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The X-Files – Terms of Endearment (Review)

This July, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the sixth season of The X-Files and the third (and final) season of Millennium.

Terms of Endearment is perhaps the most conventional episode of The X-Files to air between Drive and Agua Mala.

The early sixth season was generally quite experimental and playful, and Terms of Endearment stands out in this stretch of the season as an episode that is very much structured like a horror story and which conforms to the expectations of an episode of The X-Files. A local law enforcement official brings a case to the attention of the FBI; Mulder and Scully trade theories; Mulder pursues his hunches, while Scully offers pseudo-scientific rationalisations. There is a crime; there is a paranormal element; there is a secret.

Who said their marriage is lacking some fire?

Who said their marriage is lacking some fire?

Terms of Endearment is an episode that could easily have been written into the fifth or seventh seasons of the show without any real difficulty. Barring the brief appearance of Spender at the start of the episode, and the occasional references to the fact that Mulder is not technically on the X-files anymore, this is business as usual. Indeed, the episode’s themes of reproductive horror might have fit quite comfortably with the recurring infant-related horror stories that populated the fifth season.

Still, Terms of Endearment works. In a way, its somewhat conventional nature serves it well. As with the stand-alone monster of the week stories scattered sparingly through the fifth season, it is easier to appreciate an episode like this when it feels exceptional rather than generic. Featuring an intriguing central metaphor, a great guest performance, and a number of memorable visuals, Terms of Endearment is a clever and powerful little script. It is not a bad début from writer David Amann.

"Who loves you, baby?"

“Who loves you, baby?”

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Non-Review Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead does has a bit of a quirky charm to it, serving as perhaps the best-made horror throwback I’ve seen in quite some time, much more effective than most of the recent splurge of exorcism movies. As far as competent execution of classic horror movie tropes go, complete with the sense of “something gruesome’s gonna happen” dread and a healthy amount of gore, Evil Dead succeeds admirably. There are some issues in the final act, but Evil Dead checks all the necessary boxes, and does so with a minimum amount of fuss or pretension, which makes it a surprising enjoyable watch for those looking to enjoy a good old-fashioned video nasty.

That said, it can’t help but feel a little awkward, through no fault of its own. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead was a genre classic which worked in a large part because it eschewed all but the most basic tropes of horror storytelling, refusing to dress a video nasty in anything too fancy. The movie came to embody a particular subgenre of horror, and it wore its grotesqueness on its sleeve. Last year, Cabin in the Woods offered a fitting follow-up, a capstone to that approach to horror. As such, through no fault of its own, this version of Evil Dead feels like it arrived a little late.

Down the rabbit hole...

Down the rabbit hole…

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Non-Review Review: Evil Dead III – The Army of Darkness

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

It’s interesting how concrete the shift in genre is between the original Evil Dead and the final part of the trilogy. It’s grown from a bona fides video nasty into a dark age comedy I actually wouldn’t have too much trouble watching with my family. I think I’m significantly fonder of the third instalment in the series than most other reviewers are, but it’s a film which is solidly and consistently fun – pure, random, non-sensical fun.

"This... is my BOOMSTICK!"

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Non-Review Review: Evil Dead II – Dead by Dawn

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

I don’t think there’s ever been a movie quite like Evil Dead II. Although you could argue that Raimi’s unique stylings are evident in the original Evil Dead, they don’t really come into their own in quite the same way that they would for the sequel. Although the movie is obviously indebted to any number of sources, the film has a crazy energy all of its own. It rockets along at such speed that the audience is caught a little off guard. It’s refreshing and more than a little zesty, which are certainly among the film’s charms.

Has Ash crossed the wrong monsters?

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Non-Review Review: The Evil Dead

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead is actually a pretty decent addition to the zero-budget teens-go-up-to-the-woods-today-and-are-sure-of-a-big-surprise subgenre. It’s a trashy horror which demonstrates a deeper affinity for the genre than a lot of other “video nasty” slasher films are prone to. However, while the film displays clear hints of the director’s developing skill, it still feels just a little bit too much like another random exploitation “schlock and shock” film.

Axe any questions you might have...

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Non-Review Review: Spider-Man II

This is a post as part of “Raimi-fest”, the event being organised by the always wonderful Bryce over at Things That Don’t Suck.

Aside from Nolan’s two superb Batman movies, Spider-Man II was the only other comic book superhero movie to make my top fifty films of the last decade. There’s a reason for that. Part of it is the fact that the movie helped define what the second film in a superhero franchise should really look like, but a larger part of it is that this film represents the moment at which Sam Raimi seemed most at home with his beloved central character – and I think that genuine enthusiasm on the part of the director really shines through over the course of the film.

I reckon Spider-Man polls highly among superhero fans...

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The Horror! The Horror!

This weekend sees the release of the only two original (i.e. not a sequel, prequel or spin-off) major releases this May. For the kids – both young and old – we have the newest Pixar film, which is steadily becoming one of the highlights of the movie year. The other film – while firmly awaited by horror aficionados – has snuck up on the rest of us, generating great buzz from preview screenings. Drag Me To Hell is apparently the best horror film in quite some time, and one I am now hotly anticipating, but it got me thinking – whatever happened to the horror genre?

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

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