So I had watched a movie for today, the New Year’s themed (kinda) Bloody New Year. It was terrible, though, and I balked at the idea of starting 2021 with a negative review. Yeah, this time of year is a kinda arbitrary distinction of time, but I think human beings need that sort of thing. Milestones. Restarts. Moments to look back and look ahead. So instead of a regular review here’s a look back at some of my favorite posts of 2020, the first full year of ScreenAge Wasteland! I’ll be back at the regularly scheduled horror madness next week.
My Most Read Articles
I’m not sure if this is of interest to anyone but me, but I’m fascinated by what articles attract the most attention. My most read article of all time remains a review of Tomie Unlimited from October 2019. Not sure why that one in particular rakes in the readers, but the unkillable schoolgirl apparently has crazy charms. For 2020 we’ve got the Underwater Creature Triple Feature from May, The Intruder Within back in February and Messiah of Evil in May rounding out the top 3. I don’t think there’s anything you can really take from that info, other than maybe people like underwater creature movies. And adaptations of Junji Ito manga.
The Last Film I Saw in a Theater
A bunch of us will be doing a “Five Favorite Films of 2020” later this month and I’ll spoil my list a little by mentioning that Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space will be on there. Though it made the festival rounds in 2019 it didn’t hit mainstream release until 2020, and I saw it in February at the Cinemagic in Westbrook. I had no idea at the time that it would be the last film I saw in the theater for 2020, before Covid-19 shut everything down. I loved it, and it looked great – even through a migraine that hit me in the middle of it. I wish I’d been more cognizant of the experience of watching a movie in the theater, savoring it, but there was no way of knowing how the rest of the year would go. (I was still planning on seeing things like Wonder Woman, Tenet and Dune in theater at that point.)
Disney and Horror?
April was Disney Month at SAW and I found myself in a bit of a pickle – Disney doesn’t really do horror movies, after all. There was, however, a period of time between the late 70’s and late 80 where some films managed a darker tone, and I was able to cull a month’s worth of Dark Disney flicks out of them. Black Hole has always been a personal guilty favorite and was a no-brainer, but Return to Oz was a really lovely surprise, and was as frightening and dark in its own way as any straight-up horror movie.
June was SAW’s 1 year anniversary and we celebrated with a bunch of articles about our favorite movie-related things. This was my number one Theme Month of the year, as I got to watch and talk about some of my favorite horror movies – including Vampyr, Suspiria, Bride of Frankenstein, and Evil Dead II. In addition, I got to do some illustrations for Our Favorite Monsters – with Creature From the Black Lagoon, the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and (eventually) the Werecats and Zombies from Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. I’ve got a list of more favorite monsters to draw, and hope to get to them this year!
In January 2020 we started the SAW Canon series. Our list of the films we thought important, beloved, or just great. Films that could – and should – be talked about and, well, canonized in our very own Wasteland Vault. There have been some great articles about some great films in the series, and I urge you to check every entry out. My own entries this year were for Night of the Living Dead and Videodrome, but for horror fans you can’t go wrong with Vincent Kane’s entry on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Billy Dhalgren’s on Stalker and Sailor Monsoon’s on John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Films Sailor Hasn’t Seen
I’ve seen a lot of films, but nowhere near as many as Sailor Monsoon has. The man watches a new film a day. At least. (Check out his Films I Saw articles at the start of every month.) He’s the resident cinéaste on a site FOR cinéastes. (And dilettante’s like me.) So there’s something weirdly satisfying when I review a film that Sailor hasn’t seen. Bonus points if he hasn’t even heard of it. It’s a small thing to feel happy about, but in 2020 I took my small moments of happiness where I could find them. This year’s winners include AM1200, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, Absentia and Mystery of the Wax Museum.
I also enjoyed doing some art for SAW this year. In addition to the Our Favorite Monsters series I did some illos for Inferno and Four More Films for Dario Argento’s Birthday, Creepshow and Four More Films for Stephen King’s Birthday as well as a couple of pieces for ScreenAge Wasteland Merch. (And you should check out King Alvarez’s Movie Logo series of Merch items as well! My favorite piece wasn’t part of a SAW article, though. Stuart Gordon passed away this year and I did an illo celebrating the man and my favorite film of his, Re-Animator. I think I posted it in the discussion for From Beyond, but here it is again, because it’s my favorite drawing I did this year.
My Favorite Articles/Reviews
I always love October and my review-a-day marathon, 31 Days, 31 Horror Movies. This year, though, the posts that stick in my head aren’t always the best-written or even about my favorite films. I remember my review of Pet Sematary (2019) because my niece gave it to me and wanted to talk to me about it. I remember that someone revisited Return to Oz because of my review and took the time to let me know. I remember that Schizo Frog went out and watched Vampyr after I posted about it. I remember having fun with Iron (insert random word here) talking about The Blair Witch Project, talking with zak1, Sailor and Shizo Frog about Nosferatu and Shadow of the Vampire, and jawing with Billy Dhalgren about things like Videodrome (and his excellent series of short fiction). I remember reviewing The Lighthouse and feeling like I wasn’t getting it, only to have to have DropYourLinen talk me off the ledge. It’s the SAW community and those connections I remember the most, I guess. (And my niece.)
And that’s my look back. I missed a ton of things – this site is just jammed with great people, articles and discussions – but this is what I was thinking of as I was writing this article today, the last day of 2020. It was a rough year in a lot of ways, but I wanted to focus on the things and people that made me happy, even for a second or two. SAW did that just about every day. So thank you Wastoids, and all of the SAW crew. You were bright spots in a dark time. I hope 2021 is great for each and every one of you.