5 scary movie sequels that don’t suck (and 5 that do)

Happy Halloween, readers!  We hope this night brings you plenty of treats (and all the right kind of tricks). In honor of this, the awesomest of holidays, we’d like to save you precious downloading time by sharing with you Laura’s breakdown of which scary movie sequels are worth watching, and which ones would better be left to rest in peace.

Spookily good

1. Evil Dead II (1987) – Sam Raimi’s follow-up to the extremely low-budget first Evil Dead film was an improvement over the first thanks to its darkly comedic script, which has Bruce Campbell’s Ash fighting a demon, his zombiefied girlfriend, a team of well-meaning archaeologists who only screw things up further, and, famously, his own hand. The third film in the series, Army of Darkness, is fun as well, but the whole Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court gimmick gets a little tired. The sequel is where it’s at.

2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – After Night of the Living Dead turned George Romero into an overnight horror hero, he had to find a way to top the first movie’s scares. And like Sam Raimi did, he accomplished that by expanding the scope of the film. No longer restricted to a single house, the film looks at the effect of a zombie pandemic on society at large. Our team of heroes has been dealing with this zombie nonsense for a while, and they’re forced to take refuge in a mall, thus adding the deep themes Romero’s films are known for—consumerism, America’s naive nature and the ineptness of its government, to name just a few. Plus there’s lotsa scary zombies.

3. Aliens (1986) – What’s better than one alien? Lots of little aliens! Here we find out more about the military/government conspiracy that led our hero, Ripley, to be attacked by evil aliens in the first place. She’s also been asleep for 57 years like some kind of sci-fi Rip Van Winkle. And for some reason there’s a little girl hanging out with the aliens—maybe she got there through the poltergeist TV.

4. Hostel: Part II (2007) – Eli Roth got help from Quentin Tarantino making this sequel to the hit horror flick Hostel, and whatever Quentin did seemed to have worked. Although the first Hostel benefited from the mysterious nature of the plot–keeping us in the dark almost as much as our hapless protagonist—the sequel assumes the audience will be familiar with the process the victims go through, so it lets us in on what’s going on from the other point of view. Namely, it shows us how and why the evil Hostel operates and gives us a sort of sympathetic figure in one of the torturers. Of course, neither he nor our female victim-hero will come out of the film entirely heroic or innocent.

5. Final Destination 2 (2003) – The Final Destination films are all about establishing and then playing with ground rules—something horror movies seem to be especially fond of (think about how complicated vampire and zombie mythology has become). So as with Back to the Future, the sequel was all about repeating the events of the first film, but with plenty of twists to keep things interesting. Instead of a plane crash to open the film, we get an impressive and cringe-inducing highway pileup. The complex Rube-Goldberg devices Death and/or Fate uses to knock off the film’s victims are more hilariously indirect than ever. And even though the plot resolution is kind of dumb, at least we get a last-minute visual gag that will turn you off BBQ for at least a week.

Hair-Raisingly Horrible

1. Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) – The first Poltergeist movie was awesome—the rotting face scene, the pool full of corpses scene, the wacky midget spiritualist—but then we got this heaping pile for a sequel. The only thing that could do more injustice to the original is Poltergeist 3. Rent neither.

2. Scream 2 (1997) – OK, this is kind of a spoiler, but why’d they have to kill Jamie Kennedy? He was the only mildly amusing character in this poopfest of a sequel. For all their overanalyzing and self-referential bad sequel conversations, this film made all the same mistakes everyone else does. And when the killer is revealed, it’s really dumb.

3. 28 Weeks Later (2007) – I really liked 28 Days Later for its moodiness, its balance of dread and action, and its scary vision of what rebuilding society could look like. But the sequel, while it had a few interesting moments, was pretty much a rehash of the tricks from the first outing, with a healthy dash of cliché. I swear, if I see one more video-game-esque scene where someone says “meet me at the helicopter at such and such time, it’s the last helicopter out,” I’ll puke.

4. Jaws 2 (1978) – This movie set the standard for terrible horror blockbuster sequels. Paved the way, you might say. It’s sort of a pioneer that way. And only in that way.

5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) – I know they think they created an apocalyptic vision of horror, but it’s more like a crappy vision of crap. Video games make bad movies, the end.

Liz and Laura go to Europe, Part 2

The adventure continues!

After a peaceful few days in the English countryside, we were ready to stir things up. And we knew precisely where to go to do it…

Paris View

Paris! (cue accordion and smoke machine)

We managed to find a fantastic deal on a nice hotel in the Montparnasse area. Check out our sweet courtyard view.

Hotel courtyard

Entirely free of both gypsies and the vertically challenged, the Notre Dame Cathedral was splendid indeed, and super gothic. It was funny to see people hanging around lazily while such an historic, stunning thing towered in the background. That, and the ever-looming threat of pigeon splatter.

Notre Dame and Liz

There sure are a lot of churches in Europe, huh? I think this religion thing might be catching on.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Next we trotted on over to one of Paris’ many impeccably manicured parks. Not only a place to lounge with your peeps or stroll with your sweetie, these gorgeous expanses also provide spots for the display of fine art, which we appreciated wholly.

Giant Head

And speaking of public programs, look at them fancy city bikes they have for rent! Just swipe your card, load your baguette and wine into the handy basket, and pedal off to Convenienceville! We pondered the reasons why our fine city doesn’t offer such services, and decided it was poor funding, and bum urine.

City Bikes, Paris

Next stop, the Musée d’Orsay! Both having attended the Louvre on previous visits, we opted for this smaller but equally fantastic mecca of Impressionism, housed in a stunning former train station. We saw more than a few paintings that were, like, famous.

“How inspiring!”

Laura and art

“I get it!”

Whistler

“Très magnifique!”

me-and-van-gogh

After a long night of baguette-, brie- and booze-filled revelry, the following day found us at the Centre Georges Pompidou, that awesome-looking contemporary art dealy. They wouldn’t let Liz in because she had a pint of brandy in her bag, but it sure did look kickass from the outside.

Pompadou center

A stop at the Virgin Megastore on the fabulous Champs-Élysées proved hilarious as we noticed something peculiar about their DVD packaging.

Virgin Megastore

“Les Griffin”! Makes it sound right dignified.

But in order to truly understand how the French live, we made our way to a certain structure known as the Eiffel Tower. Another fancy park surrounds the thing, so there was plenty of room for the taking of wacky pictures.

Liz Laura Eiffel Tower

This one, just, wow.

liz-eiffel-tower

Before facing the millions of stairs to the top for the view of all views, we took a moment to rest our weary feet and contemplate the awesomeness of friendship and concealed flasks.

Liz at Mars park

Oddly enough, although we’d soberly passed by dozens of people drinking legally in public, this was one of the few places we really stopped to swig off our brandy, and as soon as we leave the park, we notice the giant “no drinking” sign. Good thing we didn’t get harassed by a sassy French cop.  As the crazy bum in the train station ranted at us, “Merde!”

Laura in mars park grass

And then we took the elevator. Stairs are for suckers.

Thank goodness for this helpful sign, because way up there the urge to destroy our expensive cameras grew quite strong. There was, however, no danger of us wasting our ice cream.

Funny eiffel tower sign

We did such a good job of being tourists!

Laura jumping Paris

As the sun went down in the city of lights, we noticed a most unsettling sight. At first the Eiffel Tower was just lit a somewhat gaudy shade of blue. Not so bad. But then it started beaming a huge searchlight around, and all of a sudden, disco fever overtook the massive structure as it convulsed with glittering white lights. Hideous!

Eiffel Tower Blue

After three days of Parisian fun, we had to say au revoir. It was time to move on to our final destination…

Continue to Part 3 or go back to Part 1

Liz and Laura go to Europe, Part 1

We, Liz and Laura, have finally returned from our travels ’round the globe. It was a long and grueling journey, and at times we thought we would surely perish from the lack of preservatives and high fructose corn syrup in our diets (not to mention Totino’s Party Pizza). But somehow we made it, and now that we’re back kicking it Brooklyn style again, we would like to take a moment to share with you, our delightful and attractive readers, a few highlights from our trip. Starting with our stay in….

Cambridge

Cambridge, England!

People really like punting around here. It’s like rowing a boat, except you push it with a pole.

Punting

We didn’t ever get around to punting, because we were too busy getting smashed at Cambridge’s many pubs. We also spent a lot of time walking around on streets like this one.

Jesus Street

During our wanderings, we came across a field of cows, which naturally inspired Liz to go harass them.

Liz and cows

We wanted to see what kinds of hilarious food products this England would have, so we made a stop at the local Tesco. It’s a big scary corporate place, but the prices are quite reasonable. Laura got distracted on the way in by the shiny rides.

Laura at Tesco

Some of the gems we uncovered included the following:

Chicken Pringles

Our journey continued with a trip to the small town of Ely. It used to be called the Isle of the Eels, due to its massive eeling industry. There were eel-related public artworks all over town, and there was even a bench emblazoned with a recipe for eel stew. We heartily recommend the Eel Trail Heritage Walk to anyone interested in history or eels.

Ely Eel Trail

Our tour of the town led us to Oliver Cromwell’s house. He’s famous!

Oliver Cromwell's House

Sadly, it was closing just as we got there. But they let us snap a photo with the actual preserved bodies of Oliver and his wife, Mrs. C.

Laura and Cromwell

We then made a stop at Ely’s lovely (and ridiculously old) cathedral.

Ely Cathedral

After a stretch of sobriety that lasted an unusually long eleven or twelve hours, Laura experienced a religious epiphany. Luckily, she and Liz stopped for a pint on the way back, and Laura was back to randomly beating nuns.

Laura in prayer

We feasted on scones with clotted cream and jam, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and many a warm ale. Soon, however, it was time to leave the English countryside and continue our international odyssey. Where will Liz and Laura’s travels lead them? Tune in next time to find out.

To be continued…

Continue to Part 2 or Part 3

Lykke Li

Quickly selling out the Music Hall of Williamsburg (not to mention the Bowery Ballroom – tonight’s show) might not be the greatest thing any musician has ever done, but I’ll be darned if that ain’t pretty good for a 22-year-old newcomer. Swedish darling Lykke Li brought her charming combination of teenage innocence and confident conviction galloping onto the stage. Not still for even a second, she shook her head and shoulders in a possessed sort of acquiescence to the rhythms of her hits, making it difficult indeed for the packed audience not to move around with her. Whether you enjoy her cutesy rasp or not, this girl proved she was meant to be a performer with her endless energy and singular style – around her neck she wore a treasure chest of accessories and toys, mostly notably a shiny silver kazoo used to buzz out the sax solo on “Dance Dance Dance.”

But that little zinger was later upstaged by a megaphone. Though it caused a few deafening rings as she held it up to the mic during “Breaking It Up,” the number was successfully delivered with the authority that such a tool demands. This being possibly the catchiest song on her debut Youth Novels, the song had most of the crowd dancing gleefully as Li megaphoned over the track of kiddie choir vocals pouring off the stage. An unexpected bonus was the beefing up of the set with some fine covers, like Vampire Weekend’s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” which seemed remarkably appropriate for her somehow, and the old soul classic “After Laughter (Come Tears).” She even leap into the audience for some good ‘ol Iggy Pop, though her intrusion caused the crowd to part rather than absorb, leading her to exclam “I’m not Jesus, dance with me!” In yet another show of massive energy, some breaks in songs had her leaping to grab drumsticks so she could click and clack along with her band, a move that did justice nicely to the “anything goes” percussion on the album. Though I may not be able to pronounce her name, this girl is pretty darn engaging.

Autumn in Brooklyn

What is it about the fall that makes you think about old times?  Is it the big rush of nostalgic holidays all at once?  I think it’s more the feeling of the weather changing.  Anyway, it’s nice, especially if you happen to be drinking on a porch in Brooklyn, watching the leaves change and all that shiz. I hope you are all having a good autumn!

Keep an eye out for our epic account of our travels through Europe…this is feeling like a multi-part thing.

In honor of Mr. Blackwell, a Worst Dressed List

The man who invented the worst-dressed list, Mr. Blackwell, has sadly passed away.  In honor of this celebrity-dissing pioneer, we’d like to present our own list of bad examples of celebrity fashion.

1. Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

Aside from her somewhat-becoming Tina Fey glasses, this woman is a fashion disaster. She looks like a cross between a flight attendant and a real estate agent, and her casual clothes are just one mess after another.  Is America ready for such an inexperienced dresser?

2. Britney Spears

Gross Britney Spears

Eww. It looks like Britney might be on her way back up from rock bottom, so let’s hope she starts putting together some decent outfits as a part of her recovery, for the love of all things holy.

3. Fergie

Gross Fergie

I don’t know much about this girl other than the fact that she ruined the Black Eyed Peas and went on to attempt a shitty solo career.  Oh, and she did a lot of meth and wet her pants onstage. But she sure can dress poorly.

4. Eva Longoria Parker

Eva Longoria Emmy 2008

First of all, I don’t like the whole changing your stage name when you get married thing.  It didn’t work for Courtney Cox Arquette or Candace Cameron Bure, so why would you think it would work for you, Mrs. Parker? For that matter, I don’t like people who shorten their name to try to sound more grown up, like Tiffany Thiessen, Rick Schroeder, and Snoop Dogg. But I also don’t like this girl’s hoochie clothes. This one isn’t that hoochie, but it is ugly.

5. Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson

This lady needs to put it away, and she also needs to stop publicizing her boring love life. What was John Mayer thinking?  Come to think of it, he went straight from Jessica to Jennifer Aniston. He must like girls who suck.

6. Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington (2)

His outfits have International Male written all over them.  And I’m still not convinced he’s human.

Fleet Foxes

The Fleet Foxes sure are popular. It can be descried as nothing short of amazing to watch the group go from a humble performance at Union Hall to a shoulder-to-shoulder squish-fest at Webster Hall but a few months later. Humility is key with these guys as throughout their quick ascent to music-world recognition they’ve retained the ultimate laid back, “I only shower sometimes” personas. When singer guitarist Robin Pecknold took the stage he appeared rumpled, sheepish, and in awe of the crowd gaping before him, but as soon as he began to sing his penetrating voice made him seem the most experienced of performers. Indeed, four of the group’s five members are miced during their shows in order to deliver those splendid harmonies found on debut Fleet Foxes and the Sun Giant EP. Each vocal part distinctly clear and displaying a fine talent, opening with “Sun Giant/Sun Rises” set a tone of awesomeness and assured the albums’ many layers would be reproduced live.

The Foxes certainly did justice to their songs performance-wise, but oh the things their banter did for their likeability. Perhaps a bit awkwardly and without thought as to the flow of the set, the boys rattled back and forth as if it were a Saturday night on their back porch. This was all nothing short of endearing as they shared stories of the road and answered audience heckles directly with pleasant wit. The funniest line came when Robin was asked “what did you do today?” to which he replied “I went to your Williamsburg.” As flannel shirts and hideous winter sweaters fly off the thrift store shelves, it’s interesting to consider what a member of our country’s fabled Northwest thinks of his one day on Bedford St. But more importantly, the music was in top form as they played most of the songs off their album and EP, along with a lovely new number “Silver City” and an unplugged version of “Katie Cruel” by Robin solo. I really do wonder where they’ll play the next time they make it to our town.

Photos by Colin Colfer

Review of their Bowery Ballroom show