Totally Random Movies

I hear a lot of older film fans pine for the video store days. And while I do miss strolling through the aisles of my beloved Family Video either flying solo or with my buddy Geof, I do love the digital age and all of the entertainment choices it offers. Of course, the problem with so many choices is, well, SO MANY choices. Haven’t we all spent an exorbitant amount of time scrolling through a streamer only to finally choose something and then doze off moments later? Maybe this only happens to my fellow Olds, but this is a blog, so who else is reading?

With all of those unstreamed movies and the piles of flicks I own in my binders (my actual collection) not to mention the ones in as-yet-unwatched box sets and on my To Watch Shelf, I realized I needed to try something new. So why not randomize the process?

With the idea in mind, I put the little bit of my high school statistics class that I remember to work, along with a random number generator and a variety of dice I’ve acquired over the years. I’ll note here that I know that this process is not truly random because not every possible film is in the hopper, so to speak, but instead I’m pulling from the population of films that I actually want to see. I think my very dull stats teacher would appreciate that distinction even if no one else does.

Anyway, here’s how it works. For streamers, I count all of the movies in my queue and then use this aesthetically pleasing random number generator to choose which flick I’m watching. Boom, pretty simple. In my case, I’m streaming from Netflix, Starz, HBO Max, Paramount Plus and Amazon, though I’ll probably sign back up for Shudder in the fall and might start including some Disney options. Oh and if the service I’m using includes TV shows along with movies like Netflix does, I go to the film to the immediate right (yeah, I’ve thought way too much about this).

It gets a little more complicated for the movies I already own. My binders — yeah I ditch the cases AND THE SLIPCOVERS!!! — are all alphabetized because that’s the kind of person I am. So, I pilfered the dice from the Scattegories game and use that to figure out which letter I’m working with. Assuming there are more than one title starting with that letter, I use the random number generator based on the range of potential flicks (not counting special features discs, of course). I use the same process to choose from my To Watch Shelf.

For the box sets, which are only partially in alphabetical order (I ran out of space), I count the total number of sets, use the random number generator to figure out which one I’m pulling from and then use either the generator again or one of the multi-sided dice I bought several years back when I first thought of this idea. And of course, I set up a rotation that includes a list of holes in my movie-watching history that I’d like to check off. If you’re interested, here’s the pattern, though I’m sure I’ll mix it up at times:

  • My Binders
  • Netflix
  • Starz (my wife got it for Outlander, but it’s got some great weird movies)
  • My To-Watch Shelf
  • HBO Max
  • Paramount+
  • Unwatched Box Sets
  • Amazon Video
  • My Movie Holes List

If you follow me on Instagram — and why shouldn’t you, I’m delightful over there — you may have seen me trying my hand at some reels. Wow, that sounds impossibly old. Anyway, the process has resulted in some interesting viewing experiences. Through the Totally Random Movies process, I re-watched A Nightmare On Elm Street 2, which I’ve thought was underrated for years.

I also checked out a Netfilx Original that I probably would have never gotten to otherwise called Vampires Vs. The Bronx from director Oz Rodriguez that I loved. This one’s about a bunch of kids who discover that vampires are gentrifying their neighborhood. To me it was a delightful mix of The Lost Boys and Dope and now I can’t wait to see what else Rodriguez does.

Moving on to Starz, I jumped into the 1994 Wesley Snipes thriller Drop Zone from director John Badham. Boasting a cast that also includes Gary Busey, Yancy Butler (TV’s Witchblade!), Grace Zabriskie, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Mr. Noodle’s Brother Mr. Noodle himself Michael Jeter, this thriller revolves around Snipes getting into the world of competitive skydiving to solve a major crime. It’s super fun in the same way that Cliffhanger is. Holy cow, I didn’t realize until writing this that I’d seen this movie already a decade ago! This is why I love blogging!

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy my To Watch selection, Santo In The Wax Museum, because it’s pretty boring. I sure hope I didn’t waste a bunch of money sneaking Santo double feature DVDs into my Amazon orders last year. As it happened, I also thought that Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders from 1984 was a misfire. I’m not sure how it’s possible to fumble a cast that includes C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Diane Lane, but Coppola does. It’s almost like he didn’t understand how stories work. This one was a stunner in how inept it felt. I never say this, but this movie could be almost twice as long and only benefit from the additional minutes.

Interestingly, my Paramount+ pick wound up being Nick Of Time which was also helmed by John Badham (what are the odds? Maybe by stats teacher can tell me because that’s beyond my abilities). In this convoluted thriller, Christopher Walken ropes Johnny Depp into killing a senator played by Marsha Mason. Admittedly, I was pretty tired when I watched this one, but something felt missing, but I still loved watching Walken push Depp around (and seeing Depp before every character was an iteration of Jack Sparrow).

I’ll admit, I’ve spent most of this year watching old seasons of The Challenge on Paramount+ during the days. In the evenings, when I’m not reading, watching sports, playing video games or falling asleep, I enjoy having my next film figured out. Stay tuned for what else pops up on Totally Random Movies!

If you’re looking to watch any of these movies and feel like adding them to YOUR collections, it’d be great if you did so by following these Amazon Associate links:

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