I’m under no delusions. I know my place here. I’m the guy that writes about old stuff. I spend most of my time watching movies that were made last century. I talk about music released when I was a child, if not before. Most of my days are spent sifting through the ashes of popular culture and offering you the largest chunks I can find. When I watch anything current, or even recent, it’s a minor miracle. Having explained everything far too much, as is my wont, the following are my favorite bits of entertainment from the actual year, 2018.
Favorite Movie: The Crescent
With its organic performances, trippy visuals, and haunting soundtrack, Seth Smith’s independent movie, The Crescent, blew the doors off the major studio horror releases. Steeped in an intimate dread, The Crescent works its dread magic quietly, creating emotional resonance and unforgettable imagery within the confines of micro-budgetry. Stripped to the bare elements with none of the trappings, The Crescent is art without prentention, horror without gore, and refuses to fall apart in the last fifteen minutes. Audiences slept on this one, and that’s a shame. Not taking genre into consideration, The Crescent is the finest film I watched this year.
Cults, commercials, and Nic Cage, covered in blood. If those concepts don’t grab you, there are plenty of other movies out there. But if you’re into it, you have to check out this crazy flick, Mandy, from Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow), filled with wild lighting, wild action, and King Crimson.
Favorite Album: You Won’t Get What You Want – Daughters
This nightmare of a record has all the musical subtlety of a transformer exploding. Noises fly at the listener from every which way, rumbling and thumping, staccato stabbings providing the most gorgeously uncomfortable musical experience of the year. Meanwhile, vocalist Alexis Marshall scream/speaks like the homeless man across the street who has terrible stories and bad wisdom to share if you’ll only listen. You Won’t Get What You Want is fantastic, a pit filled with bamboo spikes, and one never knows when they will fall in. The piercing awaits, and it dark, heavy, and ultimately beautiful.
Runner-up: In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind – Failure
The trio returns with a record filled with dissonance, overdriven bass, and stories of isolation, depression, and science-fiction weirdness. It’s a trip from neurosis to nebulae, featuring the band’s best song in years, “The Pineal Electorate.” This album will blow your mind and raggedly patch it back together.
Favorite Television Episode: ‘Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements’
There’s a feeling you get when you hear a song, and it connects with you instantly. Somehow, you know it’s your song, the thing you were meant to hear, a tune that will stay with you for the rest of your life. This episode of Joe Pera Talks with You on Adult Swim perfectly captures that moment when Pera hears The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” for the first time. It’s funny in a quiet way, but it is also the most heartfelt and joyous celebration of rock and roll I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the happiest twelve minutes of television this year, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Runner-up: The Haunting of Hill House, Episode 6: ‘Two Storms’
Lots of great things have been said about the Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House. While most of those accolades are accurate, it’s hard to top ‘Two Storms’ for sheer chutzpah. This entire episode was filmed to look like a single, continuous take. The past and present collide in a seamless timeline transition. It’s a technical marvel, one of director Mike Flanagan’s finest moments. Even if the entire series doesn’t float your boat, this one episode is one of the coolest things you’ll ever see.
Favorite Sports Entertainment Moment: Cole v Black, NXT TakeOver Philadelphia
After costing fan favorite Aleister Black a shot at the heavyweight title, Adam Cole was placed in an Extreme Rules match against Black at the NXT special event, TakeOver, in Philadelphia. The whole match was stellar, as most NXT matches are, but nothing made me freak out more than this ridiculous chair spot. Black put Cole into a Death Valley Driver and threw him on top of two chairs. I honestly don’t know how Cole is still alive and wrestling after that bump.
Runner-up: Dean Ambrose Ruins the Lovefest
Fans knew it was coming, but we didn’t know when. But Dean Ambrose finally turned into a bad guy by turning on fellow Shield member, Seth Rollins, on the same night WWE Superstar, Roman Reigns, revealed that his leugemia had returned after over a decade in remission. It wasn’t a matter of Ambrose remaining a good guy. His turn to the dark side was a fait accompli. But the timing of it! That night, of all nights! It was a kick to the gut that felt wrong at the time, but it was a move that WWE Creative absolutely got right.
Favorite Blu-ray of the year: Zombie – Blue Underground
This three-disc set of Lucio Fulci’s flesh-eating extravaganza is the definitive version. Filled with both new and old archival material and featuring a CD copy of the soundtrack, Zombie has never looked more alive. That’s a relative term here, but the picture quality is fantastic and, after devouring all the special features, you’ll be an expert on Zombie quicker than Al Cliver makes decisions but who he lets on his boat.
Runner-up: There isn’t one. Zombie is my favorite Blu-ray of the year, hands down.