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136. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation – Independence Day 2019 (-#45)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Jess Dunne and Luke Dunne, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Kim Henkel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

Prom should be the best night of Jenny’s life. However, an unexpected detour winds up taking Jenny and three of her friends on an unexpected detour down the back roads of rural Texas. While exploring, the teens stumble upon a horror nestled snugly at the heart of the Lone Star State.

At time of recording, it was ranked 45th on the Internet Movie Database‘s list of the worst movies of all-time.

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The Lone Gunmen – Pilot (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

It is meant to be a joke.

It is an episode known as The Pilot, because it is a proof of concept for a new series that can be shown to executives in the hopes that they might green-light it and give the production team a series order. That is, after all, what a television pilot is. It is the first episode of a television show to be filmed, usually with considerable space between it and the rest of the first season. There is time for network notes and feedback, to determine what works and what doesn’t. There is space for recasting and reshooting, which becomes more problematic on a weekly schedule.

Rocket man.

Rocket man.

However, the fact that the first episode of The Lone Gunmen is called The Pilot is also a rather wry punchline. It is a self-aware reminder that the show takes itself considerably less seriously than Millennium or Harsh Realm. After all, even if this weren’t the very first episode of a new television show, it might be called The Pilot. Based purely on the plot, the episode might have been called The Pilot. It is an episode about a sinister plot to hijack planes using advanced technology. So calling the episode The Pilot is a cheesy and goofy bit of wordplay.

Of course, there is very little funny about it in hindsight.

Don't leave us hanging...

Don’t leave us hanging…

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The X-Files – The Pine Bluff Variant (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

The Pine Bluff Variant is probably John Shiban’s best solo script for The X-Files.

It is the kind of story that the show does very well, a taut conspiracy thriller packed with sharp twists and turns. Not all of those twists and turns make a great deal of sense, but there is an incredible momentum to the episode that keeps it moving forward. John Shiban’s script is beautifully brought to life by Rob Bowman’s direction, with Bowman demonstrating once again why he was the perfect choice to direct The X-Files: Fight the Future. The Pine Bluff Variant is a well-constructed piece of television.

He who hunts monsters...

He who hunts monsters…

It also fits quite comfortably in the context of where the show is at this point in time. The fourth and fifth seasons of The X-Files saw the show really engaging with the dark underbelly of conspiracy culture just as Mulder when through his own dark midnight of the soul. After three seasons of endorsing paranoia and skepticism, The X-Files was ready to deal with the sorts of organised groups that believed in such conspiracies. The Pine Bluff Variant has Mulder infiltrating a militia a few months before the release of Fight the Future would recreate the Oklahoma City Bombing.

It is a thread with which the show had been playing since The Field Where I Died early in the fourth season. The Pine Bluff Variant is the last time that the series pushes these sorts of militia groups to the fore, with Mulder reaffirming and regaining his faith at the climax of Fight the Future. It is a suitably satisfying farewell to this recurring thematic motif.

Fleshing out the threat...

Fleshing out the threat…

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The X-Files (Topps) #27-29 – Remote Control (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

In many respects, Remote Control is a very “big” story.

It is the biggest story that writer John Rozum has told to date on the comic book, one that spans three issues and seems to brush against the edge of the mythology most associated with The X-Files. Not only does Remote Control feature secret CIA experiments into psychic phenomenon, it also involves a UFO that is being transported through the United States and is hijacked by a foreign power. To top it all off, there is a super-soldier who can render himself invisible and make himself immune to bullets.

Everything is under control...

Everything is under control…

There is a very clear sense of scale to Remote Control, one that suggests this is a blockbuster adventure. This is the comic book equivalent of those mythology episodes that air during sweeps. At the same time, however, Remote Control brushes up against the limitations imposed upon the comic book by Topps and Ten Thirteen. While Remote Control offers the highest stakes that the comic book has seen since Feelings of Unreality, the script is quite clear that this is a story separate and divorced from anything happening in the show.

There are points where it feels like Remote Control goes out of its way to remind readers that this is just a tie-in comic book, and is thus secondary to the television show.

Mulder is a little tied up right now...

Mulder is a little tied up right now…

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The X-Files – Wetwired (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Wetwired is an oddity.

It is the penultimate episode of the third season, written by special effects supervisor Matt Beck. It is very much a conspiracy episode, albeit one lacking any real sense of forward moment and with only the loosest thematic ties to the rest of the show’s mythology. Unlike – say – Soft Light, this is not simply a “monster of the week” story with elements of the mythology grafted in. The show has largely move past those, which is why Avatar felt so weird.

More like

More like “terror vision”, am I right?

Instead, Wetwired is that strangest of government conspiracy stories. It is an episode dedicated almost exclusively to shady goings-on at the highest levels of government, but with no mention or inference of aliens or other sinister long-term plots. Wetwired stands out as something strange and hard to place; perhaps its closest analogue is The Pine Bluff Variant from towards the end of the fifth season.

The result is an oddity that is a little uneven and disjointed, an episode packed with clever ideas and concepts, but difficulty connecting them to each other.

Scully has had it with Mulder's quips about her driving...

Scully has had it with Mulder’s quips about her driving…

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The X-Files – Season 2 (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

The first few seasons of a television show are very much about defining the show – figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and what form the show will take. After all, a lot of discussion and planning takes place during development, but all of that is on paper. It’s only once you’ve worked with the cast and had a chance to gauge audience response that it is possible to truly understand a television show.

The first two seasons of The X-Files seem like an attempt to map out the show, to mark the boundaries and do some fine calibration. The show had been a sleeper hit in its first season, popular enough to secure a second season on Fox. However, the second season had seen the series become a breakout hit. It climbed rather dramatically in the ratings, and the show would continue that ascent through to the fifth season in the lead-in to the feature film. However, the second season still feels like it’s a learning curve.

xfiles-onebreath6

There are exceptional episodes in the second season. The season provides a wealth of classic stories. Fresh Bones and Our Town stand out as two of the best monster-of-the-week stories that the show had done by this point in its life-cycle. Even outside of that, there are classics like One Breath or Humbug or The Host or F. Emasculata. However, there are also quite a few misfires like Fearful Symmetry or Excelsis Dei or 3.

There are a lot of points in the second season where it feels like The X-Files is experimenting, trying new things that would ultimately become part of the show’s unique identity. Not all of these elements worked, but that is the luxury of a second season. It allows the production team to do that sort of experimentation so they might find their groove.

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The Sopranos: The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti (Review)

The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti begins with a dream sequence. We’re not yet at the point where The Sopranos would spend an entire episode inside the head of one of its characters (okay, not literally, at any rate), but it sets a tone for the rest of the episode. The Sopranos attracts attention as an exploration of the American Dream, a look at what life is like in the shadow of all those expectations and aspirations, but it also feels like a black absurdist comedy.

The Sopranos could be one of the funniest shows on the air, and that grim sense of humour is pushed to the fore with The Legend of Tennessee Moltisanti, where the unfunniest thing in the episode is the stand-up comedian working an ageing crowd.

It's a laugh...

It’s a laugh…

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