Dopest Movies of 2018

I don’t watch as many movies as I used to back in the ‘ol Splattercast days, but I did see a few last year and you people are gonna hear about it! Here are my favorites:

Hereditary

Hereditary is an instant classic, it ranks right up there with Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and The Exorcist. The trailer alone is better than most other films I’ve watched this year. I think some critics feel it goes a little too bananas in a couple spots but I say tally ’em up because this movie rules. It’s all the more impressive when you consider it’s writer/director Ari Aster’s debut feature. Do yourself a favor and NEVER EVER watch his only prior work, the short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. Holy cow, dude. No.

Mandy

Mandy leans hard on the whole neon-soaked drippy-trippy thing, but I think it works out splendidly. Nicolas Cage is perfect; could anyone else even come close in this role? Not to mention Cheddar Goblin, whose presence alone more than justifies the entire production.

Revenge

Revenge is not just a glitzy take on the terminally icky rape-revenge subgenre, it’s a cracking good action flick in its own right. It’s amazing that this, like Hereditary, is a debut feature. I can’t wait to see who director Coralie Fargeat cuts to ribbons next.

The Ritual

The Ritual features one of the most astounding movie monsters in recent memory, and probably ever. Yet even more harrowing is the meditation on the horror of failing your bros when the chips are down.

Annihilation

Eerie and deeply strange, Annihilation forgoes conventional alien invasion tropes and imagines something else entirely. Forget giant spaceships or egg-laying brood swarms – this is scarier.

The Night Comes for Us

Watching The Night Comes for Us is like sticking your head into a woodchipper. Except, you know… it’s fun.

Upgrade

Upgrade gives me a late-night, throwback VHS vibe that I dig. It’s cool but goofy, slick but cheap. Who doesn’t wish they had guns for hands?

The Predator

I know The Predator was a box office flop, but I loved it and I don’t blame the film at all. I think the contemporary audience simply does not care about this franchise anymore. Too bad, I’d like to have seen a sequel.

Death Wish

Did we really need a Death Wish remake? Probably not, but I’m a sucker for this street-level action stuff. The updated riff on the iconic final beat is great.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Some people don’t like the hyper-irreverent humor of Teen Titans Go! Those people are joyless turds and they are wrong.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I haven’t given a crap about Spider-man for years but Spider-Verse won me over easily. It’s full of heart and fun, with just enough serious stuff to give it weight without being too dark for kids. I saw both Spider-Verse and Teen Titans Go! with my older two daughters (ages 12 & 8). They loved the movies and my own experience was greatly enhanced by sharing it with them.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Puppet Master is a garbage tier franchise. However, when I saw that this latest installment was written by S. Craig Zahler, I had to check it out. Zahler wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, both of which are excellent. Brawl would have been at the top of my “Best of 2017” list, if I had bothered to make one. As an aside, Zahler’s latest, Dragged Across Concrete, may have technically debuted in 2018 but I can’t find it available to watch anywhere. I assume it’s rad.

So, anyway, yes, Zahler and directors Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund came through and made an entertaining Puppet Master movie. It’s still goofy as hell – how could it not be? – but it’s also got actual characters and the gore gags handily surpass anything the previous dozen or so films in this misbegotten series ever mustered.

Halloween

Jettisoning the continuity of the existing sequels was a great move for the new Halloween. They boil it down, make Michael Myers scary again, and actually go somewhere with the story.

The Clovehitch Killer

There was a serial killer whodunnit last year called Summer of ’84 that a lot of people liked, but I just didn’t care for it – although I do appreciate how it threw a bucket of cold water on the ’80s nostalgia trend with its ultragrim final act. The Clovehitch Killer, on the other hand, reeled me in with its portrayal of an otherwise idyllic small community picking up the pieces after being menaced by a killer who was never caught. If you only have time for one sicko-next-door movie, I recommend The Clovehitch Killer.

The Endless

The Endless is unique in that it’s a sort-of sequel to a completely separate movie, but even mentioning that fact is a spoiler of a sort. For those of us who were fortunate enough to see the movies in the correct order and without any inkling of the connection, The Endless was a really cool, really novel experience. Shout-out to my friend Rachel who subtly led me there.

Most Overrated: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Yes, the helicopter chase is neat. Sure. But that may as well be a Red Bull promotional stunt, there’s no movie wrapped around it. Mission: Impossible – Nonsense Subtitle sucks. Nothing happens in this movie (killing Alec Baldwin doesn’t count). There are no stakes and Tom Cruise is getting doughy. Ving Rhames and the English nerd guy destroy the credibility of the whole affair; their characters don’t belong anywhere near any peril. I don’t think Ving Rhames could probably tie his own shoes, so yeah, of course he loses the MacGuffin in the opening scene. And don’t link me any dumb gifs of Henry Cavill “reloading his biceps.” Some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast of The Night Comes for Us getting lunch at the craft services table is certainly more badass than Henry Cavill in this movie. Lastly, we’re supposed to believe the bad guys are super-geniuses but if they were really so smart that one guy would have known he was being lied to as soon as he saw Wolf Blitzer.

Best Old-New-Thing: The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

I became a fan of Joe Bob Briggs back when he hosted TNT’s Monstervision in the late 1990s. In 2018 the genre streaming service Shudder brought Joe Bob back to do a 24-hour marathon, and it was glorious. The movie choices were fine, but they honestly could have been anything – it’s all about the Joe Bob segments. The Last Drive-In was billed as a farewell to movie hosting, but it was so popular that Shudder has had Joe Bob back to do two more mini-marathons since that first one.

Thus concludes my Dopest Movies of 2018 list. I know there are a few things I missed that probably would have made the cut – I hear great things about Suspiria and Overlord, for example, but I just never got around to seeing them.

Thanks for reading!

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Divine Ranching

LOL

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7-0 Rivals Draft

Sometimes on the Arena Beta Forums, people will complain that the draft format rotates, i.e. it’s not always the most recent set. I can see their side of things but now that I’ve been through a few of these cycles I will definitely say that I prefer the rotation as opposed to always playing the most recent set. By the time you’re sick of a format, it switches to something else and that’s great! Now, of course, you will probably have played all of the formats in the rotation several times each, so it’s not like drafting Ixalan in September 2018 is especially novel but do I think the change keeps things a little more interesting.

The rotation just came back around to Rivals-Ixalan today and I ranched my way to 7-0 with this pile. Please do note it’s a 42-card special:

I had one especially sweet game where I stabilized at 1 life and went on to win, drawing hella cards with Kumena’s Awakening. I never chose to transform the Dowsing Dagger, I always played it as a +2/+1 equipment with a drawback. Pairs well with fliers and Slippery Scoundrels.

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HobbyBear Open – Summer 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything worthwhile to report coming out of a tourney but the sun has shined on a dog’s behind once again, so here’s my rundown of the HobbyBear Open – Summer 2018 here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Once again we had a playmat with original art by Ron Spencer, that will line up with the next event’s playmat to create a panorama. I have religiously attended all of these, I’m very grateful to have something like this here in Lincoln. Attendance was not amazing this time around, 54 players, but that may have been partly due to it being Husker football’s opening day – which incidentally was cancelled due to lightning.

But anyway, here’s the playmat art, along with my MVPs:

I, of course, played Ponza. I just can’t help myself. I actually do own the cards for other, better decks but you gotta listen to your heart my dudes.

Round 1 vs Burn: My maindeck Scavenging Oozes start ruling the day at the outset. Opponent maybe had a suboptimal draw, but gaining a few life with an Ooze and presenting a blocker out that wasn’t gonna get mugged by a prowess’d up Monastery Swiftspear was great. I guess the one tight play I made here was resolving Chandra, Flamecaller when opp had 2x Monastery Swiftspear on board, 1 untapped Mountain and 1 card in hand. I had the sense to minus-3 on Chandra to play around a prowess trigger if he had Lightning Bolt. After that, I think opp misinterpreted who was the beatdown and I closed it up. (1-0)

Round 2 vs BridgeVine: This deck is sick, if you thought the Hollow One decks were nuts, think again. Luckily opp didn’t have very explosive draws and my maindeck Scoozes showed up on time. (2-0)

Round 3 vs BridgeVine: Same deck, but this time he had superior draws. Here’s an example of me pwning myself by being too clever. My sideboard had a 3x split of Anger of the Gods, Sweltering Suns and Slagstorm. The reasoning here is that against the Humans deck, which is a clear Tier One deck, they have Meddling Mages so you can “get ’em” if they name Anger of the Gods. Well, I lost a game here against BridgeVine where I cast a Sweltering Suns that I maybe could have gotten if that was an Anger of the Gods instead. (2-1)

Round 4 vs Storm: Game 1, he goes off; whatever, it’s Storm. I did hear from a separate local Storm master that he lost his mirror against this opp because the dude had a Quicken to go off at instant speed. Clever. Games 2 & 3 I found my hate and got there.

I did receive my first-ever Game Rule Violation at Comp REL, though, which kind of put me on tilt. It was Game 3 and I had a Trinisphere in play, so on-board I was kind of locking opp out. We go to my turn, after I had fetched, so opponent had cut/shuffled my deck. Opponent has placed my deck back on my side with the open-end of my sleeves pointed toward me, whereas I always orient my deck with the open-end of the sleeves pointed away from me. So, when I go to draw for my turn, my thumb hits open-ended sleeves and I accidentally see the second-from-top card of my deck. I’m very grateful that a judge happened to be literally standing right behind me at the time, so we called him immediately and we resolved it. I went on to close it out, and on-board with the Trinisphere it was quasi-over already so I’m glad I didn’t, for example, topdeck a win after being forced to shuffle for the GRV. (3-1)

Round 5 vs Green Tron: Okay, there’s this guy, Chandler, from out of town who I run into often when we happen to be in the same events. Super cool guy, he’s very quick with a laugh, like I am, so we have fun. Anyway, this guy ALWAYS RANCHES ME. I swear it’s like runner-runner-runner win-and-in’s and I happen to get paired against Chandler and he always kills me. On paper, you think the Blood Moon deck should be well-positioned against Tron. NOPE. Chandler just ultra-nuts me, turn 3 Karn Liberated while I mull to oblivion. It is what it is. If it has to happen this way, I’m glad it’s Chandler since he’s a legit cool guy. (3-2)

Round 6 vs Mardu Pyromancer: In a sane world, I’d be dead at this point but happily this was a field of gamers who came to game, and nobody was drawing. I got paired against a dude who was 3-1-1 and everyone up the line seemed to be playing so my fate was in my own hands. Maindeck Scooze worked this dude over, it was pretty sick. Eat your Lingering Souls? Cool. I think I misplayed by casting a Blood Moon off of a Bloodbraid Elf, turning off my own Kessig Wolf Run, but it was kind of a coin-toss type of decision. You might Stone Rain their basic Swamp and permanently take them off of black mana. (4-2)

I squeaked in at 8th place and, frankly, I was thrilled with that. I would have voted “yes” on the Top 8 split but my opponent, the 1 Seed, no sir’d it. Hey, respect, there’s too much wimpy splitting in Magic.

Top 8 Decklists

Quarterfinals vs Humans: Game 1, opp brutalizes me with the nuts. Multiple Mantis Riders and a Thalia’s Lieutenant and whatever else. Hey, that deck’s great. Game 2 we both mull but I have a hand with turn-2 Bloodbraid Elf. I cascade into Tireless Tracker and follow up with Chandra, Flamecaller. Turns out 6-mana planeswalkers are good, assuming you resolve them. Game 3 opponent has a bad mull – and I’ll be honest, this guy is way better than me, I need to catch some lucky breaks. So, opp mulls, his hand’s not great. I mess up and show him that I have Blood Moon when I try to cast it for 3 mana while he has Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play. Whoops. So, next turn he casts Meddling Mage, naming Blood Moon. I Abrade the Meddling Mage and then stick my Blood Moon. I subsequently have my 2nd Abrade for the late-to-the-party Aether Vial he’s cast, and that sews it up.

Top 4 votes to chop the pot, and I’m happy with that. I love this maindeck configuration and the sideboard is good – but maybe it should just be 3x Anger of the Gods instead of my cutesy split. Holla.

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Rum and Coke and Vampire Neonates

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