What's In The Box? episode 16: September Dino Drac Funpack

Despite what the Big Christmas lobbyists would have you believe, it's Halloween that is truly the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year". With all of the pumpkin spice and caramel apple deliciousness that comes out of the woodwork, every October we also get an influx of horror- and monster-themed goodies.

Not unsurprising, one of the biggest proponents of Halloween is Dinosaur Dracula. And even though it's still only September, the recent Funpack whets its subscriber's appetites for what to expect during the actual Halloween month. So, let's take a look at what we got!

How about some pictures?

Three stickers. I feel so special.
Yes, that is my cat acting as the backdrop. He refused to move.
This guy is seriously amazing. 
Just a weird addition to my collection of stuff.
35mm film. 4 sprocket holes per frame. Sound strip. I love this stuff.
It always creeped me out that Annie Camden had a connection to Chucky.
I was way off on my "Monsters of the Gridiron" prediction.
Do I give these to a few trick-or-treaters this year? Nah.
So that's our pre-Halloween box from Dino Drac. If you liked what you saw, head over to dinosaurdracula.com and sign up to get it for yourself. It's on $25 shipped and you can also preview what's in the box before you buy, which isn't something a lot of subscription boxes do.

Hey, if you got a little time to kill, head over to the YouTube channel and check out the other What's In The Box? videos! Feel free to give a few of them a Thumbs Up and subscribe to the channel so you get all the latest videos right in your face as soon as they go live. And while you're at it, follow me on Twitter and Instagram and like the Facebook page. Because we live in a social world and these are the best ways to stay on top of everything.

Thanks for checking out the video and we'll see you soon!


Movie Review: Blair Witch

I'm not a horror guy. That's actually been used as a point of criticism for me and my taste of movies. But it is true; I don't get into every horror movie out there. I do, however, consider myself a movie guy; I've seen thousands of films, studied most of them and try to look at each of them as critically and openly as I can. That said, it's time for me to take a look at the new Blair Witch.

(Also, spoilers ahead. While I don't give away any plot details, I may reference some specific events that some may like to discover for themselves. Just...consider yourself warned.)

Filmed under the code title The Woods, Blair Witch is a true sequel to the smash 1999 indie film, The Blair Witch Project. It follows James, a college student/paramedic, as he travels into the the woods in search of his sister, Heather, the main character from BWP. His journey is also the subject of his friend Lisa's film project, which summarily adds Blair Witch to the pile of recent "lega-sequels", movies that connect to a popular film franchise but act more as a reboot than a sequel (see also: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World). Blair Witch is also filmed in the same found-footage style that Blair Witch Project popularized right before the turn of the century. 

I do have to say that I liked how director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett tie the latest film to the original. The hook of a brother searching for his missing sister was at least believable. It also added something fresh to the script, instead of simply completely rehashing the plot of the first film. Instead, they only partially rehashed it. 

That said, they took quite a few loyalties with the way the movie was filmed. The Blair Witch Project was unique in the sense that it was filmed with two cameras: a black-and-white film camera and a color DV. However, the cast of Blair Witch seem to have every sort of micro-digital camcorder under the sun at their disposal, as well as three extra people to help film (James' lifelong friend, Peter, and his girlfriend, Ashley, accompany them into the woods, as well as local backwater couple, Lane and Talia). So while the cast of BWP were limited in the footage that they could take, BW is able to get every angle possible, including aerials from a goddamn drone.

So, in essence, Blair Witch was shot as if it were a big budget film yet it still suffers from a lack of continuity. During a pivotal scene in which James attempts to calm Lisa, they stare into each other's eyes...by looking directly at the camera. Each of them are wearing ear-mounted micro-cameras, meaning if their faces were inches away from each other as they appear to be, their gazes should be right or left of center. Instead, they stare directly at the audience as they mug for the camera. For whose benefit is that? Was Wingard trying to show a sincere exchange between two characters or is he trying to get the audience to connect with the characters? If the latter, it failed miserably.

Another quibble I have happens at the end of the movie between the same characters wearing the same ear-mounted cameras. In the pouring rain, in which we get full, clear shots of both of them while Lisa's ears are completely shrouded in her hair. Am I being pedantic when I point this out? Perhaps, but these are details that shouldn't slip through the cracks in a Hollywood-backed film with a $5 million budget. Just call me picky.

But let me get to an actual critique of the movie itself. While BWP played with the fears of nature and the unknown, allowing audience's minds to run wild with their own explanation of events, Blair Witch hits almost every possible phobia it can. Fear of eternal darkness? Check. Fear of bugs? Check. Claustrophobia and fear of being buried alive? Check and check. Even voodoo gets a nod (though I have to admit I did appreciate the way that was handled). On top of that, it relies heavily on horror movie tropes; characters act as you'd expect them to in any other slasher-horror film. Even the aforementioned camera drone became a plot device when the time came for it. It was clear that the filmmakers held strongly to the cinematic ideal of Chekov's Gun, using items they've introduced as a way to keep the plot moving.

The only problem is they're making a horror movie that supposedly grounded in reality and that's not how reality works.

Yes, I understand that it's a movie and that movies aren't real. However, the success of the Blair Witch Project was mostly due to the viral marketing that surrounded it. The supplemental websites that spouted "newspaper" articles about the disappearance of the college kids supported the belief that the film was a true documentary. All of that helped to launch BWP to the success it attained. And not once did the movie feel like it needed to utilize every object shown on screen. (Could you imagine what they'd have done with that bag of Utz potato chips?) 

And this was one of the major pratfalls of Blair Witch; it relied on formula, whether it was the horror movie tropes or common filmmaking beliefs. In general, I'm OK with formulaic. There's a reason a formula becomes a formula; because they tend to work. But when you hitch a wagon to a movie like The Blair Witch Project and create a sequel that boils down to "if BWP were a slasher flick", then of course you're going to alienate some fans.

But that doesn't mean I'd consider Blair Witch to be a bad movie. While it does falter in many places, it was genuinely creepy. Early on, the movie relies on jump-scares, probably as a way to acclimate the audience to what's to come. (Not at all a defense; Wingard get points deducted for taking the lazy-man's way of getting a reaction.) But after we get past those, there was a definite aura of freakishness throughout the film that had my anxiety on high-alert. Even the moments that were telegraphed in large, neon letters managed to keep my pulse racing. 

Despite the few slips and falls Blair Witch takes as a whole, it is a scary film, in and of itself. I would think higher of the film if it remained The Woods and didn't continue the sage of The Blair Witch Project. But even BWP was slightly polarizing back in 1999; you either loved the movie for what it was or you hated it for what it wasn't. There were very few in-between opinions of that film. And I feel that that's what makes Blair Witch important. Finally, after 17 years, the people who hated The Blair Witch Project because it wasn't more visceral have a movie that appeals to them better. And I'm OK with that. I may be in the camp that loved The Blair Witch Project but I also enjoyed Blair Witch.

But then again, I'm not a horror guy.


What's In The Box? episode 15: Women of DC from Legion of Collectors

Getting the Legion of Collectors was a fluke. I've always been more of a Marvel guy, hence why ordering the Marvel Collector Corps box was a no-brainer. But it wasn't until Legion unveiled their DC TV box a few months ago that I decided to jump on board, mostly in the hopes of getting something Melissa Benoist/Supergirl related (which luckily came through). I had only intended to get the one but then they started to announce the following boxes, like the Suicide Squad in July. I intended to cancel after that but based on the title of this post, clearly that didn't happen.

That's because the theme for September is Women of DC. Imagine what it could have contained with all of the amazing DC heroines available: Wonder Woman. Batgirl. Supergirl. So many possibilities that I couldn't let pass by.

So what was in the box, you ask? Just hit Play below and find out!

How 'bout some close-ups?

Love that patch. So simple yet so iconic.
Just a shame there was so little Supergirl representation in this box.
A classic issue. A not so classic cover. (Still cool.)
Could have been better but I like the character so I'm not gonna bitch. Too much.
Now this is one of the coolest things I've seen in Legion of Collectors.
The Legion of Collectors box ships every two months and runs $25 plus shipping. If you want it for yourself (keep in mind, next month's theme is "Batman Villains" so it's perfect for all you Batmanophiles) head over to their site and sign up.

And as always, thanks for checking out What's In The Box? If you dug the video, make sure you give it a Thumbs Up. Most of my videos could use a few likes and I'm not above asking for them. Also, make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel for more videos just like this one. Plus, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and you may as well like the Facebook page for good measure.

Thanks again and see you next time!


Goin' 'Wayback' with the Ghostbusters

Was that title a little on the nose? I feel like it was. But whatever, I just want to get into writing this. Ever since Dinosaur Dracula foretold of his adventures to try the new "Ghostbustin' Burger" at Wayback Burgers, I'd been dying to get one for myself. So I cleared my Saturday, tossed The Nerdy Pumpkin into the car and took the 40 minute drive to the closest (only?) Wayback Burgers near me in Little Ferry, NJ.

Just an aside: I hadn't heard of Wayback Burgers before the Dino Drac post. Was it a nationwide chain like Johnny Rockets that made sub-par but reasonably price burgers or was it more localized, like Shake Shake or In-N-Out? Who cares? I just wanted to try it because of the Ghostbusters tie in. I'm easy.

So anyway, traffic was clear on the New Jersey Turnpike and we made fairly good time. Which was good because it was nearly 1 PM and I was hungry. Little did I know that'd be the last time I thought about food all day (a rare thing, mind you).

As I parked the car and rounded the building, I was met with an exciting sight...

Simplistic in its execution, the Ghostbusters logo holding the cheeseburger symbolized the great promise awaiting me. My salivation glands kicked in hardcore after that and I rushed inside to join The Nerdy Pumpkin on line.

But the same logo followed me inside! This time it was joined by the largest, most delicious cheeseburger I'd ever seen. That stack of beef and cheese was to promote the "Triple Triple Challenge", in which the person who eats a 9-patty burger the fastest wins $3,300. (Of course, entrants have to complete a waiver so the idea of me entering that contest can get right fucked.)

So much promo everywhere! Wayback wasn't pulling any punches when it came to advertising. Unfortunately, Wayback isn't a household name so something like this can easily go under the radar.

But I have to give them credit. As you can see, they offered 3 items as part of the Ghostbusters Blu-Ray promo; the Ghostbustin' Burger, Mac & Cheese Bites with Ghost Pepper sauce, and a "Stay Puft Slime" milkshake. More details on each in a moment.

But what?! There was one of those face-cutout standee things! (Do they have an official name? I've never known if they do.) Customers have the chance to put their face into the logo and post the pic to social media using #WaybackBurgers. A very modern way to spread the word.

More promo! Each of the napkin dispensers had the same image as the cash register, just without the Blu-Ray packaging. So customers who didn't order any of the Ghostbusters items can regret their decisions as they wait for their food to arrive. Clever!

Finally, our food came out. My burger was topped with a little, plastic spear thingie with the Ghostbusters logo holding the burger (Burger-ception?). Sadly, that little topper was the only take-home that the promotion offered. Besides the memories. And the pics I took. And quite possibly the fire-shits that may have been in store.

In order to get this picture, I cut the burger in half and immediately licked the drippings off the knife. Within seconds, my mouth was on fire. The Ghost Pepper sauce that topped this thing was no joke. Just that one small taste made my nose run like a frigid winter day. And as you can see from that picture, that burger was slathered in that sauce. Not to mention the side of Ghost Pepper sauce to dip the Mac & Cheese bites into. What the hell did I get myself into?

Luckily, the second promo item was this beauty. The Stay Puft Slime milkshake. Vanilla ice cream flavored with toasted marshmallow and a drizzling of kiwi-lime sauce, topped with mini marshmallows. Given the amount of capsaicin settling into my tongue, the cool ice cream helped to relieve the pain in my mouth. Sadly...

...I had to wait for The Nerdy Pumpkin to finish trying the shake first. She, of course, loved it, even though my mouth had half-melted by the time I got to get a taste. After that first sip and the cooling splash of marshmallow and kiwi-lime it hosed my mouth with, I have to admit I really liked it, too. The kiwi-lime flavor was less than ideal, though, mostly because it didn't gel well with the marshmallow. But overall, the marshmallow took center-stage, as it should have.

Ah, the Mac & Cheese bites. Not an overly ambitious side as many eateries tend to have these on the menu. I was even saddened to later learn that Mac & Cheese bites are already a staple on the Wayback menu itself. So what made these so special to be 33% of the Ghostbusters promo?

The Ghost Pepper sauce. Which, as I've already learned, will set my mouth on fire. Soooo... would these be worth the time?

They sure look good, with that golden brown deep-fried coating and gooey, orangey-yellow cheesiness on the inside, but in fairness, they were bland and unappealing. In fact, the Ghost Pepper sauce is the only thing that made these little M&C poppers worthwhile. It could have been that I'd lost all feeling in my taste buds so anything I ate would have been bland and unappealing but I don't think that was the case here. If I ever go back to Wayback Burgers (which, admittedly, is likely), I'll probably order the Irish Nachos as my side.

Time for the wrap up. As far as movie tie-in promos go, this one was a little lacking. No takehomes, besides that burger pin thingie I showed you earlier, really makes it difficult to justify long rides. Luckily Wayback was only 40 minutes from me but I've heard stories of people questioning whether they should drive 2 hours to take part in the festivities. Which I think is crazy. The food was good. But not "drive 2 hours" good. I've had food that's worth a drive equal to the average cinematic film, but Wayback is not it.

That said, if you have a Wayback nearby, I'd recommend checking it out. The burger itself was succulent and the Ghost Pepper sauce, despite melting my face, added a great flavor to the meal. The milkshake was amazing and made me wish more places had a marshmallow ice cream readily available. The Mac & Cheese bites are the only things that can go fuck themselves. It's apparent that they were the lazy addition to the promo docket and really were an embarrassment to the Ghostbusters brand.

But all in all, I have no regrets.


What's In The Box? episode 14: The Bam Box - Crazy

In the immortal words of the poet Seal, "We're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy". The good folks over at The Bam Box certainly took that sentiment to heart and made it the theme of their August box. "Crazy" is chock full of items featuring some of the most mentally unstable characters in pop culture. So what did I get? Why don't you hit Play on the video below and find out?

Not into videos? I got photos for ya. (Though I could use some views on my videos. Just sayin'.)

Designed by Kelly Ferguson. I tried to find a website for her but no luck,
Designed and signed by Jason Oakes. Now his website I did find. Both of them.
All I need is some fava beans and a nice Chianti and I'll be set. (Oh, and a human liver.)
Anyone read this? Is it any good?
I finally have a mascot. I've never had a mascot before.
A shame I can't listen to this. Ah, well. At least it can sit on a shelf collecting dust.

If you liked what you saw and want to start getting The Bam Box for yourself, head over to their site and sign up. It's only $38 shipped and features some of the coolest, most unique items I've ever seen in a subscription box. In addition to the swag, all subscribers have access to the Community, which allows you to trade items with other users. For instance, I can try to trade my Mask pin for an Ace Ventura one (I'm not going to, but I could). That's another aspect of The Bam Box that makes it special; not having to haggle with eBay or Craigslist to get stuff that you really want.

(Oh, and just a heads up: September's theme is "Strange" and features an item from the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. If you're a fan of that show, you probably don't want to miss out on this one.)

Thanks for checking out the latest What's In The Box?! Make sure to follow me on Twitter and Instagram to get all the latest from the Idiot At Play. And I have a Facebook, too, though some days I'm not really sure why.

See ya next time!


What's In The Box? episode 13: August Dino Drac Funpack

According to the Dinosaur Dracula calendar, we may already in full Halloween Countdown mode but I'm still stuck in summer here, covered in a skin-stinging sunburn. But luckily Dino Drac is helping me get over my summertime blues in the form of the latest Funpack. Unlike most subscription boxes, and even past Funpacks, this one isn't entirely themed per se, but it does try to fuse summer with Halloween (Summoween?)to help get those spooky spirits up.

So does the August Funpack hold up to this promise? See for yourself.

Need a closer view of each of the items? Well, hold onto your horses, killer. I'm getting there.
"Pop Rocks and Kool-Aid" is my new 90s-alt-rock cover band name.
And here we have Blaze...And Lazer...and Blazer...
Every picture I took of the cards came out like garbage.
This is the least garbage one.
I had no energy to take more.
I'm serious about the stickers thing. Leave a comment and tell me what I should do.
I need to set up a play scene with all the tiny toys I  get from Dino Drac.
Panini sticker books were my absolute FAVORITE as a kid.
I look forward to the ugly poster each month.
Like the Funpack? Sign up to start getting it! It's only $25 shipped for a boxful for nostalgia and memories. Plus you'll be helping to keep the Dino Drac website in business so it's a win/win for everyone.

Also, if you dug the video, you can check out some of the past What's In the Box? offerings over on the YouTube channel. And make sure to subscribe so you don't miss out on what I have in store for the future!

I'm on the other social media as well! Head over to Twitter and Instagram and hit that little "Follow" button to be inundated with nonsensical ramblings and odd pictures of Mac Tonight. And if you like the Facebook thing, you can "like" the page there, too!


What's In The Box? episode 12: Marvel Collector Corps "Spider-Man"

OK, so it does look like I've been slacking on the What's In The Box? videos lately and while that may be true, I have a really good reason for it. Now, it is a fact that I've had a stack of boxes (is 3 a stack?) since Thursday of last week, however, I haven't had time to record any unboxings because this past weekend was devoted to The Sexy Armpit and the filming of the Halloween Special 2016 (look for it in early October!). So with that consuming the entirety of the weekend, I had to eke out a little time to even record anything.Which, surprisingly, I was able to do.

In my kitchen.

So take a gander at the latest Marvel Collector Corps box, which focused 100% on Spider-Man, who just happens to be my all-time favorite super hero! (This is my second "MCC" box featured on What's In The Box. Head here if you want to see "Women of Power".)

Don't worry. I haven't forgotten you non-video watching lurkers. I have pics just for you!

Love this action Spidey.
I like the style of Fabrications but just can't find it in myself to start collecting them.
Not a shirt. That's all that matters.
And there you have it. Quick video, quick post. If you like the Marvel Collector Corps box and want to get it for yourself, head over to their site and sign up. Also, if you liked the video, make sure you subscribe to the YouTube channel so you don't miss out on future unboxings. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest from Caution: Idiot At Play! (Oh, there's a Facebook, too, if that's your thing.)
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