Happily ever after…

Guilty pleasures. We all have them, even if we don’t want to admit it. I mean, that’s sort of the point of guilty pleasures. One of mine is watching movies with really sad endings. Like, if you don’t tear up during the film then don’t bother making me watch it. Then, as part of the guilty pleasure, I make other people watch them with me. Spoiler warning for some films I discuss today. Here are a few of my “go-to” guilty pleasure films:

  1. Me Before You (2016)
  2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  3. A Quiet Place (2018)
  4. Road to Perdition (2002)
  5. Avengers Infinity War (2018)

I know, I’m sadistic.

Before writing this, I started thinking about why I take pleasure in this odd activity. One reason is that I have no soul and can’t gauge emotions, so I want to watch other people when they’re sad in order to copy their emotions. Another reason I came up with is that I’m so depressed that I like to watch fictional characters in pain, this way I take solace that my life isn’t as messed up as theirs.

Maybe I just like realistic storytelling in my films and novels.

That’s right. Sometimes we don’t all live happily ever after. Sometimes the guy doesn’t get the girl in the end. Maybe the father dies at the end in order to save his boy’s eternal soul. Maybe everybody dies at the end of a zombie movie. Maybe the coach mercy kills the paralyzed athlete. Maybe, the bad guy wins and destroys 50 percent of all life in the universe.

Did I just spoil a bunch of films for you? Well too bad! Sometimes we have movie endings spoiled for us. Maybe you should have gone and watched them. Maybe… just maybe… we overuse the word “maybe.”

Now, know what you’re all saying. “But Jimmy, why would I want to go to the theater and watch a film with a sad ending?”

I completely understand. Look at the current “Infinity Saga” that Marvel just pumped out. Starting with Iron Man (2008) until Avengers: Endgame (2019), the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has produced 22 films. How many of those ended with a happy ending? Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

Again, I know what you’re saying. “But Jimmy, in Avengers: Infinity War half of all life was dusted. How is that a happy ending?” To answer that, I’d argue that Thanos the Mad Titan was the protagonist and the Avengers were the “bad guys” of the film. With Thanos completing his task, he achieved his happy ending.

Every MCU film is predictable. You know going into the film that the hero will win, the bad guys will lose, and that everything will be alright. It’s boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love each and every one of those films, but that’s why I have my guilty pleasures. For once, I’d like to see a hero fail at the end of an origin film. That would give the hero an excellent redemption arc in the second and third film. Why don’t they do it? Two words: Box Office. If the film doesn’t do well, then there might not be a second film. You have to perform well in the first film. Meaning a happy ending where the hero wins the day.
You know, the more I think about it, the first film is like a presidential term. If the first one doesn’t do well, there won’t be a second one.

Films that end happily are also a lie. Do you want to know the biggest lie in cinema? Here it is: “And they all lived happily ever after.” It trains children, and depressed adult male writers, that if they try hard and do all they can to overcome their obstacles then they’ll triumph in the end and live “happily ever after.”

Horror movies aren’t even exempt. In the film Dawn of the Dead (1978), the main characters are evacuating from the mall as it’s being overran by zombies. Two of the characters die and turn into the undead while the very pregnant woman gets into a helicopter. Because in the 70’s aircraft births were the thing. The last guy was locked in his room with a gun to his head. He was waiting until the zombies burst in before killing himself, because that makes a difference. At this point, I’m waiting for the film to end darkly. Then, for some reason, the guy has a change of heart. A song that’s reminiscent of the theme to The A-Team plays and the guy fights his way through the horde of the undead to board the helicopter. Together, they take off riding into the sunlight. Happily Ever After.

Again, I know what you’re going to say: “But Jimmy, these are fictional scenarios that’ll never happen. And you’re saying they need to be realistic?”

Here’s my conclusion (tip to all essay writers: never write that as your last paragraph. It’s tacky). Every story needs to have some realism to it. I’m not saying that every ending to every story has to be sad, depressing, or soul crushing. It’s my belief that even in defeat, lessons can be learned. Movies should have more endings where the hero ultimately loses but learns something valuable from the defeat.

Now, as to my mental health, I’m sure you’re all concerned. Because, if I’m being honest with you last week’s rant and this one was depressing. Don’t worry about me.

I’m sure I’ll live happily ever after.

Story and Plot, part two

In last week’s MtC (that’s the working abbreviation for Mastering the Craft, just trying it out), I talked about the interwoven relationship between story and plot and how you can’t have one without the other. Sorta like that theme song to Married with Children. It isn’t absolutely required that you read last week’s MtC, but if you wanted to boost my self-esteem then go right ahead. Don’t worry I’ll wait for everyone to catch up… you good? Great, onto part two.

So now that you know that story is everything the reader needs to know and the plot is the portion of the story that the writer presents to the reader, let’s talk about what exactly goes into the two narrative elements.

Let’s say I get arrested by the police. Let’s say it was for attempted murder. And, just for the sake of fun, let’s call the victim Mr. Language. His first name’s English. They put me in the interrogation room and a detective says, “tell me where you were on the night of the murder of English Language.”

The initial response would be to tell the detectives everything I’d done that day from beginning to end. That would be my story of what happened. Which is exactly what “story” is, it’s what happens from beginning to end.

Janet Burroway, in her book Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, states that “a story is a series of events recorded in their chronological order.” It makes sense, right? In the case of the story I told the detective, I stated the events from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, beginning to end.

Any fiction movie, television show, book has a story. Remember from last week that Burroway defined story as “everything the reader needs to know to make coherent sense of the plot.” Note the phrase “coherent sense.” What exactly does that mean? In the case of my story to the detective, they wouldn’t want to know that I brushed my teeth with a baking soda toothpaste or that I ordered my pizza without onions because I hated the texture of the vegetables. Those are details that the detectives don’t need to know in order to make “coherent sense” of my story. The same goes when you’re writing a book.

“Random incidents neither move nor illuminate; we want to know why one thing leads to another and to feel the inevitability of cause and effect,” states Burroway.

How does that affect the plot then, you may ask? That’s right! I have another quote from Burroway (this is starting to sound like a thesis paper) that states “a plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance.” Have you ever wondered why a chapter ends with a cliffhanger? What about when Darth Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father, but then nothing is resolved until the next movie? Those are examples of the writers arranging things to deliver a more emotional and dramatic impact on their audience.

Look at the film Reservoir Dogs (1992), written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. If you’ve never seen it, the story is about a group of thieves that attempt a jewelry store heist but things go really wrong due to an undercover cop in their midst. The “story” starts with the undercover cop learning to become a thief in order to infiltrate the group, interacting with the group before the heist, the heist going poorly, the escape, the regrouping of the thieves, then the end. The “plot” is totally different. Tarantino starts the film with the regrouping scene after everything goes wrong. Flashbacks are used intermittently to show the audience more information about who could possibly be the undercover cop. You don’t know into much later in the film. It is clever and if you’ve never seen it before it’s a watch if you’re looking to properly utilize how to create an emotional and dramatic buildup.

It looks like it’s my time to leave you all for another week. Next week, I’ll be discussing more elements within “Story and Plot” so be prepared for more Burroway quotes and maybe I’ll let you know whether or not I was officially charged with the murder of English Language. See? I’m using plot to create a cliffhanger.

Spoiler: English Language deserved it. He allowed the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey books to exist. Someone had to act.

Writing Myths: “It’s such an easy gig.”

When people tell me that writing is easy, I have two reactions. The first reaction, my outward reaction, is that I often chuckle and say sure it is. The second reaction, the one I scream inside my head about, is the exact opposite. Being a writer, especially an author, is an exceedingly difficult job with little thanks. You know, if I’m being perfectly blunt, writing is incredibly difficult. If you’re not a writer then I’ll briefly explain my writing process in terms of a news writer and an author. Then you can decide whether I’m justified in my ranting or just a crazy nutjob that shouldn’t be writing anything at all.

For example, I cover government meetings and write articles based on what happens during the meeting. Sometimes, as in the case of a BZA meeting I attended last year, the meetings can last more than one, two, or three hours. Not only do you have to be furiously scribbling notes the entire time, but you also have to be able to sit still for that long. You better hope that you aren’t predisposed to blood clots (like I am). Then when you get back into the office, you have to set about the task of writing that article. Do you break it apart into separate articles? Do you leave something out or include something out of fear that the reader calls and complains because that issue wasn’t in the article? Especially at government meetings, you have to make sure that all the names are correctly spelled. Believe me, there are sometimes when I have to fight with autocorrect because it’ll change a name three times. You’ll also want to make sure that you leave your opinions and bias out of the article. I can’t tell you how annoying, frustrating, and grating it is to hear the term “fake news” applied to your article.

Then you submit it to your editor who reads it, edits it, and puts it into the paper. If the article is a sensitive subject, if you’re like me, you’re going to be walking on glass for the next day or two because you think someone is going to come in and complain about it. And sometimes they do. Or sometimes they send anonymous letters to the office or leave voicemails venting their own frustrations about the article. I love feedback as much as the next writer, but at least have the common courtesy to leave your name. I like to put a name to the punching bag I have at home.

But that’s just my thoughts on news writing. Let’s talk about what book writers go through.

Writers work hard to do what they do. We sit behind a computer screen and pour that combination of imagination, blood, and a pinch of our soul into a piece of work that may never see the light of day. Even if we finish, sometimes we don’t, that’s not when a writer can relax. Once we have completed our work, we have to literally tear it to shreds line by line, word by word. Writing is tough, but editing is soul crushing work.

Even when a writer is finished editing, you might want to submit it to a publisher. Did you know that most publishers have a response time of months? Once that writer submits, they’re checking their inbox almost hourly. Don’t deny it writers, you can’t con a conman. And when you finally get that response saying that your book has been accepted, that means you can sit back and watch those fat royalty checks come in? Maybe if you’re a Stephen King or James Patterson. Let’s be honest, you’re not. I’m not either so we’re even.

Now it’s a waiting game. The publisher isn’t going to put your book in the front of the publishing schedule. Imagine walking into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It’s a packed Saturday and you enter to find fifty other people sitting down with tickets in their hands. So you walk over to the ticket machine and grab yours. After waiting patiently, you get another email. This time it’s from the publisher’s editor who has painstakingly picked the corpse of your book clean. Now you have to go through the book and change everything the editor has commented on.

After that is done, you send the edited version back. That’s where the fun begins because there’s the cover to approve, the author bio to write, the formatting to approve, you have to find people to read an advanced readers copy so that they can leave reviews at the time of the release, there’s the online release party to organize (if you have one), then all the other promotional things to market your book.

Once the book does get released, then you’re trying to juggle promotions, getting reviews, and then also writing the next book.

Do you all want to know the common denominator between being a news writer and being a novel writer other than, you know, writing? We don’t get paid that well. Having worked four years at my day job as a news writer I believe I’m paid rather well, but that’s because I’ve put in the time and effort to get there. As an author of three books and a few short stories, I think I’ve made about the equivalent of a PlayStation 3. In today’s market.

Well Jim, you might ask, why do you do it if you hate this profession so much?

To be perfectly honest, I love this job. I love being a news writer and being able to witness events that will reverberate through the communities I live in. Writing news, I feel like I’m part of the community even though I’m an introvert at heart. I couldn’t stop writing novels and short stories even if I wanted to. It’s something that’s ingrained in my soul. Even if my books are shoddy, which I tend to lean towards even though people say otherwise, I’ll still write them.

So when people tell me that “your job is so easy.” Sure it may seem that way, but it’s not. If anyone tells you differently, that’s when you can say “fake news.”

Common Writer Traits: Self-Doubt

I can’t do it. If I had to guess, those four words (or some variation) have been spoken by every writer sometime in their writing career. I spoke those words just the other day. I’d sent in the first round of edits on my third book and started thinking about the fourth. That ones going to be a tricky one. It’s gone through some minor changes and then one major change. 

The big change occurred when I had gotten 45,000 words written and then I decided that it would be better as the fifth book. I was faced with two choices:

1. Ignore my judgment and make the fourth book work as it was written.

2. Make it the fifth book and write a completely different book as the fourth in my series. 

Now, I know what you’re all probably thinking. “Don’t ignore your instincts Jim.” 

Easier said than done my friends. One of the factors I have to figure into my decision is the deadline of the book. I have to be finished with the novel by the end of August. September I’ll go through and edit it and have it sent off to the publisher early October. That’s all this year. No pressure, right? Now if I was Stephen King and had no other job other than to write then that would be easy. Or if I was James Patterson, I could just write the outline and have another author write it for me. That wasn’t a joke, either. That’s what happens when he coauthors a book. Look it up.

So why am I doubting myself?

If you ask a writer, then you’ll probably get the response “because you’re a writer.” Writers will get that joke. But it really goes deeper than that. When I first started writing my first book I had met the woman that would be my wife. She encouraged me to write and even suggested that I go back to college and study creative writing. The entire reason you’re reading this now is because she was the one that pushed me. She was the one that believed in me. 

Ten years later, I have everything I worked so hard for. I’m a published author with my third book coming out in less than a month, I write for a living at a newspaper, and I even have a part-time gig as an editor/submissions reader for an independent publisher. I should be happy. Except there’s one thing that I don’t have anymore. 

I don’t have the never-ending support my wife would give me when I doubted myself and my writing. To my knowledge, she never read one word I’d written. That didn’t stop her from telling me that I’d become a published author one day. It didn’t stop her from turning off the television and instructing me to go into the office and write. For all she knew my writing was garbage, but that didn’t stop her from believing in her husband. Deanna was the rock that I could steady myself against the waves of self-doubt. Now she’s living her own life a state away and I go home at night to a house filled with regret, guilt, and doubt.

“Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference. They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough,” said Stephen King in his book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not completely alone in this world. I have a network of supportive family and friends to rely on. But when you have that level of support, that I had for nine years, crumble into nothing it can seem almost insurmountable. 

I’m not too sure that I have the answer either. If you are working through a problem similar to mine, there’s one piece of advice I can give you. Don’t go through it alone. Whatever dilemma you’re facing, be it doubting yourself or something else, you don’t have to go through it alone. If you have friends and family that are willing to help you, then seek them out. If you don’t then there are groups and organizations that can help. If you attend a church, talk to your priest/pastor/reverend/etc… If you don’t attend a church, then start attending a church.

On Monday, when I was mildly freaking out about this Book 4 issue, I texted a friend of mine. 

Me: I need a writer’s opinion. Is it really crazy to throw out 40k words for a story when you start thinking of another way to write it?

Friend: Nah. Even if it was, you need to write in your own way. If it’s weird to someone else, so what?

Me: Well that’s true. Thanks for the opinion. It’ll be a madhouse getting it written before my November deadline though haha.

Friend: You can do it.

Once I read that last text, my anxiety vanished. My friend’s four words trumped the four that were floating in my head.

Stephen King is right. Writing is a lonely job. Life, however, is a lonelier job. Having someone who believes in you makes all the difference.

So go and find someone.

As a Christian, should I be writing horror?

Here’s a little known fact about myself: I’ve been baptized three times. When I was born, I had some kind of complication with a kidney or something like that. Doctors were worried that I wouldn’t live and with my family being Catholic, they wanted me to be baptized in case of something terrible happening. Now, the 2018 version of myself would make some joke about how moving to Michigan would be the terrible thing that happened. But the 2018 James Master died much like how the 1985 James Master almost died. The 2019 version wouldn’t dare throw insults like that around…

Spoiler alert, I lived past that day. Now even though I had already been baptized in the hospital, I was baptized again, but this time at a proper church. I couldn’t tell you where. I had other things on the mind at the time: What is this place? Who are all these giants? Why are they forcing a bottle of white liquid in my face? Why can’t I properly tell the difference between green and red? 

You know, those types of questions.

The third time was five years ago when I asked Christ into my life. Now, I might bore you all later with all that, but I really want to tackle the matter at hand.

As a Christian, should I be writing horror novels? 

If you don’t know, I’m the author of a series of seven books that focus on the Seven Deadly Sins. Get it? Seven books, seven sins… do you see a pattern here? When I wrote the first two, I hadn’t accepted Christ into my life. Looking back now, I’m not sure that those books would have turned out the way they did had I written them now.

I write the books as a means to investigate how the deadly sins of gluttony, lust, pride, wrath, greed, envy, and sloth have an effect on people. Mainly, I write them as an outlet to how the sins are effecting me. 

When you look at a Horror book, what are some of the words you would attribute to that genre? Scary? Violent? Gory? Pornographic? Overly Offensive?

How can I, as a Christian, write things like that? How can I promote my own books that have that type of content? How can I promote other books that have that type of content on my social media sites? Could I even write that type of content anymore? 

How can I do all those things and still walk into church on Sundays? There are kids and young adults at church that know I’m a writer. They can find my books on Amazon. They can even read them if they so wish. How will they view me as a Christian when they finish that last page of the book?

I take a small amount of solace when I see reviews like this one from a fellow horror writer: “It reads like The Walking Dead written by someone who prefers proper English and avoids contractions. I wouldn’t call that a bad thing, but I did find it jarring. Most zombie prose is heavy on vernacular and harsh language, while The Book of Roland isn’t.”

Personally, reading it over again, I think my first book is quite heavy on the harsh language. 

In the past when I’ve thought about this question, I’ve always used the defense that I’m only writing how the characters would act or say. Sadly, sometimes real-life is vulgar. Real-life at times can be violent and gory. Sometimes real people shout obscenities and break down. I’m only writing real-life scenarios.

But if that’s the case, then why am I so conflicted over this?

I’ve come to the point in these rants where I realize that it’s going to be too long to write for one single rant. Sometimes I decide to push on and others I decide to wait a week and come back with the next part. I’m choosing the latter in this particular situation. I promise that I’ll do some digging, both on the internet and in my soul, and come back to you all with my conclusion.

After Midnight Cover Reveal

Every so often, I’m asked to help my fellow authors get the news out about their newest book release. Sometimes, that help looks like participating in Facebook release parties and other times it’s helping them promote their newest book cover.

Like today. After Midnight is the newest book in the Miss Hyde Novellas written by the very talented Kindra Sowder. For the last few years I’ve had the privilege to call Kindra both my friend and my boss at Burning Willow Press, LLC. So when she asked for help regarding the new cover reveal I leapt at the opportunity.

So without further ado, here it is…

Hyde5 frontBlythe’s world is changing. She has finally accepted who — or what — she is. Hyde’s keeping to their arrangement. Blythe can now move forward from all she endured including a new romance with Emmett. Not only does he make her feel normal but helps her see a possible future.

But what of the elusive Adam Burnside? The man who could be her equal in not only state of mind but also body. With Cyra handing over journals filled with clues to her origins, Blythe needs to make sense of the new information within.


FB_IMG_1515772882925Author Bio:

Kindra Sowder was born and raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA until the age of 12, when her family moved to Spartanburg, SC. She graduated from high school in 2006 with full honors and as a member of her high school Literary Club and the Spanish Honor Society. In January 2014, she graduated with her second degree in Criminal NeuroPsychology. She married her husband Edd Sowder in May 2014 and still lives in Spartanburg, SC where she is basing Burning Willow Press. Her works have earned multiple award nominations.

If you are interested in all of Kindra’s other amazing works, here are a list of her Author Links.

Author Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2HPrZwG

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/12587201.Kindra_Sowder

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KindraSowder

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kmkinnaman

Web: www.ksowderauthor.com


2018 Movie Recap: The Best

Well, here we are at the end of 2018 and with it we are at the final category for my 2018 Movie Recap. The Best of the best that 2018 had to offer. At least, the best of the thirty or so movies that I watched this year. Sure, there have been others that have slipped my theatrical net, but I’m sure none of those were really worth watching. Examples included that Steve Carell action figure movie and that other one about the Arthurian knight that could talk to the chickens of the sea. 

Did I remember those two right? If not, oh well… Onto the list!

110. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 70%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 64%

IMDB Score: 7/10

Okay, I know what you all will say when you read this: “Seriously Jim. Solo! Are you even qualified to be writing this?” My response to your questions would be, of course, yes. Yes I am. Furthermore, I would quarrel with you over a cup of coffee anytime you want about this film. This film was fun, action packed, had decent twists and turns, had a stellar cast, and didn’t mess up the lore that was Han Solo. Plus, they even managed to tie in the Clone Wars television show with that awesome cameo at the end. Also, it was way better than The Last Jedi. What more can you all want in a Star Wars anthology film? Oh. You wanted Vader, Obi-Wan, Boba Fett, and Yoda to have their own origin stories? Well, sorry to burst your bubble but the butterfingers over at Disney dropped that ball when they allowed Rian Johnson to destroy everything that made Star Wars great when he was handed the reins to Episode 8. #notmystarwars #makestarwarsgreatagain

29. Christopher Robin

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 71%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 85%

IMDB Score: 7.5/10

This one hurt me right in the feels. Pure and simple. I grew up watching Winnie the Pooh and when they announced that they would be making a live action version I was horrified. I think I’m the only person on the earth that thinks that these live action films are silly. Why in tarnation does Disney take their old animated films and recreate them in live action? Didn’t anyone learn when George Lucas remastered Star Wars for the umpteenth time that sometimes remaking things with better technology just doesn’t work? Well… needless to say that when I sat down in the seat at the theater I was pretty optimistic. Of course, when Pooh realizes that he and the other residents of the Hundred Acre Woods had been “let go” because of “a fish in the sea” I was trying not to sob like a little kid. It doesn’t really let up either. Make sure to take some tissues if you watch this. I encourage you all to watch it.

38. Ant-Man and The Wasp

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 88%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 78%

IMDB Score: 7.5/10

To me, Marvel keeps getting better and better and that includes films like this one. It’s got the right blend of comedy and action that makes watching, and then rewatching, this film so great. If you liked the first one then you’ll love this one too. The film literally gets bigger and better with the addition of a compelling nemesis (sort of a bad girl but not really because lately Marvel does this great job of making you care about the villain), more comedy from the side characters, and an awesome sidekick in the form of the Wasp. Plus, it ties into the Infinity War Snap so that’s cool too.

47. Black Panther

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 97%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 79%

IMDB Score: 7.4/10

If you liked Hamlet and the Lion King then you’ll love this tale of a son having to gain the throne to an African kingdom from an outcast family member. The son will be thought dead after being thrown from a great distance, recover in a land not too far from home, and then come back and fight that family member to the death. Sure, it sounds like a rinse-and-repeat but Black Panther is a really great film. The CGI is pretty good (don’t look too hard at the rhinos), the acting and action are great, and the soundtrack is killer. To me, it wasn’t the best film because I knew going in that he was going to be alive. He was in Infinity War which came out a few months after Black Panther. Really, there wasn’t much threat to the character. However, Marvel was able to make a really great antagonist which seems to be the trend with their films nowadays. 

56. Deadpool 2

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 83%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 7.8/10

Don’t watch this film with your kids, even if your kids are adults. The film isn’t as lewd in terms of sexual jokes, but it’s not to be considered a “family film.” The story is great though and the comedy, while crude, is pretty funny and doesn’t hold back when making fun of Fox or any of the other superheroes in the genre. Ryan Reynolds gives another awesome performance of the “merc with a mouth” as he tries to save a kid from a terminator-like plot. Josh Brolin plays the antagonist, the time traveling Cable who is trying to kill a mutant child who will grow up and kill Cable’s family in the future. You know, that old chestnut.

65. Halloween

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 79%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 73%

IMDB Score: 7/10

Late to the reboot-train comes this newest incarnation in the Halloween Series. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as the paranoid hermit Laurie who put her life on hold for 30+ because she believed that the psycho granddaddy of the slasher genre might escape the insane asylum he’s been kept in since the first Halloween (yes, they redacted all of the other films thankfully). However, Laurie tried to have a normal life and had a kid played by Judy Greer who, in turn, had a daughter named Allyson. Allyson is our protagonist and the target of Michael Myers. Yes, Laurie was right and Michael did escape and he is as vicious as ever. If you appreciate scenes that aren’t cut at all that manage some amazing stunts then you’ll appreciate when Michael goes “trick-or-treating.” As an old horror fanatic, I simply loved this film. It does suffer from some elements. If you’re a fan that appreciates when a series as convoluted and bloated as this one gets back to basics, then you’ll like this one.

74. Ready Player One

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 72%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 77%

IMDB Score: 7.6/10

First, let me admit one thing about this film: It’s not the best film on this list. However, I’ve seen this film more times than any other film on this entire trilogy of lists. It’s visually amazing. It’s slams you in the face with nostalgia, but does it in a way that’s acceptable. It’s not like the book, but almost as great. Some of the flaws include the main characters. Artemis is supposed to be so self conscious regarding her facial birthmark that she doesn’t want to be seen in public. Parzival is supposed to be overweight and out of shape. Again, this isn’t the book, but even still. Have you ever watched a movie and thought: those actors are waaaaaay too good looking to play that role? 

83. A Quiet Place

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 95%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 83%

IMDB Score: 7.6/10

Can I be honest with you all? I can? Thanks. I went into this film solely because of John Krasinski. I didn’t really know too much about the plot except that they all had to be quiet because aliens were tracking them by sound. The rest of the cast blew me away. You might think that the lack of vocal dialogue would be a deterrent, but it only amplified the film’s other senses. By the end of the film I was both loving it and hating it. But I won’t spoil anything for you all if you haven’t seen it.

I’ll be quiet.

92. Avengers: Infinity War

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 84%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 91%

IMDB Score: 8.5/10

This was tough to admit, but Avengers: Infinity War was not my favorite film of 2018. The culmination of 10 years of storytelling across a crazy amount of films and it comes to this film. Marvel did one heck of a great job making me appreciate and empathize with Thanos, the Mad Titan. At the end of the film, I was laughing and clapping for him while everyone else was weeping and yelling in anguish over the loss of their favorite superheroes. I must have seen this in theaters about four times and I loved every second of it. On that first night, the audience was so amazing. I’ve never experienced such a reaction from an audience. One guy even cried. Like, full man-tears. Even if you don’t like super hero movies, you have to appreciate how the Russo brothers were able to juggle that many characters and still integrate them in such a way that they all seemed important to the core storyline. 

So, we’ve come to the final spot. The cream of the crop, the best of the best, the one true film to rule them all. EXCEPT THERE IS A TIE!!!!

Yes, I watched a film last week that made me rethink my entire list. So here are the two films that tied for the number one spot:

101. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 97%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 94%

IMDB Score: 8.7/10

I watched this and I was truly amazed at the quality and overall story of this animated film. I have to admit, I didn’t like the Miles Morales character when he first appeared in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. Not because of his skin color, but because they killed off Peter Parker in order to usher Morales into the role of Spider-Man. Why can’t there be two Spider-Men? Over time though, that hurt over the loss of Parker waned and I embraced Morales. Seeing that same plot play out in this film, I wasn’t as hurt by it. The thing that propelled this movie over Infinity War was the unexpectedness of it. Going into Infinity War, I knew the general plot points and where the ending would lead. Having been a comic book reader and knowing there was a part two, it wasn’t hard to predict what was going to happen. In fact, it was a…. snap. With this film, I didn’t have that knowledge. The plot kept twisting and turning and I was thrilled to see that Marvel’s propensity for creating compelling villains transferred over to Sony’s animated universe. You’ll sympathize with Kingpin and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Even the death of the Morales’ Peter Parker is heartfelt. Of course, seeing one of Stan Lee’s final cameos was also gut wrenching. Simply put, go see this film.

111. Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Rotten Tomato’s Critic Score: 99%

Rotten Tomato’s Audience Score: 95%

IMDB Score: 8.5/10

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. You know, it’s a sad thing to think that most children nowadays are going to grow up without Fred Rogers in their lives. Unlike most children’s programs, Fred Rogers wasn’t trying to advertise a product. He wasn’t concerned about toy sales or his sponsors. The only thing he cared about was the children. This documentary portrays the love and caring nature that was Mr. Rogers. The show dealt with tough subjects, but Fred Rogers explained them to children in such a caring and tender way that made it easier to listen to and handle. If you’re looking for trip down memory lane, then take the trolley into the documentary that goes behind the scenes of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Just make sure you take a few tissues with you. If you were a fan of the show, you’ll cry somewhere along the journey.

Thank you all for bearing with me as I criticized and ranked the films I saw during 2018. If you disagree with me (I’m sure there are some that do), then let me know in the comments below. If you want, I can make a list of the films I want to see in 2019.