The High Five Podcast Episode 28 – Super Movies Not Based On Comics

On this week’s episode, I’m running down a quintet of action movies that feel like comic book movies, but without existing source material. I had a great time putting this list together and a lot of fun watching these movies. I hope you do too!

Of all of these, I’ve written about the Universal Soldier franchise the most including the original, The Return and Day Of Reckoning.

As always, you can email me at high5tj at or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Halloween Scene: The Evil Dead (1981)

the evil dead While flipping through Netflix’s instant horror offerings the other day, I came across The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. I found myself hovering over the poster images trying to decide whether I wanted to watch these movies again. I couldn’t quite put my figure on why I wouldn’t want to watch these films. When I was a teenager, these were two of the movies very high on my list of need-to-watch horror flicks. Heck, I even owned both of them on VHS, but for whatever reason, they never became the kinds of movies that I watched over and over again like I did/do Halloween and some other favorites.

Well, I did sit down and re-watch this film that I haven’t seen all the way through since college. And you know what? I really liked it. Like a lot. I also think I figured out a few of the reasons my mind told me I didn’t want to watch this film, but I’ll get to those a bit later.  Continue reading Halloween Scene: The Evil Dead (1981)

Movie Memories: Seeing Spider-Man 2 As A Wizard Intern

Guys, I hate Spider-Man 2. I think it’s got great casting, some really funny moments and action scenes that are pretty stellar, but then there’s that big middle section that smashes you over the head with how crummy Peter Parker’s life is. I remember sitting in the the theater watching the film and pulling my hoodie over my eyes in pain. I thought I wasn’t the only one, but as it turned out, the movie is beloved. Whodathunkit.

Anyway, I’m not writing this post about the movie itself so much as the circumstances in which I saw it. Back in the summer of 2004, I was doing a nine week internship at Wizard. I was blown away by how cool the guys were both as people and co-workers (no one looked down on us just because we were interns). There were also a lot of perks I hadn’t really thought about. We got a discount at a nearby comic shop, access to all the new and old comics in the Wizard library and even a few random freebies that the writers or editors would pass our way (I have a Bowen Punisher bust from those days proudly displayed on my bookshelf to this day).

One of the really unexpected perks was going down to see Spider-Man 2 at a special screening in New York City. I could not tell you where it was, but it wasn’t a normal movie theater. I was walking along with a big group of Wizard dudes in NYC, a place I’d only been once at this point, and all of a sudden they’re like, “Hey we’re here.” I look over and they’re walking into a door that looks like just about any other one on a street of unassuming doors. Inside was a secret theater that Sony either owned or rented specifically for screenings like this. I believe there were some pretty impressive Marvel folks in the crowd as well, but I honestly can’t remember.

Aside from the movie I didn’t like, the memory that really sticks out is how cool the whole experience was. A group of us interns drove to the train station and met up with the other guys, walked around the city to a secret theater and saw a big time movie before anyone else (or most people, I’m sure there were a ton of these kinds of screenings). I’ve go on to meet a lot of cool people, get a lot of cool stuff and see a lot of cool things before other people, but you never forget that first time. I even remember walking down the street in jeans and a hoodie looking up at the night sky in NYC and just thinking how cool it felt. Good times.

Halloween Scene: Intruder (1989)

Don’t be fooled by the crappy DVD box art to the right. Spider-Man is spelled with a dash. Oh, also, Bruce Campbell’s in this slasher flick for about five minutes at the end and Sam Raimi did not direct the movie, but plays a worker in the grocery store besieged by a slasher. Intruder is actually directed by Raimi’s friend and Evil Dead Fake Shemp Scott Spiegel. I haven’t done any research on the movie aside from reading the IMDb Trivia page, but I got the feeling that Raimi and Campbell were helping a friend make his first movie.

And it’s a mostly successful, though sometimes goofy, effort, but what more would you expect from a late-80s slasher? The movie is set in a grocery store, so it’s kind of like a longer version of that scene from My Bloody Valentine 3D (and I assume the original, but it’s been way too long since I’ve seen it to remember for sure). The presumed killer is one of the two girls’ ex boyfriend who just got out of prison. The staff is in the store late this night because they’re repricing everything as the store is being sold. I’m not actually sure how those two things go together, but it’s possible I missed one of the finer details.

Anyway, it’s fun seeing Sam Raimi act and his brother playing the clueless stock boy/fruit chopper, but they’re joined by some good fellow actors and a pair of actresses you might recognize from Night Of The Creeps and Sleepaway Camp 2. I’m not great at recognizing actors, but I knew those two ladies looked familiar.

Without getting into spoilers, there’s a twist ending that I didn’t see coming, but possibly because I wasn’t paying that much attention. After that there’s a really interesting end that I’m surprised more horror movies haven’t tried to pull off. All in all, Intruder was a good effort packed with familiar faces, some okay kills and an environment you don’t see a lot in horror flicks. Not a lost classic, but fun enough to watch.

Halloween Scene: Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Man, I was really disappointed with Drag Me To Hell. I don’t know what I was expecting. I haven’t liked a Sam Raimi movie since the first Spider-Man (I HATE Spider-Man 2) and, to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of his overall. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Evil Dead movies enough, but I’m not super obsessed with them (example: I have Evil Dead 1 and 2 on VHS, but haven’t gotten them for DVD yet). I guess I got excited when everyone was giving Drag Me To Hell so much high praise. But, overall, I just found this movie kind of boring, not super original and not very scary. I was more grossed out from certain scenes (pretty much anytime something of the old lady’s went into Alison Lohman’s mouth or vice versa), but I was definitely expecting more in the scares department.

I also felt like there were too many logic gaps to just accept. Why does she use a key to get into her car? No one does that anymore. It might sound like a nitpick, but it’s not. To me, it’s the filmmakers jumping over logic to use an old horror trope (I can’t get my key in the door!). It’s 2009 and her car is newer than my hunk of junk so she definitely should have keyless entry. Another thing that bothered me was how quickly she murdered her own cat. I know it’s to show how far she’s being pushed, displaying her mounting insanity, BUT it’s not like the ghosts were still attacking her. She could have run outside and found an animal that wasn’t the pet she loved to murder. It was a story decision that made me continue to dislike Lohman’s character. I’m not sure what it was about her, but I was bored with her and didn’t really care when she was getting thrown around Nightmare On Elm Street-style. It didn’t help that after an intense scene, Lohman is sitting in her kitchen eating ice cream and crying. That just seemed like such a stereotypical and boring scene that I couldn’t get into it and kind of stopped caring. Oh, she also says things like “I’ll shove it down her god damned throat, I’m gonna get some.” That’s terrible, awful stuff. And don’t get me started on how absolutely careful I would be if I had a talisman that would or wouldn’t keep me from being haunted.

Hey, also, trains make a LOT of noise. Like a lot. You can hear them coming from way off. I can understand not hearing a bus (even though they also make a lot of noise), but this is a train. Everything about them is loud.

This review ended up being a lot more harsh than I thought it would be when I was thinking about it last night, but, having slept on it, I don’t remember a lot of positives from it. I liked Justin Long in a serious role. I liked her boss at the bank, especially when he tells Lohman to stop spewing blood all over the bank and then keeps asking if he got any in his mouth. Let’s see…the effects were good at times. I didn’t like the CGI stuff, but the practical bodily fluids being spewed and spilled all looked good. The fight in the car between Lohman and the old lady was pretty great. I liked how the old woman got several staples to the face. It reminded me of that Simpsons scene where Bart’s going back-to-school shopping and he shoots the staples at the cardboard cutout’s face. I can’t find the damn quote, but some of you know what I mean.

I talked to Megan about DMTH last night and she said that seeing it in a crowded theater really helped and I can see that. If I had seen this pre-hype with a bunch of people, things might be different, but I’m not so sure. I think Raimi’s gotten incredibly lazy (this kind of felt like Evil Dead with a girl and fewer zombies and action) and don’t necessarily care about his movies anymore. Do you really have to say anything after Spider-Man 3? You shouldn’t have to, but they’re working on the fourth right now, so what do I know? I wish I could have loved this movie, I really do, but the one thing I kept thinking through its entire run time was, how did this get a wide release and Trick r Treat didn’t?