In a bid to keep myself accountable in my creative pursuits whilst in nursing school, I’m going to make myself some additional challenges. Naturally, school does have to come first, so I may have to fudge some things, but my plan is to watch at least one horror movie per day throughout the entire month of October – with Saturdays being my double feature days – at around 8:00P (2000, for you military time people). Mondays and Thursdays will probably end up being a little earlier than that, due to clinicals, but whatever.

But anyway, this first week of the month is only two days long, so I’m just going to include the following week here:

  • Oct 1: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
  • Oct 2: DOUBLE FEATURE – Audition and Hausu/House
  • Oct 3: Willy’s Wonderland
  • Oct 4: American Werewolf in London
  • Oct 5: Them!
  • Oct 6: Drag Me to Hell
  • Oct 7: Jennifer’s Body
  • Oct 8: The Descent
  • Oct 9: DOUBLE FEATURE – Dawn of the Dead (Snyder) / Army of the Dead

My double feature days have two themes: the first is Japanese horror, which apparently is way creepier than Western horror (I’ve never seen the original Japanese Ringu, so I don’t know how it compares to The Ring), and the second is Zack Snyder, which is a director I’ve tried to steer clear of for many reasons. I hated his Justice League take, and most of the other movies he’s made are just … blah? But I’ve heard good things about his horror movies, so I’m going to give him a chance there.

Don’t disappoint me, Snyder (like you care).

Now, I’ve never seen any of these movies, but this looks like a shit ton of fun based on reviews I’ve read. I’ll be live-tweeting as I watch, too, so please join me as I try to scare myself!

31 day star wars challenge, day 31: in which star wars inspires me …

I really can’t think of any other piece of cinema or literature that has influenced me in the way that Star Wars has. It was my first love and remains a comfort for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to look at it more critically than I did when I first saw it, but it makes me appreciate it more, that it can stir these kinds of conversations: if art is ever-changing, how do we make something long-lasting remain relevant? What is diversity? How do we support creators who dare to question/challenge the status quo? Do we abandon certain fans who the series has outgrown? When is fan-service too much? How much control should a single person have over a creative work and why? Should I make something that can last for years? Or should I make self-contained stories with a definite ending? How comfortable would I be sharing my work with others, to collaborate with them to create something even better than I could imagine? Am I ready or prepared to challenge others to think about themselves? Am I ready or prepared to see people taking my work out of context or adopting it for their own nefarious purposes?

These are just a few of the questions I’ve asked myself since May of this year (I cannot believe I’m finally done with this challenge, y’all). I expect more will come, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will always look to Star Wars for at least some inspiration, even if it what I do not want to do.

Thank you, George Lucas. You gave me a gift.

Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 30: in which I discuss what I’d like to see next …

I mean, I feel like this is a cheat post since there are about five million TV shows coming out soon, but hey, I’ll take a stab at this: I want to see more of the extended universe that was turned into Star Wars Legends become canon. I want me some Mara Jade, some Teneniel Djo, some Jorus C’baoth, some Talon Karrde … I know we’ve seen Admiral Thrawn, which makes me super happy, but he’s not enough.

I understand why they wiped it out of the canon, but I also don’t understand why they couldn’t have done something akin to the MCU being separate from Marvel comics – different universes, right? That many more ways to milk money from the fans? There are probably legal reasons, most likely stemming from the fact that Disney already doesn’t want to pay authors, so obviously that would have to be rectified before anything could continue, but still.


Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 29: in which I discuss prequels vs originals vs sequels …

I am going to sum this up to avoid a tldr: I love the originals, the prequels are terrible yet enjoyable for the most part (almost in a spiteful way), and the sequels are … their own thing.

Now for the longer version:

It’s difficult to compare the three trilogies: they’re products of different times and technologies. George Lucas helped define a blockbuster, and for better or worse, changed movies forever, and there wasn’t a surefire way that he was going to duplicate that effect. With each successive movie, the fandom grew, and the lore expanded. I hesitate to call these cinematic masterpieces, but honestly, they delved into humanity’s core need for mythos. We identified with these alien people and their far-away galaxy. Now, the special editions that came out in the late 90s were I think I precursor to the failure of the prequels (which I’ll get to in a second), as random and completely unnecessary additions of CGI only made some of the sequences look childish. I liked the edit of Cloud City, since it was rather stuffy in the original version, and even inserting the Jabba the Hutt deleted scene made sense because it gave you a better explanation of Han’s behavior. But the extended ride into Mos Eisley, where it was just long shots of its denizens doing outlandish, dangerous things (like a Jawa just swinging from a giant creature) and making squeaky noises, was just hubris. “Oh, look what we can do!” Well, make a movie longer, for one, when it doesn’t need to be. Lucas, there are ways of establishing a location than making us sit through that shit.

As far as the prequels go, I think about the Romero Of the Dead series. Trust me, just go with it. The original Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead are excellent movies, critiquing American culture (racism, consumerism, militarism, etc.) and how said culture affects normal, every day people. They are obviously low budget, but that’s not even the point: the story is what’s important. Then in 1990, Romero reworked his script for Night of the Living Dead and executive produced it, but even with the extra money and better makeup (arguably), the movie had a quarter of the life and poignancy of the original – but it had a better budget.

The tale of Anakin’s fall could have been interesting – proven by The Clone Wars television series – but Lucas’ ego and tendency to surround himself with gutless yes-men essentially doomed it from the start from meeting or exceeding anyone’s expectations. The story was lifeless and dull when it wasn’t completely ridiculous (I still can’t believe the sheer magical thinking that Palpatine manages to make come true over the three films), and when Natalie Portman is made to look as if she couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag, that’s not a good sign. I still maintain that Belated Media’s version of the original trilogy would have been so much better, and if you haven’t watched their take, get the fuck over there: Episode I, Episode II, Episode III.

With the sequels, I’ve already complained about JJ Abrams lack of understanding source material beyond fanboy bullshit, but I think at least some of it can be restated. He basically just recreated A New Hope with The Force Awakens, felt the backlash against The Last Jedi and thus took back over for The Rise of Skywalker, which was just such a mess of WTF that it’s a completely unsalvageable movie. That being said, I’m all for other people taking over Star Wars from George Lucas – he lost all of my trust with the prequels – but JJ Abrams isn’t it. Dave Filoni loves the saga as much as, if not more than, Abrams and has a better grasp on what Star Wars is. Jon Favreau gets it. Hell, even Freddie Prinze, Jr. understands it.

As we continue seeing content from Star Wars, I hope that the creators look at what originally made the series great. Not the actual beats of plot, but the core of it: myth. The human condition. Learning and knowing who you are. If they can remember that and truly examine it as deeply as they can, Star Wars will stay relevant. If they can’t? Well, it deserves to end and let something else worthy fill its void.

Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 28: in which I wish a character got more screen time …

I have many questions about Mon Mothma, one of the only prominent female players in the original movies (other than Leia), and she didn’t even show up until Return of the Jedi. We know so little about her, even though she is a founder of the Rebellion: 1) where has she been for two movies and why hasn’t Leia at least mentioned her? 2) why is she so emotional about the Bothan spies in RotJ? 3) why did Lucas delete several scenes in Revenge of the Sith, which would at least give you more than “oh, there’s the pretty white lady in white robes who talks softly” vibes? and 4) where are the other prominent creators of the Rebellion that are never mentioned?

There was so much opportunity with Mon Mothma that was wasted in favor of showing (badly) Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. She could have been a trusted confidante to Padme, knowing about her secret marriage and pregnancy, which is why she took an interest in Leia’s career as a politician (although that’s not explored either!). When Padme approaches Anakin about her worries of being on the wrong side in the war, that’s not explained at all, and had Mothma had a larger presence (or at least, the deleted scenes regarding the senators concerned with how the Republic was changing), perhaps that would have made that much more sense. I mean, it’s not like Bail Organa was treated much better than Mothma, although he at least had some scenes. I don’t know, it’s just so frustrating to me that there were plenty of opportunities for Lucas to give us better background information without info-dumping us, but instead he chooses to give us more R2 antics.

Art Credit: 99 Designs, Star Wars

31 day star wars challenge, day 27: in which I have a favorite battle …

I initially chose the Pit of Carkoon battle from Return of the Jedi as my favorite battle before I realized LOL I already used that as my favorite scene from the movie, so … I had to choose again and am going with Battle of Endor, again from Return of the Jedi. I know that RotJ doesn’t have the same clout as TESB, and the final battle between the Rebel fleet and the second Death Star greatly borrows from the Battle of Yavin (A New Hope): the entire Rebellion could be wiped out at this very moment, so it’s do or die, bitches. Plot wise, there are a lot of moving parts, and Palpatine’s plan is ill-advised at best (like, you do realize everything hinges on several big maybes here, Palpy?), but it has classic lines like “It’s a trap!” and Leia’s return “I know” to Han’s admission that he loves her. Honestly, the entire sequence is just as thrilling as it was the first time I watched it as a kid. The acting, the pacing, the juxtaposition between the space battle and the scenes inside the Emperor’s throne room, the music, etc. are just so expertly done that it makes you forget about the scene where Luke tells Leia they’re related (it’s so bad, you guys). Oh, and Han Solo’s transformation over the trilogy is a big part of why I love this battle so much: he has to work as a team, not only with his own people but with a bunch of warrior teddy bears who don’t speak Basic and with the fleet in space (with no direct communication). Imagine him doing this in A New Hope.

But let’s look more deeply into the moving parts that Richard Marquand manages to balance to near perfection: 1) Han, Leia, C3PO, R2, etc. on the moon against the 501st, the best the Empire has to offer, 2) the Rebel and Imperial fleets in space, and 3) Luke vs Vader vs the Emperor. Whenever the action is paused to go check up on the other parties, I don’t even care; I’m just as invested. They’re tied together so well, playing off emotional beats from the previous one … this was just so damn well crafted that I’m honestly curious as to why Marquand isn’t a more famous director than he is. I mean, he died a few years after RotJ, so that may be a part of it, but still.

Runners Up: Battle of Scarif (Rogue One), Luke vs. Vader (Return of the Jedi), Battle of Crait (The Last Jedi)

Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 26: in which there is something I hate that everyone else loves …

I get that Star Wars is supposedly made for kids, per those exact words coming out of George Lucas’ mouth, and that’s fine. Its universal appeal is why the fictional universe has managed to stay as popular as it has, despite the very egregious missteps they’ve made with a few of the films. But! That being said, please give me a reason other than KIDS LIKE THEM as to why the porgs exist. At least the Ewoks have a purpose. They’re involved in the downfall of the Empire, their cuteness be damned.

I mean, yes, I know, Rian Johnson used them to digitally cover up the puffins that just wouldn’t go away per his demands as he filmed, but I legitimately can’t stand them. I groaned when one screamed like Chewbacca. I’m even refusing to put a picture up, even though admittedly they are cute.

Fucking porgs.

Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 25: in which there is something I love that everyone else hates …

I know that the fandom hated The Last Jedi, but I do not care: I love it, for all of its faults. This Screen Crush article by sums up my feelings perfectly: we need to let go of the past and forge into territory that is frightening and unfamiliar. It’s what helps us grow.

As a writer, that is what resonated with me about this movie. We all get embittered by experiencing the same shit, over and over again – much like the grouchy Luke Skywalker, so beautifully acted by Mark Hamill that it made me realize how underrated a performer he is – and it’s in that stagnancy that we feel comfortable. It’s easy, familiar … but it becomes stale and cheap, hoping to catch that feeling of the glory days that, let’s be honest, doesn’t challenge us any longer.

There is nothing wrong with wanting familiarity. My dad and I often talk about why he likes Have Gun Will Travel. It has the familiar beats of good guy wins and rides out of town, the end. And hell, I watch Parks and Recreation any time I need a pick-me-up.

But how long can that continue before it is no longer relevant? Both of those shows have since come to an end, having served their purpose. Why would I just want that repeated over and over again, when I can just go back and watch the original? What are we adding to the conversation by simply making an old story shinier, with no other alterations?

I just know that I need more from my media, and The Last Jedi did make me think more than any other Star Wars movie has.

Alrighty, that’s all I have in me today. I’m going to go ahead and watch Rogue One and head to bed.

Art Credit: 99 Designs

31 day star wars challenge, day 24: in which I have a favorite video game …

Under normal circumstances, I might say that the first – or hell, even the second – Knights of the Old Republic game is my favorite, because yeah, normally it would be the correct statement. I’ve played that game so many times that I’ve lost count, and it’s even something I returned to recently when I needed a bit of a nostalgia-based serotonin kick.

But is it my favorite game in the Star Wars universe? No, it is not. Because that award goes to Star Wars: Dark Forces.

So that’s the player character, Kyle Katarn, throwing a grenade at a stormtrooper. In case you were wondering what’s going on.

But why is it my favorite? It was the first game that introduced me to the extended universe continuity, with a whole set of characters that I’d never seen before. General Crix Madine makes an appearance in the game at the beginning, tying it into the larger story via a side character with some not-so-great hair (on his head or otherwise – did they like paint that beard on??).

Basic plot: Kyle Katarn is recruited by the Alliance and ultimately destroys the Dark Trooper Project. It’s awesome and way more complicated than that, but I don’t have the energy to go too deeply into it. I played it on my dad’s PC way back in … middle school? Maybe earlier? I’m not entirely sure, but it brought me into fandom, which may or may not have been a good thing. Maybe both.

Apparently, there are some fans of the game modding it with the Unreal engine, and I’m definitely going to have to do some more research on that. I don’t mind the Doom-esque graphics (I mean, I love that look – Celeste is one of my favorite games at the moment), but it might be really cool to see the game updated.

Although this does have me wondering whether or not we would still be able to play this game via disc. Was it on a disc or a floppy?? I cannot remember. Dammit.

Runners Up: Knights of the Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic II, Rebel Assault

Art Credit: 99 Designs, Steam Community, Wookieepedia

31 day star wars challenge, day 23: in which I have a favorite television series …

There are so many television shows out now based on the Star Wars universe that it can be really difficult to narrow down what is your favorite. I haven’t seen The Bad Batch yet (although I plan on it, probably after I finish #horrorpalooza2021), and what I’ve seen of The Mandalorian is truly amazing work (again, I’ll get around to it, let me finish statistics, please). Star Wars: Rebels was better than I thought it was going to be, too. And there’s apparently a heap of other shows coming so … they’d better wait until after nursing school for me.

My favorite of what I’ve watched, though, is the six seasons of The Clone Wars. I loved seeing stories about people other than the Jedi and how they were handling the conflict, and Anakin’s progression to the Dark Side was much more understandable and relatable, as violence and war always has a toll on anyone’s psyche, no matter how connected to the universe you are.

If you haven’t watched the series, I highly recommend it. It’s not presented in chronological order, so it can be a bit confusing at times, but it’s fairly easy to reorient yourself. There are even handy dandy guides at how to watch it if you want it on the right timeline. Oh, and Tom Kane’s announcer voice is one of the best things about the show – it really does feel like you’re watching one of those war reels from WWII.

I know these entries are short, you guys, but I’m really trying to get this challenge done before the end of the month. I started this in Maaaaayyyyyyyy.

Art Credit: 99 Designs, Star Wars