600 Posts! A Very Special Thank You!

Hey everyone, there are more of you reading this now than there were four years ago when I started this whole thing, and yesterday, Lady Bird became my 600th post here. I can’t believe it. I’ve been writing here for some time and I can’t thank you readers enough for all that you have contributed through kind words, thoughtful discussion, and interesting insight. I wouldn’t be here without you!

Here’s a look back at the most popular reviews or pieces that we’ve been a part of here.

  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  6. Leprechaun (1993)
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Santa Claws (2014)
  9. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  10. Bad Boys (1995)

It’s still a little crazy that the most-looked at review on this site is for a short film prequel to 2 Fast 2 Furious, but to each his own.

And now, for one more thing. There is nothing I would love more than for your continued contribution to the discussion. All film is subjective, after all, and I started this site to start those discussions. If you agree with me on a certain film, speak out, let me know what you love about it. If you disagree, let me know your opinion.

If you have anything you’d like to see in the future, please feel free to contact us here at almightygoatmanreviews@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you.



-Kyle A. Goethe



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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 14 – [Happy 10th Birthday!] Paranormal Activity (2007)

Director: Oren Peli

Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Friedrichs

Screenplay: Oren Peli

86 mins. Rated R for language.


Ah, Paranormal Activity, the franchise that killed Saw. I’m over it. I’m so over it.

The original Paranormal Activity has a fairly straightforward plot: A couple, Katie (Katie Featherston, Psychic Experiment, TV’s Solace for the Unloved) and Micah (Micah Sloat, The Death and Return of Superman) get a video camera to document the eerie happenings at their home. The strange activity seems to be centered around Katie, and Micah, having only just hearing about it, decides to attempt to capture it on film. What follows is a found-footage collection of the three weeks the camera is on.

The frights in Paranormal Activity are interesting, unusual, and a little intense at times. Director Oren Peli (Area 51) shot the film in 10 days using a script that was essentially a guided outline and created the characters alongside Featherston and Sloat to create as much realism as possible. Katie is depressed and sad as the movie shows the horrors she has experienced most of her life while Micah is kind of an asshole as he fails to see the toll inflicted on someone he supposedly loves. Neither performance is particularly exemplary but they are serviceable enough.

Credit should be given to Paramount Pictures and director Steven Spielberg for shepherding the film to release, as well as the horror fans who requested it in their homes. Paramount went all in on the finished product, opting to show the finished film without title cards or any credits in fact, playing up to the gimmick, and Steven Spielberg suggested a more marketable ending that this writer actually prefers to the original, if only slightly.

Overall, Paranormal Activity would be a good starting off point for horror fans. It is creepy but not altogether scary, and its thrills do not rely heavily on gore or dread but more a fun atmospheric ambiance. In fact, this is a film that is better outside of the theater, so gather some friends, turn the lights off, and enjoy!



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of Christopher Landon’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, click here.



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[Happy 35th Birthday!] Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Director: Amy Heckerling

Cast: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Ray Walston

Screenplay: Cameron Crowe

90 mins. Rated R.


Fast Times at Ridgemont High had an interesting genesis. Screenwriter Cameron Crowe (TV’s Roadies, Almost Famous) actually went undercover at a high school for some time and fictionalized a book out of it. He later adapted that book to be the film we are discussing today. It goes further than that, too. There’s even a Fast Times television series that I’m trying to get my hands on for my own twisted curiosity. The show is apparently terrible but I have my reasons…

Fast Times at Ridgemont High is one of the earliest slice-of-life films in the high school setting, or at least one of the most well-known and reputable ones. There are several characters intersecting at its core, most memorably Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn, Mystic River, The Angry Birds Movie), a stoner who finds himself at odds with teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston, TV’s My Favorite Martian, The Sting), who expects the highest respect from his students. Then there’s the Hamiltons, brother Brad (Judge Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop, Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts) and sister Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight, Morgan). Brad is about to finish his high school career as a blip and he just can’t seem to get a win. Stacy is exploring her sexuality with anyone she comes across but can’t seem to understand the different between sex and love. She is pined for by Mark “Rat” Ratner (Brian Backer, The Burning, Loser) who gets all his romantic advice from the slimy Mark Damone (Robert Romanus, The Runaways, American Pie presents The Book of Love) who may just be getting a kick out of watching Rat fail.

Fast Times is an engaging and funny take on high school relationships of all kinds, and director Amy Heckerling (Look Who’s Talking, Vamps) spends equal time developing strong characters and seemingly important moments in the fleeting high school experience.

The strongest and most enjoyable performance is Sean Penn’s Spicoli. Penn is virtually unrecognizable in his portrayal of the over-the-top stoner but there is an energy to his performance that made me remember all the people I knew in my adolescence that were Spicolis in their own way. He isn’t out of place, but he is the epitome of all the youths who didn’t think out their plans after high school, the ones that stayed in the moment, in the now, for better or worse.

Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Stacy Hamilton is another relatable character in that, in high school, everyone was looking to get laid as a personal status symbol. It’s weird to think of it that way but so many do, and this conceit seems to feed into itself as more high school comedies surfaced over the years. In her comparisons with friend Linda (Phoebe Cates, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Drop Dead Fred), Stacy is seen in a sad light, rarely rising to the level of self-acceptance she so wants.

If there’s a faulty character in the bunch, it’s Brad, who shares a number of great moments in the film (and yes, I’m including the scene with Phoebe Cates Moving in Stereo), but overall, his character just doesn’t really go anywhere. I feel like I get what the attempt was, but it wasn’t entirely successful.

Thankfully, the strong writing of Cameron Crowe really impacts this film and peppers quotable and memorable moments throughout that have allowed Fast Times to endure the test of time. I feel like this is a film about high school that stays with you long after high school, and it also feels accessible even for youths that didn’t grow up in the era of its release. It’s a film that feels good to watch, and it’s one that says that yes, we’ve all been there. It has fun with its loose premise and is completely re-watchable. If you haven’t seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High, now is the time to give it a go.



-Kyle A. Goethe



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500 Posts! Thank you!


Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 500 posts since I started this thing three years ago! Thank you so much to everyone that has been a constant reader or even those of you that are new! I wouldn’t be here without you!

Here’s a look back at the most popular reviews since this whole thing started.


  1. Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
  2. Poltergeist (1982)
  3. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
  4. Frankenstein (1994)
  5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
  6. Leprechaun (1993)
  7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  8. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  9. Horror Express (1972)
  10. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)


You keep reading and I’ll keep writing…

-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 26 – [Happy 15th Birthday!] Thir13en Ghosts (2001)


Director: Steve Beck

Cast: Tony Shalhoub, Shannon Elizabeth, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Alec Roberts, Rah Digga, F. Murray Abraham

Screenplay: Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D’Ovidio

91 mins. Rated R for horror violence/gore, nudity, and some language.


Dark Castle Entertainment was formed in 1999 by the legendary producers Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis,  and Gilbert Adler. It’s initial inception began with the goal of remaking William Castles’ horror films from the 1950s and 1960s. It only made two such remakes before the idea shifted to original films and non-Castle remakes. This is the second William Castle remake. Thir13en Ghosts.


Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub, TV’s Monk, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows) has just inherited a large estate from his recently dead Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham, TV’s Homeland, The Grand Budapest Hotel), but the home, a gargantuan glass house with strange and unusual writing along the walls, is already occupied with twelve terrifying spirits, ghosts of those who have died under painful and unresolved circumstances. As Arthur and his family attempt to navigate the labyrinthine home, he is aided by Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard, TV’s The Bridge, Scooby-Doo), a psychic who assisted Cyrus in hunting down the twelve ghosts. Cyrus’ legend speaks of a thirteenth ghost that Rafkin is unaware of, and now, the house is taking over and the puzzle is waiting to be solved.

Thir13en Ghosts has one absolutely fatal flaw. The film just isn’t all that scary. The mythology is interesting. The production design is crazy but effective and unique. The film is unforgettable for the atmosphere, but it just isn’t scary. Not at all.

The performances are fine from Shalhoub and Abraham, and Lillard is memorable. The film does hold a distinction for being the first American wide-release film sporting three Arab-Americans as the leads, which is nice. Director Steve Beck (Ghost Ship) is serviceable, and I loved learning more about the different ghosts. I think there is a lot of story to tell here, but the audience never got to see.


I love when remakes take a different path than the original, and Thir13en Ghosts is definitely more ambitious than most remakes, but audiences need to be scared at a scary movie, and Thir13en Ghosts is just more interesting than it is engaging or exciting. Genre fans can get away if the movie is cool but not exactly scary, but general audiences need more than that.



-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 25 – [Happy 20th Birthday!] Thinner (1996)


Director: Tom Holland

Cast: Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Lucinda Jenney, Michael Constantine, Kari Wuhrer, Bethany Joy Lenz, Kenneth Londoner

Screenplay: Michael McDowell, Tom Holland

93 mins. Rated R for horror violence and gore, language and sexuality.


In the annals of Stephen King adaptations, few are as strange as 1996’s Thinner.


But first, a story about health. Director Tom Holland (Child’s Play) got Bells-Palsy while production was in full swing, but producers wouldn’t allow him to seek health, and the ensuing chaos caused Holland to leave the film community for almost a decade. A rare talent mistreated by producers. Yikes. But, now onto the movie.

In this adaptation of the Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) novella, Thinner is the story of Billy Halleck (Robert John Burke, Limitless, True Story), a heavyset man nearing 300 pounds, a lawyer suffering from an addiction to food. But when an accident causes him to kill a gypsy woman who crosses in front of his car, Billy falls ill to a curse from Tadzu (Michael Constantine, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Prancer), the gypsy woman’s father. Now, Billy is losing weight at an accelerating rate, and he has no choice but to find Tadzu and get the curse reversed before he shrinks to nothing.

Thinner is strange in that it is so small in scale. I think the film would’ve worked best as an hour-long episode of an anthology series than an actual film. The idea of basing a movie around a man getting slowly thinner is just rather odd. The novella moves quick, but the film is rather sluggish, particularly when finding its footing at the beginning of the film.

The performances are passable, but the real enjoyment (what little there is) derives from Tom Holland’s screenplay with Michael McDowell, a terrific and unsung writer from back in the 1980s/1990s. It’s a fun little script that is pretty exciting if altogether campy.


Thinner is absolutely bonkers, and that both works and doesn’t work. There are many elements that are very self-aware, but other factors, like the ending, just fall flat and don’t get back up. Overall, there’s a reason it fell to obscurity, but it is still worth a viewing. If only one.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of Tom Holland’s Child’s Play, click here.

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 11 [Happy 25th Birthday!] – Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)


Director: John R. Cherry III

Cast: Jim Varney, Eartha Kitt, Austin Nagler

Screenplay: Coke Sams, Charles Gale

91 mins. Rated PG.


Today was an interesting piece of nostalgia. I haven’t seen Ernest Scared Stupid since I watched my recorded-from-ABC VHS tape that I owned as a kid. But, in honor of its 25th anniversary, I had to hunt down a copy. Not too tough, it’s in any 5-buck bin this time of year.

The town of Briarville has a terrible secret. A long time ago, they banished a demonic troll named Trantor to slumber beneath a giant oak tree, only to be awoken by a descendent of the townspeople. Now, 200 years later, a descendent, Ernest (Jim Varney, Toy Story, The Beverly Hillbillies) has let the creature out, and Trantor is turning the children of Briarville into wooden dolls in order to use their energy to awaken his children. Now, it’s up to Ernest, his young friend Kenny (Austin Nagler), and the strange Old Lady Hackmore (Eartha Kitt, The Emperor’s New Groove, Holes) to discover how to defeat the troll and save the children before it’s too late.


Wow, this was such a trip. No matter my thoughts on the movie, this experience was worth it. So what did I think? Personally, I thought the film was pretty fun upon revisiting. Sure it’s a little scary for children, and a little too childish for adults, but that’s what makes a good family film for Halloween.

Trantor was created by the Chiodo brothers, who also famously created Killer Klowns from Outer Space (you can easily see some of their reused props in the trolls). The creature and its interactions with Ernest became so popular that many believe it birthed the Troll Face meme used so often now.

Jim Varney had perfected his role as Ernest, a bumbling but lovable idiot with a special place for imaginative characters. He is like the idiot version of Doc Brown to Kenny’s Marty McFly.

New addition Old Lady Hackmore furthers the caliber of the film thanks to Eartha Kitt, who has fun in her wackiness and the interactions with Ernest, but it is the rare moments of heart that she displays that elevate the film above other Ernest outings.

From a technical look, Ernest Scared Stupid can’t really hold a candle to better films. The cinematography isn’t visually gripping. The best edited sequence is probably the titles. The visual effects have aged but are saved by the creature effects. The sets are cheap and the costumes cheaper.

But the movie is still fun to watch, so that’s a plus.


Ernest Scared Stupid holds up well for those of us that enjoyed it as children, and it may still bring in new fans for the next generation. As for those of you that didn’t see it as a kid, this may not win you over (don’t worry, I’m the same way with The Goonies). Check it out if you get the chance.



-Kyle A. Goethe


[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 10 [Happy 5th Birthday!] – The Thing (2011)

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen

Screenplay: Eric Heisserer

103 mins. Rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.


The producers of the 2011 film The Thing got it right when they said that you don’t touch certain properties. They were referring to Jaws, The Exorcist, and the 1982 John Carpenter film The Thing. In a lot of ways, they’re right. I’ve always said that I hate remakes because it requires no creative input to shell out a remake. But a continuation, or in this case a prequel, now that sounds interesting.

In 1982, a Norwegian research team comes across an alien spacecraft out in Antarctica. They call in Columbia University paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man) to help investigate and uncover details about the craft. They also discover what appears to be the body of one of the beings nearby. When they bring the body in for study, they quickly discover that the creature is still alive and had the ability to mimic those around it. As Kate and the others try to figure out which one of the is The Thing, they must also keep themselves closed off from the rest of the world as the creatures tries to find its next host.

The prospect of revisiting the John Carpenter The Thing from 1982 is a very interesting one. The idea of developing the mythos further by adding a prequel focusing on the Norwegian team is even more so, but proved a difficult path to take. First of all, any fans of the original know where the film is headed so you still have to make it entertaining. This was an issue for director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., who tended to fall back on the same plot points of the original without creating excitement.

Another issue is the CGI. When I heard about the film, I was told by those involved that the film would rely heavily on practical effects like the 1982 film had. I was overjoyed to hear it. The biggest win of the 1982 The Thing is its excellent practical effects. What I got was a CGI mess. The studio apparently went in and CGI’d over the practical effects, leaving them a sloppy disappointment. They look rushed and haven’t aged well.

Thankfully, the film is led by Winstead who takes control well in Kate, an infusion of Kurt Russell’s MacReady and Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley from Alien. She is smart, capable, and tough. I also enjoyed Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Jane Got a Gun) as pilot Sam Carter, Ulrich Thomsen (TV’s Banshee, The Celebration) as the methodical Dr. Sander Halvorson, and Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles, Celeste & Jesse Forever) as assistant Adam Finch. All in all, the performances work, but the story isn’t giving them anywhere to move.

The screenplay is an interesting one, written by Eric Heisserer (Final Destination 5, Lights Out), a really terrific writer known mostly for horror. He reverse engineered the story from the clues we get in Carpenter’s film, making the connections between the two films rather interesting. Again, though, he gets a little caught up in making this film so similar to the original. There had to have been something more in the cards for this story.

A first time director with a film containing heavy reshoots and swift CGI work lead to a rougher time at the movies. Now, I enjoy The Thing for what it is, but it breaks my heart thinking about what it could be. Sadly, we will never get the chance to see the “Pilot Version” that the original cut was before all the additions. But hey, it serves as a nice reminder of how damn amazing John Carpenter’s original film is (itself a remake of The Thing from Another World).



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of John Carpenter’s The Thing, click here.

[Happy 35th Birthday!] Heavy Metal (1981)


Director: Gerald Potterton

Cast: Harvey Atkin, Jackie Burroughs, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Marilyn Lightstone, Harold Ramis, Richard Romanus, Alice Playten, Roger Bumpass, Joe Flaherty

Screenplay: Daniel Goldberg, Len Blum

86 mins. Rated R.


Well, folks, 35 years ago today, a little animated film came out. No, it wasn’t a Disney film. Not even a little. No, I’m talking about 1981’s Heavy Metal.


Heavy Metal is a collection of stories based on those from the original source comic book. Each of these stories is connected through a mystical object, a green glowing orb called the Loc-Nar. There is the story of Harry Canyon (Richard Romanus, Mean Streets, Point of No Return), a taxi driver in 2031 New York who gets in too deep with a beautiful woman on the hunt from the gangster Rudnick. The story of Den (John Candy, TV’s SCTV, Spaceballs), a nerdy teen who is transported by the Loc-Nar to Neverwhere and becomes muscled hero bent on defeating a villainous cult. On an orbiting space station, Captain Lincoln F. Sternn (Eugene Levy, Best in Show, Finding Dory) is on trial when the Loc-Nar intervenes. The stories are each interesting in their own and contribute to an overall mythos by which the film is centered. To go in depth would ruin the fun of watching.

The film starts with a Loc-Nar monologue and immediately jumps into Soft Landing, a hell of a way to open a movie and further proof that opening titles work when done right.

The movie is crass and misogynistic and gory and erotic, and through all that, I love it. Heavy Metal has eye-popping imagery and gorgeous visuals (however dated) combined with a kick-ass soundtrack featuring hard rock music from the era. It is a time capsule of teenage boys in the 1980s, and it is epic.

I would have liked to have seen more connections between the different stories. It felt like they were shoehorned together some (and I know full well that this was the case as the Loc-Nar didn’t appear in most of the comic book stories depicted).


I love Heavy Metal (the sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, not so much) and I hope for the long-awaited third film to show up one day down the road. This is a film like no other, only barely similar in tone to some of Ralph Bakshi’s work, but don’t let its uniqueness take you out of it. This is a tremendous feat in filmmaking that has been all but forgotten.



-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 5th Birthday!] We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)


Director: Lynne Ramsay

Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller

Screenplay: Lynne Ramsay, Rory Stewart Kinnear

112 mins. Rated R for disturbing violence and behavior, some sexuality and language.


Wow, I love it when I can watch a film knowing nothing about it and be absolutely floored. That’s what happened with today’s choice, We Need to Talk About Kevin.


Eva (Tilda Swinton, Adaptation., Hail, Caesar!) is a troubled woman, a woman haunted by her past and the memories of her son Kevin (Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), a troubled boy who took great pleasure in upsetting his mother. Eva’s husband Franklin (John C. Reilly, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Guardians of the Galaxy) either cannot see him for what he is or chooses not to, placing the blame on Eva. But is Eva to blame, or is there something horribly wrong with their son?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a strangely beautiful film that plays with some horrifying themes. It is at times visceral, unnerving, irritating, and exhilarating as it plays with viewer emotions and expectations. Tilda Swinton gives one of her most real and tragic performances of an already terrific career here. She is matched on the playing field by Ezra Miller, known for playing strange and nuanced characters. Here, he ratchets the tension up to eleven and owns his scenes with a command that would rival most other performers. His is an upsetting and unsettling performance, but in the best possible way.


We Need to Talk About Kevin is a character piece, mostly relying on Eva, and this is her film to shine. Swinton does so and is aided by Miller and John C. Reilly in a rare but always welcome fully dramatic performance. Director Lynne Ramsay displays the sorrow and pain of Eva just as well the actress does, and so the film is deeply saddening, not for the faint of heart. Though it may run on a bit too long, this is one of those films that you must see, even if only once.



-Kyle A. Goethe