Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #123: 'Generation X' (1996)


Our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS turns tragic this week, with the passing of the great Stan Lee, who co-created many of our favorite Marvel comic book characters. William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold celebrate the life and career of Stan Lee, and share their favorite Stan Lee stories, on this episode of CANCELED TOO SOON.

But also, since it's Canceled Too Soon, we're reviewing another failed television series, and this one might very well be the most 1990s of all the Marvel footnotes. It's called "Generation X," it's about a bunch of teenage mutants in the X-Men universe, who do battle with - basically - the Riddler from "Batman Forever," as played by Matt Frewer ("Max Headroom").

Was it canceled too soon? And could it possibly get any more 90s? We'll find out together on this brand new episode.

Give it a listen!


Monday, November 12, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #53: 'Mars Needs Moms' and 'Spirited Away'


It's official: Mars needs moms, and they need them so badly, that they made "Mars Needs Moms!" This epic misfire, which lost over $100 million at the box office, destroyed studios and nearly killed an animation medium, and earned tons of negative reviews. But is it really that bad? And why is it the perfect double feature with Hayao Miyazaki's beloved, acclaimed, Oscar-winning animated classic "Spirited Away?"

You'll get all that, plus new reviews of "The Grinch," "Overlord," "Outlaw King," "The Girl in the Spider's Web" and "The New Romantic!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #122: 'Marvel's Inhumans' (2017)


The history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a history of success! Except, of course, for "Marvel's Inhumans," a television series based on the comic book that Marvel kept trying to turn into a movie, then gave up on, and turned into a failed television series.

Bad luck for them, good luck for Canceled Too Soon! After all, we're the podcast that reviews TV shows that only lasted one season or less...

This week in our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS, William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold crack upon the bizarre history of the Inhumans, their disappointing television series, and a story that tries to turn the oppressive regime at the head of a brutal caste system... into the good guys.


Friday, November 9, 2018

William Bibbiani Looks at the History of World War II Horror Movies


Julius Avery's "Overlord" might very well be the ultimate World War II horror movie... but it's hardly the first. In his latest article at IGN, film critic William Bibbiani guides you through the history of horror movies set in and around the events of World War II, with ghosts and killer puppets and lots and lots and lots of Nazi zombies!

Read: William Bibbiani Writes "The Road to Overlord: When Horror Mixes With World War II Movies" at IGN

Top Photo: Blue Underground

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Overlord'


A group of soldiers in World War II are tasked with destroying a radio tower, but discover something unspeakable in the catacombs beneath it. That's the plot of "Overlord," a horror story straight out of "Two-Fisted Tales," that combines WWII action movie tropes with mad scientist grotesqueries. Jovan Adepo ("Fences") and Wyatt Russell ("Goon: Last of the Enforcers") co-star, in a film directed by Julius Avery ("Son of the Gun").

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Overlord" is "one of the best video game movies ever made," even though it's not based on a video game, and praises the film's dynamic storytelling and visceral gore.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Overlord" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Paramount

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'


Newt Scamander is back and just as socially awkward as ever in "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," the latest film in the "Harry Potter" prequel series, about wizards in the 1920s staving off intolerance and political turmoil in the buildup to World War II. Eddie Redmayne stars alongside Katherine Watson, Dan Fogler, Johnny Depp, Callum Turner, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller, Alison Sudol and Jude Law, in film directed by David Yates, who helmed every "Harry Potter" film since "The Order of the Phoenix." 

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani describes "Fantastic Beasts 2" as a "1,000 page novel shoved into a 134-minute running time," critiquing the film for its convoluted storyline and dropped supporting characters, but praising the film for its distinctive protagonist and rejuvenated sense of wonder.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Warner Bros.

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Pelíšky' a.k.a. 'Cosy Dens'


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Benjamin Pastor. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

Jan Hřebejk's film “Pelíšky” (translated into English as “Cosy Dens”), is as twee as they come. Set in Prague in late 1967 – mere months before the Communist invasion of the city – “Pelíšky” takes place largely in the stiflingly ultra-clean, chintzy, Plasticine apartments of presumably average Czech citizens as they suffer through Christmas together.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'The Girl in the Spider's Web'


Uruguayan director Fede Álvarez first caught the eye of American audiences with his 2013 remake of “Evil Dead,” which was striking less for its only-somewhat-novel approach to its story (was the protagonist possessed or simply in the throes of a drug withdrawal?) and more for its awesome amount of blood and gore (the finale features a chainsaw through the face while blood literally rains from the sky).

His second feature, 2016's “Don't Breathe” was a clever, exciting, taut, and twisted little thriller that can easily be gathered within the enormous school of excellent indie horror films that have been gracing theaters for the last decade. His new film, “The Girl in the Spider's Web” is his first large-scale studio-sanctioned mainstream big-budget project and, well, all of a sudden he's far less interesting. I guess necessity really is the mother of invention.

William Bibbiani Presents 14 Remakes That Are Better Than The Original


Every week, Hollywood announces a big remake of a classic (or not so classic) motion picture. And every week, people complain that Hollywood has run out of ideas, and that they're ruining classic films. And every week, people seem to forget that there are a lot of movie remakes that aren't just good but actually surpass the originals.

William Bibbiani provides 14 examples of remakes that are better than the originals, in his latest article at IGN!

Read: William Bibbiani Presents "14 Remakes That Are Better Than The Originals" at IGN

Top Photo: Columbia Pictures

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #52: 'Reefer Madness' and 'Smiley Face'


It's the one-year anniversary of the Critically Acclaimed podcast, and we're celebrating the way you knew we would, with one of the worst movies ever made! Our listeners asked us to review the iconic and incompetent scare film "Reefer Madness," and we're pairing this ironic stoner classic with a hilarious (and relatively honest) stoner classic: Gregg Araki's "Smiley Face!"

Plus, we've got new reviews of "The Other Side of the Wind" and "They'll Love Me When I'm Dead," as well as "Boy Erased" and "Bohemian Rhapsody!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Monday, November 5, 2018

William Bibbiani Tackles Orson Welles' Last Film: 'The Other Side of the Wind'


One of the most important movies in years, maybe even in modern memory, has finally been released this weekend, and not a lot of people noticed. Orson Welles, the iconoclastic director of "Citizen Kane" and "Touch of Evil," completed filming "The Other Side of the Wind" in 1976, but the film wasn't finished until this year, and audiences only get to see it now.

In his latest article for IGN, William Bibbiani invites you to look at the history of "The Other Side of the Wind," and grasp with the film's unbelievable history and invaluable context within Welles' filmography and the artistic climate of its era.

Read: William Bibbiani Explains "The Other Side of the Wind" at IGN

Top Photo: Netflix

William Bibbiani Talks 'Citizen Kane' on The Nerd GOAT Podcast!


Who's the greatest fictional character in history? That's the question they answer every week on Nerd GOAT, hosted by Ed Greer and Ron Swallow. Our very own William Bibbiani is their latest guest, and after debating such motion picture icons as Laurie Strode, Jason Voorhees and Moose from the "Step Up" films, settled on Charles Foster Kane from "Citizen Kane."

Why is Charles Foster Kane the greatest movie character of all time? You'll have to listen to the episode to find out!

Listen: William Bibbiani Calls Charles Foster Kane the Greatest Character of All Time on Nerd GOAT

Top Photo: RKO

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #121: 'Fred and Barney Meet The Thing' (1979)


Welcome, to our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS! Every episode of Canceled Too Soon in November is dedicated to a failed television series based on a Marvel comic book, and we're starting off with one of the weirdest cartoon series ever made, in which Fantastic Four hero Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing, has been transformed into a teenager who can summon his aging Brooklynite rock monster alter ego using magic rings, and by uttering the words "Thing Ring, Do Your Thing!"

Naturally, he uses those godlike powers to make picnics slightly less annoying.

Was this Hanna-Bareara cartoon, and one of the oddest footnotes in Marvel multimedia history, canceled too soon? We can't wait to find out! Join William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold as they delve into every episode of this inane cartoon series, and stick around, because our MARVELOUS MONTH OF MARVELS is only beginning!

Give it a listen!


Witney Seibold Says the 'Super Mario Bros.' is Just Like 'Orpheus'


25 years ago, there was a film about brothers. Mario brothers. And they were super. But the "Super Mario Bros." movie, based on the iconic video game, was a bizarre and extremely loose adaptation that ticked off the fans, tanked at the box office, and confused film critics around the world.

But not all critics hate "Super Mario Bros." Our very own Witney Seibold argues in favor of the strange artistic qualities of this unsung cult oddity by comparing it, believe it or not, to "Orpheus," as iconic a myth as has ever been told.

Yes, really. You're going to want to read this one, folks!

Read: Witney Seibold Equates "Super Mario Bros." and "Orpheus" at SMBMovie.com!

Top Photo: Buena Vista

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween: It’s William Bibbiani’s Favorite Spooky Music Videos!


I was recently asked to write a review of “Elvira’s MTV Halloween Special” and I was delighted to discover that it concluded with Elvira hosting her favorite spooky music videos. It reminded me that there was a time when MTV vj’s were considered the coolest people on television, and many was the time I fantasized about being gainfully employed as a hip trendsetter whose whole job was to say what music video was about to be played next.

Years went by and I grew up, and discovered that I just wasn’t cool. Also, MTV fell into a stinky quagmire of pointless, non-musical programming. But the fantasy remained and it’s been reawakened. So, inspired by Elvira, I’ve decided to share with you my own favorite (not necessarily the best) spooky music videos to watch and enjoy on Halloween. 


William Bibbiani Reviews 'Elvira's MTV Halloween Special' (1986)


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Salem Horror Fest. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

It’s staggeringly passé to suggest that, in the wake of media like “Stranger Things” and “It” and “[Insert Nostalgia Property Here],” nostalgia for the 1980s is at an all-time high. Of course it. People love the 1980s. Or rather, they love the stuff they remember about it, a.k.a. the stuff that still glitters. 

The 1980s were a time when media consumption was escalating, thanks to the increasing availability of home video and cable television. Filmmakers, producers and artists were struggling to create enough content to occupy that vast new landscape, and for every all-time classic we still remember today there’s a well-intentioned, amiable but slapdash outing like “Elvira’s MTV Halloween Special.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'The Visitor' (1979)


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Anthony Peronto. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

I first encountered Michael J. Paradise's “The Visitor” at an after-hours, by-invite-only screening curated by my local video store. 

You see: The managers of said video store would, on a weekly basis, acquire whatever 35mm prints they could get a hold of for cheap and/or free. These prints consisted of obscure German comedies, weird sex films, lost genre oddities, sci-fi epics with missing reels, and, in one baffling bout of programming, “My Giant.” Then, in conjunction with a helpful projectionist at the movie theater next door (where I worked at the time), the store managers would invite over employees and friends of employees to view said films, eager to talk aloud in the theater and openly discuss the insanity on screen. These were magical nights of baffling cinematic exploration, and I'm glad to have been invited on several occasions.

It was in this milieu that I was introduced to Michael J. Paradise's 1979 sci-fi epic “The Visitor,” perhaps one of the most baffling films ever produced. It was such a moving experience that I rushed to my (now long-neglected) criticism blog to review it. That was in 2007. The time has now come to re-visit “The Visitor” and see what new lessons can be learned. Luckily, the film is just as brain-melting as it always was.

Canceled Too Soon #120: 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' (1974-1975)


He's the best reporter in the world, but you'd never believe a word he's written. He's "Kolchak: The Night Stalker," and from his humble office in Chicago he blows the lid off bizarre supernatural and sci-fi conspiracies, including headless biker ghosts, metal-eating aliens, satan-worshipping politicians and killer moss monsters.

Kolchak, as played by Darren McGavin, is one of the most iconic heroes in sci-fi/horror, and helped inspire the blockbuster 1990s TV series "The X-Files," but the original series only lasted one season! Was this iconic show Canceled Too Soon?

William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold review the whole series, including the two TV movies, and break it down monster by monster, guest star by guest star in this very special episode of Canceled Too Soon, as our monthlong Scarytober event comes to an end!

Give it a listen!


Monday, October 29, 2018

William Bibbiani Decides: Is 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' a Christmas Movie or a Halloween Movie?



There was a time when "The Nightmare Before Christmas" was considered too odd to categorize. The stop-motion animated film sprang from the mind of Tim Burton but came to the big screen courtesy of Henry Selick, and tells the story of a skeleton named Jack, who lives in Halloweentown, but who gets burnt out on the spooky holiday and decides to take over Christmas instead. The songs were bizarre, the imagery was ghoulish, and although it had obvious kid appeal it was considered too freaky to be family-friendly when it first came out 25 years ago.

Nowadays, long after people finally got used to "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and embraced its harmlessly eerie oddness, the only issue we seem to have is whether it's technically a Christmas movie or technically a Halloween movie. Debates rage every year whether it's more of one or more of another, and in his latest article for IGN, William Bibbiani examines both sides of the argument and comes to a decisive conclusion.

Yes, obviously it's both, but if you really think "The Nightmare Before Christmas" has to be more focused on one holiday than the other, Bibbs has the answer.

Read: William Bibbiani Decides If 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' is a Christmas Movie or a Halloween Movie

Top Photo: Disney

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #51: The 'Tales from the Crypt' Movies


One of the scariest comic books ever produced became a hit HBO series and five motion pictures! It's "Tales from the Crypt," and its particular brand of ironic horror punishment pulp has become a beloved pop culture brand that endures to this day, even though the franchise itself slumbers.

In the final episode of our Scarytober event at Critically Acclaimed, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold reveal the history of the "Tales from the Crypt" movies, from the two anthology films in the 1970s to the uneven standalone movies in the 1990s. They also review the brand new releases "Suspiria" and "Invisible," and lament the loss of FilmStruck.

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Friday, October 26, 2018

Witney Seibold Declares 'The Death of FilmStruck is a Terrible Thing'


The unexpected demise of FilmStruck, a digital streaming service offering high quality art house, classic and cult films from The Criterion Collection and Warner Archive, has left the motion picture industry and its fans reeling. Touted as the streaming service for real connoisseurs, which could act as a proper archive for important motion pictures, FilmStruck seemed likely to become a valuable, permanent institution.

But... no more. In his latest editorial at IGN, Witney Seibold bemoans the loss of FilmStruck and considers just how difficult it's going to be for film fans to access these films in the future.

Read: Witney Seibold Declares 'The Death of FilmStruck is a Terrible Thing'

Top Photo: FilmStruck

The Movie Trivia Schmoedown: William Bibbiani vs. John Rocha!


Our very own William Bibbiani defends his championship belt against John Rocha, the host of Top Ten and The Cine-Files, in a no holds barred Movie Trivia Schmoedown match that must be seen to be believed!

Who will win? Who will lose? Who will sing? Who will try to put google eyes on a cowboy hat? You'll have to watch the match to find out!

Watch the episode below!


William Bibbiani Reviews 'Indivisible'


Justin Bruening and Sarah Drew star in "Indivisible," a biographic drama about U.S. Army Chaplain Darren Turner, and his wife Heather, as they struggled to support their fellow soldiers and their families during the Iraq War and nearly let themselves fall apart in the process.

In his review of "Indivisible" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "We probably need a film like this," and praises the film for its frank and thoughtful depiction of soldiers as "sensitive men and women with complex feelings who depend on each other for emotional support." 

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Indivisible" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Provident Films

Thursday, October 25, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Suspiria' (2018)


From Oscar-Nominated director Luca Guadagnino ("Call Me By Your Name") comes an unusual remake of one of the most unusual horror movies ever made. "Suspiria" stars Dakota Johnson ("Fifty Shades of Grey") as a young ballet dancer whose new company is led by a coven of witches, led by a mysterious demonic entity and the mysterious  Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton). And somehow, it all relates to the political turmoil in Berlin in the 1970s.

In his review of the new "Suspiria" at IGN, William Bibbiani calls the film "an interesting intellectual exercise," commenting on the original while telling a new version of the story, but frustratingly lacking in scares.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Suspiria" at IGN

Top Photo: Amazon Studios

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Girl in the Spider's Web'


"The Girl in the Spider's Web" is the sequel to the Oscar-winning thriller "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," with a new cast, a new director, and a story that skips several books in the series and dramatically changes the tone. Now, vigilante hacker Lisbeth Salander (Claire Foy, "Unsane") is at the center of a vast political conspiracy to steal a computer program that could give supervillains access to the whole world's nuclear arsenal. Fede Alvarez ("Evil Dead") directs.

It's a far cry from the serial killer nightmare of the original, but in his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani argues that it's still "a crackerjack thriller," adding "it's not potent, it's not insightful, it's just really, really cool."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Girl in the Spider's Web" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Sony Pictures

Monday, October 22, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #50: The Hannibal Lecter Movies


Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter is one of cinema's greatest boogeypersons, a brilliant serial killer who can be reasoned with... when he isn't eating your flesh. Over the course of four books, five films and one television series' he's haunted the dreams of filmlovers everywhere, with stories that range from the brilliant to the indulgent to the just plain awful, and with subtext that desperately needs to be reevaluated for the modern age.

In this week's episode of Critically Acclaimed, film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold analyze all the Hannibal Lecter movies and also review the new releases "Halloween," "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", "Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer," "Wildlife" and "An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn."

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Five Films William Bibbiani Likes That Other Critics Hated


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Richard Franzwa. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

“And it is here,” as Witney Seibold recently wrote, “That I lose you.”

One of the (many) problems with the modern age of film criticism is that websites like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic have created the illusion of a consensus. The idea that is that if a large percentage of critics like a movie, it must be great, and if a large percentage of critics dislike it, it must be bad. And that’s just not how subjective opinions work.

The point of criticism isn’t to create an objective reality out of subjective opinion. The point is to share our subjective opinions as eloquently and informatively and entertainingly as possible. If everyone had the same opinion, we wouldn’t need everyone to chime in. We need outliers to challenge our collective understanding of the art form, and to stir up new conversations about film. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Yeti: A Love Story'


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Bob the Love Goat. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

Back in the mid-to-late-1990s, during the crest of VHS culture, a casual B-movie enthusiast of straight-to-video schlock would be intimately familiar with the output of Troma. The New Jersey-based independent movie house gained a lot of cultural traction in those days with some of the most lurid, definitely some of the cheapest, and possibly the strangest films one could find. They were commonly emblazoned with weirdly musical titles like “Teenage Catgirls in Heat,” “Rabid Grannies,” “The Toxic Avenger,” “Killer Condom,” “Cannibal! The Musical,” and “Sgt. Kabukiman, NYPD.” The crown jewel of 1990s Troma was, to this critic's eye, “Tromeo and Juliet,” a bizarre dystopian take on Shakespeare's tragic romance, only with killer penis monsters, lesbian sex scenes, porn consumption, and Lemmy from Motörhead.

Since the 1990s, Troma has been canonized as an important cult house by fans of gore films, and the studio's co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, is a regular installation at pop culture conventions; there's nothing he won't do to promote his movies. But even though they are well-regarded in 2018, Troma's output has ebbed in quality (if that was possible), skewing increasingly into the realm of hasty, murky digital photography and sloppier-than-ever filmmaking. 


Friday, October 19, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #119: 'The Elvira Show' (1993)


Elvira, the Mistress of the Dark, is arguably the greatest horror movie TV host of all time. But this gothic "Valley Girl" maven, played by the great Cassandra Peterson, was almost the greatest sitcom star of all time! 

"The Elvira Show," co-starring Katherine Helmond ("Soap") and Phoebe Augustine ("Twin Peaks"), starred Elvira as a small-town witch, trying to hide her magical powers from her conservative Kansas neighbors, and getting into all sorts of naughty, sexy shenanigans in the process.

Why did this hilarious sitcom have trouble finding an audience? And was it really... Canceled Too Soon? You'll find out in this week's exciting, Scarytober episode!

Give it a listen!

Critically Acclaimed: Bonus Letters Episode #3!


It's time to answer more of your amazing letters! On this very special bonus episode of the Critically Acclaimed podcast, William Bibbiani talk about important issues that affect every movie lover, and also about their favorite movies, their ongoing bromance, and the daily struggle we all have to stay politically engaged in a troubling era, while also taking care of ourselves and staying positive about our own lives.

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


William Bibbiani Reviews 'Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer'


In Nick Searcy's "Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer," Earl Billings stars as convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor whose practice was responsible for the murders of live birth children, and at least one woman under his care. Dean Cain and Sarah Jane Morris co-star in a film structured like a "Law & Order" episode, with half the film devoted to his apprehension, and the second half devoted to his unusual trial.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Gosnell" is "cinematically sound, engaging and well-acted," and singles out Earl Billings's performance as "terrifying." But he says at the end, "Gosnell" devolves into "ghoulish sideshow grotesquery" that sullies the film, and clearly undermines any suggestion that it is apolitical or impartial.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer"

Top Photo: Hat Tip Films

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'


Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", a new biopic from director Marielle Heller ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl"). Israel is a real-life celebrity biographer who resorts to forging letters and eventually teams up with an ex-con played by Richard E. Grant ("Logan") to engage in physical acts of theft.

In his review of "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" at IGN, Witney Seibold says Melissa McCarthy "gives one of her best performances," and admires the film's "deep abiding love for poetry and wit," but adds that audiences who are unfamiliar with the subjects of Israel's literary forgeries may find the film "frustratingly opaque."

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" at IGN

Top Photo: Fox Searchlight

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Halloween' (2018)


The long-awaited revival of the iconic "Halloween" slasher series is here! The new film stars Jamie Lee Curtis ("Halloween") as Laurie Strode, who has spent the last 40 years preparing herself for the return of the silent serial killer Michael Myers, and trying to protect her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and her granddaughter Allysion (Andi Matichak). When Myers finally escapes, nobody is prepared for the onslaught of terror... except, of course, for Laurie.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says the new "Halloween" features "glorious style" and "disturbing kills," but suffers from a "hopelessly contrived" storyline and "a forgettable supporting cast."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Halloween" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Universal Pictures

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

William Bibbiani Ranks All The 'Halloween' Movies


The "Halloween" series has been going strong for decades now, despite odd missteps, bizarre plot twists, total retcons and even a completely unrelated installment involving haunted masks. 

In his latest article at The Wrap, William Bibbiani walks you through all twelve of these "Halloween" movies, including the reboots, the weird spin-off and the massively different Producer's Cut of "Halloween 6." 

How does the new "Halloween" retcon stack up against the originals, and those bizarre other entries? Let's find out!

Read: William Bibbiani Ranks All the "Halloween" Movies at The Wrap

Top Photo: Universal Pictures

William Bibbiani Presents The Most Consistent Horror Movie Franchises Ever


It's hard to make one great horror movie, but it's extremely hard to make a whole bunch of relatively decent ones in a row. Some of the best horror movies ever made were followed up by some truly terrible sequels, after all. If you love a franchise you want it to stay good, at least relatively, for as long as possible. And the list of horror movie franchises that pulled off that feat is pretty danged short.

So here that list is!

In his latest article for IGN, William Bibbiani presents his picks for film franchises that never took a major dip in quality, including "Final Destination," "Tremors" and only one of the long-lasting slasher series. Some of these sequels or prequels may be better than others, but they're all pretty darned entertaining, so you don't have to be ashamed of liking the whole series!

Read: William Bibbiani Presents "Horror Movie Franchises That Never Stopped Being Entertaining"

Top Photo: New Line Cinema

Monday, October 15, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #49: The 'Blade' Movies


In 1998, the Marvel superhero movie "Blade" unexpectedly changed the world. A modest action/thriller, combining comic book tropes and horrifying monsters, proved that even the smallest superhero characters had blockbuster potential, kicking off a wave of Marvel comics adaptations which eventually gave birth to the megablockbuster MCU. 

But how well does "Blade" hold up today? And what about its bizarre sequels, "Blade II" (directed by future Oscar winner Guillermo Del Toro) and "Blade Trinity" (co-starring Ryan Reynolds, years before "Green Lantern" or "Deadpool")?

We look back at the whole "Blade" movie franchise in the latest episode of our SCARYTOBER series! We also review the new releases "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween," "Bad Times at the El Royale," "Beautiful Boy," "The Oath," "Apostle" and "22 July!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Where Witney Loses You: Five Films I Like Far Less Than Most Critics


[The following article was sponsored and assigned by our Patreon subscriber Richard Franzwa. To learn how to sponsor and assign articles to William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold for publication at Critically Acclaimed, visit our Patreon page.]

And it is here that I lose you.

No critic agrees with popular opinion 100% of the time. Even with universally beloved films, there are always at least a small handful of dissenters who are earnestly unmoved. When in conversation with their professional peers, some critics will even tactfully obfuscate their dislike of an adored classic in the fear of staring an argument they don't wish to have at that moment. Although if the subject comes up, it will be the critic's duty to explain why they fall on “the wrong side,” as it were, and they will be in the position of getting to talk out why, say, “The Shawshank Redemption” is overrated, or why “The Godfather” might have a fundamental flaw that few recognize (these are mere examples; I personally like the former and love the latter of those films). 

This is the curse of the critic: They must always be honest, even if – especially if – their opinion us unpopular.

Canceled Too Soon #118: 'Dark Shadows' (1991)


"Dark Shadows" is one of the most beloved cult television shows of all time, but if it was a huge success, it wouldn't have needed cult! The supernatural daytime soap opera, about vampires and ghosts and witches and time travel, got a primetime reboot in 1991, featuring such great actors as Ben Cross ("Star Trek"), Joanna Going ("Kingdom"), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Inception"), Barbara Steele ("Black Sunday") and Jean Simmons ("Guys and Dolls").

The big budget version of "Dark Shadows" only lasted one season, which begs the question... was it Canceled Too Soon? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold dip into the shadows and see what jumps out in the latest episode of the show, as our month-long SCARYTOBER event continues!

Give it a listen!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Beautiful Boy'


Oscar nominees Timotheé Chalamet ("Call Me By Your Name") and Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher") co-star in "Beautiful Boy," an adaptation of memoirs by father and son David Sheff and Nic Sheff. It's the story of a writer whose son becomes a drug addict, and the struggles they go through to reconnect with each other, and cope with a life of debilitating drug addiction. Felix Van Groeningen ("The Broken Circle Breakdown") directs, and Maura Tierney ("The Affair") and Amy Ryan ("Birdman") co-star.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani praises all of the actors in "Beautiful Boy," especially Chalamet, who "is operating on another level, channeling James Dean levels of angst." Unfortunately, Bibbiani also says the film as a whole is "a simplistic cautionary tale" and "blunt to a fault."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Beautiful Boy" at IGN

Top Photo: Amazon Studios

Witney Seibold Reviews 'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween'


Slappy the evil ventriloquist's dummy is back, and once again he's bringing R.L. Stine's monstrous creations to life in "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween." The sequel to the 2015 hit family/horror hybrid stars Madison Iseman ("Still the King"), Jeremy Ray Taylor ("It") and Caleel White ("Castle Rock") as teenagers who have to defeat Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) and save Halloween from an invasion of scary creatures.

In his review at IGN, Witney Seibold says "there is a lot to admire" about "Goosebumps 2," but criticizes the film for being "impatient," and rushing past important storytelling elements in order to get to the plot.

Read: Witney Seibold Reviews 'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween' at IGN

Top Photo: Sony

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween'


Slappy the evil ventriloquist's dummy is back, and once again he's bringing R.L. Stine's monstrous creations to life in "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween." The sequel to the 2015 hit family/horror hybrid stars Madison Iseman ("Still the King"), Jeremy Ray Taylor ("It") and Caleel White ("Castle Rock") as teenagers who have to defeat Slappy (voiced by Jack Black) and save Halloween from an invasion of scary creatures.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani calls "Goosebumps 2" a "major step down for this burgeoning franchise," critiquing the film for retracing the steps of the original film, but praising Wendy McLendon-Covey for her supporting performance as the protagonist's mom.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" at The Wrap

Top Photo: Sony

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #48: The 'Scream' Movies


Wes Craven's "Scream" revitalized the entire horror industry in the late 1990s, returning the genre to its box office glory, earning Craven some of the best reviews of his career, and spawning a four film franchise (and tons of imitators). 

It's a series of slasher films about people who know all about slasher films, and it's not just a funny joke; the "Scream" movies are rich in character and subtext and speak volumes about the genre and the people who both make and inhabit these popular stories.

How do the "Scream" movies hold up? William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold delve into the whole series on this week's Critically Acclaimed! They also review the new releases "Venom" and "The Hate U Give!"

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Witney Seibold Dares to Defend 'Venom'


Critics hated "Venom," the standalone superhero movie about Spider-Man's greatest nemesis, starring Tom Hardy as a newspaper reporter who becomes attached to an alien symbiote and eats living lobsters. But audiences have flocked to the film in droves, making it an enormous box office success.

Witney Seibold, film critic though he is, finds himself in the interesting position of defending "Venom" for many of the same reasons why other critics deride it. In his latest editorial at IGN, he praises the film's modest scale, oddball humor and 1990s nostalgia value.

Read: Witney Seibold's "In Defense of Venom"

Top Photo: Sony

Friday, October 5, 2018

William Bibbiani Declares 'Venom is More Interesting Without Spider-Man'


"Venom" is tearing his way through the box office, in a film that many people said would never work without Spider-Man. But although Venom was created to be Spider-Man's arch-nemesis, as a character, his connection to Peter Parker was always holding him back.

In his latest editorial for IGN, William Bibbiani explores how Venom's most interesting qualities have nothing to do with Spider-Man, and argues that he's far more intriguing on his own.

Read: William Bibbiani Says "Venom is More Interesting Than Spider-Man"

Top Photo: Sony

Canceled Too Soon #117: 'Nightmare Classics' (1989)


After the success of Shelley Duvall's award-winning children's series "Faerie Tale Theatre," she produced a short-lived horror anthology called "Nightmare Classics," featuring all-star adaptations of classic gothic tales like "The Turn of the Screw," "Carmilla" and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." It was an ambitious series that aired on Showtime, and then completely vanished from the popular consciousness.

"Nightmare Classics" starred big names like Amy Irving, Balthazar Getty, David Hemmings, Ione Sky, Meg Tilly, Roddy McDowall, Laura Dern, Rue MacClanahan, C. Thomas Howell, John Stockwell and Daphne Zuniga, and yet nobody ever talks about it. Is there a reason? Or could it be that "Nightmare Classics" was... Canceled Too Soon?

You'll find out in this all-new episode of the Canceled Too Soon podcast, hosted by film critics William Bibbiani and Witney Seibold! And stick around, because we've got more terrifying failed TV shows all this month, in an event we call SCARYTOBER!


Thursday, October 4, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'The Hate U Give'


Amandla Stenberg ("The Darkest Minds") stars in "The Hate U Give," an adaptation of the bestselling YA novel by Angie Thomas, as Starr, a teenager who lives two different lives. In her home life she's a member of a low-income black community, but at school she fits into an affluent white social class. Those two worlds come crashing together when Starr witnesses the murder of an innocent, unarmed childhood friend by a white police officer, forcing her to decide who she really is and what actions to take.

In his review at IGN, William Bibbiani describes "The Hate U Give" as "a story that's epic in theme, intimate in character, and which translates powerfully to the big screen," and says the film "may one day be required viewing for adolescents."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "The Hate U Give" at IGN

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox

Monday, October 1, 2018

Critically Acclaimed #47: The Universal Frankenstein Movies


Scarytober begins with the latest episode of Critically Acclaimed! This week we're reviewing all of the original, classic Universal Frankenstein movies, including the ones everyone love and the ones nobody watches anymore. Are they still horror classics, and what do they have to teach us about the way movies work now? 

Plus, we've got reviews of the new releases "Hell Fest," "The Old Man & the Gun," "Monsters and Men" and "All About Nina!"

Joining us this week is special guest M. Lopes da Silva, a writer and illustrator whose latest short story, "Seams," appears the new book "NightScript: Volume IV." You can also find her work in "Glass and Gardens: A Solarpunk Anthology," "The Dog Next Door and Other Disturbances," and many other fine publications!

Give it a listen at Podcast One!


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Canceled Too Soon #116: 'The Mayor' (2017)


What happens when an entertainer runs for public office as a publicity stunt, and accidentally wins the election? You'll find out in... real life, actually, but you'll also find out in "The Mayor," a sitcom starring Brandon Micheal Hall as a hip hop artist who gets a crash course in civics when he unintentionally embarks on a career in politics.

"The Mayor" is an optimistic show about the practicalities of local politics, a quality that may be encouraging but hardly salacious enough to build a big audience. But with a great cast including Yvette Nicole Brown ("Community"), Lea Michele ("Glee") and David Spade (who is David Spade), is it possible that this one-season wonder was... Canceled Too Soon?

Listen to the episode to find out, in the last episode of our "Suddenly, Last Season" theme month. Sick around, because SCARYTOBER is about to begin!


Friday, September 28, 2018

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Hell Fest'


In "Hell Fest," a serial killer runs loose in a Halloween-themed amusement park, killing whoever he wants in front of tourists who think it's all part of the show. It's a new slasher movie from director Gregory Plotkin ("Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension"), starring Amy Forsyth ("Channel Zero"), Reign Edwards ("MacGyver") and Bex Taylor-Klaus ("Scream: The TV Series") as college students whose night of faux-horror revelry gets interrupted by actual horror.

In his review of "Hell Fest" at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says the film "captures all the fun and excitement of wandering aimlessly through an amusement park with boring people you don't like," and critiques nearly everything about the film, except for Bex Taylor-Klaus, a.k.a. "the only member of the cast who can muster up any energy."

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Hell Fest" at The Wrap

Top Photo: CBS Films

William Bibbiani Reviews 'Bad Times at the El Royale'


Writer/Director Drew Goddard ("The Cabin in the Woods") returns with the elaborate crime comedy "Bad Times at the El Royale," starring Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Cynthia Erivo as mysterious strangers whose paths and pulpy storylines converge when they all spend the same night as a kitschy border hotel.

In his review at The Wrap, William Bibbiani says "Bad Times at the El Royale" is "a heck of a lot of fun to watch, but it runs through its bag of tricks too soon," arguing that the film's mysteries are more interesting than their solutions.

Read: William Bibbiani Reviews "Bad Times at the El Royale" at The Wrap

Top Photo: 20th Century Fox