Monday, October 17, 2016

Milestone!!!! Stranger Days! Luke Cage!

Holy Monkeys this is the 600th post on this adventure in foolishness.

To mark the occasion, a special reversal:

Normally, I write about introducing my daughter to various films and franchises for “Through a Kid’s Eyes” posts.  But recently the information flowed the other way. 

Coincidentally, while I was watching Luke Cage* and his adventures in Marvel Harlem on Netflix, my daughter was in the real Harlem discovering a different Netflix series.

My wife was visiting with friends from Peru and watching a film from that country. Meanwhile, all their kids went to the other room, where they introduced my daughter to Stranger Things.

She came home talking about how great and cool it was, and once I finished with the super hero formerly named Power Man, I started to catch up, while she continued through them.

She has now completely lost the ability to convince me she doesn’t like horror movies.

I’d heard people talk about the 80’s references in this show and compare it to The Goonies and ET.   However the horror films from that decade and the works of Stephen King are much stronger influences, albeit toned down to a PG rating.

(The "in my head" PG that's somewhere less than the Eighties "one gratuitous topless woman" definition and more than today's "might as well be 'G'" definition.)

The bullies for example, come straight out of the King examples where what appears to be a typical jerk veers into psychotically dangerous territory with little warning.

I will agree they have the time period down cold.  Except for the color (mine was purple) my bicycle looked exactly like Mike’s, banana seat and all.

And I’m convinced every kid who grew up in the Eighties playing Dungeons and Dragons watched the opening scene of episode one and thought, “Holy crap! That’s us!”

My daughter mostly appreciated the show for what it is, a creepy, suspenseful and fun adventure filled with relatable and likable characters.

I need to throw a special shout out to Winona Ryder.  She’s built a career out of bringing honest portrayals to insane situations, and she acts as the emotional anchor for the show.  Her performance adds the believably to the missing child mystery that acts as one of the core stories.

Besides the thrill of the adventure I get an added bonus of picking up the references to films my daughter still deems “too scary.” This is kind of odd as this show that she introduced me to had me yelling out loud in shock and fear a couple of times each episode.

Interesting observation:  Because of exercise equipment noise, other background noise, accents and complex fictional vocabulary, we tend to have subtitles on for almost everything.  Besides the dialogue, there are descriptions of atmospheric sounds. Considering I'm not watching anything dirty, it says a great deal about the type of horror and action movies and shows I watch with the high frequency, and varied situations the word "Squelching" appears on screen.

Back to the show and its references:

Since there’s a poster for the original inside their home, it can’t be a coincidence that the Byers house bears a resemblance to the shape of the Evil Dead cabin, complete with a work shed behind it, and an ominously bouncing wooden bench swing on the front porch.

There was also a reference to, and some scenes that looked inspired by one of the scariest films ever, Poltergeist. 

Not to mention a fight in an alley that I have to believe owed its existence to They Live.

Overall it was a clever, well written, fun and frightening adventure.

I feel a little bad for my daughter.  As my parents did before me, I use everything as a teaching moment. 

That's not why I feel bad, that's a good thing. Pay attention people.

I feel bad because she learned the most terrifying thing about Stranger Things is that the writers didn't have to make up the CIA LSD based illegal mind control experiment MK Ultra.

I am excessively proud that my child has such good taste, and the McGinley family horror fan genes are in full blossom.

I am also excessively happy that the “on demand” nature of Netflix series allowed me to catch up while she continued watching so we could share the finale together, see the closure of this story and  get some hints that make us eagerly wait for the next season. (Next summer...ugh.)

And if anyone cares, Dustin is both of our favorites.

* Footnote

Since there are those who value my super hero opinions:

Luke Cage maintained the exceptional quality level of the three previous seasons of Marvel Netflix.  It embodied some of the spirit of the Shaft era origins of the character, but overall had more of a detective noir feel to it, in keeping with the universe the others have created.  Story was compelling, acting was top notch, and effects brought the comic book world to a realistic looking stage. 

As always, other Marvel characters (like Misty Night and Black Mariah) were brought in to expand the overall world. Claire continues as the Phil Coulson of Netflix Marvel New York.  Instead of padding the story, extra time was used to do what Marvel has been known for since the Sixties, provide back stories to make each member of the tale a fleshed out character. The good guys aren’t perfect, and the bad guys have sympathetic elements.

The story had a satisfying conclusion, but left hints to what comes next (Iron Fist) and left enough open to get us to the meeting of all these heroes in The Defenders.



Mom said...

CONGRATULATIONS on your work, effort, attention to detail and great sense of humor in creating 600 Blogs. You make people look forward to Mondays and Thursdays.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx Mom, appreciate the support, encouragement ( and proofreading) for all these years!