Throwback Thursday: Riding The Bullet (2004)

“The Bullet is constant.”

Released in 2004, Stephen King’s Riding The Bullet is a generic thriller that tries desperately to be more than it is. The film has flashes of brilliance that are spread too far apart by long sequences of awkward interactions, failed attempts at art house-styled scenes, and mundane moments. It was directed and adapted by Mick Garris and starred Jonathan Jackson, David Arquette, Barbara Hershey, Matt Frewer, Erika Christensen, and Nicky Katt.

In the film, Jackson portays Alan Parker, an art student who gets into an argument with his girlfriend, tries to commit suicide, and then ends up hitchhiking home to see his dying mother. While hitchhiking, Alan meets a number of unique characters, may or may not have a few hallucinations, gets chased by murderous rednecks, and eventually rides shotgun with a phantom who gives him a choice: your life or your mother’s life.

Garris was already familiar with adapting and directing King’s work for both the big and small screen. He directed the 1992 film adaptation of King’s Sleepwalkers and also directed and/or wrote/produced a number of television shows and mini-series based on King’s work including The Stand (1994), Quicksilver Highway (1997) and The Shining (1997). He also worked on shows like Amazing Stories (1985) and She-Wolf Of London (1990), so his bizarre direction of Bullet has me a bit perplexed.

The film just can’t seem to find its rhythm. It throws in bizarre sequences where Alan has a conversation with his conscious, a literal second Alan that pops up throughout the film, that become increasingly more annoying with each interaction. It has a lot of misplaced or just plain dumb jump scares as well.

The film’s acting is pretty bad as well. Jackson isn’t a bad actor. He just cannot carry this film for some reason. Matt Frewer’s brief appearance feels forced and is poorly executed. Erika Christensen never really gets to show off her acting chops. Cliff Robertson’s role as an extremely creepy, elderly fellow that picks up Alan is awkward. Perhaps confusing everyone with bizarre characters was Garris’ intention. If so, he nailed it. If he was doing anything else, he failed miserably.

Not all of the performances were bad. Nicky Katt shines as a draft dodger who picks up Alan on his way to see his mother. Barbara Hershey is also quite excellent as Alan’s mother. The real star here is David Arquette, who plays against type as George Staub, a fifties-styled greaser who gives Alan the last ride to the hospital. The kicker? Staub is dead and is in town to take a soul with him to the afterlife. He uses fear, humor, and rage to manipulate Alan and he does a fine job of it in this film.

It’s a shame that this film is such a dud. It has a solid cast, an experienced director, and source material from one of horror’s living legends. It ultimately doesn’t translate well to the screen, however, and makes this one of my least favorite Stephen King adaptations.

Did you enjoy Riding The Bullet? let me know in the comments section. As always, thanks for reading.

Scream (2022)

Yep, the killer really is on this poster!

“Do you like scary movies????”

This is a spoiler-free review. Read on with no worries.

Taking place twenty-five years after the events of the original Scream, the new Scream film is a surprisingly well done sequel. It could have easily been just another whodunit that trucks out Sid, Dewey, and Gale. Instead, it brings those characters back along with a couple of other characters from prior installments and then swirls them around with a new batch of teenagers ripe for slicing. The basic plot remains the same as it is in all of the other sequels: a new killer (or killers) dons the Ghostface mask and systematically takes out members of a tight-knit group of teens. Those teens in turn attempt to discover the identity of the killer(s) and tries to stop them, usually with the help of Sid, Dewey, and Gale. In this new film, however, there are ties that bind all of the victims and potential victims and ghosts of Scream sequels past that also come into play.

As with the other films in this series, Scream pokes fun at other horror franchises, tropes of the genre, and itself. Despite this, there’s a much darker tone to this film. Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett do a brilliant job of generating some decent scares, doubt about the killer’s identity, and making Ghostface a legitimate and looming threat. This was the first time that I watched a Scream film and was actually impressed by the menacing presence of Ghostface. Sure, the villain trips, stumbles, and takes a beating from his/her victims, but Ghostface is much more sure of himself/herself this time around. This movie bumps the masked villain up a step or two in my opinion.

For folks like myself that saw the original film in theaters, this film is something of a love letter. Yes, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are back, but we also get to see another old friend pop up. I won’t mention who that is, but at the end of the film that character’s presence and influence leaves things wide open for the next sequel if one is ever made. There are other things that pop up in the film, some that are hiding right in plain site, that tug a little at the hearts of the older crowd. As far as their performances are concerned, Campbell, Cox, and Arquette knock it out of the park. They could have easily phoned in their performances but they put a lot of heart into their roles and it shines through in this film.

The new batch of victims and suspects…..uh…..actors and actresses that appear in this film do solid jobs. You’ll get to know some of them better than others. Melissa Barrera stars as Samantha Carpenter, the estranged older sister of Tara (Jenna Ortega) Carpenter that is drawn back to Woodsboro after her sister is attacked. Samantha is accompanied back home with her new boyfriend, Richie (gamely played by Jack Quaid) and the two of them (with eventual help from our beloved original film trio) decide to fight the killer(s) and end the threat to Woodsboro. The list of suspects include a pair of twins named Chad and Mindy (Mason Gooding and Jasmin Savoy Brown), Amber (Mikey Madison), Liv (Sonia Ben Ammar), and Wes (Dylan Minnette). Kyle Gallner appears as Vince. Heather Matarazzo and Marley Shelton reprise their respective roles of Martha and Judy. Shelton gets a much more expanded role in this film. All of the cast do a great job, but I have to say that Mikey Madison delivered the best performance of the bunch.

This is a really enjoyable film. It’s the best sequel in the Scream franchise in my opinion and it blows another recent sequel, Halloween Kills, completely out of the water. Scream is a sequel done right. It gives fans all of the familiar scares, kills, and humor that’s expected of it, but it also makes the villain more impressive and tosses in a few pieces of dynamite to leave plenty of room for newer and spookier growth. It’s no masterpiece, not at all, but it’s a fun ride that breathes new life into a franchise that was on the verge of becoming stale and predictable.

Thanks for checking out my post. Go see this film in a theater and enjoy it. You won’t regret it!

Double The Terror! Day O’Horror #4

Eat Or Die

Welcome to day four of my Day O’Horror series!  Today is twice as nice because I watched not one, but TWO horror flicks.  Last night I watched Curse of Chucky and followed it up with the brand spanking new Cult of Chucky.  I’ll get to that chewy morsel of terror in a moment, but first I’m going to cover a cult classic that I saw on the big screen way back in 1999.


At the time I was dating the lady that would become my wife.  We were bored one evening and decided to see what was playing at the movies.  Wing Commander was one of the choices, so deciding to view Ravenous was a no-brainer.  My future wife had her doubts, but considering the fact that I watched She’s All That with her and would happily be watching 10 Things I Hate About You in the very near future, she let me have one movie.


Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle were the stars of the film.  I didn’t know anything about Pearce (The Count of Monte Cristo, The Time Machine, Iron Man 3) at the time, and barely remembered that Carlyle had been in The Full Monty and Trainspotting.  The rest of the cast included prolific character actor Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, The Devil’s Advocate), David Arquette (Scream, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Eight-Legged Freaks, Never Been Kissed), the always underused Neal McDonough (Arrow, Angels In The Outfield, Tin Man, Timeline, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and a number of other solid cast members.

Ravenous 1999 movie pic1


The film opens with Pearce’s character, 2nd Lieutenant John Boyd, receiving a promotion to captain due to his “brave” work in the Mexican-American War.  His promotion is fruitless, though, because the general is aware that Boyd played dead while the rest of his men were slaughtered and then took the Mexican leaders in a stroke of luck when all of the bodies were brought to the Mexican headquarters.

As punishment, Boyd is sent to Fort Spencer, an outpost in the Sierra Nevadas.  Colonel Hart (Jones) heads up the fort with Major Knox (Stephen Spinella) as second in command.  Also at the fort are Private Reich (McDonough), Private Cleaves (Arquette), Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies), and two Native American siblings, George (Joseph Running Fox) and Martha (Sheila Tousey).


The area is desolate and according to the colonel, rarely has visitors in the winter.  The outpost gets a very strange visitor one evening whenever Colqhoun (Carlyle) appears.  He claims to have been starving for three months.  When the group doesn’t believe him, he breaks down and tells them how the small group that he was traveling with became lost in the woods due to the misdirection of a Colonel Ives.  As a result, they hide in a cave for shelter and quickly run out of food.  They resort to eating the oxen and even Colqhoun’s dog.  When those resources run dry, they eat one of the members of their group when he dies from starvation.  Soon enough, Ives begins murdering members of the party.  Soon it is just Ives, Colqhoun, and Mrs. MacCready.  Colqhoun abandons them and runs for help, ending up at the garrison.

When George hears this story, he tells the others about the Wendigo, a man who eats the flesh of other men in order to gain their strength.  Earlier in the film it is revealed that Boyd drank the blood of his dead soldiers (but not intentionally) as it trickled down to his mouth on the bottom of the pile of bodies.

A rescue party forms up.  Colqhoun leads them up to the cave where Ives was supposedly hiding out.  Reich realizes that the whole situation is a trap, but it’s too late.  Colqhoun kills everyone in the party except for Boyd, who jumps off of a cliff to escape.  Boyd ends up in a deep hole with the body of Reich, and after a long period he begins to eat Reich in order to build his strength back up.

He returns to Fort Spencer and tells the few remaining members of the outpost about what happened.  Cleaves, Knox, and Martha are all that is left with Boyd until a temporary colonel is assigned.  That colonel is Ives (who is actually Colqhoun).  Ives tries to convince Boyd to join him as a cannibal, but Boyd refuses until he’s mortally wounded by Ives and forced to either eat human flesh or die.  An old acquaintance reappears, Knox and Cleaves are murdered, Martha is sent to get General Slouson (John Spencer) and a battle ensues between Boyd and Ives.  I won’t spoil the ending for you.

I really love this movie.  Many call it a dark comedy/horror film, but I see it more as a western horror film.  The cannibalism story is loosely derived from the true stories of the Donner Party and a man named Alfred Packer.  The acting is superb.  The music is excellently offbeat, and the story works for what it is.  I don’t get to watch this film very often, but every time I revisit it, I appreciate something new about it.  I highly recommend this film if you’ve never watched it before.  It gives you a peek at Pearce and Carlyle just before their stars really take off.

Round 2:  Cult of Chucky


I won’t spend too much time on the plot of this film since my review of Ravenous ran long and because this film is brand new, but here’s a brief rundown of what happens.

Mild spoilers below!

Cult Of Chucky

Cult of Chucky picks up a little while after the events in Curse of Chucky.  Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been placed in a mental institution after being found (wrongly) guilty of murdering her family.  There she befriends Multiple Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) in her therapy group.  He suffers from a multiple personality disorder.  She’s also friends with Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen), a woman who murdered her own child, and protects her from the snipes of Claire (Grace Lynn Kung).  The group is guided by Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault), who makes sexual advances toward Nica.


Soon enough, a Good Guy doll, purchased by Dr. Foley, is introduced to the group and Madeleine immediately takes him as her “baby.”  Another doll is given to Nica by her deceased niece’s former guardian, Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly).  Yet another doll is shipped to Dr. Foley by an unknown person giving us a grand total of three Good Guy dolls.


Soon enough, bodies start piling up.  Patients and staff are found choked to death by doll hands, drilled by power drills, killed with broken glass, etc.  This is done with one Chucky wisecrack after another.  Nica tries to convince Dr. Foley that Chucky is murdering everyone and an old enemy of Chucky arrives late in the film to help.  That person is Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), the young boy that Chucky attempted to possess in the first three films.  He has his own plan to kill Chucky.  If you’ve ever seen Curse of Chucky, you know that Andy shows up in an after credits scene (but not the Netflix version, where that scene is edited out).


Also waiting in the wings is Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s old flame.  She’s ready to rejoin her lover for new murderous adventures.

I really enjoyed Curse of Chucky and whenever I found out that Cult was going to be a direct sequel to that film, I was very excited.  Unfortunately, Cult meanders back toward the comedy that overtook many of the sequels.  While I enjoyed the humor in those films, it wore on my nerves a bit.  Curse was a more straightforward horror/suspense film.  I missed that in this latest film.  Also, a new gimmick is added to Chucky’s arsenal, and it feels a tad forced.  That’s saying a lot about a franchise based around a possessed doll.

The cast was excellent despite a disappointing story.  Brad Dourif can probably voice Chucky in his sleep now, having performed as the Good Guy for seven films.  Dourif’s daughter, Fiona, reprised her role from the previous film and does a solid job.  The rest of the cast is dependable and Jennifer Tilly is wonderfully psychotic.

I do recommend seeing the film, but if you can, view it on Blu-ray or DVD.  The Netflix version once again edits out a post-credits clip.  You can google who else returns in that clip.  I won’t spoil it here.

As always, thanks for watching.  I hope that you’re ready for tomorrow night’s film…’s oversized and angry!