31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: ANGEL – LIFE OF THE PARTY

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
James Marsters (Caprica)
J. August richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Andy Hallett (Shallow Hal)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
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GUEST CAST

Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intetions 2)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)
Jonathan M. Woodward (firefly)
Leland Cooke (Maid to Order)
T.J . Thyne (Bones)

LIFE OF THE PARTY

As Halloween approaches, Lorne throws a Halloween party for all the firm’s clients and employees and even gets a reluctant Angel to invite a powerful demon lord, named Archduke Sebassis, to the party. During the gathering, Lorne’s timely advice to his friends starts happening literally, leading to Fred and Wesley getting drunk after Lorne tells them to loosen up, Gunn to embarrassingly relieve himself to “stake out his territory”, Angel and Eve to have sex, and even Spike and the dim-witted Harmony to have fun on the dance floor. The events lead to only more trouble when Lorne’s empathic subconscious begins manifesting itself in a hulking demon (resembling a larger Lorne on steroids). The demon appeared as a result of Lorne’s sleep deprivation after Lorne had Wolfram and Hart remove his sleep: an empath with long-term sleeplessness can write people’s destinies instead of just reading them, and the empath’s subconscious can physically manifest. The episode also reveals that Lorne is proud of his organizational skills, as he feels most of his other talents simply do not match up to what his friends can do.angel505The larger Lorne causes much violence before the gang restores Lorne’s sleep, thus neutralizing the monster. The chaos and destruction has a positive side: the rank and file of Wolfram and Hart express the opinion that it greatly improved the party.
This episode was really good and so funny exspexcially how spike was acting the things that he said were very funny and so was Angel, I exspecially liked the part were Gunn peed on Angel’s chair. This episode was my favorite episode out of the fifth season. I think it was funny that every thing Lorne said would come true and then towards the end when a huge giant Lorne came to life after he fell asleep was a gread addition to this episode.
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REVIEW: THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1994)

CAST

Alex Hyde-White (Pretty Woman)
Jay Underwood (Uncle Buck)
Rebecca Staab (Love Potion No.9)
Michael Bailey Smith (Men In Black 2)
Joseph Culp (Mad Men)
Kat Green (Hits)
Carl Ciarfalio (Species III)
Mercedes McNab (Angel)

Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White) and Victor Von Doom (Joseph Culp) are college friends who use the opportunity of a passing comet to try an experiment; however, the experiment goes wrong, leaving Victor horribly scarred. Sue (Mercedes McNab) and Johnny Storm (Phillip Van Dyke) are two children living with their mother (Annie Gagen), who has a boarding house where Reed lives. Ben Grimm is a family friend and a college buddy of Reed’s.

Ten years later, Reed, Sue (Rebecca Staab), Johnny (Jay Underwood), and Ben go up into an experimental spacecraft as the same comet passes by Earth. They are hit by cosmic rays from it, due to a necessary diamond being exchanged for an imitation of itself by the Jeweler. Reed dedicates this mission for his friend Victor, believing he was dead years before.

Upon crash-landing on Earth, the four discover that the cosmic rays gave them special powers: Reed’s bodily structure has become elastic; Sue can become invisible; Johnny can generate fire on demand; and Ben has transformed into a creature with stone-like skin: the Thing. They are later captured by Victor’s men, who pose as Marines, and meet villainous monarch Dr. Doom. After escaping from Doom’s men, the four regroup at the Baxter Building, trying to decide what to do now that they have gained superpowers. An angry Ben leaves the group to go out on his own, feeling he has become a freak of nature. He is found by homeless men and joins them in the lair of the Jeweler (Ian Trigger).

Victor had needed the diamond necessary to capture the comet’s powers. The Jeweler would then give the real diamond to the blind artist Alicia Masters (Kat Green), who was also kidnapped by homeless henchmen working for the Jeweler. The Jeweler wants Alicia to be his bride, with the diamond as his wedding present to her. However, Doom and his henchmen locate the Jeweler’s lair. Doom’s henchmen first try to make a deal with him, to no avail. Doom, displeased, seizes the diamond and threatens to kill Alicia, whereupon Ben enters the room, only to revert to human form. Pursued by Doom, Ben runs out onto the city streets, frustrated at his helplessness. He somehow reverts to the Thing.

A gunfight ensues between Doom and the Jeweler’s men. Doom takes the diamond to power a laser cannon that will destroy New York City. Ben returns to his friends; by now, Reed has learned that Doom is actually Victor. Realizing they are the only ones who can stop Doom, they don costumes and travel to Doom’s castle. There, the Fantastic Four battle a series of Doom’s military. Reed has a final battle with Doom, which ends with Doom supposedly committing suicide, though after falling into the fog, his glove, still on the balcony, starts to move. Johnny becomes the Human Torch to stand between the laser cannon’s shot and the city, pushing the beam into outer space. Ben frees Alicia and finally introduces himself to her. She feels the rocky surface of his face but is not fazed by his altered appearance. Thereafter, the Four dedicate themselves to fighting evil, and Reed and Sue marry.

The Fantastic Four is delightfully cheesy and fun just like many old school cartoons and comics. The budget and FX can’t compare to those of today, but so what? The old school comic book vibe is fantastic. There’s absolutely nothing boring about it. It’s too damn fun to be boring! it’s a  blast of highly entertaining low budget escapism from start to finish.

REVIEW: ANGEL – SEASON 1-5

 

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MAIN CAST

David Boreanaz (Bones)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Glenn Quinn (R.S.V.P)
Alxis Denisof (Dollhouse)
J. August Richards (Agents of SHIELD)
Amy Acker (The Cabin In The Woods)
Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Christian Kane (Just Married)
Josh Holloway (Lost)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Michael Mantell (The Ides of March)
Elisabeth Rohm (Joy)
Obi Ndefo (Stargate SG.1)
Johnny Messner (Anacondas)
Jennifer Tung (Masked Rider)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Tushka Bergen (Mad Max 3)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Bai Ling (The Crow)
Jesse James (Blow)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Henri Lubatti True Blood)
Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)
John Mahon (Zodiac)
Kristin Dattilo (Intolerable Cruelty)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Jeremy Renner (Avengers Assemble)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Stephanie Romanov (Thirtten Days)
Tamara Gorski (Man With The Screaming Brain)
Julie Benz (Punisher: Warzone)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Justina Machado (Final Destination 2)
Matthew James (American Crime)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
David Herman (Futurama)
Edwin Hodge (The Purge)
Daisy McCrackin (Halloween 8)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Brigid Brannagh (Army Wives)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Tony Todd (Wishmaster)
Jim Piddock (The Prestige)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Gerry Becker(Spider-Man)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Leah Pipes (The Originals)
Thomas Kopache (Catch Me If You Can)
Brody Hutzler (Days of Our Lives)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Mark Lutz (Bitch Slap)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Frank Salsedo (Power Rangers Zeo)
David Denman (Outcast)
Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine)
Rance Howard (Chinatown)
Kristoffer Polaha (Ringer)
Jack Conley (Payback)
Jim Ortlieb (Roswell)
Laurel Holloman (Boogie Nights)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Losers)
Sunny Mabrey (Snakes On A Plane)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
John Rubinstein (Red Dragon)
Alexa Davalos (Clash of The Titans)
Kay Panabaker (No Ordinary Family)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Adrienne Wilkinson (Xena)
Gina Torres (Hannibal)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Danny Woodburn (Watchmen)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Jonathan M. Woodard (Firefly)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Simon Templeman (Black Road)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and the Beast)
Brendan Hines (Lie to Me)
Tom Lenk (Argo)
Navi Rawat (Feast)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Adam Baldwin (Chuck)
Jaime Bergman (Soulkeeper)
Stacey Travis (Easy A)
Dennis Christopher (Django Uncahined)

When Joss Whedon pitched Angel: the Series, he described it as a detective-style film-noir-themed take on the supernatural, much in the same way Buffy was pitched as a look from the viewpoint of the Horror genre. Buffy’s style took some time to get right, but the aesthetics of this show in its first year are well thought out and crafted; darkness and emotive shadow creep over, tense musical swells linger, and the picture is shot in a large resolution to provide just a bit of grain. I’d be damned if it didn’t seem intentional. Joss also said that where Buffy looked, metaphorically, at the hell of High School, Angel’s show would look at life past it in your early adulthood and the life and relationship issues of that unique, big city world. This metaphor is dominant in the first season, and is one of the main themes.

Angel, as a series, is always and will always be about redemption, but the themes of its respective seasons are about the different facets to it. Exploring what it is, losing the chance at it or the responsibility one pledges to it is all covered over the duration of the show. With season one, it was most direct: How do you get it? At the start of the season we see Angel arrive in LA, see him save lives, but we also watch him slip deeply into apathy about his goal. To understand the importance and worth of a human and life and soul, Angel learns in “City of” (1×01) that one must have a human connection; friends and allies that make his life worth living so his mission can be worth fighting for, and most importantly so that he doesn’t become detached from (and even dangerous to) those he hopes to save.

The season, as I mentioned, does lack a cohesive arc, but it also has a tremendous amount of hugely entertaining and well-written standalones. Many of them focus on Angel’s mission: “helping the helpless.” Angel makes it his goal to not only save lives, but save souls and make life worth living for others, and as a result of this his connections are solidified as he carries this out. He and his group slowly form into a legitimate investigation team which takes cases and makes money off of them, and many of the seasons situations out of which the characters are developed are a result of these cases. Cordelia, who in “Rm w a Vu” (1×05) is still defining herself by her possessions, searches for a place to live. Instead what she finds is a stronger sense of self, and in that a connection to the world of humans rather the one of plastic. Doyle and Wesley both find their own connections, as well. Episodes such as these are the season’s order, in every one of which something new happens that alters the main or supporting characters, or teaches the audience something about them.

This is, in my opinion, what sets shows like Buffy and Angel apart: relevance. More than any other show, each episode contains progressive, ongoing development that charts development in a very realistic way. On a more specific level, this particular season has an extremely strong episode to episode consistency, with each individual showing striking its own tone and exploring the main theme in different ways. A few larger, more exciting events may have helped, but at the same time I appreciate this season for what it is and how it does something a bit different from most other seasons of Buffy or Angel. There’s a lot more to talk about, including the metaphorical basis’ used and what we’re being fed through them, as well as the general ups and downs. The strongest suit this season has is its extremely fluid use of theme. Though the ponderings on connection, redemption and starting a new life are not as intricately detailed, subtle or socially penetrating as the themes of any other season, the careful and consistent way they’re used to develop characters and give the stories real world relevance is masterful. Angel made it his mission to save souls, and we were shown him connecting with people by helping them, failing to help them, or losing them altogether. All the supporting characters followed, gaining their own redemption through helping Angel and the helpless.

With the exception of Wesley being overly bumbling at times, nothing felt out of character this season, and that’s extremely impressive considering the length of a season. Doyle’s sacrifice in “Hero” (1×09), Angel’s re-ignited belief in himself in “To Shanshu in LA” [1×22] or Kate’s decision to see Angel kiss daylight in “Sanctuary” [1×19] were all thematically conclusive, resonant and well built up to.

The preceding season was,strong and coherent. While looking at the tribulations of life after High School in the big city, it managed to do so in a way that developed the characters within another major theme: Connection; Human emotions and growth that make us a part of the world, make us human. By the end of the season, Angel had been given a purpose, both short and long term, and a mission to fight for: Fighting in the final battles and surviving to be made a breathing human being again. Season Two, with a much broader theme, builds logically on that, and asks our vampire hero just what it means to really be human. Much of the season’s development is split in that way, with Angel increasingly being led off into his own world, with his friends developing entirely in a place away from him.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777While he and the fate that ties him to Darla explore the complexities of human existence, Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn become forced to suffer through and succeed in it on their own. Though not as characterized by pain and hopelessness as much as S3 post “Sleep Tight” [3×16] through to the end of the series is, there’s much darkness and suffering abound, especially for Angel. His epic trials and will for revenge separate him harshly from humanity, only for him to realize that his worst actions are indeed wholly human, and that this is what humanity really can be. Season Two has such interesting ideas in spades, and its theme looks at all the best (“Untouched” [2×04], “Guise Will Be Guise” [2×06], “Epiphany” [2×16]) and worst (“Reunion” [2×10], “Reprise” [2×15]) sides of our existence: forgiveness, self-control, image, obsession, revenge, victory, belonging and the very nature of evil itself. By the time the season closes, Angel’s re-examined entirely what his mission is and how he’s to fight it, and goes from a champion vampire-with-a-soul to simply a genuinely good human being who helps people.fake-dwarvesWith the exception of the brilliant period piece Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, and a few rare others, the season doesn’t have quite as much use for pure standalones. Its arc employs its best metaphors and situations in the interest of exploring all sides of the characters’ journey, and as such, the season gives the impression that more happens this year than last because of the depth of each phase of the arc: the four episode standalone period, the first part of the Darla arc (“Dear Boy” [2×05] to “Reunion” [2×10]), the second part of the Darla arc (“Redefinition” [2×11] to “Epiphany” [2×16]), another couple of standalones (“Disharmony” [2×17] and “Dead End” [2×18]) and the Pylea arc (“Belonging” [2×19] to “There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb” [2×22]).

This is likely why the season finds such a strong and undivided following. While some dispute the worth of the standalones or the Pylea arc, others like them, and everyone loves the story arc; there’s something for everyone. The best aspect of this year of the character’s journey in L.A. is how broad and all encompassing the season is. With the exception of Season Five, I find this to be the best season of the show. It has a few great metaphors, an engaging, unpredictable story arc, fun standalones, important character development, strong drama, and some of the most intelligent moral and social considerations I’ve ever seen on a TV show or in a movie.

Like at the start of Season Two, the writers seemed to have a clear direction in mind at the start of Season Three, and they wisely picked up the story at the logical introductory point: With Angel having conquered his innermost doubts about his own humanity. He begins to live a truly human life. He’s accepted his role in the world as a good person rather than a champion, and recognizes the world as a wide-open, random place with no greater destiny or order about it. It’s the kind of world where even the smallest acts of kindness mean everything, because they mean someone is able to shrug off the horrible burdens of life long enough to make another life better.screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-18-22-am-e1473430782777It opens with a six episode prelude looking at various facets of the responsibilities and obligations of normal human life, and then really begins with “Offspring” [3×07] when Darla returns to L.A. in a very, very pregnant state. Like “Dear Boy” [2×05] was for S2, this is where the beginning of S3 truly lies. With Darla’s death and the birth of baby Connor (“Lullaby” [3×09]) as the emotional forces driving the season, the writers used the question of responsibility and all the ideas that fall under it (justice, deserving, chaos and guilt) to create some truly, gut-wrenchingly impossible situations for our characters to face. If I have to commend this year for one thing alone, it’s the painstaking drama that the writers plunge the characters into throughout the main arc and in the mini-arcs that follow. Although there’s not nearly as much thematic depth as S2 or as much consistency as S1, the tragedies and difficult moral situations our beloved Angel Investigations team members are forced to face moved me deeper than a lot of other episodes in the series.

Aesthetically, S3 also has a much more sprawling scope than the previous two seasons. While the first six episodes were essentially standalones, everything that followed “Offspring” [3×07] was in some way tied to the main plot arc of the show, even when some of its key players disappeared following the epic tragedy of “Sleep Tight” [3×16]. Just when it seemed the story was about to move in another Pylea-like offshoot after the main storyline concluded, Connor and Holtz returned and the plot kept on chugging. This led to some problems, of course, as all season-long arcs eventually do. Tension sometimes tried to take the place of real content and it often showed. It also led to there being an uncomfortable setup/payoff ratio on the episode list. But on the plus side, S3 (and S4, which moves even further in this direction) had a feeling of epic scope that no other seasons manage, so to even think of the better aspects that lie within strikes me. Such a sprawl is one of the reasons many people love S3 even if they haven’t looked very deeply at it.Image result for angel forgiving“Forgiving” [3×17] was another gem, as it looked at the human need to assume we live in an ordered world where someone is responsible for everything that happens. But it’s never that easy, and watching Angel struggle with that was fascinating. The final three episodes (“A New World” [3×20], “Benediction” [3×21], “Tomorrow” [3×22]) made up another interesting stretch where we saw how our characters could be motivated by pain, hatred or love and the effects of all those things.

Having already been on the air for three years, Angel had more then enough time to establish its theme, characters, and relationships. It was in its fourth year that it would bring all of these elements to the forefront and then mix them up in a season that would come to be known for its complex twists and turns.The season begins with our title character trapped at the bottom of the ocean – put there by his son – with the rest of his gang broken up. From this grim beginning, things only get darker – literally. Enter the Beast, a rock-encrusted devil whose arrival is heralded by a rain of fire and promptly blocks out the sun over L.A. All signs are pointing to the apocalypse, and it’s up to Angel and the rest of his demon-fighting crew to put a stop to it. From a storytelling point of view things just keep getting worse and worse and it’s a credit to the writers that they somehow manage to end it all on a positive note.Since Season 2 Angel has been a very arc-heavy show, but in its fourth year it would approach almost 24 levels of continuity and follow-through. In addition to being very cool to watch, the interlinked episodes add up to a season that is one big experience unto itself. It’s as if the entire season is one episode with many chapters.This year we get to watch everything get shaken up. Wedges are slowly driven between certain relationships while jealousy quickly divides others. The great thing about it is that you get to see what has caused all of these problems. Despite their best efforts to hold together, these characters have no choice but to push each other apart. It makes for gripping television.Visually and stylistically the show is very well put together. The directing efforts of Joss Whedon (who is always excellent), Tim Minear (who has grown by leaps and bounds over the course of the series), and even Sean Astin (yes that Sean Astin) give the show a very polished and theatrical feel. The producers repeatedly stated that they were going for an ‘operatic’ feel to the season and they pulled it off very well. The use of darkness and shadow deserves special mention as does the great use of wide shots and the directors’ ability to fill each frame with as much information as possible. Wesley goes from bumbling dork to dark James Bond. Cool! While the twists and turns are great, the really cool thing to the season is the multiple layers that you’ll find within. Just when you think you know who the real ‘big bad’ is or in which direction the show is going, the rug is pulled out from under your feet. The entire season keeps you guessing from start to finish. Of course, our heroes win in the end — but everyone is left wondering if they did the right thing. And that’s what sets the show apart: It’s action with substance.

Nobody, not the producers, not the actors, and certainly not the fans could have predicted where this show would go. Where it could go. After all, this is an hour-long fantasy about a guy who spends so much time sitting in the shadows and brooding so much he would give Batman a run for his money. Or utility belt, as the case may be. So why is it that after five years and over a hundred episodes this show was still one of the freshest on TV? Simple: this is a story about something. What started off as just a Buffy spin-off has ended up as a massive epic that challenges, if not surpasses, its parent show. Unfortunately, the WB didn’t think so. After giving the producers a hard time and insisting on several changes, the network decided to bring the show back for a fifth, and what would be its final year.

 

So, in previous seasons we’ve had operatic apocalypses, quests for meaning, and our hero even went evil for a while. There’s only one place left to go. Into the belly of the beast, into hell itself: a law firm. Based on the out-of-left-field plot twist that was thrown at Angel and the gang in previous season’s finale, the team is now in charge of wolfram and hart the evil law firm that they’ve spent the entire series battling. The trick then becomes changing the system from the inside, all the while making sure that it doesn’t change them.


Unfortunately when the network decided to renew the show for a fifth year, there were conditions. First and foremost, it had to be more stand-alone. No more back-to-back cliffhangers. Next, the budget was cut. And finally, to sweeten the deal, the producers decided to bring over Spike – who was barbequed in the Buffy finale – in the hopes that his fans would follow. Luckily the introduction of Spike worked out well. He added a nice flavor to the show and helped flesh out Angel’s character in a way that nobody else could have. The punky vampire brought out the worst in our hero, which ended up resulting in some great comedy. Even if this Spike was different from whom he became on Buffy, he made for a nice addition.

The most unwelcome change was the standalone mandate. Yes, it can work, but it’s just not as good. The greatest strength of this show has always been its own history and tying the hands of the writers was a mistake. It resulted in a bump in the show’s overall flow. Even though it seems rushed, things tie up nicely and the finale certainly puts the “grand” in grandiose; now there’s a balls-to-the wall showstopper for you. Most people will agree that the show finished with perfect thematic closure. These characters fight an impossible fight knowing they’ll probably lose, but that’s not the point. They fight, not to win, but because that’s who they are. They don’t give up. No matter what.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – SEASON 1-7

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CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brendon (Children of The Corn III)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Anthony Stewart Head (The Iron Lady)
Davis Boreanaz (Bones)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Supergirl)
Michelle Tractenberg (17 Again)
Amber Benson (The Killing Jar)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Metcalf (Drive me Crazy)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Kristine Sutherland (One Life To Live)
Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family)
Eric Balfour (Skylive)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)
Elizabeth Anne Allen (Bull)
Robin Riker (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Wiehl (Cold Hearts)
Geoff Meed (Little Miss Sunshine)
Andrew J. Ferchland (The Last Leprechaun)
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Butler (Little House on The Prairie)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Robia LaMorte (Spawn)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Ara Celi (American Beauty)
Clayne Crawford (Roswell)
Danny Strong (The Prophecy II)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Larry Bagby (Walk The Line)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Will Rothhaar (Kingpin)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Bianca Lawson (The Vampire Diaries)
Saverio Guerra (Becker)
John Ritter (8 Simple Rules)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Jack Conley (Fast & Furious)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Shane West (Nikita)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
Jason Hall (American Sniper)
K. todd Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Fab Filippo (Guidestones)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Harry Groener (About Schmidt)
Jack Plotnick (Rubber)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Harris Yulin (Training Day)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Ethan Erickson (Jawbreaker)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Katharine Towne (Evolution)
Lindsay Crouse (The Insider)
Phina Oruche (The Forsaken)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Bailey Chase (Longmire)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
George Hertzberg (Too Much Magic)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Erica Luttrell (Lost Girl)
Kathryn Joosten (desperate Housewives)
Connor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Rudolf Martin (Swordfish)
Tom Lenk (The Cabin In The Woods)
Charlie Weber (Gacy)
Clare Kramer (Bring it On)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Kali Rocha (Buried)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Abraham Benrubi (Open Range)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Oliver Muirhead (The Social Network)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Busch (Sugar & Spice)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Karim Prince (Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)
Nicole hiltz (Smallville)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
D.B. Woodside (24)
Zachery Ty Bryan (The Fast and the Furious 3)
Sarah Hagan (Freaks and Geeks)
Jonathan M. Woodward (Firefly)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Ashanti (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Indigo (Broken City)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Julia Ling (Chuck)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the wittiest, most well developed, and consistent cult fantasy shows on television. Unlike other shows in the genre, it has been able to showcase a wide balance between fantastic character development, humor, topical plotlines, heart wrenching drama, science fiction, and horror- a horn a plenty of styles all in one 44 min episode. While entertaining, everyone probably can’t relate to the technobabble machinations of a Star Trek episode, or the convoluted paranoia of and X-Files episode, but we all went through high school and whether you were average, popular, or an outcast, we know, we remember, all too well, the emotional highs and lows of growing up. Its something everyone can relate to, and its the central fire that keeps Buffy grounded.


But, Buffy began as a humble mid season replacement on a non entity network, and its early days when it was gaining its footing, starting its mythology, seeing how far they could tweek the drama and the horror with a minuscule budget… well, its not nearly the powerhouse it would quickly become in its second season. There are of course, subtle signs of the drama and humor to come, little hints that it was more than a teen show with vampires. And, honestly, if you were going to try and impress someone who had never seen The X-Flies, you certainly wouldn’t show them the first season without saying, “It gets much better.”

KEY EPISODES ARE –


Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth- Buffy Summers, a high school sophomore, transfers to Sunnydale High. There she meets her “Watcher” and learns she cannot escape her true destiny.— Like most pilots, its all about introductions- Buffy the reluctant Slayer, her pals and soon to be Scoobies, spazz with a heart of gold Xander, shy brain Willow, her stuffy Watcher Giles, the mysterious Angel, and the snobbish beauty queen Cordelia. Also, of course, establishes the first main villain, The Master, and the Hellmouth, the demonic portal that would provide the show with its main mythological device keeping the town of Sunnydale infested with all manner of creatures for Buffy to slay

Episode 2: The Harvest:- A Stranger named Angel tells Buffy that if she does not stop the Harvest, the Hellmouth will open and the Master roam free.— Whereas the first episode was focused on introducing the characters and didn’t have much room for tension or action, The Harvest provides a look at Buffy having to accept her role as Slayer as she realizes the deadly consequences if she abandons her destiny.

Episode 5 : Never Kill a Boy on the First Date:

While awaiting the arrival of a warrior vampire called the Anointed One, Buffy’s big date at the Bronze ends with an assault on a funeral home. — Once again, showing Buffy’s attempts to balance a normal life with her secret life as the Slayer. While a little weak and cornball, it also manages to show the villain thread well, how most main Buffy villains will have some sort of evolution, twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing.

Episode 7: Angel: A moment of passion turns to terror as Buffy discovers Angel’s true identity and learns about the Gypsy curse that has haunted him for almost 100 years.— Probably the most weak, ill-defined character early on, this episode finally showcased more about Angel and gave his character some considerable fleshing out. Taking into account the large part his character would play in the Buffyverse, and the leaps and bounds of change he would undergo, his affect on all the characters, particularly Buffy, in one way or another, it makes this one of the seasons better episodes.

Episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight: As Cordelia prepares for Sunnydale High’s May Queen competition, an invisible force starts attacking her closest friends.— Another of the seasons better episodes, and a clever look an always pertinent issue, showing yet another sympathetic foe, those fringe kids who are always ignored, sometimes until it is too late.

Episode 12: Prophecy Girl:

As the Spring Fling dance approaches, Giles discovers an ancient book foretelling the Slayers death at the hands of The Master.— While a tad abrupt, this finale serves up everything one wants, tension, conflict, and turns you don’t quite see coming. Pivotal in the series for all players, but mainly Buffy, showing that she isn’t just an invulnerable buttkicker able to save the day alone, but through banding together her and the Scoobies will take on many a Big Bad to come.

Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly the best season of the bunch. Season 2 is by definition, where things get darker and more complex, this was the season that really made Buffy an unpredictably smart series.

The season opens with ‘When She Was Bad’ which deals with the fallout of Buffy’s momentary death in the previous year one finale; this episode is appropriately handled and sees Buffy acting rather out of character after returning from her summer away from Sunnydale. The preceding episodes are a fun affair and help the viewer to settle back into the rhythm of the series with various episodes focusing upon certain characters.

The ‘Big Bads’ of the season appear early on and come in the form of Drusilla and Spike, the former being a rather off-her-rocker vampire and the latter a bleached, leather wearing, cocky undead Englishman! As villains they are a lot of fun and help to shape season 2 as something unique and well constructed. However, come the end of the year things are considerably shaken up in terms of ‘the Big Bads’, with the appearance of Angelus.

Willow, Xander and Giles all find themselves venturing into new territory: dating! Cordelia continues to redeem herself and becomes a fully fledged scoobygang member, whilst Buffy and Angel undergo many changes to their relationship which is mostly the driving force of the season. By the middle of the season the episodes gradually become darker and a more coherent storyarc begins to emerge, starting with the events of ‘Surprise (Part 1)’ which culminate in the emotional and incredibly shocking ‘Innocence’ (Part 2). Said episodes are some of the best in the history of the series and set in motion events that help to lead to the end of the season. The circumstances surrounding this two parter does literally change everything once established between Buffy and Angel; and brings into question their future. The continuity, witty one liners, oblique use of language does continue into this season and helps to boost the chemistry between the actors as they discuss, for example the oddness of some TV movies and sore thumbs. These subtle touches give the season a vibrancy and kooky edge; what makes Buffy such an enjoyable show is the warmth and heart it retains, mostly provided by the actors but also by the wonderfully consistent writing.

The two part finale ‘Becoming’ is well set up as a consequence of the episode ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, which happens to be beautifully moving and tragic respectively. The complexity of the Angelus arc presented here really sets up and supports the actions that lead to the occurrences of the finale. ‘Becoming’ part 1 & 2 with all it’s flashback goodness brings about tumultuous change and throws one through the emotional wringer all the while its still surprising, sad and gut wrenching upon each rewatch. The issues dealt with this season are far more adult and dark than is the usual, and in turn it delivers a wonderfully realized arc which never fails to amaze.


This third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer contains some of my favourite episodes from the entire run of the show and also has the fewest offbeat episodes. This year Buffy and the gang are in their final year of high school but living on the Hellmouth is never easy and in addition to the usual demons and vampires they must deal with the schemes of the Watchers Council, a new slayer and a politician after even more power.

Buffy has really found its feet with this season and I would say that it is this year that the show reaches its peak. All the regular cast members give their usual brilliant performances but the season is really stolen by the new cast members, specifically Eliza Dushku as Faith the new Slayer and Harry Groener as the eccentrically evil Mayor Wilkins, who is probably my favourite of all the Buffy villains.

It is difficult to choose favorite episodes from this season as it includes so many great ones. `Bad Candy’, `Amends’, `Earshot’ and the two part season finally `Graduation’ are all excellent episodes being both funny and enthralling but my favorite episode has to be `Lover’s Walk’ where a lovesick Spike returns to Sunnydale after breaking up with Drusilla in order to find a way to get her back. James Marsters is truly excellent in this episode and livens up the series brilliantly. Another couple of episodes of note are `The Wish’ and `Doppelgangland’ both of which involve a parallel universe where vampires have taken over and feature a vamped up Willow, brilliantly portrayed by Alyson Hannigan who seems to enjoy the role immensely. Although none of the episodes could truly be considered awful, `Gingerbread’ and `The Zeppo’ are the weakest episodes of this season and are slightly painful to watch in places.

Overall this season is truly great, with brilliant writing and a plot that never ceases to be in turns exciting, funny and touching.

With the loss of David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter to the spin-off show, “Angel”, there were voids to be filled in this, the first season out of high school, and Marc Blucas and Emma Caulfield suitably obliged. The fragmentation of the Scooby Gang was for many the core reason why Season Four didn’t match the heights of the previous three: nobody seemed to care enough about each other any more. With Giles out of work, Xander flitting from one deadbeat job to another, and Buffy and Willow settling in to life on campus, there was concern that the old gang would never get back together.


A big risk was taken in introducing a more sci-fi element with the arrival of a secret government demon-hunting operation. But there’s a big difference from other genre shows: the Initiative was never in control of its actions. And that’s the gist of the season: that Buffy and her traditional methods will always be superior, and that it’s through her skills and her friends that evil is defeated, not bureaucracy. Which is why there’s no big finish in episode 22 (the grand climax happens in episode 21), because the most important storyline is about the reaffirmation of friendships, demonstrated in the most bizarre way imaginable in an episode composed almost entirely of dream sequences.


There are some classics (the Emmy-nominated “Hush” was possibly the boldest piece of television attempted before “The Body” the following year). And in the final scene of the season, we get a great setting-up of what’s to come, without knowing any specific details. All in all, a season that left a few minor gripes, but which in the overall scheme of things, has continued the journey of life into adulthood. Now they’re all supposed to be grown up, but the future still holds a great deal of uncertainty, and that can only be good for the show.

Although Season 5  still has comedic moments, it also has many more serious moments. Not to spoil it for those who have not seen the series yet, two major deaths rock the Sunnydale Slayage Crew. These are excellently handled, and in no way seem like they are tying off loose ends.

The episodes are excellent. From fighting Dracula, to multiple Xanders. From a new sister, to an old foe swapping sides. This season is excellent. the first disc houses such gems as the introduction of Dawn, without any back story or any clues into why she is there. These facts are revealed slowly through the next disc, with amusing storylines for Spike, clearly an excellent addition to the principal cast. Anya also comes into her own, and becomes revels in the joys of capitalism.

Through the next disc a departure of a relatively new character, Riley, hurts Buffy tremendously, whilst the appearance of a troll lightens the mood considerably. The fourth disc includes the fun episode where the Watcher’s Council return to Sunnydale, and reveal a shocking secret about the main enemy of this series. Spike also has a choice to make, whether to fall back into the arms of his old flame, Drusilla, or to move on and persue his newest conquest, a source of exasperation for Buffy.

The fifth disc is a solemn affair, with the death of a principal cast member, who had been with Buffy from the beginning. As Buffy and her ‘Scoobies’ attempt to cope, the attacks on them by the villain of the series grow more violent and frequent, leaving a dissuaded Buffy sure that she cannot beat the villain. When his new enemy learns of an importance in the Scooby gang, and this member of the gang get captured, Buffy goes into meltdown. With the help of Willow, Buffy recovers and faces the most terrifying villain ever in the history of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with a conclusion that is heart wrenching.


“The Gift”, the season five finale, ended with Buffy dead and buried after battling deranged fallen goddess Glory. Dying is kind of old hat for Buffy, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that the show’s title character quickly gets over the whole death thing. Although the ensuing gang of biker demons is corny, I thought her return from the grave in the feature-length “Bargaining” hit all the right notes. Her reappearance is heartbreaking and almost horrifying, and it avoids undermining the events that concluded the previous season.

Rather than just toss her back in this mortal coil as if she’d never left, Buffy is distant and depressed, not quite the elated response her friends were expecting to see. The opening of the season offers an evenhanded blend of humor and drama, particularly the early escapades of the Troika. The all-nerd supersquad — robotics whiz Warren (Adam Busch), clumsy sorceror-lite Jonathan (Danny Strong), and summoner Andrew (Tom Lenk). They added a well-needed dose of geeky comedy to the season, which made the bitter pill of the agony Buffy and friends endure later on easier to swallow.

The darker spin the three of them eventually take also resonates more having seen several episodes worth of their giddiness at being supervillains. I also thought the aftermath of Buffy’s return, seen in “After Life”, “Flooded”, and “Life Serial”, worked well as she tried to find her place in the world (and her friend’s worlds) after being plucked from the afterlife. These episodes also manage to strike that perfect balance between humor and drama.

Another early highlight is “Tabula Rasa”, where a spell gone awry robs the Scoobies of their memories.  Of special mention from this chunk of the season, of course, is the musical episode “Once More with Feeling”. The version presented here is the original broadcast, a few minutes lengthier than your average Buffy installment. Although the concept of characters in an established drama singing and dancing for an hour screams ‘gimmick’, it’s not a standalone episode, tying in heavily to the previous episodes of the season and setting up some of what would soon follow. The songs are surprisingly good, particularly impressive considering that they were written by someone without much of a musical background.Image result for buffy once more with feeling

The season closes out with a series of strong episodes. “Hell’s Bells” features the chaos of a wedding between a human raised in a dysfunctional family and his millennia-old former vengeance demon fiancee, the aftermath of which is explored in “Entropy”.

One of the season’s best is “Normal Again”, which questions the reality of what we’ve seen for the past six seasons, and Buffy’s assault on her possibly-delusional friends and family is as chilling as anything seen up to that point on the series. The darkness pervasive throughout much of the season culminates in “Seeing Red”, which has two monstrous turning points. Its fatal closing events lead into the three-episode arc that rounds out the season. Similar to Angelus’ appearances on both Buffy and Angel, the immeasurably powerful antagonist in these final episodes tear down the main characters.

In its final season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer issued a mission statement you might not expect from a series that’s been on the air for seven years: go back to the beginning. After a foray at college and a year spent toiling away in the working world, Buffy’s going back to high school. Several years after its destruction at the hands…or giant coiled tail, whatever…of the ascended Mayor Wilkins, Sunnydale High has been rebuilt from the ground up. The Hellmouth beneath the school happens to lurk directly below the office of Principal Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside), who’s harboring some sort of dark secret that may or may not work to Buffy’s favor. Anyway, Wood continually stumbles upon Buffy as she spirits Dawn off to her first day of school as a freshman and ensuring both Summers girls make the most of the lovingly-crafted Sunnydale High set, Wood offers Buffy a job as a part-time counselor. Holed up in the bowels of Sunnydale High is Spike, who’s been driven mad by a combination of his newly-acquired soul and an entity that’s been haunting him, one that’s soon going to expand its grasp to the rest of the Scooby Gang and the world at large.

These early episodes really do capture the feel of the first few seasons of the series, a very welcome change after the grim year that came before it. This is one of the stronger opening salvos of Buffy. “Him” is played pretty much for laughs, revolving around a football player whose letter jacket makes him irresistible to the fairer sex, compelling Dawn, Buffy, Willow, and Anya to take drastic and wholly over-the-top measures to win his complete adoration.

 

Three of the season’s best episodes run back-to-back. “Same Time, Same Place” follows Willow’s return to the group, still reeling from the near-apocalyptic events of the previous year and further disheartened when she’s apparently abandoned by her friends. Buffy and company really are there for Willow, but the problem is that there are kind of two separate and distinct “there”s. The cannibalistic Gnarl is one of the most effectively creepy creatures of the show’s entire run, and his confrontation with Willow is unsettling and horrifying…and I mean that in the best possible way. “Help” quickly follows, chronicling Buffy’s quest to save the life of an awkward, introverted poet who foretells her own death.

Although I really like all of the first batch of episodes, this season has two particularly strong stand-outs. Following the excellent “Same Time, Same Place” and “Help” is “Selfless”, which features Anya returning to form as a mass-murdering vengeance demon, a decision that awes her demonic coworkers and conflicts her former friends as Buffy must make a difficult decision. The episode makes use of flashbacks from several vastly different time periods and juggles drastically different tones. We see what led young Aud to become the vengeful Anyanka in a hysterical glimpse back at her life with her wench-drenched, troll-hating brute of a husband, Olaf. There’s also a flashback to “Once More, With Feeling”, complete with a new musical number, followed by a brutal, brilliant cut to the present.

The other standout is “Conversations with Dead People”, an inventively structured episode penned by four different writers. The title is a decent enough synopsis, as a number of characters communicate in varying forms with the dearly departed. Buffy allows herself to be psychoanalyzed by a recently-risen Psych major, Dawn is haunted by a poltergeist that takes on a shockingly familiar image, Willow is delivered a message from a lost love one, Spike goes out on the town, and the remnants of last year’s nerdy Troika return to Sunnydale.

In general, season seven feels like Joss Whedon and company had a clear beginning and a clear ending. The Finale does give the show a nice ending, but is left open should the show ever return in any format.

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: THE ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES

CAST

Anjelica Huston (50/50)
Raul Julia (Street Fighter)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Christina Ricci (Lizzie Borden Took An Axe)
Jimmy Workman (As Good AS It Gets)
Joan Cusack (Working Girl)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Carel Struycken (The Witches of Eastwick)
David Krumholtz (Serenity)
Dana Ivey (Two Weeks Notice)
Christopher Hart (Idle Hands)
Peter MacNicol (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Christine Baramski (The Big Bang Theory)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Mercedes McNab (Angel)
Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City)
David Hyde Pierce (Hellboy)
Peter Graves (Airplane)
Monet Mazur (Just Married)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Tony Shalhoub (Men in Black)

One of the rare sequels that actually equals the output of the first film, “Addams Family Values” shows the material still has enough not yet mined for a second picture – it works. I wouldn’t think of doing another one of these pictures, but “Addams Family Values” manages to be successful, mainly due to the return of director Barry Sonnenfeld, who gets the tone and humor exactly right. Not only that, but he even has a small role in the picture.

The film starts off with Morticia(Angelica Huston) announcing that she’s going to have a baby. “Right now”, she says, in her usual deadpan manner. Taking enjoyment in the pain of delivery, the Addams soon have another member of the family, which they name Pubert. They find the need for a nanny to take care of the new addition, and Debbie Jalinsky(Joan Cusack) arrives. At first, she seems like the perfect nanny. She’s good with the children and doesn’t seem to mind the upside-down world the Addams live in.

Soon though, her intentions are revealed. She marries rich men and her newest target is Fester(Chistopher Lloyd). While the gags during the early portion of the film when the baby is new in the house are funny, there are a number of equally funny moments when the two kids are sent to Summer camp.It’s a very funny movie and a solid sequel, proving that the characters had enough good material to make a second movie work.

31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991)

CAST

Anjelica Huston (50/50)
Raul Julia (Street Fighter)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Christina Ricci (Lizzie Borden Took An Axe)
Jimmy Workman (As Good AS It Gets)
Dan Hedaya (Commando)
Elizabeth Wilson (The Graduate)
Judith Malina (When In Rome)
Carel Struycken (The Witches of Eastwick)
Dana Ivey (Two Weeks Notice)
Christopher Hart (Idle Hands)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Mercedes McNab (Angel)

Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991)

After so many attempts at making feature films out of old TV series have failed, the handful that actually are successful and creative stand out. In recent times, “The Addams Family” is certainly one of the best. Director Barry Sonnenfeld is at his best here, and he’s lucky to be surrounded with the perfect cast.


We’re introduced to the family; Morticia(perfectly played by Angelica Huston), Gomez (a wonderful performance with great energy by Raul Julia) and the two children, Wednesday(a perfect Christina Ricci) and Pugsley. Instead of the usual fights between children, the two go after one another with deadly weapons. And in the film’s best non-speaking role we have Thing, a hand that races around the house and acts as sort of a family pet. There’s also the film’s other “star”, the Addams mansion, which has been built down to the last detail.The plot revolves around the “appearance” of Gomez’s long-lost brother, Uncle Fester. This Fester (Christopher Lloyd) though, is an impostor, planning to raid the Addams vault and the plan is brought together by the family lawyer (Dan Hedaya).

The movie occasionally has a few slow points, but it’s a lot of fun and the performers seem to have enjoyed their roles as well. The cinematography is a lot of fun as the camera rockets through the various halls of the house. It’s the performances though, that capture the characters perfectly. A very good first directing effort from Sonnenfeld.