Sunday, February 24, 2019

At The Movies!

Everytime I head back to my hometown in Maryland, I always find a lot of the places I grew up with originally as a child heavily altered and restored or gone completely. Now, new things are great and all but having that familiarity is always a nice comfort. These days, I expect to see more new things but I'm always shocked and pleasantly surprised when something remains the same as I used to remember it. Pizza Hut, for example was one of those nice surprises. Even the dusty and dirty general stores I see back home are a welcome sight. But the most surprising thing I've seen to date? BOWTIE CINEMAS!
Photo credit:

Last summer when I drove back home, I had an afternoon to meet up with some friends. Between lunch and grabbing meeting up with some friends that afternoon, I found myself in Annapolis with about an hour or two to kill. So I decided I'd hit my childhood Toys R Us and just for kicks, this old theater. Sure, saying goodbye to TRU before it closed permanently was nice, and maybe I'll write about that later, but seeing this place was the real treat. Almost instantaneously, years of memories came rushing back to me as soon as I walked up to the box office. And the selection of movies ain't too bad either!

Originally known as Loews Harbour Center named after the local shopping center it remains in to this day, opened in the early 90s. I wanna say 1990. It was the fresh, hip new theater on the block that everyone's older brothers and sister would work at on the weekends and where parents would take their kids for about 2 hours of mindless entertainment and then head to the TGI Fridays across the parking lot for lunch afterwards. This is also the same theater I would be a part of a packed house for Batman Returns in 1992 and a somewhat empty house for Spy Hard in 1996(a show where I lost my WWF gold Pog slammer and still haven't truly gotten over it) and so many following that. When it opened this place was the most high tech and advanced theater with the best plush stadium seating, best sound system and picture, heck it even had the coolest lobby and entrance I had ever seen at that point. Up until then, the only theaters we attended were about 20 minutes away and pretty plain compared to this. Sure, the others were great and held a lot of solid memories like the legendary MarketPlace Mall (which I wrote about many, many years ago) but at the same time the other theaters around us didn't have a sweet escalator to take you into the main lobby!

Oh that escalator...

The great thing about that gigantic stairway to movie heaven is while you ride it, you'd get a good look at all the new posters hung on the walls which would usually elicit an "oh man! We're getting a new Batman movie!!!!" or even a "Lost In Space!??! Really?!?" upon first look. I've lost count over the years how many movies I discovered were being released on this rather short trip but it would help start the hype train rather quickly. The one that stands out the most was always Multiplicity. One look at that poster and I said to myself "eeeek. Michael Keaton agreed to THAT?!?!".

As kids, the lobby felt like a gigantic, futuristic space station. The design and layout made it feel like a huge deal to us and compared to the other theaters, felt almost ritzy. I mean, check out this hallway. It's almost like a catwalk from the Death Star!

Man, the first time I remember coming to this place was for Gremlins 2 in 1990 and I was instantly overwhelmed. It was clean, spacious and plenty of lights and colors with a huge number of promo standees. And of course, the most enticing part, the smell of fresh popcorn! To my surprise, not too much work was done on the the snack bar or lobby in general. Still looks exactly the same with the shiny marble floor (which I believe my friend Brian slipped and got free passes) and the ticket taker in the middle who barely wants to be there. Looks like there's been some renovation to the snack bar's displays and menu listings, but for the most part it remains just that simple counter with glass windows. I was hankering for some delicious Junior Mints, but not for $4.50.

After taking multiple photos to the weird looks of staff, which is a common trend with me when I revisit places back home especially when I'm wearing an nWo tank top and baggy cargo shorts with skull patches on it, it was time for me to leave. I wasn't going to stick around too long since all I really wanted to do was just ride the escalator and take a look around for old times sake. Thankfully, I got the chance to do just that. Since we live in an era where huge multiplexes with arcades and extra fancy food options are the places to go, it's great to see that a small hometown theater is still able to thrive and remain the same it has for years. I'm sure the day will come that they'll heavily renovate but seeing it as I remembered it, from the escalator to the lobby to the amazingly 90s carpeting, was all I needed to bring me enough joy. I'm hoping one of your local childhood theaters also remains the same as it used to and if it does, I'm sure you'll share the same sense of comfort and nostalgia I did when I visited this place.

In fact, if I hadn't seen posters for recent movies, I could've sworn I was there to watch Encino Man all over again, buddddd-deeee.


Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: Valentine

Revenge is sweet, just like Valentine's Day chocolates. At least, that is what a vengeful, Cupid-masked killer thinks. Be my Valentine ... or else. Broken hearts and other mortal wounds await a cast of contemporary young stars when they play dating-scene veterans dying for love in this humor-laced, twist-filled thriller cleverly directed by Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) and starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) and more. Cards, candy and flowers are nice. But for fans of stalker-shocker terror, there's nothing like a Valentine.


Valentine is one of the movies that came out in the late 90s/early 2000s that I originally thought just followed the infamous "Scream Trend" in which mainstream slashers went from supernatural beings to more real life based villains and killers. I always looked at that time in horror as a dry period with very little originality. However, after watching this movie, I came to realize there were some really creative and entertaining movies. This is one of them. Valentine was a pretty typical slasher story, about a once bullied kid (in this case, young Jeremy Melton, who was rejected by multiple girls at a 6th grade dance) getting revenge on those who treated him poorly has been used in multiple movies before, but not too many were utilized past the mid 80s. And if it was, it was usually done sloppily. But valentine treats it as a useful device to tell a story with an effective payoff. Through multiple twists and turns, memorable kills, ridiculously over the top cliche characters, this movie grabs and doesn't let go of your attention, even if it can be a bit dated(which a few cast members comment on in the extras). But then again, most movies we enjoy showcase the style of certain time periods.

This movie, while not perfect is very entertaining. The best way to explain it would be if My Bloody Valentine, Prom Night and Slaughter High were to be combined and presented the early 2000s. Almost like The Rage: Carrie 2 (yes, I'm a huge fan of it!) old ideas were used to make a new movie. After waiting so long to sit down to watch it, my only regret is that I wasn't around to see it in it's original. Another regret is not getting a sequel or seeing the main antagonist become a bigger horror icon. I think the image of Jeremy Melton with the creepy 1950s cupid mask would've made a fun series or even some merchandising. I know I'd buy a NECA produced figure to put next to my Freddy, Jason and Ricky Caldwell!

And of course, anyone who was a teen from this time, will wax nostalgic about the soundtrack. Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Static-X, Orgy, and more were just some of the rock icons of that time so the soundtrack will become the instant throwback and reminder of a more ridiculous time for rock music.

The Extras:

Shout always puts an amazing effort to bring the best in special features and this may have some of my favorite interviews produced so far by the company, especially with star Denise Richards (who played the sexpot Paige) goes into great detail about her love of the genre and the importance of establishing meaningful characters in which she stated "if you're going to do a horror movie, you have to care about the characters". Very well said and really shows you just how seriously Denise and indeed the rest of the cast were going to take this movie.Marly Shelton who also loved working on this movie, also recalls great memories in making the movie and her fondness for the cast, crew and the entire experience as whole.

For longtime fans, this seems to have everything you'd want. Interviews with writers, editors, musicians, the cast, personal footage from the set, and so much more. I've seen releases with less features that get high recommendations, so the "extras fan" in me is more than happy to give this my highest recommendation.

  • NEW 2K Scan Of The Original Film Elements Supervised And Approved By Director Jamie Blanks And Director Of Photography Rick Bota
  • NEW Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks And Filmmaker Don Coscarelli, Moderated By Author Peter Bracke
  • NEW Thrill Of The Drill – An Interview With Actress Denise Richards
  • NEW The Final Girl – An Interview With Actress Marley Shelton
  • NEW Shot Through The Heart – An Interview With Actress Jessica Cauffiel
  • NEW Writing Valentine – An Interview With Co-writers Gretchen J. Berg And Aaron Harberts
  • NEW Editing Valentine– An Interview With Editor Steve Mirkovich
  • NEW Scoring Valentine – An Interview With Composer Don Davis
  • NEW Almost 2 Hours Of Never-Before-Seen Behind-The-Scenes Footage From Director Jamie Blanks’ Personal Archive
  • Audio Commentary With Director Jamie Blanks
  • Vintage “Making Of” Featurette Featuring Cast And Crew
  • Extended Interviews And Behind-The-Scenes Footage From The Electronic Press Kit
  • Deleted Scenes Including Extended Death Scenes
  • Music Video
  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Gallery
  •  Hidden Easter Egg

If you're a longtime fan or just someone who wants to give it a blind buy, head over to Shout Factory and order today!