Thursday, 6 September 2018

Movie Review: The Blue Lagoon (1980)

Honestly, I feel The Blue Lagoon (1980) hardly warrants the effort to write a review. I disliked it that much. No, that’s not right. I detested and was utterly disgusted by this movie.

Jay tells me I sometimes lose objectivity when I do reviews. It’s something I try to keep an eye out for. This time, though, I’m going to put objectivity aside and lay into this POS.

The Blue Lagoon is nothing more than a paedophile’s wet dream. There is nothing about this movie that makes it redeemable to anyone else - not even Christopher Atkins, who you know I adore.

I understand that, in certain settings and to further a story line, there come times when a filmmaker might need to show naked children and/or children on inappropriate situations. This, of course, requires both a plot and a purpose - neither of which The Blue Lagoon possesses.

This is a nearly two-hour film that feels four. It drags, never getting to the point. It lingers on the children’s nudity unnecessarily and, yes, they do get it on. Even if the children weren’t meant to be cousins (eww), the age difference between the two main actors would be a cause for concern. Brook Shields wasn’t of age at the time of filming but Christopher Atkins was.

So, let’s recap:
Incest? Check.
Child nudity? Check.
Child pornography? Check.
Statutory rape? Check.
Gee, I guess The Blue Lagoon really has it all.

And don’t even get me started on that stupid, pointless, infuriating ending. I’ve seen a lot - a LOT - of bad movies but I’ve never seen anything that was a bigger waste of my time than The Blue Lagoon.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Movie Review: Cactus Jack (1979)

One of the problems with compiling a list of movies I haven’t seen is the reason I haven’t seen those movies. There are a lot of Westerns on this list because they just don’t appeal to me.

Good thing Jay loves a challenge.

When I complained to Jay that I just haven’t found a Western I really enjoyed, he said, “Let’s watch Cactus Jack [aka: The Villain].” (Well, first, he said, “You like Blazing Saddles,” and he was right. Turns out I only dislike Westerns that take themselves too seriously...)

My first thought when Cactus Jack (1979) started was, 'Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie.' When we finished watching Cactus Jack, the first thing I said to Jay was, "Omg, this is a Looney Tunes movie."

Pretty much every Western ever made could start with exactly the same sweeping shot of sand and mountains, cacti and tumbleweed. Cactus Jack is no exception. After that, though, Cactus Jack is nothing like any of the other Westerns I've seen. It's more like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. In fact, when Jay was trying to convince me to watch Cactus Jack, he said, "Just think Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner."

He was not wrong.

If you think I'm wrong about how silly it gets, wait for the bit where the baddie paints a tunnel onto a solid wall. You know where this is going, right? Right. Not even joking.

There are some pretty ridiculous names in this movie too. Names like Charming Jones (Ann-Margret), Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and Nervous Elk (Paul Lynde). Charming is the gorgeous woman who's only interested in sex, Handsome is as dimwitted as he is good-looking, and there's nothing about Nervous Elk that resembles the Native American he's supposed to be. Then, there's Jack...

Kirk Douglas's Cactus Jack is rotten to the core but completely useless at being a villain. Even his horse is smarter than he is. Much, much smarter. Honestly, Whiskey (Jack's horse) is the best part of the movie - and, considering my dislike for horses, you know that's saying something!

Whiskey has zero interest in helping his owner perform villainy and does everything possible to foil Jack's evil plans - including helping the authorities apprehend Jack. If you don't watch Cactus Jack for any other reason, watch it for Whiskey the horse.

Cactus Jack is one of Arnie's earliest appearances in film, which is pretty obvious when he finally makes an appearance. There's very little actual acting involved. Mostly, he stares straight ahead and looks oblivious - which, you know, was probably the limit of his ability at the time.

Like I said before (and on many other occasions,) I'm not a fan of Westerns. I loved this stupid movie, though. Just remember that the stereotypes are supposed to be stereotypes and the cultural appropriation is supposed to be creditworthy and you'll be fine.

Have you seen Cactus Jack? Want to weigh in? Either drop a comment below or find me on Twitter (@witchybelle4u2.) If you can suggest a Western for people who don't like Westerns, even better.

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Book #1), Deborah Harkness

I was a little reluctant to try this one. Everyone I asked about it compared it to Twilight. Kind of puts you off, you know? I think it's unfair to compare A Discovery of Witches to Twilight, though, because it's smarter and the writing is so much better. There are, unfortunately, a couple of similarities between the two - the biggest being the fang thing.

Why do we keep neutering vampires, dammit? Give them their fangs back!

*pet peeve*

There's also the whole watching-over-her-while-she's-sleeping thing and Matthew's reluctance to have sex with Diana, which are both kind of annoying. Aside from those, A Discovery of Witches and Twilight are very different. (Thank the Gods.)

Like I said, A Discovery of Witches is intelligent. You need a fairly well-rounded education/general knowledge to really appreciate all the references. It starts in a library in Oxford, after all. The location (er, locations) is one of the things I like best about the book. Being an American in Britain has a very particular feeling, one Harkness captures perfectly.

“As far as I can tell, there are only two emotions that keep the world spinning, year after year. One is fear. The other is desire.” 
― Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches is undeniably a romance. (Enough that I suspect my husband won't be watching the TV series with me when it starts.) A really great, really sweet romance. I definitely "aww"ed a few times while reading this. Might have even blushed once or twice, too. ;)

It's a romance you won't be able to help falling in love with.

Did I mention there's a TV series coming? The trailer is the whole reason I picked this book up in the first place.

If it's anything like the book, it's gonna break me, for sure.

Over the years, I've grown to dislike reading books that are part of a series. Most of the time, I won't even pick up the second book. I've gotten too used to being let down by the books that come after. Please don't let that be the case with the All Souls series because I'm dying to find out what happens to Diana and Matthew.

Monday, 3 September 2018

School Sucks! The 10 Best Back-to-School Horror Movies

I'm always surprised when I see social media posts complaining about this time of the year because I loved going back to school after summer break. Of course, school where was my family wasn't so I had a lot to look forward to.

Not everyone feels the same way, though. I know you're out there, school-haters. I know you're dragging your feet today as you head back to school. Well, I can't help you get through your first day back BUT I can give you something to enjoy when that hellish first day is over.

10. Prom Night

I'm not going to lie and say Prom Night is a cinematic masterpiece - there's a reason it's at the bottom of this list, after all - but crap can be enjoyable too. Besides, any movie is 100x better for starring Jamie Lee Curtis, right?
Prom Night is pure, mindless, slasher pulp. It's gory, predictable, and cheesy - all the reasons I love it.

Also Watch: Slaughter High
9. Teaching Mrs. Tingle

Teaching Mrs. Tingle is a guilty pleasure. It doesn't have the merit some movies that didn't make the cut did (take Happy Death Day, Carrie, and Urban Legends, as examples), but it makes me nostalgic and has one of the best actors ever in it. (Um, Helen Mirren, not Katie Holmes. How sad do you think I am?!)
The thing that makes Teaching Mrs. Tingle so enjoyable is how spiteful the teacher is. Assuming she's the film's victim would be a horrible mistake.

Also Watch: Murder by Numbers
8. Idle Hands

I almost didn't include Idle Hands on this list because there's every chance it will appear on my list of favourite Halloween movies but, in the end, I just couldn't leave it out. It's too good.
I honestly couldn't tell you how many times I've seen Idle Hands (I might have had a small crush on Devon Sawa as a kid...) but I know it's too many. Even though I've seen it so many times, it still makes me roar with laughter. It might be the cutest movie about possession ever made...

Also Watch: Jessica's Body
7. Ginger Snaps

Think getting your period sucks? You have no idea...
Everyone loves a good coming of age story and, hey, if there are also werewolves? Bonus!
Ginger Snaps is one of my favourite back-to-school horror movies because, let's be honest, it's more than a little messed up. There's a good mixture of gore and humor, without there being too much of either and I love that Brigitte & Ginger weren't any kind of normal, even before the lycanthropy came into it.

Also Watch: Blood & Chocolate
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I'll fight anyone who says Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a bad movie.
Come at me.
I really don't get all the hate Buffy the Vampire Slayer gets. No, it's not as good as the TV series, but it's still fun and creepy.
Okay, yeah, it's a little cringe-worthy but hello? Did you live through the Nineties?!

Also Watch: My Best Friend is a Vampire
5. Final Destination

A Million Ways to Die in an American High School.
The Final Destination movies are so much more clever than you really appreciate upon first watching. The deaths are deviously devised and carried out to hilarious, horrifying effect. There isn't a Destination film I don't love.
(*cough, cough* Devon Sawa...)

Also Watch: My Soul to Take
4. The Craft

I was a teenage witch - both a factual statement and how I would describe The Craft.
The Craft deals with some pretty serious issues of race, identity, unhealthy relationships, abuse, and more. Honestly, though, you're too busy enjoying the wicked magic to think too hard about all that.
Basically, the cinematic embodiment of The Rule of Three.

Also Watch: The Covenant
3. Scream

Oh, high school... you evil, murderous bitch...
Scream is just too fun. It brings back memories of hanging out with friends, laughing at horror movies, and eating more junk food than I would have thought humanly possible. Oh, yeah, and wanting to kill your boyfriends...
Just me?

Also Watch: A Nightmare on Elm Street
2. Disturbing Behavior

If Disturbing Behavior teaches us anything, it's that you can't trust adults. They're all a bunch of- Wait, huh? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M AN ADULT?!
Disturbing Behavior is basically The Stepford School, with plenty of teenage angst and nookie. You know... if that's your thing.

Also Watch:The Faculty
1. The Awakening

This surprisingly underrated movie is my number one choice for back-to-school horror. It's has that bleak, sombre feel that only British films really capture, with brilliant performances by great British actors, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.
The contrast of intensely erotic moments followed by unexpected frights guarantee The Awakening will get your heart pounding - one way or another.

Also Watch: The Devil's Backbone

As always, I want to hear your opinions! Do you agree with my back-to-school horror favs? Get in touch on twitter (@witchybelle4u2), Facebook, or drop a comment below.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Cover Reveal: The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories

I've been looking forward to this one. I give you... The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories!

The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories features stories from 17 of the world's best new voices in horror:
Phillip Drake
Tina Grehm
Wondra Vanian
Simon Lee-Price
Nico Bell
Horace Torys
Philip Charter
Danna Wilberg
Tr Hitchman
Ian Gough
Sue Eaton Writer
Suzan St Maur
Joanie Chevalier
William Quincy Belle
Mark A Smart
Mary Camarillo
A H Sargeant
I'm happy to say my short, "In My Day...", is one of the stories included in The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories. If you want an idea of what kind of witch I'll be when I'm old, you wanna get your hands on this one. 😉

Pre-order is available now! Click here to reserve your copy!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

20 Must-See Back-to-School Movies

It's that time of year again! (Is it just me or is time going way faster than it used to? Yup, we're getting old, y'all.) The nights are growing longer, which means less time at the beach and more time cwtched up on the sofa. The first leaves are changing and we're surrounded by scores of half-price stationary. You know what that means...

It's back-to-school time!

I'll just wait a moment while the parents out there do a happy dance.

So... As the kiddos all head back, it's time to indulge in memories of our own school days with some school-themed movies. Here are 20 of my favourite must-see movies to get the whole family in the back-to-school mood.

20. American Pie
Gross-out movies are so not my thing. That being said, you might be surprised to see American Pie on this list. Even though there are moments that make me want to hurl, I can't ignore American Pie because it's one of those movies that defines my generation. (Whether that's a good or bad thing, I won't comment on.) It came out the year I graduated and will always make me think of that end-of-high-school feeling.
Also Watch: American Pie: Reunion
19. My Best Friend is a Vampire
If you haven't seen My Best Friend is a Vampire, do yourself a favor and go watch it. It's one of those movies that should be too dumb to work but somehow does because it doesn't take itself too seriously. Plus, Robert Sean Leonard and Rene Auberjonois as vampires - what more do you need?
Also Watch: Once Bitten
18. Some Kind of Wonderful
Not to get all sappy on you or anything but Some Kind of Wonderful is one of my favourite romances. It's that old best-friends-don't-know-they-love-each-other-thing, which has been done a million times, but it's also totally Eighties and there's mega chemistry between the leads. As much as I love Keith and Watts, Elias Koteas as a bad-ass skinhead steals the show.
Also Watch: Pretty in Pink
17. Election
Election always makes me go, "What the eff am I watching?" It's beyond messed up, yet a little too real at the same time. We all know how cutthroat high school can be, right? Election takes it to a whole other level and leaves you shaking your head.
Also Watch: Legally Blonde
16. Juno
The thing that makes Juno work is how low-key it is. It deals with this incredibly huge theme (teen pregnancy) without turning it into a massive drama. The teens are basically just young adults (shocker) and act more level-headed than many of the adults in the film. Plus, it doesn't make any judgements about abortion or adoption and the main character, Juno, isn't punished for making a mistake, unlike too many films that deal with the same subject matter.
Also Watch: Napoleon Dynamite
15. The Breakfast Club
If you haven't already seen The Breakfast Club, I have to wonder what cave you've been hiding in. This is pretty much the quintessential teen movie. You've got all the cliques coming together (well, forced to come together) to fight The Man. The Breakfast Club is high school, period.
Also Watch: St. Elmo's Fire
14. Drive Me Crazy
Sometimes, you just need some great Nineties cheese. There's nothing particularly original about Drive Me Crazy. It's just another makeover movie but it's too freaking cute not to include here.
Also Watch: She's All That
13. Mean Girls
Mean Girls is a little bit of everything. You've got your makeover, romance, cliques, and revenge. It's both bitchy and humorous, which makes it fun to watch. I think Mean Girls is as important for defining a generation as American Pie (and much less disgusting.)
Also Watch: Heathers
12. To Sir, With Love
You really have no idea how different British schools are from American ones until you've spent time in both. To Sir, With Love exemplifies that difference, while highlighting social factors affecting Britain in the Sixties. It can be a little hard to watch because of the attitudes toward race, gender, and class but those are exactly the reasons it's important to watch To Sir, With Love. Also, Siydney Poitier is a legend. (And, you get a little performance from a very young Lulu.)
Also Watch: Lean on Me
11. Clueless
As if you needed more proof that I went to school in the Nineties, right? Clueless captures what I have to call the worst, most cringe-worth parts of the decade and wraps them up in a delicious Austen coating. It's hella long but worth every minute.
Also Watch: Cruel Intentions
10. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ferris Bueller's Day Off is like a strange fever dream. I don't know how many times I've seen it... and I still haven't quite worked out the point of it all. It's fun, though, so if you're after mindless entertainment, this is the one for you.
Also Watch: Fast Times at Ridgemont High
9. Love, Simon
The newest addition to my list. Love, Simon is based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, a novel by Becky Albertalli. I haven't read the book yet but it only took a couple of minutes to fall in love with the movie. I have a lot more to say about this one (you can read all that here) but for this list, all I'll say is that it deals with growing up gay in today's society.
Also Watch: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
8. Easy A
High school is a time for finding out who you are - unfortunately, that can be hard to do when other people are making assumptions about you at the same time. (Seriously, I don't even have time to list all the rumours that went around about me in school.) Easy A calls bullshit on the high school rumour mill to hilarious effect, with a little Scarlet Letter thrown in for good measure. It's funny but heavy at the same time.
Also Watch: Sixteen Candles
7. 10 Things I Hate About You
I don't even want to talk about 10 Things I Hate About You. I just want to go *sigh*. It's so charming that you might forget you're watching an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. On top of that, you've got a young Heath Ledger belting out "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and Julia Stiles in a role that actually works for her. (A rare thing, I know.)
Also Watch: Say Anything
6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is just, well, magic. I honestly can't imagine anyone making it to 2018 without seeing this one. It's one of the few modern classics that's infused our cultural literacy as much as the likes of Star Wars. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has all the best parts of starting a new school with a whopping dose of magic on top. Don't just watch this one, though. Binge the whole series. Immediately.
Also Watch: The Worst Witch
5. Varsity Blues
Varsity Blues is the warm, cosy security blanket I crawl under every autumn. If I watch it once a year, I'll watch it half a dozen times. It's a movie about peer pressure and standing up for what you believe in - even if, in doing so, you rock the foundations of a whole damned town.
Also Watch: Friday Night Lights
4. Kindergarten Cop
Who doesn't love Kindergarten Cop?! (No, seriously... give me their names. I'll take care of them.) It's one of the funniest movies you'll ever see, especially if you've had any experience in the classroom. (Arnie's exasperation is 100% relatable.) Also, it's just plain cute.
Also Watch: Billy Madison
3. Scent of a Woman
It's hard to pick Al Pacino's best role because the man is just leagues above other actors. If I were forced to, though, it would be Scent of a Woman. This one has all the feels. You start out wanting to scream at Slade but, by the end, he's your freaking hero. This is one of those movies that get better with age. (Your age. If you still identify more with Simms than you do with Slade, you haven't grown to fully appreciate Scent of a Woman yet.)
Also Watch: Rudy
2. Good Will Hunting
This is one of those movies that should be too heavy to watch again and again but somehow isn't. Good Will Hunting gave us Affleck and Damon's absolute best with a bucket of emotion just waiting to slosh over into happy tears. It's even more poignant now that Robin Williams has left us. I dare you to watch Good Will Hunting without shedding a tear.
Also Watch: Finding Forrester
1. Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society is one of the purest movies ever made. Robin Williams was good in Good Will Hunting but Dead Poets Society is Williams at his very best, paired with an unbelievable performance from Robert Sean Leonard. (You'd never believe it was the same actor from My Best Friend is a Vampire, would you?) Talk about heavy - Dead Poets Society is the cinematic equivalent of an anchor but, it's handled in such a way that, although you'll bawl your eyes out, it still manages to lift you up and leave you feeling better about life. One of the best movies ever made, hands down.
Also Watch: October Sky

It's surprisingly difficult to keep it to just twenty movies, with the abundance of coming-of-age, scholastic movies out there but these are the ones that speak to me. Maybe you have your own list? Share it! If you just want to discuss my choices, drop me a comment below.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Back-to-School Blog Post Ideas

The start of a new school year means summer's finally coming to an end. (Yay!) Things get a bit crazy this time of year and, sometimes, our blogs suffer neglect - but they don't have to! Our experiences preparing for back-to-school time can help others. If you have a bit of time but aren't sure what to write about, hopefully this list can provide a little inspiration.

For convenience, I've broken these down into categories. Just pick the section (or sections) that applies to you and get blogging.

Ideas for Students: 

  • back-to-school checklist
  • must-have school supplies
  • getting ready for your first day
  • back to school fashion tips
  • your school year bucket list
  • how I spent my summer vacation
  • a back-to-school mood board
  • tips for making new friends
  • things I love about my school
  • what's in my backpack
  • what's in my locker
  • best study tips
  • most helpful study apps
  • your favourite back-to-school movies

Ideas for College Students: 

  • moving day checklist
  • decorating your dorm
  • dorm room essentials
  • tips for getting to know your roommates
  • a tour of your campus
  • planner ideas that work
  • surviving your freshman year
  • making your student loans/grants last
  • student activity roundup
  • Monday morning makeup tips
  • college self-care tips
  • your college bucket list
  • dealing with long-distance friendships/relationships
  • Open When... box ideas

Ideas for Parents: 

  • budgeting for back-to-school shopping
  • making first day memories
  • first day of school pictures
  • what to ask your child's teachers
  • ways to help out in the classroom
  • Random Acts of Kindness for kids
  • after school snacks
  • busy morning hacks
  • lunch box ideas
  • making DIY emergency kits for the kids
  • tips for helping with homework
  • time management tips for busy parents
  • your favourite memory from school
  • flashback to your first day of school
  • favourite songs from your school days

Ideas for Educators:

  • DIY classroom hacks
  • organizing your classroom
  • back-to-school reading list
  • getting to know your students
  • getting to know your teachers
  • first day converstion topics
  • first day fun games & activities
  • getting-to-know-you activities
  • online tools for educators
  • best educational podcasts
  • school-time mindfulness techniques
  • how to tackle bullying
  • a field trip survival guide
  • school sports schedule
  • team spirit ideas

Many of these ideas also work for people - like me! - who don't fit into any of these categories at the moment but just love this time of year. Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks for more back-to-school blog posts here at Wondra's World.

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