The Big Question is a semi-regular outing where multiple Daily Grindhouse contributors and friends offer their answers to some burning question. The results…may surprise you.
This week’s big question is…
What is your Film/Genre/Pop Culture-related New Year’s Resolution?
As 2020 begins, do you have any resolutions that are related to any topics we cover here on Daily Grindhouse? Maybe watch more films from a certain country or time period. Or learn more about a particular filmmaker. Perhaps study certain technical aspects of filmmaking or F/X. Or dive into a TV show, read a specific book series, log in to Letterboxd more, track down some VHS or poster, etc. Do you have any genre/film/pop culture related New Year’s Resolutions for 2020? And if so, what are they?
Paul Freitag-Fey — Stop stressing out about seeing stuff
Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to see everyone’s “Best of the Year” (and even “Best of the Decade”) lists pop up, filled with plenty of movies, TV shows, and books that I’ve honestly, really and truly, intended to get to. So much of the last few weeks have been spent reacting to those lists, not by watching things, but by stressing out about not having time to watch them and come up with my own “Top 10” list that seems even mildly valid. But it’s the holiday season, I have a toddler, and I just don’t get the same time opportunities to participate in media consumption the same way that others would.
Fortunately, I’ve come to the realization that it doesn’t really matter. I can participate in the media discourse I want at the pace I want, and if I don’t get the chance to see ATLANTICS or DIAMANTINO or PAIN AND GLORY or BLISS before December 31, there’s not some magical alarm that goes off and accuses me of being a fake movie fan. And if my minimal opportunity to sit at home and watch a movie leads to me throwing on SPELLCASTER or something for the eightieth time because I know I’ll just fall asleep to it as a comforting reminder of doing the same on the family couch when it was on Cinemax, that’s fine too.
There’s plenty of good stuff out there, and plenty of reliable comfort media as well (and sometimes the paths cross!), and you’ve got to take the time you have to take in what you need at that time. It’s something I’ve realized before, of course, but the end of the year always seems to put a point on it.
Mary Beth McAndrews — Watch more horror classics
As a young horror fan, I was naive to believe that old horror wasn’t worth watching. I sought out indie releases of the ’00s on sketchy sites instead of delving into the history of a genre that has become so important to me. While I have learned better in the past decade, I am still so behind on horror classics ranging from the 1910s to even slashers from the 1980s.
I get so wrapped up in trying to keep up with what comes out each year that I forget about my ever-growing watchlist. In 2020, I want to dig into those holes in my viewing history and truly appreciate the films that have shaped horror. Essentially I’m hoping to better round out my knowledge of the genre and hopefully better inform any future writing!
Some of the films on my list are ERASERHEAD (1977), EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960), CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962), NOSFERATU (1922), REPULSION (1965), THE FLY (1986), and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981). Please feel free to shame me, I know I am behind, but I am willing to admit it!
Andrew Belonsky — Make Way for Terry Pratchett!
I can’t say for sure I’ll accomplish this goal in 2020, but I’ll give it an earnest whirl: read at least one of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. I’m not typically a fantasy reader, but they come highly recommended, and Pratchett clearly had a rhythm — 41 novels and counting! — so I guess it’s time to see what the fuss is about? And, hey, they way things are going, I imagine many of us could use a bit more fantasy in our lives…
Jay Alary — Stop the Insanity of Buying Blu-rays and Never Watching Them!
My goal for 2020 might seem a bit controversial to fellow cinephiles: I want to reduce the amount of Blu-rays I buy in the new year. Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not advocating for the demise of physical media and the many outstanding boutique labels catering to cinephiles. I own over 1000 Blu-rays (and a significant number of DVDs), but instead of adding to a growing stack of unopened discs, I want to delve deeper into my film library and actually watch them!
I have a significant number of Blu-rays that sit on shelves unwatched, so it’s time for a change—what good is building a film collection if one doesn’t watch it? I’m not vain—I don’t sit and stare at my collection with self-satisfaction or show it off to visiting friends; I built up a varied collection of films I can enjoy without relying on streaming sites’ fleeting offerings.
There are many films and Blu-ray sets I own that I want to watch in 2020, but here are a few: the Criterion Collection represents a sizeable portion of my collection, yet I struggle to recall the last time I watched one of their discs. I’d like to revisit some of their fine releases, from ARMY OF SHADOWS to ZATOICHI. Arrow’s AMERICAN HORROR PROJECT VOLUMES 1 and 2 are thoughtful and curated American horror classics from Nightmare USA author Stephen Thrower, but I’ve only watched THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA; I’m going to watch all the films.
Universal’s massive Alfred Hitchcock set contains classics I haven’t seen in years. I’m not saying I don’t plan on buying any Blu-rays in 2020, but the money I save will be allocated to planned trips with my significant other (hello Portland, Seattle, and Austin!). My “disc” diet will be a success!
Samantha Schorsch — Get back into my horror fiction roots
Long before my sleepy horror journalism life took off, I started with horror short stories, short films, a novel that is actually on draft three currently. But as I got more worried about jobs after Grad School ended, I pushed the fiction out onto the back burner as far as writing and reading it are concerned. Instead I focused on more journalistic approaches and learning styles that were easier to blend with my horror needs on a wider scale.
Not to say this was a bad call. It has lead me here, of course, and I am quite happy; but I do miss my spooky campfire stories and my hours searching Google for the most heinous I Am Definitely On Some Sort Of List shit like if you can make cosmetic grade products out of human fat and how long will someone be awake when you ice pick skin their face before they go into shock (both the backbones for two of my favorite short works in college).
In 2020, I want to get back into the kind of writing that I sprouted from in the first place, at least casually, and if I can: FINISH MY FUCKING HORROR NOVEL FINAL DRAFT IT’S BEEN LIKE 4 YEARS!
Bill Bria — Watch the PLANET OF THE APES series
Everyone has blind spots in pop culture, and most of those tend to be due to a lack of interest—if you’re not into wizards, you probably won’t ever get around to Harry Potter, and so on. Some of them, though, are more due to a lack of time, and in my case that’s the category where the PLANET OF THE APES series falls. I first saw the original 1968 film decades ago as a kid, and I remember really digging it, enough to read about the subsequent sequels.
However, home video rentals still being very much the norm in those days, I had a slew of other films that took priority. When the much-loved “Caesar” trilogy began with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES at the beginning of this decade, my interest in the series piqued again, yet I still couldn’t get around to catching up with them in time.
Finally, I resolved to wait until a new boxed set of the entire APES saga would inevitably be released, and indeed it was in 2018, for the first film’s 50th anniversary. And, happily, I received it for a Christmas present—last Christmas, I might add. In 2020, I hope to finally dig into these films that some of my best friends have lovingly pestered me to watch over the years.
If I’m lucky (and/or persistent), I might even find a way to watch the obscure (and possibly out of print) Planet Of The Apes live action and animated TV shows. Just like spaceman Charlton Heston (I forget his character’s name, one reason why I need to see the original again), I hope I don’t once again run out of time.
Jeremy Lowe — I WANT TO BE FAMOUS
Most of my life, I’ve had a need or desire to be famous. Whether it was a want to be in a line of work that would fulfill this, such as a rock star, actor, director, or something more easily attainable like be known for my wit or fashion.
Between the ages of 16 to 40 I’d been in multiple punk rock bands. I always said that if people paid for a show, damn it…I’m gonna give them a show. Much like Dawn Davenport (Divine) in the 1974 John Waters classic FEMALE TROUBLE, I didn’t care how outrageous I had to be, just as long as people know who I was.
Now that I’m a little bit older, and a little more tired, I just don’t have the energy to be shocking. I wish it was as easy as it was for Sarah (Alex Essoe) in 2014’s STARRY EYES and just inadvertently sell my soul to Satan in exchange for a successful career in Hollywood. I’ve never been much of a thief or a shit kicker, but I want to be famous, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there. 2020 will be the year of the big dirty Daddy Germ Ripper queer punk comedy.
Stephanie Crawford — Log everything and watch more international horror films
My goals are incredibly simple, but I’m pretty excited to get to them all the same. Last year I resolved to use Letterboxd for every film I watched, and I did! For 2020, I want to actually review/blurb/one-sentence-that’s-hopefully-pithy each film. I don’t have the greatest memory, sadly, and I watch hundreds of films every year, so helping that out along with keeping that little writing and critique muscle active in a small way will be good for my shabby brain. I hope!
I’m also going to do a “favorites” list for each month because making the annual ones every December is brutal on that second-rate memory I was telling you about.
This year I was lucky enough to see some incredible genre films from around the world on both the big and small screens, including some from countries with film industries so minuscule that I’ve never seen one filmed there before. It’s been fun, moving, and illuminating, and I want to pursue that further and watch not only more cinema from around the world, but I also want to seek out a wider variety of countries than the usual suspects I tend to automatically seek out.
There are so many different cultural lenses horror and science fiction are interpreted through that it seems like a total waste to not seek that out as much as I possibly can.
Brett Gallman — Revisit Old Favorites More Often
For the past decade or so, I’ve prioritized seeking out new experiences over revisiting old favorites ad nauseum, with the thinking being that there’s so many movies and so little time. Do I really need to watch something like FRIDAY THE 13th PART VI for the hundredth time when there are so many classics still yet to see? It turns out that, yes, there is more room for that kind of comfort food.
After watching the entire NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET series in order for the first time in a while last year, I was reminded just how rewarding and comforting it can be to indulge old favorites, no matter how many times I’ve seen them, or no matter how many unseen movies are lurking in my home, mocking me from beneath their shrink-wrap for the folly of even buying them when there’s little time and even fewer space for them.
Besides, there’s something somewhat freeing about watching a movie without the burden of expectations or the relative pressure of being a “good movie lover” who feels compelled to watch everything, as if we’re all running down some universal syllabus. Movies are supposed to be fun, and few things are more fun than sitting down with an old, familiar friend and reminiscing about old times.
John Rieber — Celebrating 52 Cult Movie Queens!
I have a blog under my own name as well as a second one called JR-Sploitation! where I focus on cult and exploitation film from the 60-80’s, with a few modern ones like REVENGE and ROBOGEISHA as well. In October, I counted down 31 “Cult Horror Queens” like Ingrid Pitt and Barbara Steele, plus lesser-known Actresses like Lenka Novak….I have also posted retrospectives of actresses like Margaret Markov—the WHITE MAMA to Pam Grier’s BLACK MAMA.
My goal for 2020 is to feature one “Cult Movie Queen” per week – looking for neglected actresses who were in some of exploitation cinema’s wildest films. As others have noted, companies like Vinegar Syndrome and Severin continue to unearth classic cult movie gems, and by focusing on the actresses, I can also bring attention to these remastered films when they are released. As everyone else here knows, there is a sub-culture of cinema that deserves more attention: when cult gems like THE CANDY SNATCHERS are remastered and re-released, film buffs rejoice. I am trying to add to that with a more in depth look at the stars of these films as well.
The era of Grindhouse cinema was a watershed for film: censorship went away, boundaries were pushed, and some incredible filmmakers got their start in the genre; some never left it. Since I covered such stars as Yutte Stensgaard and Dyanne Thorne already, I will dig even deeper into the archives of cult cinema…you can follow along on the site if you like. Also, I am on Twitter—leave me comments/ideas for stars to profile!
Sarah Jane — Continue with Criterion in Order Challenge and Dark Shadows
Several years ago, my husband Eric and I, decided to watch all of the Criterion Collection movies in order of spine number. It sounds like a daunting task, I know, especially because several new movies are added to their roster each month. I’ve even got a Letterboxd list going which you can find here, if you’d like to follow along.
As of this writing, I’m currently only 23% complete (BRAZIL is next on deck). To quote my man, Jerry Reed, “we’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.” Will we even get halfway through this list before we eventually kick off this planet? Fuck knows, but I’m making a resolution to watch more from our challenge list this upcoming year.
If I told you prior to making it a mission to watch all the Criterion Collection in order, we had made it our mission to watch all of the episodes of the ABC television soap, Dark Shadows, you’d probably think we’re certifiable. Well, I guess we are because we did, in fact, make a decision to watch all of Dark Shadows. It was probably 10 or 11 years ago (yes, dear readers…years) when Eric proposed we go through the run of the show. I’d see it on and off occasionally on the UHF channel 56 in Southern California when I was a teen so I was familiar with it and it sounded like fun. Back when we started it was much more difficult of a task, let me tell you. Nowadays, it’s all right there on Amazon Prime for you to watch but back then? We had to go through very dodgy methods to find episodes.
There are 1,225 episodes of Dark Shadows and I think we’re somewhere in the mid-700s. To place it, we’re back in the late 1800s, so we’ve got both vampires and werewolves happening, all at the end of the Victorian era. We should’ve completed watching the series by now but months would go by before we decide to throw some on at night. Because of these big gaps, we’ve threatened to just start all over again but the thought is just too daunting given the fact it’s taken us this long to get where we are. But it is, for sure, time to get back into watching this batshit (sorry, Barnabas!) crazy soap opera on a regular basis.
Johnny Donaldson — Study More, Create More
My New Year’s artistic resolution is quite simple. I want to read more, see more movies, and create more. I want to explore the filmographies of people I have only touched upon or never explored at all, like Jacques Demy, watch classics I have never seen, and get back into reading more fiction, something that I have had little time to do.
In addition, I want to create. I want this year to finally be the year to stop talking up my ideas and bring them to fruition. A long time ago I produced and acted in a movie, but I let life take over. This year is the year I finish my screenplays, maybe make a short film. I talk the talk as a fan; now I wanna see if I can walk the walk.
Rob Dean — Dazzler and Blue Devil comics AND Tales From The Loop RPG
I’ll freely admit the first two are very niche and probably whack—but my goal for 2020 is to collect and read every issue of Marvel Comics’ Dazzler (including the limited series with Beast and the “movie” graphic novel) and every issue of DC Comics’ first Blue Devil series. I don’t know why, but I think I’m drawn to these two characters because they are so specific, kind of peculiar, and also have a limited run—making it not impossible to gather. I actually already have all of Dazzler as of last week (glayven), but I think it would be fun to time travel through these bizarre side players from the ‘80s.
My other resolution is to learn everything I can and implement a game of Tales From The Loop RPG. From Modiphius Entertainment, based on books by Simon Stålenhag (which are being adapted into an Amazon series), Tales From The Loop is a role playing game with a bunch of different modules and characters in which mechs and other sci-fi concepts occurred in the ‘80s. It’s like Paper Girls meets Dungeons & Dragons, and it sounds like a far out concept with lots of possibilities for campaigns. I’ve never played an RPG, I’ve never run an RPG, and I don’t truly understand all of the mechanics—but dammit, I’m gonna make it happen or choke on dice trying!
Jason Coffman — Fewer movies, more books about movies; completing my Vinegar Syndrome project
I used to commute for work on the train every day, but the last few years I’ve been working from home. Which is great in a lot of ways, but it also means that built-in reading time I used to have is gone. It’s really tough for me to carve out dedicated reading time when I could be cramming in more movies, which has become an obsession that feels like more than a habit at this point.
So I’ve built up a massive backlog of books about film that I’ve been meaning to read on top of my long-delayed plans to re-read Stephen Thrower’s Nightmare USA in its entirety. There’s a revised edition of Jimmy McDonough’s life-changing Andy Milligan book The Ghastly One that is also at the top of my list, but some others I’m excited to dig into are:
- Jon Kitley’s Discover The Horror
- Mike McPadden’s Teen Movie Hell
- Are You In The House Alone? edited by Amanda Reyes
- Disposable Passions by David Church
- Richard Mogg’s Analog Nightmares
…and many more in both real and virtual piles in my house and my Kindle app.
My other big project that I’ve been working on sporadically this year is to watch every feature film released on physical media by Vinegar Syndrome, and as of this writing I’m a bit under 100 remaining. I’ve watched about 120 VS titles in the 2019 calendar year, but with them releasing 4-5+ movies per month in 2020 I’m going to have a lot of work keeping up. As always, I look forward to whatever they have in store!
Jon Abrams — Just read it!
Towards the end of 2019, all my peers started to share the work they’d written during the year. That’s when it really hit home to me that I didn’t have much to share. Throughout all of 2019, I really only have three features to show, two I’m proud about and one in between that was sort of an unholy act.
(Here they are!)
Since at least 2016, my main mode of operation has been on the editorial side, doing what I can to keep Daily Grindhouse alive and to make it a place where I can help elevate other voices. I’m glad to have done that and I’m not about to stop, but it’s also the case that I have been putting this in front of my own writing, which I happen to believe is pretty damn good and which I really ought to be developing further.
I have to thank Matt Wedge and Rob Dean, who came in this past year as Assistant Editor and Features Editor, respectively, stepping in and up for the dearly departed Mike Vanderbilt. Both these guys hate it when I gush over their excellence, but one thing I don’t get to say is how the terrific work they do has freed me up a little to to even consider this thought. Rob in particular, having brought back our collaborative Big Question feature, has without fully knowing it encouraged my writing by soliciting my brief contributions there. I feel grateful for that, and energized
So that’s my creative resolution for the new year — not necessarily to write more, since I say that every year and the results speak for themselves, but to allow my own creativity to flourish in the hopes of better results, and to be at least half as generous to myself as I try to be to other people.
Hope you have been enjoying the website. I personally think it’s great. I’m also allowing myself to admit it’d be even greater if there were more of my own words on it. And I hope to encourage all our contributors to treat themselves with the same level of confidence and self-appreciation.
Value your voice. That’s my resolution, and I’m happy to share it with anyone who might be able to use it. Your voice is valuable too, whoever you are. For a start, I’m gonna value mine better.
Also, you know, exercise.
What about you, gentle reader?
What is YOUR 2020 pop-culture/genre resolution?
Let us know in the comments below!
Tags: 2020, Books, Comic Books, criterion, Dark Shadows, Horror, International Film, Letterboxd, New Year's Resolutions, Nightmare USA, planet of the apes, Tales From The Loop, Terry Pratchett, Vinegar Syndrome