Lord of Illusions: Collector’s Edition (1995) [Blu-Ray]

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I appreciate what Clive Barker set out to do with “Lord of Illusions” by introducing us to Harry D’Amour, a reluctant private eye who’d be thrown in to horrifying situations that far outstretched mobsters and cheating wives. In “Lord of Illusions,” Scream Factor gives Barker the chance to present audiences with the director’s cut. This new cut is longer, re-edited, and given a heavier emphasis on the neo-noir crime investigation by D’Amour that leads him to the front door of a satanic wizard that intends to destroy the world, and everything in it. I really wish I could have seen what D’Amour would get in to in future cases. Perhaps the cenobites? Something Lovecraftian?

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Neighbors (2014)

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Director Nicholas Stoll’s comedy at least has entertainment value going for it. It may not be the most consistent or tonally even film of the year, but it’s kind of fun when you get down to it. That’s mainly thanks to Zac Efron and Dave Franco that save the movie from being another self indulgent Seth Rogen improv-athon. Rogen literally can’t play anyone but Rogen anymore, even when playing an alien from outer space, but the supporting cast for “Neighbors” really keeps the film from diving in to abysmal depths and keeps it a notch above mediocre. That also includes Rose Byrne, and the hilarious Carla Gallo.

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The Walking Dead Season One, Episode Four: Vatos

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I always kind of snickered at the people that mock “Vatos” for being the episode about the Mexican gang with the heart of gold. For one thing, the group in Atlanta wasn’t all gang members, and for another if you knew about the Latin and Hispanic culture, “Vatos” rings very true to life. Take the biggest most violent Hispanic male and he’d most likely cower in respect to an elderly man or woman simply because the race reveres the elderly.

Originally the previews for “Vatos” kind of annoyed me, but after watching it in its initial broadcast, it’s a surprisingly great episode. It is most people’s favorite of season one, but it’s not mine. Granted, it’s fantastic, but it really isn’t my favorite of the six episode prologue.

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The Skeleton Twins (2014)

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While Craig Johnson’s “The Skeleton Twins” had every chance to be a self indulgent vehicle for two SNL alumnis, “The Skeleton Twins” ends up being quite fantastic, and compliments the idea that Kristen Wiig is more than a comedian. Co-star Bill Hader also proves he can handle dramatic material with the best of them. Hader’s turn as a self loathing homosexual who is one part of self destructive twins is something of a revelation, and his turn here is Oscar worthy. Maggie is on the verge of committing suicide when she gets a call from a hospital alerting her that her long lost twin brother Milo attempted suicide.

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Annie (2014)

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What bothers me about the loose reimagining of “Annie” is that we’re introduced to Annie during her class where we see a young red haired girl in a dress giving a speech, who then tap dances to her seat. She’s named Annie, and the heroine from this film is called “Annie B.” Yes, her last name is Bennett, but the use of B, feels almost like the writers are subconsciously trying to remind audiences that this isn’t a new Annie, but an alternate Annie who, when all is said and done, isn’t the genuine article. That’s very disappointing and irritating, considering this should be what “Annie” should aspire for. It shouldn’t be a production about a Caucasian orphan being adopted in to wealth and love, but about any kind of girl whose optimism becomes her best tool against a harsh world.

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Five “Friends” Episodes Worth Watching

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I don’t really understand the “Friends” nostalgia, since its aged very poorly since its days in the nineties. Even the episodes in the early aughts vary from mediocre to awful. But I’d be lying if I said I was never a “Friends” fan. In fact I used to watch the show religiously despite the main characters being woefully unlikable. Let’s face it, they are. Rachel is so despicable, it’s a wonder Ross chased after her for so long.

In either case, “Friends” is making its way to Netflix in January, and its loyal fan base are awash with excitement, so here are five episodes from the series that are still very funny and worth sitting through. They also require little to no knowledge of previous storylines. What are your favorites?

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Wish I Was Here (2014)

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When it isn’t trying to be profound or reaching for metaphor and goofy Spike Jonze style photography, “Wish I Was Here” ends up being a pretty interesting family melodrama. It’s not by any means Braff’s masterpiece. I think we’re a long way from ever seeing one. Here he repeats the same beats of his former indie drama “Garden State,” ad nauseum. He’s either intent on reminding people why the aforementioned was so good, or he’s bereft of offering anything new. There’s Jim Parsons, a fractured relationship with a father figure, the ghost of a dead mother, Braff’s character is an actor, and there be plenty ‘o montages set to indie rock music.

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The Walking Dead Season One, Episode Three: Tell It To the Frogs

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Though it’s clear by now that the series is only taking from the comics what it can really turn in to prime horror entertainment, “Tell it to the Frogs” is almost as close to the original comic books as possible. The prologue with Merle handcuffed to the roof of the department store alone while he rambles to himself is horrifying. The interruption of walkers trying to get to him is terrifying. It’s like someone snuck in to my nightmares and filmed it for the series. Michael Rooker is a brilliant actor with the right director, and you gain a sense of Merle’s character with his ultimate mental unraveling in this sequence. He’s stuck, he has no one there, and he will likely die a long miserable death. Who wouldn’t go insane in that situation?

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Monday Movie Pause: Get “TMNT II” on VHS for Christmas!

Here is a wonderful relic of the VHS era, and contemplate that VHS once cost almost as much as a Blu-Ray or DVD title. And they often typically took longer than two months to come to stores. And if you rented them at your local video store, there was no guarantee you’d be able to take them home that night, at the off chance they’d be sold out. So if you wanted to rent “Batman,” you’d likely end up going home with “Soul Man” instead.