Kevin Strange’s A Quiet Place Movie Review


A Quiet Place is that rare modern Hollywood horror film which manages to, either by accident or by clever design, promote strong family values, tradition, and masculine ingenuity almost unapologetically.

Ostensibly a silent film, A Quiet Place tells the story of one of the last remaining families in a town ravaged by blind monsters who hunt using sound-sensitive organs built into their armored heads.

If the premise is easy to swallow, the teaser scene before the credits is even easier to relate to. The family, out on a scavenging expedition to the local supermarket is confronted with one of the most common problems families face in such circumstances: The little boy wants a toy.

Only the stakes here are much, much higher. The toy space shuttle he picks up is the battery operated kind that makes a lot of noise. If he presses the button, the family dies.

Luckily dad manages to get the shuttle away from his son before disaster strikes and here we begin to see the family dynamic solidify among an amazing strong cast of actors who must emote and tell their story with almost no dialogue between them

Writer/actor/director John Krasinski sells this moment with his son, both sternly admonishing the child for nearly getting the family killed and showing warmth and understanding while curbing the child’s disappointment before the family sets off back home.

Tragically, the boy’s older sister¬†Regan, played by Millicent Simmonds, gives him back the toy in secret when they’re left alone in the store leading to his death a few minutes later and setting the stakes for who lives and who dies in this tense and action packed thriller as high as they come.

What follows is a tightly paced 90 minute tour de force of clever ingenuity and monster mayhem as we live several days in the life of a family that cannot make any sound, lest they be savagely eaten by monsters always lurking just out of sight.

Our story picks back up at some point in the future with mom Evelyn (Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real life wife) in the final stages of pregnancy. It’s during this time that we learn that Rean is deaf and the whole family knows sign language, probably their reason for surviving the monster apocalypse in the first place.

We learn their routine which includes laying down powder on all of their foot paths and traveling barefoot so as to not make any sound, communicating danger by way of changing the lighting in and around the house to red to alert other family members of the presence of a monster, and the addition of a sound-proof basement designed for mom Evelyn to give birth to the new baby.

Where A Quiet Place holds most of its appeal for me, personally, is in its emphasis on the traditional family dynamic, as rare in modern Hollywood as the silent films it pays respect to. Dad is not absent, dead nor a buffoon here. He is not a flawed villain. He is crafty, protective, compassionate, a true patriarch in a world of “toxic masculinity.”

In fact, other than a few logistical issues I had with the film (such as why the creatures stick around a vast, rural area after they’ve already eaten all but seemingly 6 people) my only complaints come in the third act of the film where we see all the common trappings of Hollywood come into play.

It’s here that we see Regan’s new hearing aid turn out to be the one weakness that will stop the monsters. Of course it is. It wouldn’t be modern Hollywood if the STRONG FEMALES didn’t take up masculine roles and discard their feminine strengths in order to thwart the evil.

Dad’s ultimate sacrifice to save his children falls flat for me, but that’s just a personal preference. I was rooting for him to live the whole time. Sacrifice is part of the hero’s journey, and while I thought little Beau’s sacrifice at the beginning of the film was more than enough, I understand the need to make the stakes and the loss even stronger at the end of the film in order to satisfy mainstream audiences.

In the end, while A Quiet Place is a masterfully told horror film with amazing acting and very cool monsters, I have to take several points off for know-towing to modern feminist pop culture and ultimately ruining what up to that point had been a fantastic send-up to traditional family life. A Quiet Place gets a strong 3 out of 5 strangeheads from me. It’s a great horror flick to enjoy with the family if you’ve got kids old enough to handle suspense, gore and monster mayhem.

Kevin Strange’s Top 8 Obscure Monster Movies


I don’t know about you dudes, but when I was a kid, there was nothing cooler than finding a brand new monster flick at the video store. There was Godzilla and King Kong, horror monsters like zombies, demons, giant insects, werewolves, vampires, mummies, you name it. I loved them all. Sit me in front of the TV and all my worries went away as soon as those monsters hit the screen!

I was a fucking monster kid and still am. I used to wish I WAS a monster. To this day I still make movies full of monsters and write novels about monsters. And still to this day I LOVE to find new and cool monster movies that I never saw when I was a kid.

This list is my attempt to introduce you lot to some monsters you may not necessarily be familiar with. Of course since I’m an 80s kid, my list is going to be biased toward rad 80s flicks. Here are my top 8 obscure monster movies. Hope you like em!

8. Dead Heat

This whopper of a flick stars Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams and is so weird and wacky it flies right under most people’s radars. I can’t in good faith call it a good movie, but it IS an obscure movie so I can include it on my list and still sleep well tonight.

In essence, this is a zombie cop buddy movie but it takes such bizarre twists and turns and basically turns all of the main characters into monsters that I just HAD to include it on my list. Furthermore, I like this movie so much I dedicated a whole podcast to it.

Melty love interests, killer cold-cuts, violently murdered partners. This flick brings the monster gore!

7. Brain Damage

So if you’re worth your salt as a monster kid, you’ve probably seen the BASKET CASE series of films. They were displayed prominently at video stores in the 80s. Each subsequent sequel got weirder and weirder until there were musical numbers and shit. Totally wacky stuff.

But the BASKET CASE dude also made this weird little gem (and FRANKENHOOKER which will inevitably end up on another of my movie lists in the future) that most people haven’t seen. It’s called BRAIN DAMAGE which often gets confused with BRAINDEAD, the original title of the Peter Jackson zombie flick DEAD ALIVE.

This low budget nonsense is about a parasitic alien thing named Aylmer who lives inside a dude’s body and gets the dude hooked on his blue brain-piss or something.

It’s very reminiscent of the BASKET CASE storyline but with an even weirder monster and even more violent kills. Definitely a must watch if you’re into the body horror sub genre and love getting grossed out by bodily fluids.

6. Rawhead Rex

Just look at that goofy muppet face! How could yo not love RAWHEAD REX? Written by Clive Barker himself, this is probably his most obscure writing credit based on one of his most popular books.

RAWHEAD REX appeared in Barker’s Books of Blood short story collection series. The movie basically ends up being nothing like the story and has some of the worst practical effects for a monster shown so prominently and made to be taken so seriously.

Add in some great gore, some awkward monster-stalking and some bizarre priest-pissing scenes and you’ve got yourself one helluva monster flick most people have never even heard of!

5. Killer Tongue

This is another of my personal favorite flicks. KILLER TONGUE takes the hot chick zombie from RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 and pits her against Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund as a sadistic prison warden bent on hunting down said hot chick’s boyfriend at all costs.

KILLER TONGUE features insane cannibalism, sexy leather body suits, a talking tongue monster, a gaggle of poodle-turned-transvestite sidekicks and you have one of the weirdest most batshit crazy monster movies you’re ever likely to come across.¬† I dedicated a podcast to this one, too.

4. Society

SOCIETY is a flick that I’ve already included in another one of my movie lists but we’re gonna go ahead and cover it again here because it’s both one of the coolest melt movies ever AND one of the most obscure monster movies you’ve probably never heard of.

The flick features literal “butt heads” a chick who turns her entire body around to soap up her own ass in the shower and a ton of other absolutely bonkers monsters and ends in a gigantic orgy where all of the monsters melt into a gigantic orgy of connected flesh.

It’s so odd that most people have never even bothered to watch it. But if you like the off-the-wall shit, you should totally check it out!

3. Hardware

Alright so this flick only has one monster in it and that monster is actually a killer robot but let’s take a damn second, settle down and talk about just how cool HARDWARE is.

Richard Stanley is an auteur renegade filmmaker who shamefully never got a real shot at making a gigantic visionary film. Well, he actually did. He was set to make that awful 90s ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU disaster but got fired part of the way through.

He’s never worked on another significant film which is a crying shame. BUT he did make HARDWARE and it is an absolute visual treat. It is the film equivalent of the 90s industrial metal music genre. In fact, it uses music from MINISTRY as part of its soundtrack.

The gore is brief but brutal and the killer robot’s design is magnificent. You’ve probably never seen HARDWARE but you owe it to yourself as a monster movie fan to rectify that immediately!

2. The Keep

THE KEEP for sure has one of the coolest soundtracks of any monster flick and also one of the coolest monsters that you’ve probably never even heard of. THE KEEP is Michael Mann’s red-headed step child. It’s never been released on Blu Ray or even DVD because he’s embarrassed that he made a low budget horror flick early in his career.

Well fuck him, buddy. This movie is fucking badass! It features Nazis getting the fuck killed out of them and one of the absolute coolest monsters you will ever see on film, guaranteed.

Nazis try to loot a citadel only to unleash a demonic force that proceeds to wipe them out to one of the best Tangerine Dream synth soundtracks ever! This demon spends the first half of the movie as some sort of anthropomorphic smoke with glowing red eyes. Seriously you have to see it to understand just how fucking cool it looks.

Find THE KEEP if you can. It’s worth every penny.

 

1. Return of the Living Dead 3

Known for its super sexy zombie girl Julie, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3 has been surprisingly hard to find for years. It was recently released as a limited edition blu ray, like a lot of the movies on this list, but also like a lot of those blu rays is extremely over priced and will probably be out of print soon.

What’s often overlooked about this flick, though, is just how amazing the zombie monsters are. From the gang leader having his spine stretched up into some kind of horrific snake-like creature, to the homeless guy who gets screwed into a metal exoskeleton and the Trioxin barrel zombie who rips half its own face off crawling out of the barrel, this flick is LOADED with great gore and even cooler zombie monsters.

If you think zombies ended with Romero or the first ROTLD, you’re playing yourself. I put ROTLD 3 above almost any other zombie flick in terms of monster factor. This one is the business!

 

WWS 19: Near Dark Movie Review


We’ve got a real classic for you this week gang. Question: What’s the only movie to feature a scene with Bill Paxton, Tim Thomerson AND Lance Henriksen all together?

That would be the 1987 Kathryn Bigelow vampire flick NEAR DARK! This southern fried flick is a true cult classic in every sense of the word and our resident film nerds walk you through every nook and cranny, every neck bite and exploding vampire as we dig deep into the folds and crevasses of one of the best vampy flicks of all time!

Till next week gang, keep watching!