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43Episodes
TV & Film

A film podcast dedicated to the underdogs — the disasters, the bombs, the much maligned! So sit back, grab a beer, and enjoy!

Episodes

Cats ... how would one describe it? Well, quite frankly, it's a nightmarish, music-infused trip through the bizarre and oddly seductive world of Jellicle cats. The Jellicle are a tribe of cats all vying to be selected to go to the Heaviside Layer (cat heaven?). They do so by engaging in frivolous song and dance, all in the hopes of appeasing Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench). She's their matriarch, and I assume they follow her because her hands are literally just human ones. No fur, nothing. *Just general hands. 

That's literally the movie; it's frolicking, other vainglorious pageantry, and an overabundance of cat horniness. It happens for nearly two hours. It's baffling, to say the least, but you can never look away. It's a slow motion car crash with two vehicles being driven by cat/human homunculi. I'm not sure why it was made, who thought it was a good idea, and why this is the aesthetic they chose. Heck, I'm hard pressed to identify why it was such a hit on Broadway and beyond. What I do know is: I'll never forget what unfolded on the screen the night I saw it.

As strange as the movie is, though, that wouldn't have mattered much if it was a hit. Therein lies the issue. Cats, for all its disastrous effects, was an even bigger failure financially. Meow, let's break down these numbers. Cats has clawed its way to just under $59 million worldwide on a budget of $100 million. It cost an additional $100 million to market.

It has already been estimated to lose more than it cost to make—talk a bout a bad fur day. It finished ninth, exercising all its lives, in only its second weekend; and in that weekend, the five-day Christmas Holiday, it generated a paltry $8.7 million. It was also buried like a fresh turd in the litter box by critics. It sits at 20% with 279 reviews (53% with viewers—really?).

This all sounds fairly grotesque—a fur ball hacked up and discarded—but you have to see this movie; and you should witness it, in all its glory, with as many of your friends as possible. It's an ideal piece of cinema to poke fun at with others, while also appreciating some of the immense talent that is on display.

So sit back, lap up a saucer of milk, chug a few Stranger than Fiction Porters from Collective Arts Brewing, and stretch those tails. I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt Cash, and Chumpzilla will guide you though the fantastical world of theatrical feline humanoids!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We do our damndest to describe what this movie was actually about and why it veered so far off the rails. We also officially become cats, assigning each other our Jellicle names.  (00:00)
  • Interesting Facts about the Movie and the “Cat-Tastic” Trivia Challenge – After briefly discussing some interesting facts about the movie, Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla engage in a battle of wits to become the pod's official "Jellicle Choice." (47:17)
  • Recommendations – To aid us in our recuperation from seeing Cats, we offer slightly less horror-inducing fare. (1:01:40)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the ballad of Pugnacious Prrrcival Pawsford and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

*As a note: this was apparently corrected in the finished cut of the film, which was released days after its premiere, but in my viewing, it was not.

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As we've discussed on the podcast in prior episodes—such as our MCU Top-10 two-parter (Part One, Part Two)—we are living in a golden age of superhero cinema. It is a great time to be a fan of these characters.

Generally, though, we cover the ones that didn't fare as well at the box office. As an example, last year's Hellboy or 2004's The Punisher—neither of which grace this pod with their presence. But, hey, it's a new year, and that calls for a special offering.

Thus, we've united to break down our Top-5 comic book films of all time—along with the best scene and performance from each.

Similar in format to the aforementioned MCU spectacular, this one-off opens the doors to the entire landscape of superhero films. And there were disagreements—some more adamant than others. 

So sit back, grab a Voodoo Ranger Hop Avenger IPA from New Belgium Brewing, contemplate your own personal Top-5, and enjoy, as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla take on the oldest lie in America—that geeky debates cannot be in good fun!

Our Lists:

  • Thunderous Wizard:

    • 5. Joker
    • 4. Watchmen: The Director's Cut
    • 3. Batman v Superman: The Ultimate Cut
    • 2. Superman: The Movie
    • 1. The Dark Knight

  • Capt. Cash:
    • 5. Superman: The Movie/Superman II (This is technically cheating, but we approved)
    • 4. Spider-Man 2
    • 3. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
    • 2. The Avengers
    • 1. The Dark Knight

  • Chumpzilla:
    • 5. Watchmen
    • 4. Logan
    • 3. Avengers: Endgame
    • 2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
    • 1. The Dark Knight

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—Tobey Maguire's stoic cameo in The Wizard and more—from this week’s episode or to offer your Top-5!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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Jingle All the Way, as silly and over-the-top as it may be, is actually quite a hysterical look at the insanity of Christmas-time consumerism. It's the time of year when parents across the country will literally stop at nothing to secure that one toy their child cannot live without.

Though it is not a great film, it is a heck of a lot of fun. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the workaholic mattress salesman Howard Langston, relishes the chance to play a normal guy. He's having fun, so in turn, we—the viewers—cannot help but giggle at the lunacy of it all, too. Sinbad, who portrays fellow desperate shopper and deranged mailman Myron Larabee, is also clearly enjoying himself. 

Their interplay, bonkers game of one-upmanship, and excellent cast of co-stars elevates what is rather mediocre material. One such complimentary piece is the late, and eternally great, Phil Hartman; his turn as the wonderfully sleazy single-parent neighbor of Langston's, Ted, is a welcome reminder of his comedic genius.

Those reasons, I believe, are why the movie has endured and why it made money upon its release in November of 1996. On a budget of $60 million, it made nearly $130 million worldwide, defying the critics who lambasted it as a "slapstick yuk-fest" (that comes according to the Critics' Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes).

And you, dear readers and listeners, should watch it, too! Tis' the season, after all!

So sit back, pour yourself a Festivus Spiced Brown Ale from Full Pint Brewing, and put that freshly baked cookie down (now!) as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt Cash, and Chumpzilla fight through the havoc of holiday shopping to pursue an oddly shaped doll!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We break down this Christmas classic, exploring why it found a following, discussing which of our respective childhood toys was the "TurboMan" of its day, and more.  (00:00)
  • Interesting Facts about the Movie and the “Nobody Likes You, Booster!” Jingle All the Way Trivia Challenge – After briefly discussing some interesting facts about the movie, I challenge Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to a series of questions relating to this movie and the actors in it. (36:11)
  • Recommendations – As an ode to the holiday season, we each offer our Top-5 Christmas films. (50:23)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—Schwarzenegger's history with the unscrupulous mall Santa, etc.—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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There's no avoiding that Terminator: Dark Fate was a flop. Within two days of its release, the writing was not only on the wall, but in print. Outlets like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter pegged it to lose upward of $100 million. That projection was due, in no small part, to Dark Fate's abysmal opening—just $131 million worldwide in its premiere weekend.

No amount of foresight or heroics from the future could prevent the disaster ahead. To date, it's grossed a lousy $258 million and change worldwide; that is over $180 million less than Genisys—its poorly received and reviewed predecessor (71% on Rotten Tomatoes versus 29%).

For those of us that bothered to see the movie, it's a bummer. Dark Fate is not a perfect Terminator film, but it is the most worthy followup to what many would consider the franchise's pinnacle, Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And it was billed as a direct sequel to it, ignoring the other two reboots and one pseudo-sequel that had come before it.

It's no small coincidence then that this movie's biggest hurdle was in righting the wrongs of its own past. Thus, even with James Cameron returning to produce (he also wrote the story) and the reinsertion of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, who's again brilliant in the role, there was just too much baggage for it to overcome.

The general public's interest in the property had been terminated. If you're reading this, though, then it's not too late. In just over a month, the film will come to home release. As I state on the pod, I'm not sure we needed this movie, but we got it; and unlike past iterations, Dark Fate is able to effectively build on the connection of Sarah Connor and the T-800 in thought provoking ways.

So my gripes with it aside, it is worth seeing. Arnold, who was built to play this machine, is terrific as always. And series newbie Mackenzie Davis brings a physicality to her portrayal of Grace that rivals the ever-intimidating Hamilton. 

Couple those performances with some top-tier action sequences, and you get a popcorn movie that delivers on both its promise and history.

So sit back, crack open a Sticky Stout from Red Hare Brewing, and come with us if you want to live! I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK) and Chumpzilla are hurdling back through time to prevent the seemingly inevitable judgement day!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – In what could be the end of this storied series for the foreseeable future, we discuss what worked/didn't work about Dark Fate; choose what concepts from each Terminator film we'd keep; rank each of the entries; and more.  (00:00)
  • Interesting Facts about the Movie and the “Hasta La Vista” Terminator Franchise Cyberdyne Systems Quiz – We discuss Tim Miller's enlightening interview post-flop. Then I challenge Chumpzilla with trivia encompassing the entirety of the Terminator franchise. (52:16)
  • Recommendations – We close the show with our picks for the week (mine is a delightfully bad Italian Terminator knock off from the 80s Hands of Steel) and preview our very festive Christmas episode—Jingle All the Way. (1:19:04)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the insane casting what ifs and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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Released in 2004, The Punisher marked the return of the infamous Marvel character to live action. It had been 15 years since his first appearance in 1989's film of the same name, and a lot had changed in the landscape of comic book cinema.

The world was at the precipice of what would become a boom, an unfiltered and unfettered influx of properties—not all of which were of the utmost quality. This was pre-MCU, a time before Disney put a stranglehold on characters that fell within Marvel's kingdom.

This version of the Punisher is an exemplar of those wilder times—in both good ways and bad.

The good: It's an unapologetic, hard-R, in your face, kick ass and take names action movie filled with an array of bullets, blood, and fisticuffs. Oh, and classic performances from both Thomas Jane as the central protagonist and John Travolta as the wonderfully hammy villain Howard Saint.

The bad is just about everything else. Lacking the budget of other comic properties of the time, The Punisher's seams begin to burst under the weight of its ambition. Its script, which waffles between hackneyed and preposterous, is only saved by the actors giving their all in service to the material. It is truly a B-movie wrapped up in the body of an aspiring blockbuster. But that is also what makes it so damn good.

Unfortunately, as I referenced above, it was released in a time when superhero cinema was not guaranteed to rake in the big bucks. Premiering the same weekend as Kill Bill Vol. 2, it placed second with just over $13.8 million and finished its run with $54.7 million worldwide. Costing just around $33 million, it wasn't a huge flop; and it did do good numbers upon home release.

That did not save it, though, from becoming a one and done. It's tepid response (29% from critics with 170 reviews), coupled with its mediocre receipts, spelled the end for this version of the character; he was relegated to the junk heap of history and rebooted only four years later (The less said about that movie, the better). 

The world is poorer for it. In a sea of increasingly derivative comic book movies, there's something to be appreciated about this film's aesthetic. It's gritty and gruesome. It embraces it's silliness while also delivering on its promise; the Punisher does what all fans of him expect him to do, slaying gangsters in a slew of barbaric ways.

It's also infinitely rewatchable. Cheers to you, Thomas Jane!

So sit back, pour yourself a shot of Wild Turkey, and grab your finest acoustic guitar as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla map out an incredibly convoluted revenge plot!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – In the swan song of Travolta Month, we break down everything pertinent to The Punisher (2004)from the best action sequence to the most grisly kill. (00:00)
  • Interesting Facts about the Movie and Our "Declaration of Intent" Punisher Trivia Challenge – After offering up some lesser known truths about the production of this movie, I challenge Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to trivia about its making, as well as its titular character. (57:31)
  • Recommendations – We close the show with our Punisher/Thomas Jane-related picks for the week; in addition, we "unwrap" a surprise episode to follow Terminator: Dark Fate. If the pun didn't tip you off, it's seasonally appropriate. (1:13:22)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the Punisher's day at the laundromat and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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The past decade has not been kind to poor John Travolta. His star, like the quality of the roles he's taken, has waned.

It has been a precipitous decline, culminating in his latest film—The Fanatic.

The Fanatic centers around Moose (John Travolta), a super fan whose fixated on attaining the autograph of his favorite actor, Hunter Dunbar (Devon Sawa). When that proves more difficult than expected, things take a dark turn. The premise is simple enough, but its execution is disturbingly boorish. Written and directed by Fred Durst (yes, that Fred Durst), it's an ugly, cynical film. That's fine, if the material is handled well.

Unfortunately, it was not here. The film's issues—similar to Travolta's chosen quotes for his stunningly silly bid for a Best Actor nomination—transcend the written word. And the reviews reflect that. Sitting at 17% on Rotten Tomatoes with 58 reviews, it carries the aforementioned trend above. Travolta is working, but his project choices are not.

Yet, let's leave the quality of its narrative aside. This was the worst opening of Travolta's career. Released into just 52 theaters on August 30, 2019, it grossed a measly $3,153 its first night. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter (THR), that’s an average of $60 a theater; and in a handful of them, it took in less than $10. Those meager receipts also put it on course for less than $15,000 over that four-day holiday weekend. Note: I could not find its eventual total.

This was a small release, though, so let's put that into perspective. In that same THR article, it broke down two of his other recent films with mirroring distribution strategies. In a Valley of Violence, also starring Ethan Hawke, took in $29,343 from 33 theaters on its first weekend and topped out at $53,647. That was preceded by a three-day launch of $27,713 from 12 locations for Killing Season, co-starring Robert De Niro. That movie finished its brief run with $53,646.

Just take a moment to digest those figures… The Fanatic, which opened in more theaters than either of the other two, paced far behind them. Not great, Johnny.

Anyway, now that you've had some time to reflect, sit back, grab a (or several) Fear. Movie. Lions Double IPA from Stone Brewery, and try your best not to avert your eyes as I the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK) and Chumpzilla perform improv as British Bobbies on Hollywood Boulevard!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – In what was a new low for Travolta Month, we examine whether or not The Fanatic is worthy of the Bad Movie Championship Belt. (00:00)
  • Limp Bizkit Album Titles – We honor Fred Durst by offering our Top-5 titles for a future Limp Bizkit album. (36:41)
  • Recommendations – We offer our picks for the week and look forward to future installments of the pod—The Punisher (2004) and Terminator: Dark Fate among them. (38:40)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—Travolta's baffling Oscars pitch and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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To paraphrase the legendary CIA operative Charlie Wax (John Travolta), From Paris with Love is a straight up Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers Kung Fu show with guns, drugs, and action galore. It is a film that pulls absolutely no punches. With a body county only surpassed by Travolta's gratuitous use of the F-word, From Paris with Love cares very little for who it offends or for how outlandish its narrative is.

It is every bit in the vein of an 80s/90s action movie, and I love every minute of it. That admiration is due in large part to Travolta's performance as Wax. He owns this movie, delivering every piece of dialogue with marvelous flair. Without him, From Paris with Love wouldn't amount to much. He takes the asinine violence and sprinkles it with a necessary charisma, creating a rip-roaring thrill ride of broken bones, witticisms, and bullets.

Directed by Pierre Morel, who hit it big in the U.S. with Taken, and with a story written by Luc Besson (The Fifth ElementLeon: The Professional, to name a few), the movie had the pedigree to be a major success at the box office and with fans. Unfortunately, it didn't hit on either front. It bombed with critics/viewers—it sits at just 38% on Rotten Tomatoes with 160 reviews and carries a 54% user score—and was a disappointment financially, grossing just over $52 million with a budget of the same amount.

But you should ignore all that. This movie came to kick butt and chew bubblegum; and guess what? It was all out of bubble gum! So sit back, grab a Kronenbourg 1664, and enjoy a delectable Royale with cheese as I the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK) and Chumpzilla run roughshod through Paris!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We break down this action masterpiece, dissecting Travolta's best lines, the finest set piece/kill of the film, and more. (00:00)
  • Wax on, Wax Off – Chumpzilla and I discuss how these other legendary Travolta characters would fare in a fight with Charlie Wax. (36:36)
  • Recommendations – We provide our picks for the week and look forward to the next installment of Travolta Month—The Fanatic. (48:23)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the insane kill count and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

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John Travolta—Scientology's original darling son—spent years attempting to bring L. Ron Hubbard's not-so-classic science fiction novel Battlefield Earth to the big screen. It was a great passion of his, which, for us viewers, is quite unfortunate. His dogged determination to appease Hubbard—the founder of the Church of Scientology—by bringing his novel to life in the vein of "Star Wars" is what ushered this travesty into the world.

Battlefield Earth, and I don't say this lightly, is one of the worst films I have ever seen. Putting aside its shameful treatment of logical sense and sound science, it is just not well made. From the dismal lighting to the awkward angles to the laughable costumes, creature designs, and effects, it seems to be intentionally making a mockery of its source material.

But therein lies the issue: The movie is not in on the joke. Sure, there are elements of it where it may seem that it is self-aware—Travolta's insane turn as Terl—but then you discover that the actor himself once labeled it the "Schindler's List" of science fiction.

That bloated sense of the project's own importance is what makes its utter failure so ironic. Battlefield Earth, despite all the backing and might of its church, was a flop, earning just over $29 million on a budget of $44 million (Roughly $12 million of that went to Travolta's pocket, which may explain why the CGI is so wonky). It is also one of the worst reviewed films of this century, currently sitting at a paltry 3% on Rotten Tomatoes with 148 reviews.

And it wasn't just critics who hated it. The film's initial screenwriter, J.D. Shapiro, penned an open letter in the New York Post apologizing for his role in its development.

As with all terrible films, though, this one sure gave us plenty to discuss. So sit back, grab a Mad Elf from Tröegs, and jockey for some all important leverage as I the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla smelt some gold and start the man-animal revolution!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We break down this epic mess of a movie, even crowning it the inaugural "Bad Movie Champion" of the pod. (00:00)
  • Scientology is Weird, but is It Really That Weird? – I challenge Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to determine whether these nutty facts about Scientology are True or False. (52:10)
  • Recommendations – We provide our picks for the week, each of which are more entertaining than this movie. (1:07:06)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the Psychlo stilts, Kelly Preston's cringe-inducing cameo, and more—from this week’s episode!

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John Carpenter has directed movies that redefined genres in their era—Halloween, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China—so much so, that they remain seminal movies today. One of those films is 1982's The Thing.

Though it was much maligned critically upon its release and was a commercial failure—grossing just over $19 million on a budget of $15 million—The Thing's legacy is epitomized far more by the way it has persisted. It, like many of the films we have covered before, is a cult classic. But unlike some of our prior movies, it is also a damn fine cinema experience.

That is due, in no small part, to its insane creature effects—practical gore that more than stands the test of time—its dynamite cast, and an incredibly tense narrative. Set in a remote Antarctic research base, The Thing makes you feel as if you're trapped along with its characters. As the viewer, you, just like them, question who's infected and when the ambiguous pathogen will strike next. It's a mystery that you know will be unraveled, yet you can't help wanting to get to the answers before they're given to you in an increasing grisly and imaginative fashion.

That build—the blood soaked journey to the climax—is one any first-time viewer of The Thing does not soon forget.

So sit back, grab an Altered Beast IPA from Southern Prohibition Brewing, and exchange some nervous glances as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla test our blood to discover which of us is really who we say we are!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – *Spoiler: We love this movie! And we analyze everything. *If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it first. (00:00)
  • Our Ode to the Legendary John Carpenter Trivia Challenge – I put Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla to the test with trivia relating to this Carpenter master work. (54:16)
  • Recommendations – We provide our picks for the week and one extra John Carpenter-themed suggestion. (1:04:29)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the deleted scene from the film's finale and more—from this week’s episode!

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The 1980s were chock full of formulaic horror fare. Many of those involved horny teenagers with questionable morals getting slaughtered by a larger than life antagonist. In that sense, Chopping Mall is not all that unique.

The set up: Moronic young adults gather at a mall after hours to engage in youthful frivolity. Unfortunately for them, a lightning storm causes a power surge, frying the mainframes of the mall’s new crack security squad and turning them into Killbots. Sex, alcohol, panic, and murder ensue. Sound familiar? Aside from the Killsbots, it should.

But they are what make this movie so memorable. They’re a trio of tiny, comically cheap looking robots equipped with an equally low-grade variety of gadgets. Oh ... and they shoot lasers out of their heads! Cyclops style!

Based on that description alone, it shouldn’t surprise you that this film was a product of Roger Corman’s Concorde Pictures. Nor should it be enlightening to discover this wasn’t a box office smash. Yet it has endured, finding its niche on late night cable television throughout the 80s and 90s.

That’s where I discovered it, and I haven’t stopped shouting its praises to people since. Look, I know it’s not some piece of high art, but its ludicrous concept is just too much damn fun not to find joy in. When your central conceit revolves around three foot tall robots, who can’t go up and down stairs, menacing a group of slackers in a suburban mall, you can’t go wrong.

So sit back, grab a Five-O IPA from Jailhouse Brewing, and get ready to swipe those credit cards as I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt. Cash, and Chumpzilla survive the horrors of the Chopping Mall—where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – Everything is up for sale in our deep dive look at this schlocky horror classic! (00:00)
  • The Top-5 Explosive Decapitations in Cinema History – The film's signature kill—a head vaporizing laser—is one for the ages, and we see how it stacks up to similar gore-tastic deaths from cinema history. (43:04)
  • Recommendations – We provide our mostly horror-centric picks for the week. (57:59)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—each scene from our Top-5 and more—from this week’s episode!

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