a ways behind them.

Is it the creature?

We’ll never know…

…Or do we?

Once again the film leaves us to interpret what we see rather than give us straight answers.  In this case I suspect the movie’s beginning offers a clue to what happens at the movie’s end.

As I stated before, we start with a young woman running away to a beach and eventually calling her father on her cellphone before becoming, we assume, the first victim movie-goers see of this creature.

If you paid attention you will notice this young woman drives a modern car and talks to her father on a cell-phone.

HOWEVER, the rest of the film presents a time period which very much looks like it belongs in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.  All the TVs during the bulk of the movie are the old “glass” panel type.  The cars on the streets are older models.  None of the characters, except for the one in the opening of the film who drives a modern car, have cell phones.  Other than a strange “Kindle” type reading device one of the characters carries, every bit of technology we see is at least thirty years old or more (I have to wonder about that device.  It’s stands out as being really out of that era -and ours!- yet was clearly included for some reason in the film.  I can’t guess as to why).

If we are to assume the opening act of the film takes place in a our present and the rest of the movie in the past, then we have our answer regarding what happened to Jay and her boyfriend, right?

And it is as downbeat as you think.

Anyway, just some of my own personal thoughts.  Yours may well be different.

When you’re wrong you’re wrong…

A couple of days ago I pointed out a CNN segment which featured a bewildered host interviewing what I assume were a group of Trump voters and was shocked when one of them, a woman, noted how she believed “millions” of “illegals” had voted in the election and that President Obama actually encouraged “illegals” to vote.  You can see the full CNN report (and clip) here.

In referencing this clearly misinformed (I’m trying to be polite) voter, I noted:

Look, its easy to knock the woman in this group for the absolutely stupid things she claims are true.  I suspect the others in that group, though not much footage is offered of their opinions, are also Trump supporters.

The reality is…I feel sorry for her.  I truly do.

Well, over the weekend we had another, far more scary reaction to bogus news.  This article by Kevin Bohn, Daniel Allman, and Greg Clary also appeared on CNN:

Gun-Brandishing Man Sought To Investigate Conspiracy Theory

I’ll try to offer a brief encapsulation of the story, though I urge you to read the full article:

When the John Podesta emails were released via Wiki-Leaks, there was mention of Comet Ping, a pizza establishment, that was an apparent spot he and others frequented.

From this the conspiracy theorists (I won’t even begin to guess how their minds worked this particular theory out) weaved a web that stated this establishment was somehow hiding a child sex ring, no doubt supervised by those evil, scum-sucking liberals.

Enter one Edgar Madison Welch, 28.  He entered the establishment brandishing a weapon (perhaps an assault rifle) and was eventually arrested.  Thankfully, no one was injured during this very scary event.

Why did Mr. Welch show up at Comet Ping with a weapon?  From the above article:

“During a post arrest interview this evening, the suspect revealed that he came to the establishment to self-investigate ‘Pizza Gate’ (a fictitious online conspiracy theory),” the police department said in a statement.

I felt sorry for the mis-informed middle aged woman who was so damn certain “millions” of illegals voted.

Based on the above incident, maybe I shouldn’t be so damn nice about the spreading, and believing, of mis-information.

Maybe its time to hold those who spread such idiotic rumors to account.  Especially before someone, a very real someone, gets hurt.

Just feelin’ this mood, Strangers When We Meet…

…nothing more, nothing less.

The above is the full length version of the song which appeared on what I consider David Bowie’s best overall album from his later years, 1. Outside.  The song, however, originally appeared in a slightly different version on David Bowie’s previous album, The Buddha of Suburbia

Looking around, I found this, an early demo of the song.  Though intriguing, I’m kinda glad they moved away from using the demo’s intro.  Otherwise, the song is very close to The Buddha of Suburbia’s version…

Finally, the official video to the song when used to promote 1. Outside.  I believe the video cuts the song down a little, timewise…

Finally, a live version Mr. Bowie did of this song…

By God, listen to how smooth his voice was here!

Really sad to think there’s nothing “new” coming out from this extraordinary man anymore.

Finally, the lyrics to Strangers When Me Meet:

All our friends
Now seem so thin and frail
Slinky secrets
Hotter than the sun
No peachy frairs
No trendy rechauffe
I’m with you
So I can’t go on
All my violence raining tears upon the sheets
I’m bewildered, for we’re strangers when we meet
Blank screen tv
Preening ourselves in the snow
Forget my name
But I’m over you
Blended sunrise
And it’s a dying world
Humming Rheingold
We scavenge up our clothes
All my violence, raging tears upon the sheets
I’m resentful, for we’re strangers when we meet
Cold tired fingers
Tapping out your memories
Halfway sadness
Dazzled by the new
Your embrace
It was all that I feared
That whirling room
We trade by vendu
Steely resolve is falling from me
My poor soul, poor bruised passivity
All your regrets ran rough-shod over me
I’m so glad that we’re strangers when we meet
I’m so thankful, cause we’re strangers when we meet.
I’m in clover, for we’re strangers when we meet.
Heel head over, cause we’re strangers when we meet.
Strangers when we meet. (x9)

The Walking Dead…

One of the most popular shows on TV these past few years has been The Walking Dead.  Airing on AMC, the show -for those few who don’t bother watching television and/or have lived inside a very deep cave these past years (Trump is the elected President…sorry to have to scare you with that bit of news!)- the show is about a group of people who have banded together after a zombie apocalypse and try to survive.

The show was based on a comic book of the same name…

Image result for the walking dead comic

…which back in the day and well before the TV show started I happened to like quite a bit.

Anyway, now in its seventh season, The Walking Dead TV show, according to this article by Charlie Mason for, has hit a four year ratings low.  Mr. Mason explores the “whys” in his article:

6 Possible Reasons The Walking Dead Hit A Four Year Ratings Low

As I mentioned above, I was a big fan of the comic book.  Would it surprise you if I said I haven’t watched even one full episode of the TV show?  I’ve caught bits and pieces (no pun intended) of the show here and there, and I admit it interests me to read about it (just as I pointed out the above article) but I have no interest at all in spending time with the TV show.


I think one of the 6 reasons Mr. Mason listed in the above article applies quite a bit to me and my feelings for the comic book series, though I will take that and expand on it some in a moment, and it in turn clouded my interest in seeing the show.  To wit, Mr. Mason’s reason #6 why viewership of the show might be down is:

6 | It’s depressing as hell

The Walking Dead worked for me as a comic book because it was an at times relentlessly bleak look at a post-apocalyptic world.  It was also ballsy as hell, willing to kill beloved and not so beloved characters with startling impunity.

However, the comic book series reached a point where it started to, IMHO, lose considerable steam.  Its possible that at that time creator/writer Robert Kirkman was involved in the TV version’s genesis and therefore was a little distracted (the timing is roughly right).

Anyway, our band of survivors made their way to a fortress prison and realized this was a perfect place for them to hunker down.  They cleaned out the zombies within the prison and thanks to the heavy fences they were indeed safe from the zombies outside.

The comic book series, IMHO, at that point started to sputter.  In many ways Mr. Kirkman had written himself into a corner: With our survivors really safe, we had one issue of the comic book after another devoted to them interacting and, without that sense of danger, things grew…dull.

I recall at the time I wasn’t the only person who felt this.  If memory serves, there were letters within the book itself noting things were a little too placid, and I recall Mr. Kirkman responding to some of those concerns by saying things would turn.

They did.

What happened in the comic book was that all hell broke loose and, in one single page, I lost all interest in the book.  Look below at your own peril…

Image result for the walking dead comic death of lori

This was the death of Lori Grimes and her newborn child as she was running from the antagonists du jour as the prison situation went belly up.

When I reached that page of the book, I quite literally put the book down and never bought another issue of The Walking Dead.

Killing off a character like Lori Grimes and their newborn child within the grim context of The Walking Dead wasn’t what bothered me.  Many other interesting/likeable characters had met their ends before and given what the series was about, killing Lori Grimes and her child was something that was possible.

But the way it was presented?  A full page, blood splattered panel like that one?

I felt like Mr. Kirkman and the comic’s artist decided they’d really show all those people who thought the series was going “soft” what-for.

So they did.

They did it in a way that, to my eyes, was incredibly, awfully, unforgivably, sadistic and cruel.

Again, killing Lori Grimes and her newborn was something a series as grim and bleak as The Walking Dead could most certainly do.

But did they have to do it this way?  Did they have to be so nasty about it?

That was the point, for me, that The Walking Dead had simply gone a step too far and I couldn’t continue with it.  Clearly I wasn’t in any sort of majority here for the series, and the TV show, continue to this day.

But perhaps the most recent events (I’ll not spoil them) have created in others the feeling I had when I saw the above page.  Perhaps there comes a time when a enjoyable -yet bleak- series takes things one step too far and its a step many are unwilling to follow.

Then again, maybe the show will rebound and come back stronger than ever.  As with so many things, we’ll see.

And this is why we’re going down…

I really didn’t want to see the CNN video below but was curious about its headline: “Trump supporter claims stun CNN Anchor.”  So I saw it.


Look, its easy to knock the woman in this group for the absolutely stupid things she claims are true.  I suspect the others in that group, though not much footage is offered of their opinions, are also Trump supporters.

The reality is…I feel sorry for her.  I truly do.

It’s so easy to prey on people’s fears and/or desires and whip up their emotions with bogus stories and alarmist fare.  Clearly this woman has lapped it up, believing that a) millions of “illegals” voted for Clinton in California and b) that somehow President Obama encourage these “illegals” to vote.

Her proof?  She claims it was on the news and, to be fair, the CNN anchor did find a bogus “news” story that presented the second claim on (where else?) a Fox News report.

Yet I stand by what I say: I feel sorry for this woman.  She views the news (apparently any news) as something that is truthful in its presentation when, sadly, this is becoming less and less and progressively even less the case.

I’m not saying all news lies, but one has to judge the news from multiple sources.

The fact of the matter is that if President Obama had actually encouraged “illegals” to vote, don’t you think that would be smeared across all news networks?  The fact that it appeared on only one (discredited) news article should make you skeptical of it at best.

Yet for some this will become a truth and when its in your head its difficult to remove it.

The other day there was a “hot” video presented a Trump supporter in Florida (why does my state seem to be the focus of so much weird stuff?!) getting incensed because the barista at a Starbucks wasn’t giving him his coffee quickly enough.

The Trump supporter went off on her and, well, see for yourself…

So your immediate reaction is: This guy is a jerk, right?  When the anger died down (somewhat) we have this…

Note a couple of things in the above news video:

First off, the man is a lot more level headed and offers an apology for his behavior, even though he still feels he was discriminated against (hey, that’s his opinion and if indeed he did wait 20 plus minutes for a coffee and it wasn’t delivered, I’d probably get angry too, though I doubt I’d jump to this being caused by discrimination).

Secondly, as the report ends, it is noted the man suffers from some kind of issue (mental?  Who knows) and admitted to the reporters he was off his medication at the time of the confrontation.

So I’m inclined to give the guy a pass.  I very much think he’s wrong in assuming he was “discriminated” against.  I mean, come on, does he have a “I supported Trump” tattoo on his forehead?  How the hell did the barista know his political tendencies?

It’s so much easier to chalk his anger being related to just plain old poor service, something everyone can relate to.  That being the case, he did apologize for acting on that.  But to use a loaded term like being “discriminated” against?!  That’s victimization example “a” in your all-too typical right wing hot air handbook.

In a very long, roundabout way what I’m saying is that I can understand people being guided by misleading -or outright lying- in the media or in right wing sources, many of which create a reality about them that doesn’t exist.  What scares the crap out of me is when decent people (again, the man above did apologize and it looks like he was genuinely ashamed of his reaction…either that or I’m completely misreading him) fall prey to these emotions and act out on them..

I can’t help but feel these people helped elect a man who will prove himself to be completely unfit for office and, ultimately, a detriment to the very people who voted for him.

Having said that, I’m willing to give him at least a little latitude to prove me wrong.

Which is more than I can say about the latitude many gave President Obama when he was twice elected.  And I say this as someone who did not agree with all the things he did/is doing during his term.

Do video games make us cruel?

It’s a fascinating question that I admit has been on my mind more and more these days.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: It wasn’t always like that.

In fact, when the first protests against video games were heard, it was back in the days when the Atari 2600 and its stone age graphics/sounds was still popular and Arcades even moreso, as the games there were light years ahead of whatever you could play at home.

Still, I recall people wondering if video games might be bad for those playing it.  If the aggression displayed on these games is something we should worry about.  For let’s face it, almost every video game created with some notable exceptions involve your character killing someone/something to get ahead.

One of the very first mega-popular video games (after Pong) was Space Invaders

Image result for space invaders

I couldn’t even guess how many hours I spent playing this game.  For those who haven’t, you’re the little guy at the bottom of the screen and you’ve got four bunkers which protect you from the wave of invaders above you.  They move across the screen and then down, slowly coming your way.  Your job is to shoot and kill these waves of invaders before they kill you.

A short time later Pacman became THE big game of the arcade…

Image result for pac man

You are Pacman, a yellow dot with a mouth and your job is to navigate the maze you are in and eat all those dots before the four “ghosts” get you.  The bigger dots grant you the temporary power to eat those ghosts…though their demise is always temporary.

Many, many other games followed, both with home systems and in the Arcades (at least until computer technology got so good there was no longer a need for Arcades to exist… you could play better games in the comfort of your home).

Point is, when I heard back then the protests of violence in video games I thought it was beyond silly.  These games, state of the art thought they were back then, were so obviously a fiction that, my younger self felt, only an over-concerned fool would think anyone playing these games would mistake them with reality.

Of course, we’ve come a very long way since then and the question I scoffed at years before I must admit I don’t scoff at now.

The fact is that many games feature spectacular -and sometimes very real– graphics.  Here, for example, is a screen shot from one of the currently hottest video games out there, Battlefield 1:

Image result for battlefield 1 best images

The level of detail in this image alone is, to put it bluntly, stunning.  I have the game and have played it and everything about the game, visually, is indeed incredible.  If I could somehow go back in time to my Space Invaders playing self and show him that game, I suspect young me would have a meltdown.

Compare the above image with this screen shot from the vector based game Red Baron, one of the most popular games way back then which feature a WWI theme like Battlefield 1:

Related image

How about that?!

Thing is, the crudity of the graphics created a sense of unreality to those early games.  We knew we were dealing with a simulation because nothing in real life looked like this.

Not so today.

Laura Miller over at Slate magazine offers an interesting article concerning worries some have that today’s video games with their hyper-realistic graphics and at times very gory/violent themes might eventually make us, if not more violent, perhaps more cruel

How Video Games Change Us

It’s a fascinating read and, for those who think it leans one way or the other, it is a very even handed, IMHO, article that points out the pros and cons of the argument.

If you’re like me and worry that perhaps today’s more violent video games may have some kind of effect on the players, its a worthy read.

Add another one to the list…

Let’s be blunt: 2016 has been a brutal year for deaths.

From big celebrities to small, it seems not a day passes (ouch) without some new name added to this blackest of lists.

Add one more: Jim Delligatti.


You say you don’t know who Mr. Delligatti is?

Here’s a hint:

And here’s a second hint:

Mr. Delligatti, for those who don’t know the name (like me, until I read the below article) was the creator of what is arguably McDonald’s best known menu item: The Big Mac.

Mr. Delligatti created the famous item back in 1967 and it became a part of all the McDonald menus in 1968.  He passed away yesterday at the age of 98 and if you want to read a little more about the man and his creation, here you go:

Big Mac Creator Jim Delligatti Dies at 98