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Christmas Crossover Special: Black Christmas, Black Phoenix & The Beer That Saved Christmas

Hey there, Drinkers!

Tis the season for gift giving, sleigh bell ringing and black beer drinking. And once again in celebration of the holidays, I’ve teamed up with Anne from We Recycle Movies to watch some terrible holiday-themed slashers while drinking a few good beers. Since Anne’s blog is all about sequels and remakes, we watched the two iterations of Black Christmas while sipping on Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix (it’s black…and phoenix’s live again…nevermind) and also The Beer That Saved Christmas (aka the beer that saved us the pain of watching these movies). So sit down, enjoy those chestnuts roasting over that open fire and prepare for a black Christmas!

Let’s begin at the beginning. The original Black Christmas was released in 1974 and subsequently….actually I don’t think it did anything after that. To horror fanatics, I think it ranks as a sort-of spiritual predecessor to Halloween, as the films are surprisingly similar (albeit that Halloween is a much better film). But beyond that, the film doesn’t hold much water. Or blood. The film, which follows the deadly targeting of a sorority house, very rarely elevates itself beyond creepy but usually relegates itself to the mundane. The film slowly meanders between its uninteresting characters and largely ignores the murders, which is very odd for the genre. Occasionally the film veers off-course entirely and does very little to reincorporate itself into the central plot. The scariest parts of the movie are actually its phone calls. A’la Scream, the girls of the house are harassed by unnerving, sexual and animalistic calls that the police generally disregard until the end of the film. For the most part, there is very little that really captivated me with this movie but there are two points that are worth mentioning. One, the film very directly deals with the issue of abortion. Our heroine finds herself unintentionally pregnant and makes the difficult decision to have an abortion, a conviction she firmly holds on to throughout the film. Second (SPOILER ALERT), you never find out who the killer is. There a few suspects but they are all cleared/killed by the end of the film, and with only two shots of the killer himself (all shadowed and highlighting only his eyes), you never actually learn who the killer is or his motivation. A fact that I found infuriating. But maybe some people find that genre-defying. I found it lame.

One of two shots of the killer

One of two shots of the killer

And the 2006 remake of Black Christmas? Yeah it’s pretty terrible. In this version, the film takes the mythology of the original and over-explains everything. See in the original, the mystery killer keeps mentioning the names “Billy” and “Agnes,” two characters we never meet. In the 2006 version we know right away who our killer is: Billy. Billy is a yellow-skinned cannibalistic killer who is raped by his mother, who gives birth to his oddly man-like daughter Agnes. Oh and Billy made Christmas cookies out his mother’s skin. Whatever. Anyway, all of this story is WAY over-explained in stupid flashbacks that mostly serve to gross us out while cheaply delivering plot. The rest of the film follows the various murders of these sorority sisters and the occasional douche-y boyfriend that gets caught in the way. And while this film provides our bad guys with “motivation,” the film really isn’t any better than the original. Actually, it’s probably worse. The acting is terrible, the kills are kinda silly and the bad guys are just really lame. It does feature Katie Cassidy before she was Laurel Lance on Arrow (great show, not a good actress), so that’s a fun fact. And finally, it’s simply not scary. Yeah it’s a little gross but that’s only a small factor when it comes to successful horror movies. Overall, I’d say don’t waste your Christmas on these movies. Maybe watch something a little more wholesome.

blah blah this movie blah blah

blah blah this movie blah blah

And ours beers? Pretty solid actually. The first we had was Prairie Artisan Ales’ The Beer That Saved Christmas (that’s a mouthful) . This brew is an Old Ale, a style of beer I didn’t even know about. Apparently, these beers can be very fruity and malty, which is pretty much how I’d describe this one. Pouring a deep, almost rust-colored brown, you’ll get a sweet, malty nose and lovely tan head. When you taste it, you’ll get a very interesting and bright pop of flavor. I tasted a nice mix of cherry, red wine and oak barrel (this beer is barrel aged). What is most interesting is that big splash of character almost immediately disappears into a smooth, light finish. And for a 10% brew, you get almost no booziness. It’s hard to say that this beer was extraordinary but it certainly was interesting. If you’re looking for something different this holiday season, I’d say give this one a shot.

As for Bootlegger Brewery’s Black Phoenix, this brew held up as a solid coffee stout with a nice little twist of chipotle spice. Pouring a deep black with minimal chocolate-lacing, you get a well-balanced mix of roasted malts, coffee flavor and a hint of chipotle. None of these flavors hit you over the head and the 6.7% ABV keeps this beer under control. For a beer with some many potentially big flavors involved, I found this coffee stout to fairly mild-mannered and easy to drink, which makes it a good alternative for those looking for something a little lighter when you’re perusing the stout aisle at your local beer store.

So there you have it, Drinkers! A Black Christmas! As per usual with these holiday specials, the movies were pretty awful but the beer and the company really made the night a winning combo. Be sure to show Anne some love and check out her review of the movies which will probably hold the same level of disdain as my own review. Thanks as always for reading and have a happy holiday season!

And as always keep drinking, my friends!
Prairie-The-Beer-That-Saved-Christmas-Oak-Aged-Old-AleTonight’s Tasting Notes:

Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix Chipotle Coffee Stout:bootlegger
-Clean black pour
-Very malty, nice hint of coffee
-Spicy little twist

Prairie’s Beer That Saved Christmas:
-Big, bright opener
-Mild, smooth finish
-Surprisingly not boozy

Black Christmas (1974):
-No killer reveal
-Shag carpets

Black Christmas (2006):
-Too much exposition
-Gratuitous grossness
-Sad remake to a sad original

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Halloween Crossover Special Pt. 1: Alesmith’s Evil Dead Red & The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2

Happy (early) Halloween, Drinkers!

In the first of two installments, BAAM has teamed up yet again with We Recycle Movies to bring you another holiday special review! In part one of this devilishly delightful dual review, Anne from WRM and I watched the first two films from the original Evil Dead franchise while sipping on AleSmith’s appropriately thematic Evil Dead Red. Part two will cover the conclusion to the Evil Dead  trilogy and will be posted next week. So, without further ado, let’s dig up some corpses and get into it!


Hey look! It’s makeup!

Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead  (1981) marks a special time in horror movie history. While it by no means created many of the stereotypes and cliches we now associate with the genre, it quite definitively solidified the tropes that are now almost laughable (as you can see from my review The Cabin in the Woods). It also walks the delicate line between true horror and classic camp. For those familiar with the franchise, The Evil Dead is now camp royalty but when apart from history, this film is more an astounding feat of independent filmmaking. Yes, the acting is poor, the writing even worse and it pretty much has no story, but I don’t really think that’s what this movie was made for. Rather, this film is much more about its visual style. The camera work, while quite jarring, is unique and perfectly captures (and enhances) the tone of the film. The same goes for the editing as well. It may not always make sense, or even be that pretty, but it services the rest of the film so well that you actually will find yourself nodding in approval, rather than shaking your head in disgust. The disgust comes from the blood, so don’t worry.

Which brings up another point: this movie (and this franchise) are not for the feint-of-heart. While all of the gore and other general creepiness is more humorous than upsetting, there is still a shocking amount of blood and guts and other mysterious body fluids. All of which end up on Bruce Campbell’s strong-chinned face. But like the film’s visuals, the movie’s shock-value also serves a purpose and services the story…sometimes. Yes, it’s all absurd, but at least it knows that about itself.

Yup...super gross

Yup…super gross

Since we’re on the topic of self-awareness (and gore), let’s talk about Evil Dead 2 (1987), which is arguably the strangest sequel ever. Okay maybe it’s tied with Mad Max 2 but that’s besides the point. Ostensibly taking place immediately after the events of the first film, Evil Dead 2 weirdly resets the franchise by boiling down the first movie into a two minute prelude that negates much of what actually happened. From there, the film takes a wild twist into campy insanity. Where the first film didn’t laugh too hard at itself, Evil Dead 2 fully embraces its own absurdity while still clinging to its recognizable visual style. What that translates to, essentially, is more blood, more guts, more demons, more possessed hands and more overall craziness (like when the entire cabin starts dancing and laughing).

As is probably quite obvious from the above clip, this movie be CRAZY.

Overall, what is important to take away from these movies, aside from their solidifying insanity and overzealous blood usage, is how visual style (and crafty production design) can really sell a movie. Without its distinctive style, it’s entirely plausible to believe that the Evil Dead franchise could have sunk into oblivion.



And what about your unusually appropriate beer, AleSmith’s Evil Dead Red? I have to say that AleSmith has unofficially become the preferred brewer of BAAM. I’ve reviewed five of their beers (including the Evil Dead Red) and not only are they all delicious, they generally pair very well with movies. And the Evil Dead Red did not disappoint. Pouring a spectacular, clear red with a thin khaki head, this brew was everything I wanted out of the style. It’s nose promised a complex mix of malt and fruit while its flavor was a striking balance of hop and malt. Most interestingly, this beer is decidedly hoppy but does not feature the kind of bitterness you find in most West Coast IPA’s. Rather, the hops are well balanced against mild-mannered malt notes with a few hints of sweet citrus. Truly a well-rounded and well-crafted beer. Looks like AleSmith has done it again.

So there you have it, Drinkers! Part one of our two-part Halloween special with our friend Anne over at We Recycle Movies. She’s a professional smart person, so be sure to check out her review of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 for a better review. Be on the lookout next week for our review of the franchise’s bizarre conclusion in Army of Darkness.

And as always keep drinking, my friends. Happy Halloween!


Tonight’s Tasting Notes: 

The Evil Dead:
-Doesn’t really make sense
-Very bloody
-Striking visuals in every department

Evil Dead 2:
-Makes even less sense
-Even bloodier
-Really goes hard on the camp

AleSmith’s Evil Dead Red:
-Striking red pour
-Hoppy but not bitter
-Remarkably balanced & complex
*Bonus: ABV clocks in at 6.66%


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Guest Review: Passover Double Feature

* Hi there, drinkers. Please enjoy this week’s BAAM courtesy of Anne from We Recycle Movies, a blog I highly recommend. If you’d like to submit a guest review, please let me know in the comments. Happy Passover!

Shalom, drinkers!

Gabe is observing Passover this week, which means that he cannot drink beer. Fortunately for all of you, Episcopalians do not have to follow dietary restrictions during Lent, so I was totally free to write a guest blog. I was so excited that I decided on a double feature. I even went with a Passover theme! First up were The Prince of Egypt and He’brew IPA, celebrating the animated history of the Jewish people. After that came the combination of The Ten Commandments and Saison de Lente, which turned out to be an epic undertaking. Two bombers and 5 hours of movie watching later, here is my review:

The Prince of Egypt is an animated re-telling of the book of Exodus. The story follows Moses. I’m pretty sure we’re all at least vaguely aware of his story: baby in the bulrushes, Egyptian prince, Jewish prophet, Let My People Go, Ten Commandments, Foundation for Judaism. Obviously, since this is a kids’ movie, they felt the need to change some things. In the first half of this film, Moses is basically that annoying-but-charismatic frat guy who kept bugging you in college: he races chariots, drops water balloons on priests, and goads Ramses a lot. Prophets: they’re just like us!

Moses: Prince of the Bros

How to Cure a Hangover of Biblical Proportions

Since it came out in 1998, it is of course a musical. And I have to say right up front, most of the music aged well. The only song that really bothered me was “Believe.” The first time I heard it, the song came across as uplifting and hopeful, but it gets overused. Eventually I was just hoping the little Jewish kids would stop singing and start schlepping. Jerusalem is a long walk from Egypt!

What part of Exodus is this from again?

What part of Exodus is this from again?

Our second Passover movie, The Ten Commandments, is a three and a half hour long epic from the 1950s, in the same extremely long vein as Ben HurThe Robe, and King of Kings. Charlton Heston plays Moses as a kind of Biblical action star. He spends the first half of the movie shirtlessly seducing at least 3 women and conquering countries. Once he becomes a prophet, he starts wearing robes and yelling in a booming voice. He’s definitely more forceful and vengeful, and when we get to the creation of the Ten Commandments and the golden idols, Moses throws those tablets down with FORCE. Prophets: they’re just like Arnold Schwarzenneger?

It was a solid spectacle, but I felt the length. The first act dragged (we get it, Moses is hunky and charismatic and Ramses is not). The second half was pretty action-packed though, what with all of the plagues and Red Sea partings and pillars of fire and whatnot. The special effects didn’t age well, but it’s a 50 year old movie so really the fun of it is trying to figure out how they pulled it off with no CGI. I honestly don’t know if this is the best family Easter or Passover celebration though, if only because sugar-high kids hopped up on chocolate eggs and maccaroons will not be able to sit through all three and a half hours

Overall, it was fun to re-watch both movies. You have to admit that the book of Exodus adapts into a pretty great story, especially if you leave out those pesky 40 years wandering the desert. It’s got romance, drama, secret identities, plagues, and acts of God. Now, onto the beer!



First up was He’Brew’s IPA, which I have to say wasn’t my favorite. I get that IPA’s are supposed to be hoppy, but the hops overpowered every other taste in this beer. It pours amber and clear with a solid head and lacing. As it got warmer it got more citrus-y, but overall it was still too flat and bitter for me. I like my IPAs like I like my films: full of character. (nnnnneeeerrrrrrdddd)

Saison de Lente was next. This beer is clearly not brewed by Catholics, because if it was it would have a sad little kid poking at a piece of fish on the label instead of an Easter egg. Anyway, it poured with little head, cloudy and straw-colored. Smelled yeasty but spicy. It tasted spicy and yeasty as well, though not as flavorful as I would have liked. It did get better as it got warmer. I enjoyed it more than the IPA, and it was more drinkable, but still mostly just ‘eh.’

So there you have it, drinkers. Thank you to Gabe for allowing me to write this week, and thank you for introducing me to good beer.  Before I knew Gabe, I thought beer just tasted like beer, which is to say like guilt and sourness. Now I know that beer can taste like citrus or spice or cinnamon AND hops, which it turns out do not taste like guilt or sourness. Hooray for Gabe!hebrew-hop-manna

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
The Prince of Egypt:
-Standard 90s animated movie with biblical themes
-Cannot. Get. That. Song. Out. Of. My. Head.
-When you believe, somehow you will! Now you will! You will when you belieeeeve!

The Ten Commandments
-Charlton Heston was the Ryan Gosling of the 50’s: no shirts
-This is the most action-packed biblical adaptation ever
-De Mille made himself the voice of God. No one was surprised

He’Brew Hop Manna:Saison de Lente
-I either need to learn more about IPAs or drink less sucky ones
-Gabe should probably re-review this and get back to me (Why? Because I’m Jewish?)
-I don’t like my beer tasting like a pinecone

Saison de Lente:
-Not made by Catholics
-Spicier and more drinkable, but still kinda blah
-Two bombers in one night is two bombers too many. I can’t feel my face

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Halloween Special: Devilish Beers & Halloween Resurrection

Hey there, Drinkers!

On this Halloween, BAAM and We Recycle Movies revive our tradition our providing asinine commentary on holiday slashers whilst drinking beer. Pretty good, schtick, right? On the menu we have the dubious Halloween Resurrection and two arbitrarily-chosen yet thematically appropriate beers. And when you’re done reading this fine review, I suggest you hit up WRM for Anne’s perspective on the experience. Most likely it’ll just be her judging me. But let’s get to it, shall we?!

Due to some unfortunate scheduling mishaps, Anne and I didn’t get to both of the films we wanted to but that’s okay, the 2002 film Halloween: Resurrection is what we wanted to see anyway. Briefly starring Jamie Lee Curtis, the film follows a group of teens (shocker!) as they spend the night in Michael Myers’ childhood home as part of an internet reality show created and produced by none other than Busta Rhymes and Tyra Banks. Yup! Needless to say, Michael Myers isn’t too happy with this and thus proceeds to murder pretty much everyone for no apparent reason. Alternating between sneaky kills and brazen slashing, Michael Myers is probably the least thematic cinematic murderer. He pretty much just kills people, regardless of how scary it is to us viewers. And that’s pretty much the movie. Yup.

To discuss this movie further would be to shame all the other movies I’ve discussed here on this blog so I don’t want to dwell on it much longer. I do want to note that Katee Sackhoff is in this movie as someone other than Starbuck, which is upsetting. Her name is also misspelled in the credits. Oops! Also, there are boobs. Not Katee Sackhoff’s. So that kinda puts on the same level as a bunch of other slashers. But what else is there to say? Oh yes, very little of this movie makes sense. Michael Myers, as per usual, defies the laws of physics and biology.  The reality TV/POV camera conceit is only used when convenient and is largely ignored. Hmm what else? There are so many little things that frustrated Anne and myself but we just don’t have time for them here. But a good example can be found when our protagonist escapes Michael Myers and his house, only to go back inside so she can try to leave through the front door…which she knows is locked. Yup. That’s the movie we watched. Don’t bother with this one folks. It ain’t worth it.

And our beers? Well those were pretty non-spooky as well. Our first brew was Hermitage Brewing’s Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale. Despite a promising, reddish amber pour, this beer was kinda nothing. There was virtually no pumpkin aroma or taste. In fact, I don’t know what this tasted like. A bland golden ale that was just a bit bitter? And not even good, hoppy bitter. Just bitter bitter. It’s hard to classify this as a bad beer. It was more of a “meh” beer that really does nothing at all. You can skip this one.

And, sadly, our second beer was a bit of a let-down as well. Rabbit Foot’s Diabhal is a self-described Belgian style ale brewed with honey, but even that’s a generous description. I didn’t get any of that classic Belgian yeastiness . Instead, I was hit over the head with crazy honey flavor. For me, honey should be used sparingly to impart mild sweetness. But this Diabhal tasted like boozy honey with maybe a hint of sweet fruit. It was sweet on sweet and not in a awesome Halloween candy kind of way. There was almost no malt or hop flavor in fact. As Anne noted, this beer seemed more closely related to a honey wine (mead) than it was beer. Lame.

So there it is folks, a bad movie with some disappointing beers. Can’t win them all I guess. I’d say it’s hard to know what a good beer is unless you’ve had a bad beer or two, but the more I think about that statement, I realize how stupid that sounds. Hand me an Old Rasputin any day and I’ll be happy man. Screw the rest!

Once again, a special thanks to Anne from We Recycle Movies for taking the time out of her insane schedule to enjoy some mediocrity with me. Please go check out her blog and show her a little BAAM love.

Happy Halloween! And as always, keep drinking, my friends!

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Fruit Crate Pumpkin Ale:
-Nice amber color
-Almost no pumpkin flavor
-Sadly a nothing beer

-Super honey sweetness
-No Belgian yeasty flavor
-If I wanted honey wine, I’d buy honey wine

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Valentine’s Day Special: Red Ales & My Bloody Valentine (1981 & 2009)

Hey there, drinkers!

I’ve got a special BAAM for you today in anticipation of the lovely holiday  ofValentine’s Day (get it?). I’ve teamed up with my friend Anne from We Recycle Movies to bring you our first ever crossover review. For those unfamiliar with WRM, Anne reviews and compares films that have notable sequels or have been remade throughout the course of Hollywood history. And with her insane knowledge of film history, it’s always cool to see what she has to say. For this review, Anne picked the movies and I picked the beers. She chose both versions of My Bloody Valentine (1981 and 2009) while I chose Porterhouse Red Ale (aka Slaughterhouse Red Ale) and Hop Head Red (aka Chopped Head Red). She educated me on horror tropes and I educated her on the delights of beer. We both provided the (much needed) comic relief. Really, it was a wonderful evening. While my review of both the beers and the movies can be found below, please check out WRM’s review for another perspective on these terrible movies. But without further ado, let’s get killin’.

Brief set up for both these films: My Bloody Valentine is a slasher film about a murderous miner (yes, a miner. It’s weird.) that terrorizes a small, coal mining town around Valentine’s Day because he was once trapped in a mine explosion on Valentine’s Day. Aside from the killer’s signature pickaxe, he has a proclivity for putting his victim’s hearts in heart-shaped chocolate boxes. So if you get  a box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day, make sure it’s not bleeding before you open it. Okay, let’s get started on the original.

The 1981 version of My Bloody Valentine is considered to be a classic, underrated slasher flick by about six people. For the rest of us, it’s just bad. It’s generally unclear who our protagonists are and no character is likable or sympathetic in any way. In the case of a horror movie, it’s not a good sign when you really just don’t care when people die. Anne and I agreed that our favorite character was a supporting character with a sweet mustache and maybe five lines.

Best part of this movie? His 'stache.

And though this film was made in the 80’s, when horror films weren’t too wild, it’s still quite tame. Most deaths are implied and what is shown is minimally gruesome (though the old woman put in the drier was kind of gross). More importantly, this film lacked boobs. No self-respecting horror movie should be devoid of boobs. Ask Anne. She agrees. And the all-male shower scene did not make up for this failing. Really, who wants to watch ugly miners lather up? I could keep on going with my frustrations in this movie (our assumed protagonist is a dick. The murderer kills randomly. Everyone has an odd Canadian accent…), but I don’t want to bore you. Feel free to bore yourself by watching this movie, but I have to imagine you have better things to do.

Like watching the 2009 version of My Bloody Valentine…in 3-D! Actually, we didn’t watch this movie in 3-D, but this film was marketed as the first 3-D horror movie for its theatrical release. And though we watched this film in only 2 dimensions, the 3-D moments were painfully obvious. Pickaxes being thrown at the screen. Tree limbs through windshields. Pickaxes going through beds. Pickaxes going through glasses. Pickaxes going through faces. It was amusing and no doubt severely disappointing in theaters. Anyway, though this film breaks pretty radically with the original (we have a protagonist now…sort of), it did pay homage to some of the memorable moments from the original, which I appreciated. Another dead body was stuffed into a drier, none of the male characters were likable, people get pickaxe’d to the brain, the female lead is named Sarah…you get the idea. Overall, they modernized the film without alienating all six fans of the original film. They did, however, update the killer. Yes, he is still a miner but he is not the same character as the original. And now our killer apparently suffers from schizophrenia and takes medication that in no way curbs his murderous tendencies. Maybe he just had high blood pressure…Again, I don’t want to bore you with talking about this film much more but as you have probably figured, it wasn’t a very good movie. And I’m not even sure if it took place during Valentine’s Day. So let’s talk about beer.

I hate Valentine's Day...in 3-D.

So in honor of watching two movies, and with the more practical reason of having two drinkers, Anne and I shared two different red ales. First beer we tried was the Irish beer Porterhouse Red. This beer’s rich red color belied its low ABV (4.4%) and its mediocre flavor. Now, it’s entirely possible that my bottle had spoiled as I found it to taste a bit stale and flat. Checking my experience against those on Beer Advocate, it seems like I either completely missed the boat on this one or the bottle I had was no good. Either way, it didn’t do much for me and I have surprisingly little to say about it. Though it did have a sweet pull tab cap that was very fun to open.

But moving on to a beer that I actually enjoyed: the Hop Head Red IPA out of Green Flash Brewing. As some readers may know, I’ve been on an IPA kick recently and trying a red seemed a natural next step on this expedition. Pouring a deep, red color, this beer smelled distinctly of IPA. That unmistakeable hoppiness comes right out in the aroma. When you taste it, you’ll know it’s an IPA but there’s something else going on too. There is a richness and a depth in it that I attribute to the redness in it. My exposure to reds is fairly minimal but I have to say that I really enjoyed this beer. I don’t think it’s much of a “beginner” beer but Anne would be in a better position to answer that question.

So that’s it, drinkers. Our first BAAM date night with WRM. Anne and I hope to do more crossovers in the future, assuming there is no public outcry. I had a lot of fun drinking these beers and watching these terrible movies. While I really enjoy doing these reviews, having a friend to share it with really makes the experience all the better, as is the case with most things in life.  And while I would recommend watching some better films,  there really is no substitute for grabbing a beer and sitting down for a movie with good friends.

Keep drinking, friends! And check out We Recycle Movies.

Tonight’s Tasting Notes:
Porterhouse Red Ale: 
Lovely red color
Disappointingly stale in flavor
Possibly had a bad bottle

Hop Head Red
Distinctly IPA with something more
Robust, complex flavor profile
Not a beer for the uninitiated

My Bloody Valentine (1981)
Disappointing lack of boobs
Unconvincing, unlikable & unclear protagonists
Sweet, mustachioed supporting character named Hollis.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)
Some boobs.
Pays appropriate homage to its predecessor
It has three dimensions.

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