We're Bennett Media. We cover the world.

Not really. But there is much to discuss, and while we'd so like to dedicate 1,500 words to every single obsession that soils our britches, there's simply not always enough road to get up to 88. So, in an all-out cleansing of cobwebs and strange, we've compiled some kinda list or quiz as a way to cover some more sacred ground without moving the bodies or the headstones.

We've kept it pretty accessible, and we encourage anyone & everyone to join in: feel free to copy & paste the topics into your various social medias, accompanied by your own answers (or steal ours - fuck it, it's the internet) and link it or tag friends or hashtag it or whatever vanilla bullshit gets more people involved is all the more fun.
And fun is the best thing to have.

Post-ALIEN Ridley Scott
Paul: American Gangster
Jess: Blade Runner

Dance hit of the 90s
Paul: "All Around the World," Lisa Stansfield
Jess: "The Sign," Ace of Base

Ben & Jerry Flavor
Paul: Chunky Monkey
Jess: Salted Carmel Core

Universal Monster
Paul: The Invisible Man
Jess: Dracula

90s John Carpenter
Paul: Memoirs of an Invisible Man
Jess: In the Mouth of Madness

Which Street Fighter II warrior do you play as?
Paul: E. Honda
Jess: Guile

Movie from the year you were born
Paul: The Right Stuff
Jess: Terms of Endearment

80s Elton John
Paul: "I'm Still Standing"
Jess: "Sad Songs Say So Much"

Spice Girl
Paul: Sporty Spice
Jess: Posh Spice

David Bowie movie role:
Paul: The Last Temptation of Christ
Jess: The Man Who Fell to Earth

90s Geena Davis
Paul: A League of Their Own
Jess: A League of Their Own

Movie you're afraid to watch again
Paul: Bone Tomahawk
Jess: Audition


Clarissa Explains It All or Blossom
Paul: Clarissa Explains It All
Jess: Clarissa Explains It All

Clarissa Darling or Blossom Russo
Paul: Blossom Russo
Jess: Clarissa Darling

Wings or Plastic Ono Band
Paul: Wings
Jess: Wings

Halloween candy or Christmas music
Paul: Christmas music
Jess: Halloween candy

Demons or Night of the Demons
Paul: Demons
Jess: Demons

60s Garage or 80s New Wave
Paul: 80s New Wave
Jess: 80s New Wave

Freeze Pops or Hoodsie Cups
Paul: Freeze Pops
Jess: Hoodsie Cups

Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Goosebumps
Paul: Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Jess: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Imperial Stormtroopers or The Foot Clan
Paul: The Foot Clan
Jess: Imperial Stormtroopers

Rupert Pupkin or Annie Wilkes
Paul: Rupert Pupkin
Jess: Annie Wilkes

Halloween II (1981) or Halloween II (2009)
Paul: 2009
Jess: 2009

Extra cheese or extra bacon
Paul: Extra cheese
Jess: Extra cheese

Debbie Harry or Pat Benatar
Paul: Pat Benatar
Jess: Debbie Harry

The Master or Phantom Thread
Paul: Phantom Thread
Jess: The Master

Toto or Kansas
Paul: Toto
Jess: Toto

Luico Fulci or Dario Argento
Paul: Argento
Jess: Argento

Sex, drugs, or rock 'n' roll
Paul: sex
Jess: sex

Cool Ranch or Nacho Cheese
Paul: Nacho Cheese
Jess: Nacho Cheese

Gremlins 2: The New Batch or Aliens
Paul: Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Jess: Aliens

The Goonies or The Monster Squad
Paul: The Monster Squad
Jess: The Monster Squad


Songs by The Rolling Stones
"Under My Thumb"
"Some Girls"
"Emotional Rescue"
"Let It Loose"
"I Am Waiting"
"Play With Fire"

Dan Hedaya roles
Running Scared
The Addams Family
Blood Simple
Blood Simple
The Addams Family
Alien: Resurrection

Movie scores
Edward Scissorhands - Danny Elfman
Glory - James Horner
Bram Stoker's Dracula - Wojciech Kilar
Edward Scissorhands - Danny Elfman
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial - John Williams
Beetlejuice - Danny Elfman

Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Little Children, Tom Perrotta
Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland

TV theme songs
Twin Peaks
The Dick Van Dyke Show
True Detective, season one
Mad About You
The Adventures of Pete & Pete
The Simpsons

The Simpsons supporting characters
Superintendant Chalmers
C. Montgomery Burns
Edna Krabappel
Hans Moleman
Frank Grimes
Supernintendo Chalmers

Directed by Woody Allen
Love and Death
Hannah and Her Sisters
The Purple Rose of Cairo

Mystery Science Theater 3000 experiments
Time Chasers
Riding With Death
The Final Sacrifice
Future War


WEIRD STUFF :: The Boy Who Loved Johnny Marz

I run cold. I feel cold for most of the year - that's why summer is such a merciful blessing (and even that temperamental season has been known to let me down). Though I'm pretty sure I've never been as cold as I was on April 6, 1988.

It was my first Red Sox game at Fenway Park, and it was bigger and brighter and greener (and colder) than it'd ever been at home on TV38. We'd arrived irrationally early (as we did for any scheduled attendance) - early enough to sneak down to the front to watch warm-ups. And as cool as it was to see folks like Oil Can Boyd and Wade Boggs come to life, I was mostly taken with the crisp, white uniforms and the bright red numbers - particularly #20 -- again, not because of the ballplayer wearing it, but the number itself. It'd already been a favorite number of mine: I liked the curve of the numerals and the way they looked next to each other. And a $20 bill was like the largest denomination to a 5-year-old, so it had a wholeness to it. But to see it contrasted against that glowing uniform gave it a nearly psychedelic dimension.

And it was the first of several coincidences that my attention was fixed in that direction, and shortly before the game was about to begin, #20 strolled over to me, and placed the practice ball in my open hand before jogging back to the dugout. It was the most American, Norman Rockwell-type thing I'd ever experienced; the stands were lined with fans & plenty of other kids my age, but somehow I won this voluntary lottery. Those around me who had a deeper knowledge of the lineup informed me that #20 was John Marzano, the Sox' catcher.

I spent the rest of the game trying to be excited about what had transpired, while also trying to keep an eye on the guy who made my inaugural baseball game that much more memorable. But it was too damn cold. The team was getting crushed by Detroit as the sun fell, so it just got colder and more depressing as the evening pressed on. But the ball was the thing, and the number 20 now head greater context.

We left early, and of course the Sox came from behind and won the game. Didn't matter - no one was able to endure that weather, and we were happy to leave and be warm.

The End? Please. Now the question in my life was, "Who is John Marzano?" Pre-internet days left me with the Sports pages, televised Sportscasters, ballpark programs, and the best and most useful to me: trading cards. I can't be sure if this incident is what sparked by obsession with card collecting, but I certainly wasn't eBaying Marzano cards in '88, so I was forced to buy packs like folks did - only hoping to get that one I needed. Topps, Donruss, Fleer, Score, Bowman, and the rest were consumed at an alarming rate - to the point that my interests began to expand beyond the initial quest. But that's another story...
I'd acquired a handful of different Marzano cards very quickly as a result of this blitz, and each one was a pristine trophy that acted as a reminder that what happened actually happened.

Cards always provided player statistics - which were of some relevance to me - and some even had some biographical stuff. But beyond the batting averages and RBIs and Minor League background, some sports cards series included players' birthdays, and John Marzano's happened to be February 14th -- which, as it happens, is also my birthday. Now, to anyone, it's always interesting or even exciting to share a birthday with a celebrity, but to a child it's just too cool. And how weird? What were the odds that a famous person I'd actually kinda met had my birthday...? But this exclamation point only lasted seconds, as the real weirdness gradually came into focus: Marzano was born in '63. I was born in '83. To the day, there was exactly 20 years between us.

What the hell... why? 20? What was the relevance of this? Was there any? The numbers on their own were an astronomical coincidence, but I'd interacted with this man, this stranger, in what was already a serendipitous circumstance. Why, out of dozens of kids within his reach, did he hand me this baseball? Why did the number on his back indicate the precise period of time between our births? This is a mesmerizing beehive of psychic energy when you're 5, but as an adult, it's only become more confounding. Like Roy Neary is Close Encounters, I was aesthetically drawn to this number for reasons that weren't entirely clear to me. And when it suddenly inhabited more meaning, it somehow simultaneously carried more weight and became less clear.

Was the number relevant, or was it the man? Which brought my attention to the other? John Marzano died at the age of 45 on April 19, 2008, supposedly from falling down a flight of stairs alone in his home. Are these dates or numbers meant to be important to me? What about the mysterious cause of death? Is any or all of this an ominous prediction of my own fate? I should note he died exactly 20 years to the month of our brief encounter. Is that also important? Will I only live to be 45 years of age? Or worse: what will the year 2020 bring for me?

And while these strange things happen all the time, I'm often moved to believe that some kinda knowledge was being imparted, while at the same time, I feel inadequate in my perception, because, in the end, I've learned nothing. Nothing notable happened to me at the age of 20. Same goes for the year he died. The connection doesn't hafta mean anything beyond the connection itself -- but there is one, and it appears to be inescapable.

If I should fall, remember what you've read here today.

- Paul


TOYS ARE US : Savage Mondo Blitzers

I loved action figures. But it was a very superficial romance as my lust was based purely on looks. I never "played" with them like the kids in the commercials: throwing them around a miniature facsimile of a city street, putting words into their frozen grimaces that they would never say - "Take that, Flattop!" No no, I displayed them, rank & file, like a regimented army with the most prominent players out front. They were to be looked at, not touched, and God help you if you touched them, because most of them (especially the odder-shaped ones) were not designed for standing stationary; some had to be placed in various Kama Sutra poses to maintain some sorta balance. Equally frustrating was their stubbornness to grasp any of the weapons they came with - and if you could get 'em to hold something in their firm, pointy fists, trying to depict them in a natural 'action' pose usually resulted in Batman giving a fascist salute.

These were the hardships of youth, and they didn't deter me from amassing these beautiful sculptures. And in the time I was collecting most (late 80s, early 90s), the fashions of the figures would change with the times - this was particularly evident in the seemingly-endless Ninja Turtles series. By 1991, characters like Ray Fillet, Pizzaface, Groundchuck, Scumbug, and many more who looked like mascots for a Super Soaker that squirted Dunkaroos frosting were packaged and sold to me on the basis of the Turtles brand alone. Well, not really "alone" - I may've had no contextual connection to them, but their radical concepts and gnarly colors couldn't keep me away.

And there was a tipping of the scale there a bit: my relationship with this plastic was purely aesthetic - it didn't matter what they were affiliated with. They'd become art.

Any kid who'd ever had to endure hanging out in a drugstore while a parent or guardian waited on a prescription was well aware of the 8-foot toy section, which consisted mostly of marbles, Slinkies, and other generic and bootleg playthings. And I don't know if they were exclusive to CVS Pharmacy or what, but at some point in 1991 I discovered Savage Mondo Blitzers - a shocking streak of glam punk plastic and metal that slashed & burned its way through the shelves of these drab grandma toys. And knowledgable as I was about all things kids culture, I quickly recognized that these weren't any kinda tie-in to any previously published institution; there was no built-in audience to be a part of - this shit was original, and I think that was a turn on.

They were tiny, surrealistic pop art creations on wheels. (I could've done without the wheels - they took away from the overall beauty of each piece, and I had zero interest in the skateboarding 'angle' they were pushing. But - and it's a big juicy 'but' - the wheels guaranteed that they would stand upright with no effort at all!) They had a unified, punny cleverness to them that tapped into my childlike sensibility that I had & still have: there was a skeleton with a knife, a rock star, a gun with human features, a giant eyeball, an armored knight, and various other freaks and caricatures with badass names. Had they been the villains (or even the heroes) of a comic book, movie, or video game, it woulda been my favorite comic book, movie, or video game.

Don't think the connection is lost on me: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was not the first ballgame to assemble a longwinded handle full of kid-friendly vernacular, but it was certainly the most popular at the time. And you can almost picture the ad meeting at Kenner as they mad-libbed their way through all the awesome, tubular, radical words to finally land on that one perfect counterfeit cowabunga combination: "Savage Mondo Blitzers!"

But the poetry doesn't end there: each "gang" (they came in blister packs of four) had their own menacing moniker.

Like Dick Tracy or Street Fighter, each 'Blitzer' had a unique design, color scheme, weapon/fighting style, genetic makeup, and (presumably) motivation. Really, what it was is that they all looked different, and that too was attractive. They may've all been unified in size and function, but each concept looked like the invention of a different artist. Entirely assembled, it was a rainbow of a cyberpunk sculpture gallery.

I've seen plenty of variations and other things like these over the past few decades, and there's always been some glaring hangup that obstructs any possible interest I'd have in them: they're all too similar looking from one to the next, they're not very detailed, they're part of some larger 'game' that I have no interest in, they're blind-boxed so I don't know which one I'm getting, they talk or squirt water or perform some other stunt that distracts from the fact that they're poorly realized and aesthetically lazy.

These guys were a culmination of every Horror, SciFi, Fantasy, and Action genre-related piece of pop from that very specific time; not reimagined, not rebooted, just direct inspiration taken from extreme vibes and an empowered youth.

- Paul


BENNETT INVENTORY : Thrice Upon a Time

Oh, yeah, the "threequel." Who needs 'em, amiright? What, there's more story left to tell? Can you prove it? You think our standards are so low that we'll just eat the brand name? Why do you require so much of my time?

You ever ask these questions? You should. Howard Beale woulda wanted you to. It'd probably be good for you - not like an "all the time" thing, just in moderation. I still haven't seen the third Matrix or Lord of the Rings movies and I wake up every morning with clear sinuses and little-to-no stiffness in my neck and shoulders.

The saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, Tokyo Drift."
We got a buncha fav threes here: Die Hard 3, Batman 3, Star Wars 3, Night of the Living Dead 3, The Amigos 3. The internet has already told us how much we love Ghostbusters 3, so we're already ahead of the game.

How 'bout them thirds that use money to replace the boring, cheap stuff of their predecessors: Army of Darkness, Beyond Thunderdome, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Debbie Does Dallas: The Final Chapter.

You always compare them to the original or the second one (or in many cases, the fourth, the fifth, to infinity and beyond), so they'll always be in the shadows, acting forced and barely functional.

I know what you're thinking: "Toxic masculinity is a strain on our culture." But we're talking movies here - particularly Part 3s, and you need to pay attention because there's a list coming.

There have been a few that have been more competent, more vile, more musical, more different, more better. Or, less superfluous, less transparent, less intrusive, less Ewoks.

I wouldn't apply any asinine, presumptuous 'blog list' words or phrases like "underrated" or "reconsider these" - but here's a bowlful of Threes for you & me that tend to get overlooked by the census bureau (and sometimes that's a good thing).

Watch them or don't. At least now you'll know. Stay woke.

- Paul

Disappointed with the not-too-subtle satire of Part 2 but you like the added production value? Leatherface may be the installment for you. All comparisons aside, I'm not shy about my feeling that, on its own, it's one of the best Hicksploitation flicks around.
The role of the demented Sawyer brother (originated by Edwin Neal) doesn't leave a lotta room for interpretation, but it certainly doesn't require any restraint - and they've only ever cast the perfect guy for the role (Bill Moseley, McConaughey). Following suit, Viggo Mortensen brings a quieter menace to his version, which only adds to the standout qualities of this installment. B+

Dark tones mixed with lite comedy - John Landis is the man for the job... Except this ain't 1980s John Landis, folks, and we're left with a bit of a farce here. The cocaine/titty bar aesthetic of the first two is literally replaced with a Disney-like theme park - and that very intentional irony wears off really fast.
The Faltermeyer theme has been reworked into a more traditional 'movie score' that sounds like a computer game from 1991. The stunts are replaced with slapstick. There's a fully choreographed song & dance number to a Supremes song 5 minutes into the film. This is 90s John Landis. And you know what? I guess it's alright. Eddie's funnier than he'd been in a while, and the plot is about as much fun as a good coloring book. Had it been called something else with no relationship to any other movie, we might've had a winner. B

You know me: I love some suburban paranormal activity, but I love it more when the monster hits the town.
Carol Anne is living with her aunt & uncle in a Chicago skyscraper apartment, which serves as a gothic, towering beehive of the zombies and ghosts that follow her everywhere. The movie's famous for two things: not being as good as the original, and its bodacious practical FX - literally done largely with smoke and mirrors. The elegant, upscale settings deny the movie of any color - or a cohesive story, which, those two elements together make for one creepy-weird good time. B

I'm hard-pressed to think of another franchise in which the tone and quality remains this consistent - which is a surprise considering the talent went south with immediate followups like Wrongfully Accused, Mafia!, et. al. Fred Ward and Kathleen Freeman are always a godsend, and Anna Nicole is lovely, but this movie has a few of the strongest and funniest bits in the whole series: the sperm bank, the 'great escape' -- but the silliest and most ambitious sequence is the Academy Awards Show climax that erupts into an orgasm of choreographed slapstick and hijinks that the Stooges only ever dreamed of having enough time & money for. B+

Remove the Strasberg-style improv, the guerrilla-style production, the soul-crushing sense of dread, and you've got Book of Shadows. Now, try to reintegrate these elements into a corpse long-dead, and it smells not too good.
We saw this in a theater packed with kids who were amped up for whatever-the-fuck movie you could've thrown at them (think of the Bride of the Monster premiere in Ed Wood); they screamed, they laughed, they cheered, they shouted things at the movie, they were completely taken with the jump scares and spooky trees and whatever else happened in this lemon. I've not seen it since, because their joy became ours for that single viewing, and without them, I'm afraid we have nothing more to talk about. D+

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