Humungus
Movies. TV. Feelings.

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It was also the last movie I saw in the theater

There is a scene that may already be legendary. It happens between two people just having a conversation. No jump cuts are involved. I don’t want to spoil anything more (although I am, later, going to spoil ONE semi-important detail so gird your loins.) The scene was genuinely shocking and it made me flinch. Which is why I was picking popcorn off my lap for the rest of the movie.


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Photo: Walt Disney Studios

It is a beloved classic to millions but to me, it was one intense night a long time ago

I was clicking around Disney+ after rewatching X-Men: Apocalypse (don’t ask why — but I could make an argument that Fox-era Quicksilver should have his own movie) when I came upon Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and was halfway through it before I realized I had hit the play button. I’m a big dorky fan of it.

It was during the “Kidnap The Sandy Claws” number sung by the three devilish trick-or-treaters that I also realized I was watching a Disney movie. I know this already but this time it sunk in.


Pinhead, a demon with a grid drawn on his head and long pins sticking out of his skin, from the movie “Hellraiser.”
Pinhead, a demon with a grid drawn on his head and long pins sticking out of his skin, from the movie “Hellraiser.”
Photo: New World Pictures/Cinemarque/Film Futures

Forget Jason, Freddy, or Michael Myers — Clive Barker’s avenging demon is the monster of my dreams

My favorite ’80s movie monster is Pinhead from Clive Barker’s intense, blood-soaked horror classic Hellraiser. While I remain a fan of other horror franchises from that era like the Nightmare On Elm Street movies, none of them moved me the way Hellraiser did. I watch it at least once a year.

Unlike other slasher movie characters, Pinhead is kinky and graceful. …


A group of men in suits at a long table at a press conference, raising their hands while photographers take their picture.
A group of men in suits at a long table at a press conference, raising their hands while photographers take their picture.
Photo: Disney+

The new Disney+ series about the early days of the U.S. space program didn’t ignite my thrusters

The first season of Disney+’s big-budget small screen adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 nonfiction book about the space race The Right Stuff fails to launch. That is my opinion as a grown man. The lavish drama doesn’t lack ambition it just doesn’t live up to either the source material.

There is plenty of action but it’s also… stuffy? I watched the first three of eight episodes and almost immediately wanted to watch the original 1983 feature film, which is a very serious, very manly movie about fire and speed and fearless hotshots.

In the fourth grade, I received two responses from two letters I wrote, one was from Marvel Comics politely rejecting a hand-written comic book idea about Spider-Man and the other a letter explaining what it was like to circle the Earth three times in a small spacecraft. …


Borat walking past someone on the street and trying to shield his face from them using his suit jacket.
Borat walking past someone on the street and trying to shield his face from them using his suit jacket.
Photo: Amazon Studios

Yes, including *that* one

There are two moments near the end of the sequel to the now-classic 2006 socio-political satire Borat that stand out, at least to me, and one of them made national news before the movie was even available to stream on Amazon Prime.

The rest of the movie is what you’d expect — a high-energy rehash of the hidden-camera original, with a few new characters and some subtle differences. But, mostly, it’s one hour and thirty-six minutes of gross-out cringe comedy

I’ll get to the famous politician caught by a hidden camera by Sacha Baron Cohen’s merry pranksters in a moment. But the first scene I want to write about is the last gag of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.


Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) with his hand on Paul Atreides’ (Kyle MacLaghlin) shoulder in “Dune.”
Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) with his hand on Paul Atreides’ (Kyle MacLaghlin) shoulder in “Dune.”
Photo: Universal Pictures

The tweet shaming Joe Biden for embracing his son Hunter is a mini-portrait of toxic masculinity

Who John Cardillo is isn’t as important as what he tweeted yesterday. He posted a photo of former Vice President Joe Biden, the current Democratic presidential candidate, kissing and hugging his troubled son Hunter. In the photo, Hunter is looking at the camera, and his father is focused on giving his boy affection.

The Twitter post read: “Does this look like an appropriate father/son interaction to you?”

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Photo: Twitter

Cue Cat Stevens’ classic “Father & Son”

The message is both muddy and crystal clear. …


Stars of teen comedy ‘Pen15,’ Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle
Stars of teen comedy ‘Pen15,’ Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle
Photo: Hulu

It’s a painfully funny comedy about two thirtysomething women playing themselves as gawky teenage girls

Hi, my name is John. I don’t want to tell you what to watch. I don’t know you. I’m just an average guy trying to make sense of the world who is not a computer program that scans vast databases for specific keywords and search queries. Like, I don’t respond to “What should I watch?” IDK. You should watch whatever you want on whatever streaming platform you want. The best I can do is tell you what I’m watching.

And I’ve been watching Pen15 on Hulu. It’s a show about two 13-year-old girls played by two 33-year-olds, writer/actors Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle who co-created the show with Sam Zvibleman. I was never a 13-year-old girl. I think, perhaps, I would be a better person if I had been a 13-year-old girl. …


The star of the movie of the play ‘What The Constitution Means To Me,’ Heidi Shreck
The star of the movie of the play ‘What The Constitution Means To Me,’ Heidi Shreck
Photo: Amazon Prime

This is my main takeaway after watching ‘What The Constitution Means To Me’ on Amazon Prime

The concept of ‘speaking truth to power’ is as old as the Ancient Greeks, who had a complicated word for this kind of free speech: parrhesia. The word roughly translates to ‘speak freely,’ or ‘boldly,’ The word informed early democracy and theater in Athens where citizens were obligated to speak out and playwrights encouraged to ridicule kings and gods.

Two thousand years later, democracy survives, if barely. In America, a modern republic, some of the traditions of the ancients still survive. …


Grima Wormtongue sitting next to a magically aged Théoden (King of Rohan) as he sits in his throne.
Grima Wormtongue sitting next to a magically aged Théoden (King of Rohan) as he sits in his throne.
Photo: New Line Cinema

The spineless, forked-tongue ‘Lord of the Rings’ villain is a hero to many

I wonder what The Lord the Rings author JRR Tolkien would think of our times. I’m positive he would be pro-Brexit. I’m sure he’d be shocked by the diversity and dysfunction of his beloved England and most of the West.

The man had one of the most creative minds of the last century but he was certainly the type of person who’d call the police if they saw someone in their neighborhood who didn’t look exactly like everyone else who lived in the neighborhood. …


Overhead view of a pizza in an open cardboard delivery box.
Overhead view of a pizza in an open cardboard delivery box.
Photo: Erik Mclean via Unsplash

This partially explains my love of unhealthy crash diets

I’ve always been susceptible to the promises of crash diets. And the promises are seductive: For very little work, you can hate your blubbery body less. They say that if something is too good to be true, it is. Well, I’ve lived my life fully believing that if it’s too good to be true, then it absolutely 100% is true.

Childhood obesity is an epidemic, or so I have read. If I had been told I was part of an epidemic as a kid, I probably would have been thrilled to be in a club. I was just a boy, shaped like a marshmallow teardrop, who, years later, grew into a man shaped like a marshmallow teardrop. …

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