Stew’s June Movie Thoughts: The Black Telephone, Morbius, more

It’s halfway through the year, marking the 50% mark of my journey to 300 films viewed from January 1st, 2022 to December 31st, 2022.

It’s almost odd to remember that this started out as a mission on 250 as the year changed and I saw I had watched a total of 200 movies in 2021. It wasn’t until I looked at my post-February numbers that I realized that 300 was so easily achievable. As it is I’m on my way to hitting 300 AND there are more days in the back half of the calendar than in the front. I have this!

It was only two years ago, just after the start of COVID, that I decided to really step up my film watching and fill in so many of the blind spots in my film history. I’m over 70 movies I saw for the very first time this year (excluding movies released this year) and some are nice that I really should have seen by now.

I’m really excited to continue expanding my film culture, so when I make best-of/favorite lists, they can STILL be filled with the comic book movies and horror franchises my reptilian brain loves.

OH WELL.

Anyway, let’s see what I devoured in June as I work towards this The 2022 300!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: The Girl in Cabin 13, The Bunker Game, Dracula, Sonic The Hedgehog 2, Hustle, Boss Level, JP: Dominion, Mother’s Day

Let’s start with not one, but TWO sub-par indie horror movies that we have The girl in cabin 13and The bunker game! TGiC13 is mostly memorable because it 1) has a poster that looks like Cabin In The Woods if you squint and 2) is a lame Stranger-like Home Invasion story. Story-wise it was okay, to be honest, but the acting was HARD. You could tell that this was the first real attempt by these people to show emotion and deliver lines in front of a camera.

The bunker game was about…well, I won’t reveal because the first 10-15 minutes was the only part that worked for me. After that it just falls off a cliff.

As I continued my slow march through classic universal horror, I finally got around to it Dracula, which I can’t believe wasn’t the first thing I’ve seen. It was a lot of fun seeing these films for the first time and seeing where Hollywood first drafted its iteration of these characters. Bela Lugosi is great here. It’s not the best of them all so far – that’s still easily The Invisible Man – but it was better than some.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was a disappointment over its predecessor as it felt like it had less heart at the expense of more silliness. It should probably be 2.5 but I gave it an extra half star because I had the balls to give Robotnik a line “There were very good people on both sides”.

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When my wife tuned in to an Adam Sandler film, I had very little hope of it. but Hurry turned out to be a high-quality, low-key tale about a budding basketball star and the scout who spotted him. Is the film essentially just a reason for Sandler to hang out with his sports buddies and icons? Absolutely. But a real soul went in.

I was highly recommended boss level from a mate in late 2021 so I finally gave it a try. You know what? He was right. It’s Groundhog Day John Wick, and I irrationally love almost all timeloop-based movies. Why haven’t they grown old for me yet? I’m stuck in my own time warp.

Frank Grillo does a surprisingly good job as lead in BL. The flick balances action, humor and some genuine melancholy very well.

Jurassic Park: Dominion is as soulless a sequel as money can get. How on earth do you manage to make a movie about dinosaurs attacking people who are BORING? And it’s not even like the shtick is stale for me by now – Dominion is only the second JP franchise film I’ve ever seen!

But after about the 15th time, when a character or two survived being eaten around the skin of their teeth at the last second, I was just blown away. Obviously nobody was in REAL danger, so what was the point? The screenwriters would just save them all.

Mother’s Day is an ’80s horror slasher outing that looked like it could have been decent for a while, but then lapses into just… violent horror with terrifying antagonists.

Is there a semi-major holiday that has NOT been turned into a horror movie? Maybe Yom Kippur?

REPS: 50/50, Batman & Robin

I called once 50/50 my #2 movie of the 2010s (some conditions applied) and I watched it again to confirm I still love it.

I checked it Batman & Robin because it was drawn for a future episode of the Stew World Order podcast. It’s… not great. But, you know what? Definitely better than Batman Forever!

FIRST TIME WATCHES: Changing lanes, Happy Gilmore

I remember very vaguely when lane change Turned out I wanted to see it, and then… never did. OR! I thought, “A movie about a little accident? That’s stupid”. I don’t remember. I just remember having feelings. Anyway, I finally saw it 20 years later!

It’s a really intense flick with two characters competing against each other over and over again. Even if one decides it’s time to de-escalate things, the other turns up the heat and it all develops from there. I really enjoyed that!

I really expected more Lucky Gilmore! It’s WILDly amateurish and Sandler frankly sucks here. It’s all acting in very good SNL quality. And shooting. And all-ing. I had a few good laughs in act two that saved it from an even lower score, but wow… what a so-so movie.

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REPS: House On Haunted Hill, Jurassic Park, Collateral, Blade: Trinity, Avengers: Endgame, The Evil Dead

Geoffrey Rush clearly has fun with it House on Haunted Hill Channeling Vincent Price and Chris Katan in constant naysayer panic is surprisingly good fun. But other than that, all you have is a chaotic storyline that has more twists than it can handle AND terrifying special effects. It’s not TERRIBLE, but even at just 96 minutes, it beats its welcome.

Also…did House On Haunted Hill, The Haunting, and 13 Ghosts all come out in the same year? wowser I actually thought this and The Haunting were the same movie for years.

I looked at the original again Jurassic Park not long after suffering from Dominion. Some of the effects haven’t aged as well as you might imagine (just SOME!), but that actually helped the movie because it made me realize that this is by no means a pure effects spectacle. Again, there’s a high-profile storyline involving Grant’s growing relationship with the kids he’s stuck with. Outstanding performance by a legendary director at the height of his power in the early ’90s.

I’m not sure if it’s because I saw it security before (albeit 18 years ago) but I surprisingly didn’t find this movie particularly tense or anything. It’s fun, but I never felt that… “Oh, what’s going to happen?!” Excitement.

However, it’s fun to see Cruise take on such an uncharacteristic role for him. He gets to use the powers of his Tom Cruise Run once for EVIL! But it’s Foxx who really carries the film. He’s so frantic and immersed in his situation that it keeps you busy.

Blade: Trinity was a rerun for a future episode of the podcast!

Avengers: Endgame was just something that happened in the hotel room while my wife and I were in Columbus. It’s undeniably in my top ten movies of all time and my #1 MCU flick of all time. I went into Endgame with EXPECTATION in size, and the movie still surpassed me. I know a lot of people like Infinity War more, but… I don’t.

I JUST watched Evil Dead for the first time this year! And then a few months later I was invited to The Pint podcast to discuss it, so I watched it again to jot down my notes for the discussion.

FIRST TIME WATCHES: TMNT 3, The Black Telephone, Elvis, Morbius, The Crush, The Lost Boys

I saw TMNT 3 for another future episode of the podcast!

I went to the theater on consecutive days towards the end of the month to see it The black phone and then elvis. The Black Phone was a very intense, basic level thriller. When it comes to selecting nits, there are many “but why…” questions you can ask, but… don’t. Not everything needs to be explained. Just enjoy the universe that Joe Hill created. He clearly learned from his father.

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Elvis’ first act-plus is… visually cacophonous. It was distracting and kind of obnoxious in places. Just… weird shots and weird cuts and weird on-screen effects that seemed to get in the way of the actual story. It’s carried by two stellar performances, but it felt like it glossed over a lot of things that… a two and a half hour film shouldn’t be blamed for.

disease is neither as bad nor as funny as I had heard. It’s lazy and silly, but not particularly bland or anything. I’m surprised it caught on in meme culture because otherwise I would have just forgotten it ever existed. It’s just another Sony attempt at a Spider-Man universe film that feels completely generic.

Remember when there was a whole subgenre of late ’80s early ’90s movies that I can only describe as “Bitched Be Crazy” movies? Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct and the like? Where the cocks of horny guys get them in trouble but it’s portrayed as the crazy lady’s fault? That is The swarm! Within the first 20 minutes of the film, Cary Elwes kisses FOURTEEN YEAR OLD CHARACTER, played by Alicia Silverstone AND says, “If you were ten years older…”! Come on! I WANT her to ruin this bastard’s life.

Still, the whole movie is worth watching for the climax, which is just Cary Elwe’s KTFO-ing Silverstone after all her machinations!

Finally we had The Lost Boys on the last day of the month. So better than Near Dark or Monster Squad, both of which I also saw for the first time last year. And that’s weird as… A TYPE of vampire movie for kids? But there is [very chaste] sex scene. So what do I know? It definitely feels more like older kids or early teens than anything else.


I’m half a year behind me (WOW, 2022 has gone fast) and I’m at 166 individual films a year. Keep moving so I can reach my goal!

Until next time… take care of yourself, your loved ones and your sanity!

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