General Review: Luca

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time for another general review already? Well, back to the old grind I suppose. I forgot to tease this last time. The whole thing with it going to streaming made me forgot I had to do a review for it. It does kind of suck it was brought to Disney+ like they did with Soul, but if it means not having to spend extra money/go outside then I’m game.

It feels like just last week we had a Pixar movie and we’ve their offering for this year. After our heavy the last movie was, their due for something a bit more simple, which is where this comes in. This is seeming to be a bit more relaxed, which I can respect.

The director is Enrico Casarosa, who has this as his feature debut. Prior, he directed the short La Luna, and was a story artist at Blue Sky before moving to Pixar, and then eventually making that short and this movie. For our two writers, one was on Soul so I assume I explored them there. The other previously wrote Every Day of all things. That was one of many movies I watched just because Debby Ryan was in it for like a bit.

Anyway, let’s see what I think of this offering.

This, is Luca

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Fear Street-The New Girl

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s time for something I have been excited to do for a while now. Next month, we will finally see the release of the Fear Street film trilogy. At first it was going to be one month, which my little event was structured around but it’s a bit late too change it. That and this is much easier on me.

I’m really excited to see how that turns out, especially given that one thing I brought up in the Download and Die review. (The trailer has since come out and we see it on display more than once so that’s cool) We’ll get to talk all about that in due time. If you are wondering, I do want to do something on the blog about it once I’ve seen them once, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

To get ready for that, the Stine reviews will be having a Summer of Fear event, as Netflix called it before it became just the one month of fear. Each month will have a Fear Street review, closing with a review of one of those trilogies. It’ll be fun and especially interesting with that last one.

I figured we’d start by going back a bit, And by a bit, I mean all the back to the very first book. Until a couple years ago or so, I hadn’t read this one and thus have no nostalgic attachment to like others do, so this should be fun.

This takes us all the way back to 1989. Prior, Stine had been writing teen thriller books after the success of Blind Date. He figured maybe he should do a whole series of scary books to give the teens what they want. The folks at Parachute Press liked the idea and after stumbling upon a title, the rest was history.

30 plus years later, here we are. The interesting thing is that according to his Masterclass thing I totally watched through legit means, the original idea to have them connected through the same two characters. But they didn’t think that would be believable for some reason so eventually Stine came up with the idea to have a location tie it all together. I think that works better but the not believable excuse is silly.

Anyway, back to June of 1989. Wow, I’m doing this on the month, I did not plan that. Anyway, let’s see exactly how this fares.

This, is The New Girl

While Bill Schdmit became the regular covert artist, these early ones were by other people. This one is by ENRIC, what a name. (It’s actually Enric Torres-Prat) I quite like it. The fog gives it a creepy feeling, along with this girl in danger. It is misleading, since spoilers, she is very much not the lead. But still, it’s a good cover to start with.

And as a bonus, here’s the 2000’s reprint cover.. ..Yeah, it’s not as good. In general, these reprint ones made these look way “sexier” than they actually are which is…just, no. Speaking of the reprint one though, with access to it as well I’ll be sure to point out all the times they tried to make hilariously 2000’s instead of hilariously 80’s.

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General Review: Spirit Untamed

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, it’s time to go back to the theater with another animated movie. I’m fully vaxxed so now I’m even more okay with going back out there. This is a bit an odd one to do go out there but you know me, gotta see every animated movie. Here we have the latest from DreamWorks and it’s an interesting one.

Back in 2002, they released one of their few early 2D animated films with Spirit Stallion of the Cimaron. I talked about it way back in the Top 5 animated films of 2002 post so a recap is in order. I remember liking it well enough, I mostly recall my problems, such as the over reliance on narration and background songs. Otherwise, not my favorite 2D DreamWorks movie but a good enough one. It didn’t bomb as hard as Sinbad would the following year but it didn’t do super hot.

It would gain a big following though. Then later in 2017, DreamWorks decided to make a Netflix series out of that. A serries where the connection is rather light, and the tone is even lighter. By all counts, it had no reason to exist and most fans didn’t take too kindly to it from concept alone. However, it got an audience and it got big on Netflix.

Thus why we’re here. We have a Netflix series becoming a theatrical film, although mostly because it’s based on a theatrical film. It’s so weird it got that point, was it really that popular? From what I know, this is basically a retlling of the series which I suppose makes it good for newcomers. But that just makes it even weirder that this exists.

But whatever. Now, I figured most people reviewing this, besides maybe parents, wouldn’t be too familar with the show. Because I like being special when I can, I decided to be an outlier. I watched the entire series, at least up to now. I will link the longer version I did on DA but the short version is…it’s fine. Certainly not great or anything but for what it is, it had its charms. It’s more baffling in concept than anything else.

But when you let go of that, it’s fine for what it is.

With all that said, I am interested to see how the movie fares compared to the series. i won’t compare it to the original movie because this is clearly a different beast at this point…and it’s been long enough that I couldn’t compare them too hard anyway. I opted out of re-watching so I can give this a more chance.

For our directors, one did a bunch of episodes of other DreamWorks Netflix shows like Trollhunters and the other has episodes of Teacher’s Pet, as well as doing works on DreamWorks movies like Turbo and Abominable.

We got three writers. One worked on the series as well as She-Ra, another did Dumplin’. The last one is the series creator Aury Wallington. Prior she wrote for series like Veronica Mars, Gravity Falls, and Tower Prep. She’s divisive, I’ll give her that. The animation itself is done by Jelyfish Pictures, mostly a visual effects studio and previously did the animation of How to Train Your Dragon Homecoming.

So, how does this movie fare after all that? Let’s see.

This, is Spirit Untamed

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Spongey’s Favorite Episodes: The Twilight Zone

Imagine this: A 25 year old man with no job, and no life. Just blog and some opinions. He recently spent some time watching over 100 plus episodes of strange situations with all the free time he has. He thinks he has seen it all. But he’s about to discover that there are still surprises for him. As he looks at his favorite episodes…of The Twilight Zone.

Hello, Spongey here.

I can’t believe we have a new Spongey’s Favorite Episodes on just one series that I hadn’t talked about before on the blog! Actually, it’s more than one show, all under one franchise. Oh yeah, we’re getting ambitious today. We’re going to be talking about The Twilight Zone. I don’t think it really needs an introduction.

It’s one of those shows most people are pretty aware of, and I’m sure there are plenty like me who were more familiar with it through the grapevine. I knew certain famous twists and such but outside of like one episode ages ago, I hadn’t seen much from it. I knew I had to marathon it eventually.

But before I was about it, it hit me that to do something a bit bigger. Sure, plenty had seen and talked about the original. Rod Serling’s creation was huge and was influential and all that. But like many famous series, it’s had a few reboots. Some of which were more well liked than others.

So I figured…why not watch those too? So I did, in reverse order. The most recent one was short and they got longer when going in this order. It made sense to me. Now, I have seen all episodes of each version. It was quite a task for sure. I even did Google Docs giving thoughts on each one, so you have well over 100 mini reviews to check out. Just go to Deviant Art for those, too many to link here.

Now that I’ve done it, I wanted to put a cap on it all. I feel each version has at least some value, and has their fair share of gems. Some had more than others for sure, but I feel like I could do this. Thus, I have selected one stand out episode from each version of the series. Maybe not like the best, as it’s hard to pick with some. But just one I thought was really good and represented the high point of the series.

I’ll actually be giving thoughts on each show as we go, so we can just cut to the case. With that said, let’s see which episodes from each show stood out to me as being very notable.

These are Spongey’s Favorite Episodes of The Twilight Zone

(I know I am not very good at Rod Serling narration, shhh. Oh and we’re going in reverse order.)

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Graveyard School-The Tragic School Bus

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome to the finale of Goosebumps Ripoff Month 2! I’m sad it’s over already but ah well. Last time, I picked the longest running series with an entry that I hoped would be the best and it was. So this time I went with the one I was most excited to finally read some of.

This one is Graveyard School. It’s on the obscure end, with no YouTube reviews I could find. However, it still lasted 28 entries from 1994 to 1998. That makes this the second one out the gate after Bone Chillers, which is neat. It’s published by Skylark, which is part of Bantam…who also did Galaxy of Fear and Choose Your Own Nightmare.

Boy, they were busy making ripoff series, eh? Anyway, the credited author is Tom B Stone and much like MT Coffin before them, it took me too long to get the joke and that is not a real persons name. It’s more like Fred E Katz though, where it is all one real author. That is Nola Thacker, who has some notable works. She’s done ghostwriting for Babysitter’s Club but more interestingly, did some Point Horror under the name D.E. Athkins.

Deathkins. That is amazing and it took me too long to get it because as you can tell, I am very slow. Her Point works seem to be mixed but that still makes her akin to Christopher Pike, as Point authors who jumped on the train. Her real name is not mentioned in the books from what I can tell so I don’t know when it was discovered but that’s not important.

This series is like Strange Matter, as it all set on one place, in this case it is the town of Grove Hill and the titular school is the nickname for Grove Hill Elementary. Also like Strange Matter, it seems to mostly be new protagonists each time with some references and cameos here and there, at least from what I can gather.

That worked well for that series so I find this idea pretty appealing. The covers and concepts seem to it be aiming for a ever so slightly younger audience on the surface, hence perhaps why it didn’t hugely take it off enough to be brought up a lot with people online. Still, 28 entries is pretty good, that’s more than Bone Chillers and Spooksville after all.

It seems to be a good one based on the characters alone from what I hear so I am looking forward to this. And like before, I should shout out the blog Point Horror and Jude DeLuca in particular for simping for this series hard enough for me to be interested. It’s also why I saved this for last, makes it extra special lol.

I have access to only so many and don’t wanna look up what the most praised ones are so I just picked one based purely on the title. I mean, how can you resist a pun this good?! With that said, let’s see if I picked a good one, or I ended up picking the weakest one with my luck, lol.

This, is The Tragic School Bus

The covers had different artists that are actually credited (Give Yourself Goosebumps artist Mark Nagata being one of them) and for this one it is Cam DeLeon. The cover is pretty good, it’s cartoon-y in a good way with the art having this solid exaggerated feel, as this creature drives a bus. A bus that has…wings, I guess? Either way, solid cover, I dig it. Best cover out of the ones this month which bodes well.

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Fright Time #9

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome back to Goosebumps Ripoff Month 2! This time we have a fairly different kind of series. Filing under the ripoff label is perhaps a bit harsh but it’s close enough for me. Although if I knew how weird that one Heebie Jeebies book would be, I’d have done it but this is one I wanted to take stab at anyway. Actually, this does have a connection to that series but we’ll get there.

This series is very hard to get information on. There’s not even a year mentioned on the copyright page, but other sources say it ran for 18 entries from 1995 to 1997, published by Baronet Books. Although if you go on Amazon, there’s previews for them that have a year on the copyright page…2008. I’m not sure which is true, but I’m sticking with 90’s. This is likely a reprint.

(Update, I found the contact of at least one of the authors, Shannon Donnelly. After doing this intro, she got back to me and said there isn’t much to say other than the editor was great. Eh, it’s something I guess)

The thing with these is that they are structured like thus: They have 3 stories, with each being done more like a mini-book. Each are 60 pages or so and have chapters and everything. Basically the same deal as Goosebumps Triple Header but done before then. It’s a neat idea, and each are done by a different author.

That means we’re likely in for some wild quality shifts. No sole author makes this one stand out, although they are edited by Rochelle Larkin. I mentioned this before, but one of those authors was Tim Ayers of Spinechillers Mysteries fame. He was even surprised I knew of this one!

Sadly, I couldn’t get access to either of the two he did so I had to go with something that is kind of close, as I’ll get into. Otherwise, not much to say before we jump in. Hopefully at least one of these ends up being solid.

This is Fright Time #9

…I wish these had proper titles.

Not much to say for this cover. No artist is credited but it’s fine. We’ve got a rat man who looks decent enough. I like it but it’s nothing too grand. It’s perfectly fine. (Also, I think this is reference to Story 2 but the man is never a rat. We’ll get into that)

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Spinetinglers – Billy Baker’s Dog Won’t Stay Buried

Hello, Spongey here.

Welcome back to Goosebumps Ripoff Month 2! After last week’s trip to the galaxy far far away, we’re going back to basics with this one. I present, Spinetinglers!  Published by Avon from 1995 to 1998, this one came out at the exact right time. It came before things like Shivers but after the early birds. Hell, it came out the same month as Strange Matter.

It lasted 30 entries, so it’s on the more popular end. Despite that, there’s not a lot of coverage online. There wasn’t any YouTube videos on it until very recently. That does give it a mysterious aura, fitting.

That name MT Coffin (it took me too long to get the pun) is indeed too good to be true, it’s just a fake name as this was really done by a series of ghostwriters. It’s the only one of these to do this so it does like even more of a obvious product than the others. However, more writers means more chances to have variety in terms of quality and content. I’ve heard decent things from what I’ve seen, so I am excited to get into this.,

I was limited in ones to cover but I went with this one as the concept sounded interesting. Plus, skimming the first chapter….oh boy, this will be fun. Out author for this one is George Edward Stanley, who had an extensive career ranging from children’s short stories, to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.

Sadly, he passed away in 2011. But hey, at least he left behind a legacy of 9 Spinetinglers, making him one of the most notable people to work on it. This was his first attempt, does it pan out? Let’s dig it up and find out,

This, is Billy Baker’s Dog Won’t Stay Buried

The covers had many artists that are uncredited. Tim Jacobus did some but this isn’t one of them. It’s okay. Pretty basic, just a ghost/zombie dog. Nothing too detailed but it’s passable. That’s about it.

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Star Wars Galaxy of Fear – The Brain Spiders

Hello, Sp0ngey here.

Well, it’s finally time to do it again! In April of 2020, I dedicated a month to reviewing some Goosebumps ripoffs. It was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. It was so much fun to finally see what these were all about. The results were wild, from kids becoming dogs, vengeful hobo toys, and of course, the power of Christ.

But there’s quite a few of these series out there, so I could only do so many. There’s a few notable ones I couldn’t get. Thus, we are back again to do some more. Yep, there’s a few more to plow through and I can’t wait. The series we have lined up are very interesting in their own right so this will be really fun to talk about.

I think after this I’ll have covered them all in some form, at least of the ones I personally count. Well, except for Hair-Raisers but that’s hard to find. With that said, welcome to Goosebumps Ripoff Month 2; Ripoff Harder

First off, we have the most fascinating one to me: Star Wars Galaxy of Fear. This one was on the later end, running from 1997 to 1998 with 12 entries. This one is notable for of course belonging to a larger franchise. Big franchises clearly taking from other places in order to remain relevant is common I guess, not not always this blatantly.

This middle grade series is part of the Star Wars EU and oh man do I not want to get into all that mess. You just need to know things like the Star Wars novels are notable for a lot of people, to the point where you have a character like Thrawn appearing in Rebels. I mention that because Thrawn apparently appears in this series, which shows me they were at least giving it better treatment than you’d expect for a throwaway like this.

Because this is an official Star Wars thing, it is easily the most documented out of all these series.  Tons of official Star Wars books that include the EU will include this too. And of course as usual Wookiepedia has tons of info on it. And from a glance, there’s a bunch of YouTube reviews of them from fans.

So I’m not doing anything too new here but hey, I got the perspective of a Goosebumps fan only casually only into Star Wars so this will be interesting. These were written by John Whitman who had prior Star Wars experience, writing a few Audio Dramas and a few other random books here and there.

According to him, this series was only meant to be 6 books but they were poplar enough to get expanded into 12. So the short-ness is due to it just being all they wanted, not being unpopular. And when this ended the middle grade horror craze was basically over.

Another good thing about this being notable is you have easy to find interviews to look at;

This series goes the Spooksville route of having a consistent cast running through these. The first 6 books form an arc while the latter half is more loose. I feel fine with jumping into a random one since these series are usually built so that they’ll just info dump you on anything you missed. I picked this one because the concept sounded like it could be pretty scary.

Plus, it’s book 7 and thus the start of the second half. Should be easy to jump into. Oh and one more thing. Another good thing about this series being Star Wars is that it’s the likely reason it is the only one of these series I have ever fond out in the wild! I’m not over that find.

Oh and yes, I had this be first so I can tie into May 4th. Shut up.

With ALL THAT said, let’s finally jump in. I’ll mention other stuff as we go.

This, is The Brain Spiders

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General Review: The Mitchells Vs The Machines

Hello, Spongey here.

Well, we’ve finally got another general review. It’s another one for a movie that was meant to be a theaters but now it’s not because pandemic. It’s one I’m pretty hyped for too. Sony Pictures animation has been riding high for people since Spider-Verse. But even before though it was clear they wanted to push what animation was capable of.

So in comes this, which is going to push that once again. Up front I should mention that yes, Phil Lord and Chris Miller are producers on it. People associate this with them as a result, and it is even marketed like that. But they aren’t the directors, or even the writers. The director is Mike Rianda, who previously worked on Gravity Falls. He is also a writer alongside Jeff Rowe, who worked on the show as well.

Just had to get that out there, it’s important. Anyway, the premise seemed pretty fun and it seemed appealing from the visuals alone. On a side note, it annoyed me when they changed the title to the more generic Connected…than changed it back affter I got used to the new title. Dang it.

Anyway, after all the delays Netflx just decided to buy it out. While I wish a movie like this was in theaters, at least I can get to it super easily. Hell, for the premiere they had a virtual one that any regular joe can can sign up for and watch it early on the Saturday beforehand. …I’m one of those people…but it can kind of bad on my end so I had to wait until the movie came out for real to write a review since it wouldn’t be fair to do this just based on this first experience. So I kinda watched it twice for this review. Hope that’s not unfair!

With all that said, does it live up to the hype? Let’s see.

This is, Mitchells Vs the Machines

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Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams

2 Spy 2 Kids

Hello, Spongey here.

I think it’s time to cover a movie that isn’t actually bad for this year. I also wanted to get another franchise done with so here we are. I’ve been covering the Spy Kids franchise on this blog over the years, starting with the weaker last two entries.Than finally last year my brother had my cover the first one to see how well it hold ups.

It held up reasonably well so I’m here to finally close it out. I wanted this done with sooner rather than later and this was a good one to easily pick for review. My picks for this year so far have been very “Eh, this will work”, weird.

Anyway, there isn’t much to say going on. Spy Kids proved to be a big hit so of course a sequel was quickly made and released the following year. It opened to good box office and decent, if unremarkable, reviews. It’s seen as the in-between, lesser than the first but not as bad as the ones that followed.

I feel doing the trilogy so fast lead to the problems they run into but we’ll judge that more by the end. I remember having my problems but still thinking it was fine. Does that still hold true? We’ll find out. The crew of Robert Rodriguez is still the same so we can jump in.

Does this sequel live up to the decently enjoyable first one? Let’s find out.

This, is Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams

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