5 Types of Horror Villains That Don’t Disappoint

The undead are notoriously difficult to manage. It’s why they’re such tempting subjects to explore creatively.

There are tons of horror movies — many depicting creatures from other worlds, but most focusing on our own dead, back to harm us.

The sad thing about all these movies is that most of them are fucking terrible.

Continue reading 5 Types of Horror Villains That Don’t Disappoint

A Few Good Mensch: How The Jews Saved Earth, Again, in Independence Day Resurgence

The original Independence Day was about a lot of things: stinky alien corpses, Will Smith hitting things, the White House exploding, Data from Star Trek getting possessed, unspoken words between lovers, families reaching across distance, and nerdy Jews.

The two main characters were a studly action star and… geeky, scraggly, hairy, fussy, introverted Jeff Goldblum.

Independence Day was mostly considered “Will Smith’s summer movie this year.” People said “Did you see the new Will Smith movie?”, not “Did you see the new Jeff Goldblum movie?”

It’s surprising, therefore, that Independence Day: Resurgence is a Jeff Goldblum movie. While there is a “Will Smith” character (a similar-looking actor who plays his adopted son from the first movie), he’s hardly on screen at all.

The franchise’s sequel-switcheroo changes everything. It even changes the way I think about the original. 


To briefly summarize Independence Day Resurgence:

On the 20th anniversary of the attack, the aliens return. They want to kill us again.

The aliens blow up our satellites and most of our defenses. They wreck our landmarks. The odds look bad.

The president gives a rousing speech. Humans rally. There’s a fight. Some live. Some die. The aliens win. The end.

Just kidding.

After watching the movie, my husband was confused about the huge part that David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)’s father, Julius Levinson, played in the film. This time around, he doesn’t have any brilliant ideas. He just putzes around and uses a lot of Yiddish. He could have been removed from the movie entirely and not affected the plot a whit.

Mr Levinson is the comedic relief,” I said. “This movie is basically a Jewish comedy with aliens.”

And I realized, after I’d said it, that it was true.

In my heart, David Levinson had always been the protagonist/mastermind. Will Smith was a pawn in Levinson’s game of mental chess against the aliens.

This was the movie version of Garry Kasparov (who had a Jewish dad!) vs Deep Blue — humanity versus the Other.

What’s interesting here is that humanity typically treats Jews like the Other. They’ve historically been treated like second-class citizens, yet they’re the ones spearheading the campaign against the aliens in these films. Their oddness — their unconventional approach — is what usually makes them loathed. But it gives them the intellectual edge here.

Jews are the underdog of humanity. Humanity is the underdog of this fight.

The Independence Day series is a David and Goliath battle, maxed out. 

It’s basically Bible storytelling.

With aliens.

Which makes the plot really simple and archetypal.

Depending on your point of view, that makes Independence Day 1 & 2 either classic or stupid.

Most critics agree that the movie didn’t need to be made twice. Independence Day 2 was a re-hash of the first, with a deluge of callbacks and references. Though it doesn’t break any new ground, it did make me re-consider the first movie in a new light.

And also? It was a shit-ton of fun.


This Monday, I’m encouraging old-fashioned photographs. Like, with film.

If you don’t know jack about loading film or darkrooms, I recommend a) finding a friend who knows about that, or b) getting a disposable camera from a convenience/drug store.

You can take beautiful digital photographs another day. This Monday is for messing around.

Here are some photographs I took with a Holga one afternoon in the company of Michelle, The Redheaded Ninja, my wedding photographer and great friend. These are all on the Penn State main campus.


^ Your classic Penn State shot. Here’s Michelle on the Lion Shrine. There were two Holgas; she has the other one in her hands.


^ Here’s a double-exposed shot featuring the Creepy Screaming Children statue.

Its official name is “Olympic Wannabes” by Glenna Goodacre, and it’s fucking terrifying:

Screen shot 2012-12-30 at 12.38.20 PM

Its single-exposed horror has been captured here by Bob Collins on Flickr.


^ I’m obsessed with the statues at the library. See also: below.


^ Library statue double-exposed with girls sitting in front of the library.


^ “Don’t feed ducks” warning with the garden surrounding it.


And finally, this amazing Old Main world turtle. (It’s holding a globe on its back). I love him. I like to tell people to meet me at the turtle so I can visit him. I realize he’s inanimate, but nothing comes in the way of our love.

You may also be interested in Michelle’s photos from that day, which are better, because she’s a professional, and really good at what she does. I just doof around.

Using an old-fashioned camera makes you relinquish control. You don’t know what the results will be, and that’s fun. I promise you, anal retentive people: it can be very enjoyable.

Happy New Year’s Eve, Internet!