Cloverfield—9 Years Later


, , , ,


Cloverfield—9 Years Later

Cloverfield (2008) opened 9 years ago last month, precisely January 18, 2008. Granted, most of the $25 million dollar budget was spent on special effects; however, it rocked the box office. The movie grossed over $80 million in the US alone. It raked in over $170 million worldwide. After all these years, Cloverfield endures as a pretty darn good horror/science fiction hybrid.


When a monster awakens and attacks Lower Manhattan, a group of friends set out on a rescue mission capturing the event on a handheld camcorder. Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars. Other film critics enjoyed the simplistic plot catering to the growing YouTube generation. Comparisons to The Blair Witch Project were eventual; however, this movie fares better. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of users liked it. Further, it garnered a solid 7/10 on


The only negative is the title. Producer JJ Abrams should have spent more time conceiving a better title. Instead, he attempted to shroud the film in secrecy, like the Godzilla-inspired monster. Bad Robot, where Abrams serves as CEO, is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, where there is a Cloverfield Boulevard. A rural landing strip was renamed “Clover Field” in 1922 to honor fallen fighter pilot Greayer Clover, killed in France during WWI. When the city of Santa Monica purchased the airfield from the US Army in 1927, they renamed it Santa Monica Airport. Abrams took the “Cloverfield” exit on his commute and thought it a good temporary name. Ultimately, what was initially the code word for the film became a nonsensical title.

Cloverfield is streaming on Hulu. Despite its name, it’s worth a binge.

Opening Today: Cure for Wellness


, , , , ,


Opening Today: Cure for Wellness

One of this year’s anticipated films Cure for Wellness opened in US theaters today. A young Wall Street employee (played by Dane DeHaan) is sent to a “mysterious wellness center” to fetch the missing company CEO (Harry Groener). Seems simple enough. However, this $40 million epic production clocks in at 2 hours and 26 minutes. That’s nearly 30 minutes longer than most motion pictures. Judging by the mixed reviews, it may be too long to endure.


Filmed in 5 months, the movie features the picturesque Castle Hohenzollern located in Germany. Director Gore Verbinski is known for epics and box-office blunders. Depending on the review, he may have scored both. The New York Times calls it a “riot of film references. With eels.” claims it to be an “overloooooooong saga.” Seriously. They had all those Os. Finally, Vox offers “The 5 Stages of Watching…” stating that it is a “thoroughly distracting film.” Time will tell—say like Tuesday—if it’s worth the ticket price.


Rated R for adult content, graphic scenes, nudity, and an overabundance of eels.


“Scary Dependents”


, , , ,


“Scary Dependents”

Kathy Bates is back! This time she’s starring in a new Turbo Tax commercial titled “Scary Dependents.” It is pure genius!


Kathy Bates cemented her acting career in a Stephen King adaptation. In Misery (1990), Ms. Bates played Annie Wilkes, who was prolific writer Paul Sheldon’s most committed fan. Sheldon, played by James Caan, sustained injuries in a car crash. Annie rescued him and remained his devoted caregiver, beginning the story of captivity and abuse. Her performance earned her an Oscar for Best Actress in Leading Role and a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture—Drama. She deserved both. Her name became synonymous for evil. Pure evil.


The Turbo Tax commercial, part of the “Relax There’s Turbo Tax” ad campaign reverses Ms. Bates’ role. After relocating, she now sits in a darkened house with creepy kids scaling the walls, sitting on the settee, and haunting her. Calmly, she sits by the fireplace and messages her professional tax expert. She inquires whether she can claim the kids as dependents. She cannot. However, she can claim her moving expenses. Ms. Bates deadpans that she will deduct for both moves.


The commercial is fantastic. It takes advantage of the immense popularity in the paranormal. Watch the commercial here:


Mothman Was a … Green Beret?


, , , , ,


Mothman Was a … Green Beret?

The February 2014 issue of Soldiers of Fortune ran an incredibly thin article claiming that Mothman was a Green Beret. Titled “UFO Mystery Solved “Mothmen” Were Actually Green Berets,” author Harold Hutchison theorized that the 7-foot, red-eyed creature being spotted around Point Pleasant, West Virginia from November 15, 1966-December 15, 1967 was a specially trained US Army soldier wearing temporary glow-in-the-dark reflective paint practicing HALO (high-altitude, low-opening) parachute maneuvers. Unfortunately, the article lacked any evidence supporting his claim.

First, he misrepresented the second reported sighting. Hutchison wrote that it was “a couple” seeking “an intimate moment” who spotted the creature. However, nearly every writing on the topic credits Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry as the first ones to report an encounter with Mothman. It wasn’t one couple; it was two couples who were together in a car. In addition, the author conveniently left out the part about the couples being chased at 100 M.P.H. By incompletely discussing the sighting, he reduced his credibility in his claim.

Hutchison innocuously wrote that the first reported sighting was made by 5 men digging a grave. This is troublesome. According to the Williamson Daily News, Kenneth Duncan, one of the men digging the grave, recalled seeing a “brown man … gliding through the trees … [with] eyes like red reflectors.” Duncan was describing one man—not several. Further, men parachuting down do not cut through trees. The parachute would restrict this. Moreover, reflective paint differs from glowing red eyes. All of the witness accounts described red eyes—not glowing war paint.


Hutchison based his theory on military training here in the US to assist troops abroad in Vietnam. Unfortunately, he didn’t name one unit training in West Virginia. Nor did he supply any evidence that HALO training took place for 13 months around Point Pleasant and then abruptly stopped. Instead, he included a picture from the Utah National Guard completing “[s]imilar jumps.” This isn’t evidence.

He ended the short article reassuring his readers that the Department of Defense remained silent to protect the HALO program but now it was okay to openly discuss and to reveal the “secret.” This argument is flawed. It assumes that the HALO jumps only occurred at night, when in fact jumps also occur during daylight hours. If the Green Berets were in West Virginia practicing HALO jumps, more people, especially the newspaper reporters, would have reported it.


While Hutchison’s theory is interesting and places a patriotic spin on Mothman, a truly Americana urban legend, it doesn’t make sense. So, no, Mothman was not a wayward Green Beret.



Debunking Mothman: Not a Greater Sandhill Crane


, , ,


Debunking Mothman: Not a Greater Sandhill Crane

This summer I’m heading to West Virginia. In between visiting the family church and cemetery while gathering genealogy information, I’ll be stopping in on some special paranormal destinations. Two are related to Mothman: The Mothman Museum and The McClintic Wildlife Management Area. In doing some preliminary research, I am debunking some of the explanations. Consider it debunking the debunked. In this first installment, Mothman was not a Greater Sandhill Crane.


Mothman was a paranormal event that lasted 13 months, from November 15, 1966-December 15, 1967. Over that span, numerous witnesses in and around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, reported seeing a 7-foot tall creature with glowing red eyes and a 10-foot wingspan. Some of the sightings coincided with U.F.O. sightings and talks about visits from the “Men in Black.” All sightings ceased the day after the December 15, 1967, Silver Bridge collapse, killing 46 people. Several theories have been proffered over the years. An early one was that people saw wayward Greater Sandhill Cranes.


The Greater Sandhill Crane is the larger form of Sandhill Crane species. They are tall grey birds. Adults have red markings on the head. They are between 3-5 feet in height, weighing 6.5-14 pounds. They “form large flocks” and are migratory. Although they can be found in the Northern United States, they migrate to the Southern US and Mexico during the winter months. The Greater Sandhill Crane was previously spotted within the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, where the first Mothman sighting occurred. However, these people did not mistake a crane for the creature.

There are several reasons as to why the bird was not Mothman. The Greater Sandhill Crane does not have red eyes, a key feature to the witness reports. Further, the bird is too small. Witnesses stated that Mothman was 7-feet tall. That is 2 feet taller than the largest Greater Sandhill Crane. Not one witness reported seeing multiple Mothmen—only the solitary Mothman. The birds live in groups. A wayward single bird may be spotted once, maybe twice, however, not for 13 months. Finally, Greater Sandhill Cranes migrate to warmer climates during the winter. The average temperature in November in Point Pleasant is 14°F. December’s average is 9°F, with January at -2°F, February -4°F, and March rising to 9°F. It’s just too cold in West Virginia for these birds to remain throughout the winter.

In this segment of “Debunking the Debunked,” I believe that Mothman could not have been a Greater Sandhill Crane. More soon.


Stick with Santa Clarita Diet


, , ,


Stick with Santa Clarita Diet

Netflix has not officially announced whether it has renewed their new zom/com Santa Clarita Diet; however, the season 1 finale sure looked like a show about to be renewed. The episode 10 cliffhanger is funny, leaving the viewers screaming for more!

Santa Clarita Diet took an episode or two to get into the 30-minute situation comedy rhythm. Every episode scaffolds onto the prior, especially with the quick-comebacks and humor. Viewers knew going in that Drew Barrymore could nail comedy; Timothy Olyphant earns his stripes. Episodes 9 and 10 (of the 10-episode season) allow for his character, Joel, to insert subtle humor.


Stick with the season. Get through the first 2 episodes, and you will be rewarded. It is “off the rails” good.

No, Lady Gaga Did Not Perform a Satanic Ritual during Halftime


, , , ,


No, Lady Gaga Did Not Perform a Satanic Ritual during Halftime

Super Bowl LI is in the books. The Atlanta Falcons ran out of steam wasting a 25-point lead losing to the New England Patriots. Shortly before kickoff, conspiracy theorist nutcase Alex Jones of InfoWars posted a video claiming that Lady Gaga’s halftime show was going to be a satanic ritual. Offering no evidence, Jones’ claims were meant to create a boycott. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. In fact, more people tuned in to catch the show than actually watch the game.


Conspiracy theories are not new. In America, they can be traced back to the alleged 1835 plot to kill Andrew Jackson. Yet, there seems to be more of them in recent years. The Internet isn’t to blame; however, it doesn’t help. Anyone can post ridiculous ideas online; there’s no shortage of people out there believing it. Back to Jones. Jones is a white nationalist who frequently broadcasts easily refutable conspiracy theories. Seems his followers don’t Google. His latest video claimed that because she is Satan’s spawn and a member of the “New World Order,” Lady Gaga was going to profess her alliance to Satan via the halftime performance. There are many, many holes in his “theory.” The halftime show is actually on a delay; therefore, any ritual would have been shut down ASAP. Further, no animal sacrifices or devil rituals were reported Sunday to the Houston P.D. Jones merely wanted people to boycott the performance because Lady Gaga was a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter. His plan backfired. Spectacularly.


Lady Gaga was Sunday’s winner. Her performance was electrifying. It has gone down as the second best show after Prince’s 2007 performance. Over 117.5 million people tuned in and watched Lady Gaga’s 13-minute show. Although viewership was up 2% from last year but down 3% from 2015’s Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliott show, it was higher than the 111.9 million who watched Sunday’s game. Additionally, Lady Gaga ruled Twitter: 2.2 million people tweeted during the show with over 5.1 million #LadyGaga tweets. According to, there were 125,000 song downloads on Sunday alone. Maybe Jones’ crazy rant caused more people to watch. Hey, whho wouldn’t want to see a live satanic ritual?

“Ghost of Spud” Returns Temporarily in 2017 Super Bowl Ad


, , ,


“Ghost of Spud” Returns Temporarily in 2017 Super Bowl Ad

A 30-second Super Bowl commercial is a bargain at $5.5 million, once advertising companies factor in the expected 110 million people tuning in, the social media marketing tie-ins, and the Monday morning water cooler talk. Plus, most people tune in just for the commercials. Rankings and ratings started well before kickoff. Super Bowl LI had some incredible commercials: poignant, powerful, and quirky. There was a commercial for every viewer—even the paranormal enthusiast. Anheuser-Busch brought back 80s “original party animal,” Spud MacKenzie from the grave.


Bud Light’s famous “spokesdog” debuted in 1987 in a Super Bowl XXI commercial. He was an overnight success. Although “Spud” was portrayed as a male, the female bull terrier named “Honey Tree Evil Eye” captured the hearts of beer drinkers across the world. The advertising campaign ran for three (3) Super Bowls: XXI (1987); XXII (1988); and XXIII (1989). During that time, Spud was credited with increasing sales 20%. After thirty years (30), more than 70% of people over the age of 21 still recognize him. During the 80s, advocacy groups were concerned that the huggable dog was alluring children to drink—or at least to wear the Bud Light merchandise. The commercials ended nearly as fast as they started. Tragically, the original “Spud” died in 1993.


The 2017 commercial was a throwback acknowledging the 30th anniversary of Spud’s debut. Bud Light shifted the focus from party-party-party “Spud,” now played by “Gigi,” to wise sage Spud proclaiming, “You’re here for the friendships!” He has returned from the grave to encourage a young professional to join his friends by participating in Trivia Night and attending get-togethers where Bud Light is served. Spud’s mission: reminding his young friend that spending time with friends is more fun than staying home alone. Yes, it had Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol feel about it.

In addition to broadcasting during the game, the commercial has had over 7.6 million views on Anheuser-Busch claims the commercial is temporary and will disappear just like real ghosts do. Watch it before is vanishes:


Santa Clarita Diet Starts Slow—Zombie Pace


, , , , ,


Santa Clarita Diet Starts Slow—Zombie Pace

Netflix’s new original situation comedy, Santa Clarita Diet, debuted Friday, February 3, 2017. The 30-minute pilot, titled “So Then a Bat or a Monkey,” starts off slow—nearly zombie paced slow.

Episode 1 starts off at a snail’s pace. The transitions are slow, as the pilot attempts to cover too much. Victor Fresco, also the show’s creator, penned the episode. He casts a large net incorporating uncomfortable sexual innuendo with character Joel’s marijuana habit. These are forced and should have been cut. The gore is excessive. Sometimes less really is more.

But the show is not horrible. Frequent cameos salvage the episode and, ultimately, the series. The dialog strengthens as the episodes advance. Here’s a sample, once Joel and Sheila realize Sheila can only eat fresh, human flesh:

Joel: We can’t just kill anybody. [Beat] Someone who won’t be missed.

Sheila: Someone without a family.

Joel: And someone bad who deserves it. [Beat] Prototype would be a young, single Hitler.

Sheila: God. We’d be heroes.

The reviews are mixed. Yahoo declares it’s “an acquired taste.” Business Insider claims the show “benefits from binge watching.” True. Binge watching ensures the viewer remembers where the last episode left off. There aren’t re-caps. Finally, The New York Times cautions: “Think of it as Ozzie and Harriet and Zombies.” Give it time. Know going in that the Episode 1 is the slowest. They improve at varying degrees. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant are believable—practically infectious—as married high school sweethearts stuck in the volatile real estate—and zombie—market.

Netflix’s Zombie Comedy Santa Clarita Diet Debuts


, , , ,


Netflix’s Zombie Comedy Santa Clarita Diet Debuts

Zombies are a billion dollar industry. Books, movies, comics, video games, and conventions bring in a lot of green. According to The, the zombie genre is declining in popularity. However, it’s not too late for Netflix to enter the fray with the new sit-com, Santa Clarita Diet.


Zombies originated in African lore, although they appear in other cultural stories. The name means “enslaved spirit,” who was under the spell of a sorcerer, although not always a dead person. The tales evolved so that modern zombies are the walking dead, eating the flesh of humans. White Zombie (1932) is considered the first zombie-themed motion picture. The genre gained popularity in the 70s and has remained a staple in horror films. Zombies can be funny, as in iZombie. Netflix is banking on its new comedy series to expand its television offerings.

Santa Clarita Diet is a 30-minute comedy series debuting Friday, February 3, 2017. Starring Drew Barrymore (as “Sheila”) and Timothy Olyphant (as “Joel”) as a middle-aged married realtors. (Notice the link between Scream and Scream 2?) The trailer shows a campy couple raising a teenager while adjusting to Sheila’s new medically required diet. Barrymore’s personality is infectious! The series title is a possible spoof to the South Beach Diet, popular fad diet. Season 1 consists of a minimum of 10 episodes. Check back to see whether I’ll be watching the second episode. In the meantime, enjoy the trailer: