Junkfood Cinema

Junkfood Cinema Podcast

Junkfood Cinema. You’ve heard plenty of cyber banter on the “true classics,” on what’s popular in film now, and about projections for movies yet-to-come. Junkfood Cinema is a shame-free celebration of those films that have managed to slip through the cracks of time; the lost children of the medium.

These are films relegated to mainstream obscurity, and most even erroneously dubbed as “terrible.” To ravenous genre consumers like Brian Salisbury and screenwriter/novelist C. Robert Cargill, there is nothing more satisfying than gorging on cult and exploitation gems with the mad gluttony of a pre-dawn fourth meal.

Stay Tuned

It’s not often that movies find themselves double-covered for Junkfood Cinema, but that’s largely because we reserve double-coverage for our fudge-dipped Oreos…that we then dip in fudge…and then in rainbow cake frosting. Triple-double-covered Oreos notwithstanding, there are certain titles, such as 1992′s Stay Tuned, whose importance to the medium of film cannot be adequately communicated with just one paltry article. Or just one poultry article for that matter, so prepare your palates for a second helping of those delicious Chicken Corn (f)Ritters. Peter Hyams’ hellevision meta comedy may seem at arms length with contemporary audiences, but in fact it has a great deal in common with a recent meta horror film. You know, like even more than the word meta. It took a recent screening of a 35mm print to finally cement it, but Stay Tuned and The Cabin in the Woods boast some bizarre similarities. That’s not to say Cabin writers Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard borrowed from Stay Tuned, nor am I even suggesting that they’ve seen Stay Tuned, but at the very least the two movies are kindred enough as to belong on the same channel.

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jfc fast furious

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; we live our lives a quarter-pounder at a time. Speaking of, did you know that the word “franchise” isn’t always preceded by the words “fast food?” I know, we were just as shocked as you are. It appears it can also be used to refer to the collective sequels of a movie. Sometimes these sequels are fantastic, such as Friday the 13th VI, and sometimes they are just plain awful, such as…admittedly large chunks of Friday the 13th VI. However, the best franchises are those that are able to pull us into their individual universes to the point that we eagerly await each new entry regardless of he absurdity of its ever-rising titular numeral. Take for example, the Fast & Furious films; those drag-racing men in their driving machines (or how we flew from reason to crashing through cargo planes in six movies). It started out as an innocent remake of Point Break, with souped-up hot rods substituted for surfboards and Paul Walker‘s nonexistent charisma substituted for Keanu Reeves’ nonexistent charisma. However, the films have fastly and furiously become experiments in mayhem and extreme sports, if extreme stupidity is an extreme sport. For this reason, and the tractor-beam-like attraction of Vin Diesel‘s uni-muscle body composition, our initial apathy toward this franchise has morphed slowly into unhealthy petulant sense of ownership of that universe. At this point, The Fast & the Furious is our beloved annual-to-semi-annual visitor; a friendly second-cousin who happens to be equipped with […]

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The Happening

Like any other type of art, the distinctions between good movies and bad movie are subjective. After all, one man’s nigh unwatchable stinkburger is one internet column’s entire reason for being; our two sugary scoops of raison d’être, if you will.  And then there are those bad movies which only become bad when people commit the heinous offense of…looking at them. Take for example M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. No, seriously, take it. Take it far far away from us. Shyamalan is a filmmaker known for his tricky third-act twists, and The Happening is no exception. Of course, the twist in The Happening was that Shyamalan’s brain was slowly leaking out of his ear canals the entire time he was directing; the leak caused by a direct smack on the head with the proverbial coo coo stick. Since The Happening’s release, film pundits and those who don’t use words like pundit alike have been scratching their heads in a mixture of wonderment and disgust. Disgusterment. The prevailing question, for lack of a better writer hired to pen this column, was what happened with The Happening? During a recent conversation/bacon-ingestion with my good friend, and confirmed snarkplug, Will Goss of Film.com, the overly stilted nature of The Happening’s dialogue was dissected. We began to wonder if perhaps the biggest problem with The Happening was merely the medium in which it was exhibited. In other words, was the film suffering from the fact that it was a film?

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90s superhero teamup

Superhero cinema is experiencing a boom, a resurgence that began right around the turn of the new century. Cape-and-cowl movies haven’t just been legitimized, they are now parlaying their popularity into expanding their mythologies and crafting interconnected on-screen universes. Suffice to say, their foothold on multiplex prominence is sturdy. But it was not always so. Prior to Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man, unless your hero moniker rhymed with Scatcan or Schmooperman, it was unlikely you would get your own theatrical franchise. And even those two tentpole heroes experienced a falling-off and an eventual total lack of quality. Superman was forced to fight Nuclear Man and Joel Schumacher did his very best to further The Dearth Plight. Pursuant to a 1990s kick that which we inexplicably find ourselves on here at Junkfood Cinema (and seriously if any of you happen to know the cure for a bad case of the blands, let us know), we thought we’d take a look at some of the smaller, darker heroes that cropped up like weeds during this strange filmic era. More specifically, we’re going to be examining an important moment in made-up film history. Long before Joss Whedon put together his blockbuster adaptation of The Avengers, an attempt was made by some of the characters from ’90s superhero films to form their own team. According to the New England Journal of Shut-Up-and-Use-Your-Imagination, this attempt failed…miserably. Luckily, we’re bored enough to envision a stenographer on hand for this momentous occasion that unfolded entirely in our heads. Here […]

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predator2

Film critics of a certain age, i.e. the age that I am aged, tend to overly-romanticize the 1980s. This often manifests in gushy, hyperbole-laden love letters masquerading as objective discourse. To be fair, that is probably because the 80s rule and the human race has never created anything better and never will, oh my God. The firing of spastic, rose-colored synapses aside, for those of us cursed with this affinity, the coming of the 90s carried a certain apocalyptic vibe. Or at least, that’s how it seems when tempered by the great equalizer that is hindsight. In other words, revisiting films on the fringe of that most glorious decade becomes a rather somber affair. Oddly enough, there are some films that seem to be cognizant of this great changeover. When viewing certain titles from 1990, there appears a bizarre nod to the dramatic end of an era. This is more than mere temporal proximity, it’s as if the overall decline, with a few exceptions, of genre film in the 90s was foretold to these films — not the filmmakers necessarily but the films as sentient entities. Here are the movies from 1990 that represent the last gasp of 80s filmmaking.

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GI Joe Retaliation

Let’s face it, bad guys get a bad rap. While people are pinning medals on the heroes just before the credits roll, somewhere across the galaxy, someone is writing hundreds of thousands of condolence notices on Death Star letterhead. Nobody ever tries to look at things from the villain’s perspective. That’s what was so great about Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, it recast bad guys in a pragmatic light. That and of course the renewed interest in Q*Bert that it engendered. Sometimes assignment to either side of the blurry line between good and evil becomes little more than a question of employment. This week, a certain blockbuster film hit theaters…and it hit with an agenda. Sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation continues the slander campaign begun by its 2009 predecessor against the hardworking men and women of Cobra. As much as this propaganda-filled action diatribe was aimed at painting Cobra as the most evil organization on the planet, the faulty execution of G.I. Joe Retaliation’s narrative inadvertently offers several compelling reasons why we should be swearing our allegiance to this supposed confederacy of megalomaniac scum. Here’s why you should be rooting for Cobra, and not G.I. Joe. Fair warning, there will be Retaliation spoilers ahead.

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MegaStill40912

It happens all too frequently. You go to a movie building, pay your eleventeen-hundred dollars for tickets and concessions, and you sit through a movie bearing a title comprised of a single cryptic noun. Scourge, or Continuum, or Memorandum. These inherently enticing titles were the reason you ponied up the admission price in the first place, but you leave feeling disappointed that the movie doesn’t live up to the nebulous expectations such an indeterminate title engendered. Frankly, we’ve been both flimmed and flammed by these deceptive marketing smokescreens for too long. What we need are more movies that adhere to stricter standards of transparency. Movies are consumable products after all, so misleading people with obfuscating titles constitutes an affront to truth in advertising. We need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on a Plane and Surf Ninjas. These are pretense-free film titles that allow you to make a more informed choice in your b-movie viewing. Really, we need more movies like Robocop, Snakes on Plane and Surf Ninjas just for the sake of general planetary betterment, but more specifically because they are upfront and honest with what they are selling. At this year’s SXSW, a listing can be found among the Midnighter slate for Big Ass Spider. The movie is about… that thing that it says its about. No matter how you may feel about the quality of this film, you can never fault the filmmakers for not delivering on their promises. In an effort to encourage all future filmmakers to be more forthcoming, […]

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Moonwalker

Here at Junkfood Cinema, we don’t often get “heavy,” as the kids say. By the way, the kids who say that are now very old people. It’s not that we shy away from the more serious aspects of life, it’s just that jokes tend to be our bread and butter; cookie bread and handfuls of butter-creme frosting respectively. However, there are moments when filmic oddities, those written off by most, offer startling new context upon revisit that, though categorically unfunny, deserve contemplation. These moments canonize what it is we love about the discarded, the forgotten, and the schlocktastic. In the cast of this week’s entry, we elevate our trivial hobby to an issue of life and death. And moonwalking. In 1988, there arrived on this planet a strange spectacle. It was called Moonwalker, and it was a…film?…starring the most famous person on the planet. The late pop icon Michael Jackson headlined just his second feature-length movie–again using the word lightly– since 1978′s The Wiz. Moonwalker begins with concert footage of Jacko performing “Man in the Mirror.” It’s ironic that a song about redefining one’s identity opens a film with no discernible clue as to what it wants to be. What follows is a montage of clips from his music videos as well as fan-made visual interpretative flourishes. Some of these are impressive, if creepy (the claymation accompaniment to “ABC” reminding us that before The Jackson Five, Michael and his brothers were somehow The California Raisins), while others are awful, if […]

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Star Wars

Traditionally, February is known as Blaxploitation History Month here at Junkfood Cinema. Of course, “traditionally” a “decent person” “puts on pants before leaving the house” and “doesn’t touch communal buffet food with his bare feet,” so we are far from averse to bucking tradition. To wit, you might call today’s Blaxploitation History Month entry more of an investigation of blaxploitation alternate history. One of the most interesting facets of this short-lived subgenre of film is how it appropriated, and left its unmistakable mark on, several existing popular films and styles of film. We therefore had blaxploitation Westerns, blaxploitation horror, blaxploitation spy films, and even blaxploitation versions of movies like The Defiant Ones, courtesy of a young Jonathan Demme, and…the Warren Beatty comedy Shampoo, courtesy of what I have to assume was a dare. But what about sci-fi? Apart from an exceedingly small smattering of titles, one of which is about a white man and a black man whose heads are sewn onto the same body (so, there’s that), blaxploitation did not venture into sci-fi territory. This is likely because blaxploitation films often operated on very limited means, and science-fiction tends to necessitate a larger budget than, say, a crime story. That’s not to say shoestring-budget sci-fi isn’t obtainable, but it may have been the concern over the potential production price tag that kept filmmakers in this subgenre from attempting the blaxploitation/science-fiction mash-up. This, unfortunately, deprived us all of what should have been the greatest cinematic accomplishment of the 20th century: […]

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Unbreakable Die Hard Sequel

Action heroes, or more accurately the stars who play them, are not often credited as being endowed of great intelligence. In fact, they are more likely relegated to the less distinguished, but no less scientific category of dummy dumb dumbheads. And yet, scratch the surface of the career of each of the biggest, beefheadiest action stars and you will find, in addition to giant foreheads and a shocking dearth of necks, at least one self-aware introspection masquerading as a movie. It would appear that not being able to spell “existential crisis” does not preclude one from suffering one. These aren’t necessarily brilliant deconstructions, in fact they are usually somewhat clever with plenty of destruction. Regardless, it is an interesting trend to note and often amounts to some very underrated fare from our meta muscleheads. In one specific instance however, an action hero’s meta movie can be so meta as to conceal its true identity as such. Could it be that the greatest twist Shyamalan ever pulled was convincing the world it didn’t exist? We’ll get to the inarguable meta connection between Unbreakable and Die Hard shortly, but first, to understand this connection, it’s important to identify the inner-directed titles of our most elusive hero’s contemporaries.

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bucket-of-blood

It has been the common self-effacing jab around the Junkfood Cinema lab that the canon of movies we feature and love are indicative of our total lack of taste. Of late however, the idea of a person stricken with a total absence of taste has seemed more and more a self-contradicting paradox. Taste is a wholly subjective construct as idiosyncratic as a fingerprint. It is a function of synaptic response. Our brains all see the same images, but how we perceive them on a critical thinking level is informed by our experiences and our individual archetypes for quality art. Therefore the only way for a person to indeed harbor no film taste whatsoever would be to never have watched a single one. You may take issue with the films a friend chooses to watch, but the very fact that they have a preference for those films precludes the idea that they have no taste. Such musing brings us naturally to A Bucket of Blood; in much the same way the Disney Monorail brings one naturally to Beirut. But kindly replace your necks to the un-whiplashed position and allow me to explain. A Bucket of Blood is a 1959 horror film from b-movie maverick Roger Corman. Corman is a name revered by some, reviled by others, and, sadly, unknown by most. The bulk of his catalog is typically written off as exploitation junk; white noise in the din of cheap cinema. His movies are to be appreciated only ironically, lest resurface […]

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Space Jam

In the game of bad movie coverage, we are poised on the same lofty levels of excellence as either the 1975 Washington Capitals or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back when they had those supposedly heterosexual tangerine uniforms with the smiling pirate on the helmets. Every week, Junkfood Cinema brings you the best of the worst of the best movies ever made; exposing their faults and cackling like insane toddlers at their dense layers of absurdity. We really do love these films, and that fact of remains despite the mockery, and despite our therapist taking the controversial tact of encouraging us to repress our feelings. To reward you, the unsuspecting reader, for eye-prancing all the way to the end of the article, we will top things off with a sinfully tasty snack themed to the movie. All that being said, today’s piece is different. It will not focus on a bad movie, but instead defend one improperly relegated as such. This article is fraught with anger, fraught I tell you! Today’s film is one most maligned by foolish plebes; those too bereft of wisdom to recognize its brilliance. This is a film that transcends the dubious confines of its genre and operates on a more didactic level vis-a-vis the human condition and societal mores. A film whose roots are embedded in the history of film itself and one that harkens back to some of cinema’s greatest achievements. I’m speaking of course of Space Jam.

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2012year_jfc

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; eat it, Mayans! Eat it with cheese! Yes, despite our best efforts, we’ve managed to survive another year and therefore it is once again time, in clear defiance of your best interest or our lawyer’s behests, for the Junkfood Cinema Awards. This year’s Junkies marks the third anniversary…of Film School Rejects’ editors proving monumentally lax in their duties. This year, we’ve rolled up our sleeves (because of the gravy stains) and dug deep into our own 2012  archives to craft a host of new and exciting (read: meaningless) categories for which let’s face it, there could only really have been one winner. And the winners are… …not going to like being associated with this column.

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junkfood_christmas

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; there arose such a taco platter. This is the broad-faced, round-bellied bad movie column that mines the lustre of greatness from schlock of even the dimmest merit. We tear open the stinker, throw up its faults, but in those wildly flaunted faults we find a bundle of enjoyment. As if that weren’t enough for all our readers on the nice list, or the naughty list (let’s face it), we then pair the movie with a unseasonably fattening snack food item guaranteed to eventually make you shake when you laugh at our terrible puns. If ever there were a holiday film worthy of being called ho-ho-horrible, it’s the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. Instead of lamenting on and on about the innumerable woes of this holly jolly abortion, which would require several ticks off your sadvent calendar, it seemed more appropriate to gather everyone around the fire place, as the sugar cookie Pop Tarts roast away, and read you the classic story Twas The Night Of The Star Wars Holiday Special by Verily Ann Author. This is a real book that really exists for good and true but don’t look it up because that’s mean.

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Junkfood Christmas Movies

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; a real kick to the chestnuts. This is the most offensively festive (offestive?) bad movie column on the dingy, loosely strung tinsel garland of the internet. Every week we stumble drunkenly into Schlocka Claus’ stable and mock the lamest reindeer. You know, the one with the red nose…who is also a terrible movie. We should add “a grasp of figurative language” to our Christmas wish list. The absurd means by which we lampoon these absurd movies is made even more absurdly absurd by our synonym-for-absurd love for these movies. When we’re done examining this wildly conflicting relationship, moreso even than the one we have with bacon-wrapped sugarplums, we will offer you, the masochistic reader, a snack food themed to the movie in question. This week, we’ve reached deep into our sack and pulled out something truly naughty. We will now wait while you bleach from your mind the resulting image of that unfortunate phrasing. Vomited? Back? Good. Today’s Christmas offering is so bad, it’s practically its own Grinch. I’m speaking of course about the legendary, two-sizes-too-huge flop that is Santa Claus: The Movie. It’s essentially an origin story for Kris Kringle; Fatman Begins if you will, Silent Knight Rises even if you won’t. It is a titan of terrible, a colossus of crap…the sultan of suck. Wait, is it about Babe Ruth? No. No, definitely Santa Claus. What we’re getting at is, we don’t think you’re ready for this bowl full of jelly. Inspired by […]

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Junkfood Christmas Movies

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; giving fruit cake is tantamount to treason. It’s that time of year again, when we put on ugly sweaters, drunkenly sing carols off-key, and forget how much we hate Aunt Bagatha. What? Who doesn’t have an Aunt Bagatha? For all of me here at Junkfood Cinema, Christmas is a time to suck down as many festively-shaped sugar cookies and assorted pies as humanly possible before slipping into the firm embrace of a ho ho heart attack. And of course, I give myself the gift that keeps on giving: a giant stack of my favorite holiday movies. These movies are often, as you might expect,  terrible, but every once in a while a highly-regarded classic slips in. When this oversight occurs, my baser impulses, the ones that account for my DiMaggio-like twenty-eight year streak as a resident of Santa’s naughty list, take over. I begin to image ways to corrupt said classic films and stuff them back in your stocking as twice-baked/half-baked/bake-me-something-right-now-I’m-hungry treats. Today’s subject, or rather subjects, offer a particularly easy corruption. Director Bob Clark is renowned for making one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time: A Christmas Story. It is a movie so adored that some TV stations actually showcase it in 24hr rotation on Christmas Eve. Luckily, A Christmas Story is quality enough that we overlook the fact that the one and only movie that should EVER be played on TV in 24hr rotation is Raw Deal. What some people […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema. What we do here, besides significantly skew the national cholesterol averages, is to blur the line between the worlds of bad movies and worse food. Like junk food, we recognize the lack of substantial value in these movies as far as film school dieticians are concerned, but we will still happily and lovingly scarf down box after box of sweet, frosted VHS tape… (Our metaphors have mixed like as similes allusion parable — sorry, third sugar stroke today). Where this approach becomes fuzzy, like gravy-left-on-the-counter-for-eight-days fuzzy, is when a bad restaurant is at the center of a bad movie. As devoid of taste as either the restaurant or movie (or both) may be, we can’t help but find ourselves wishing we could slip the surly bonds of reality and cross through the screen. We also wish the bonds of Fazoli’s hours of operation weren’t so surly, to say nothing of its night security guard. Such is the case with Nickelodeon’s 1997 fatsterpiece Good Burger. It began life as a sketch on the comedy/variety show All That, and then someone decided this marvel of noncomedy was worthy of a filmic adaptation. I guess that sketch where Amanda Bynes screams at people didn’t quite have the legs as did a sketch that boldly draws attention to the … ineptitude of fast food employees. Inspired by a recent article in the New York Times, in which restaurant reviewer Pete Wells eviscerates Guy Fieri’s Times Square cafe by simply […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Listen up, junknuts. Normally we’d coddle you and explain how things work around here. But dammit man, there isn’t time for that today. Blah blah blah comparing bad movies to junk food until we’re stupid fat; stupid and/or fat. We have been presented with a crisis unparallelled in the history of humankind. I am choking back very real tears as I write this. Hostess, the purveyor of the only things that matter on this planet, has been forced out of business by a striking bakers union. The panic level here at Junkfood Cinema has not been this elevated since Oops! All Berries cereal had us convinced that the delicate balance of Captain Crunch had been irrevocably upended. You may laugh, but this is almost precisely kind of what the Mayans predicted and further emphasizes that the world totally might end in December. Now, I’m not an expert on labor laws or corporate litigation, but I am chubby and paranoid. Therefore, I have arrived at the only reasonable conclusion that we have entered the second Prohibition and somehow also Hostess will soon be our currency. As these delicious cakes are now illegal (that’s what they said, right?), we must find ways to smuggle them into our mouths using (shudder) substantial normie food. We have therefore entered the Junkfood Cinema alternate universe in which the food is the focus. In this universe, we select movie pairings to the food. We have come up with culinary disguises for some of our favorite Hostess […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; home of Her Majesty’s Secret Sauce. This is the movie column with the license to grill…terrible movies. We fry everything else. Every week we moon-rake a bad movie over the coals, shaking it, stirring it, and a third Bond pun as well. We mock the living daylights out it, but just when it seems we have a view to a kill, we offer the movie a quantum of solace in the fact that we actually do harbor an affection for it. At the end, as we’ve never been a proponent of the idea of live and let diet, we serve up a disgustingly delicious snack food themed to the movie and sure to add a few double chins to those double-0 agents. One of the problems with being a diehard fan of the James Bond franchise, is that it’s impossible to then be a JamesBond fan of the Die Hard franchise. Wait, no, that’s not what I was going to say. The real problem is that your fandom often prevents you from avoiding some of the series’ worst entries even though you really ought to. Sure, Skyfall was tremendous, but does that mean I can finally resign myself to never again watch Die Another Day? No, it’ll still be there, impossible to resist; like a burn at the roof of your mouth that you can’t stop tonguing while watching Die Another Day. It’s so bad, that I’ve actually had to come up with new methods […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the only thing tricky about our treats is getting to them before we do. This is the scariest movie column on the internet. It combines the horror of watching terrible movies with every child’s worst nightmare: heart disease. Every witch-filled week we are haunted by a terrifyingly bad film that we manage to exorcise from the house by mocking its many ghastly faults. Then, because we don’t speak ill of the dead…when they’re in the room, we profess our undying affection for said abomination. Lately, we’ve been going the more conceptual route, which is frightening in and of itself considering the unsettling dearth of smarts in our skeleton crew. However, knocking on the door of Junkfood Cinema will always yield a delicious, if sure-to-kill-you-slowly, snack themed to the movie. Happy Junkfoodween, bats and ghouls! This is our absolute favorite holiday of the year. While we know many of you may be conflicted and not wish to choose Halloween over that other big holiday at the end of the year, we have no compunction about telling Guy Fawkes Day to take a flying fawk. This is the time of year when adults are allowed to be children again…wild, boozed up, scantily clad children. Okay, well maybe not children, but at least more inclined to indulge their love of things like candy, scary movies, and dressing up in costumes. This tradition is not lost on the horror genre and even the schlockiest of titles often feature Halloween […]

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