Pierce Pioneer

What to watch out for in June

Ciara Williams / Staff Illustration

Summer movies are often known for high octane and thrilling spirits. This season, studios are bringing the excitement in a variety of ways, from a musical legend story to big-budget monsters. Here are six that viewers can put on their must-watch list.

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” 

May  31,  2019

In 2014, Warner Bros. studio blew audience away with its electrifying reboot of the famous Japanese monster “Godzilla”. Now, the beloved creature is back, and is expected to destroy cities and people once again in the sequel. 

According to Comicbook.com, movie studios Legendary and Warner Bros. said that Godzilla is part of a universe which also features King Kong. Called the “MonsterVerse”, it is Warner Bros.’ answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The movie uses the latest computer-generated technology and showcases a lineup of the expected powerful creatures such as Mothra and Ghidorah. 

The cast stars Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo


May  31,  2019

Movies about musicians were big last year. with “Bohemian Rhapsody” taking home an Oscar for Best Actor, and “A Star is Born” receiving nominations in a variety of categories therefore, makes sense for a movie about the life story of Elton John to come out. Rami Malek did a wonderful job portraying Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and now Taron Egerton (Kingsmen: The Secret Service) will take the role of Elton John. 

Fans of the musician can expect Egerton to give an entertaining performance as well as focusing more on Elton John as a troubled soul. Where “Bohemian Rhapsody” stayed mostly true to Freddie Mercury, “Rocketman” takes side trips into “what-if” story lines. Aside from Egerton, the movie features Richard Madden (Bodyguard), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World). 

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

June  7,  2019

While the prequel of “The Secret Life of Pets” rehashed the basic “Toy Story” idea, the movie got mostly positive reviews, as seen on Rotten Tomatoes. Louis C.K. is not returning for the sequel, so Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille) is the voice of the main character, Max the dog. The terrier is back, this time introduced to another family member a young boy named Liam who Max has sworn to protect. 

Max has to learn to overcome his protectiveness, and let the kid have his freedom. The first movie was simple, straight-forward and did the job well, but fell into the hole of gimmicks.

 Additionally, like the original film, there is a chance that the humor content may be inappropriate for younger kids. Other returning characters are Snowball, (Kevin Hart), Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), Duke (Eric Stonestreet) and Gidget (Jenny Slate)

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Dark Phoenix”  

June 7,  2019

The sequel train continues with Dark Phoenix, the newest installment to Marvel’s X-Men franchise. While the franchise has gone through some ups and downs, it has attracted a loyal fan base. 

In the movie, the main character Jean Grey has to suppress her power, which is becoming unstable, That leads her to spiral out of control, and now the X-Men have to battle Dark Phoenix, Jean’s mutant self. 

The writer of the previous “X-Men” films “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” Simon Kinberg, is in charge of directing the movie. This installment features Sophie Turner of “Game of Thrones” fame as the title role along with the familiar cast of James McAvoy (Split), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Toy Story 4” 

June 21,  2019

The first “Toy Story” movie came out in 1995, and it changed the landscape of animated movies forever, with its unprecedented 3-D animation technology. Fifteen years later, “Toy Story 3” was released, perfectly wrapping up the storyline in a trilogy. However, in recent years, Disney announced the next installment to the seemingly complete franchise. 

The new movie can go either way in terms of quality. Regardless, fans of Woody and Buzz Lightyear will get a chance to visit these lovable characters once again. 

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are reprising their roles of Woody and Buzz, along with Annie Potts (Ghostbusters 1984) Keanu Reeves (John Wick) Jordan Peele (Key and Peele) and Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele).

imdb.com / Courtesy Photo

“Annabelle Comes Home” 

June 26, 2019

Summer is not only for big budget action movies but also horror movies as well. Annabelle is back with “Annabelle Comes Home,” a new movie in the Conjuring Universe, the horror counterpart of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Annabelle, the doll, first appeared in “The Conjuring”, then became the main character in her own movie and the sequel. 

After being locked in the artifacts room by two paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren, Annabelle start reigning terror on their daughter with other evil spirits. 

The terrifying universe has been hit and miss, “Annabelle: Creation” got a 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The main cast includes Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring) and Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring).

“Brightburn” gruesomely twists comic book genre

Jackson A. Dunn as Brandon Breyer

People can argue that the movie industry is in the era of superheroes. Plenty of “origin” stories, reboots, spin-offs and sequels have brought what was once a niche market to a more mainstream audience. While these movies are fun, they can be formulaic. As a result, filmmakers have tried numerous approaches to make superheroes more interesting. They went from making it dark and gritty, like “The Dark Knight” to turning it into a comedy joyride, like “Deadpool” or “Thor: Ragnarok.” Now, it seems as if they have discovered a new way to play with this genre, and that is with horror, which comes in the form of “Brightburn.”

The movie is straightforward with its storyline. A couple (played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) encountered a boy (Jackson A. Dunn,) after his spacecraft crashed on their farm. Desperate for a child, they decide to name him Brandon Breyer and lovingly raise him as their own. However, it is a colossal mistake when the Brandon discovers his powers and decides to terrify the town.

The concept of the movie lies in a simple question: What if a Superman-like being has no moral compass? With that idea, it delivers a bloody and gruesome answer. On paper, it sounds like a superhero or supervillain origin story, but in the execution, it is a full fleshed horror-drama flick.

A lot of the film is devoted to the story of the family, who are being torn apart as Brandon grows hungry for blood. In order for this work, it requires amazing chemistry from the cast. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman are believable in the movie. The love that is on screen is heartwarming which results in quite an impact when the relationship crumbles as they figure out how to deal with their son. Jackson A. Dunn did a stunning job portraying the evil Brandon Breyer, to the point where people might even feel a hatred towards his character. Overall, the performances in the movie across the board are great.

Screen Gems
Elizabeth Banks as the loving and increasingly alarmed mother in “Brightburn.”

This is not the first time that filmmakers have tried to put a “thriller” spin on the superhero genre. Director M. Night Shyamalan blew audiences away with “Split” as his directorial comeback in 2016, which was a chilling story of a supervillain. A delayed project named “The New Mutants” also resembles the same tone as this movie, judging by the trailers.

“Brightburn” is different. The concept alone may interest many, while the movie has a lot of fun with the idea. It shows audiences what most superhero movies do not dare to show. It has blood, violence and is definitely not for the squeamish. Additionally, “Brightburn” is also surprisingly suspenseful, such as when the moments Brandon toys with his victims before the kills. They can make audiences hold their breath as they wait for him to strike.

Fans of comic book movies can recognize several nods to Superman in the movie. Brandon Breyer has quite a few of the same powers as the beloved American superhuman. The way he designed his symbol, flies, and even the location of Kansas are all tributes to the Man of Steel himself.

With all the positives, “Brightburn” comes with a few negatives. The story feels incredibly rushed, especially when Brandon finds out that he is special and goes from a sweetheart to a nightmare. However, the reason for his evilness is ambiguous, and the transition is extremely abrupt. The movie feels like it should be way longer than it actually is.

But with a fair amount of heroic superhuman stories, it does not hurt to have a few sinister ones. With “Brightburn,” audience can experience a combination of genres that has the potential to sprout a series of other copycat films in the future.

The Walking Dead: Season 2 Review



Daniel Konicek

Staff Writer

Alongside the popular AMC television show, Telltale Games released an interactive story based on The Walking Dead comic series. With the game playable on smartphones, Steam, Xbox and Playstation, it saw wide release and great praise for the unforgiving plot and vivid characters. Now that season two has premiered, it doesn’t look like the character’s lives amongst the zombie apocalypse are getting any easier.

The first episode of the season is titled “All That Remains,” but for Clementine, the new playable character, all that remains doesn’t amount to much. Pretty much the entire cast from the first season has left or died, leaving her alone and more vulnerable than ever. The shift from the strong and capable Lee Garret to the ten-year-old Clementine adds a whole dimension of vulnerability to the character.

The writers are not interested in being kind to her, however, and this episode is full of such reminders. Much of the new cast makes it clear that they would not hesitate to put a bullet in Clementine if she posed them any danger, but that doesn’t mean she is helpless. Her dialogue choices are consistently intelligent, all of it tinged with grief at all that has happened to her, but she still has a fierce drive to survive.

As far as gameplay goes, this is not too different from the first game. The puzzles are fairly simplistic, but the story is really what matters here, requiring the player to choose dialogue and certain actions, as well as the close calls dodging zombies and thieves.

If you played the first season, know that this looks like another fantastic season. If you haven’t played the first season but you are a fan of the show or zombies in general, pick it up immediately. It’s available as an app on iTunes, as well as Steam and other popular online game stores, as well as XBLA and PSN. If your only experience with gaming is Angry Birds, this won’t pose much of a challenge to you, either, if you can handle the dark storyline.

Horror helping society

This issue, the paper looked at the physical and mental effects of a good scare. Adrenaline, excitement, and dread all attract people to fright, but horror can accomplish more than the mental equivalent of a roller coaster.

The power and effectiveness of fear should be utilized by story tellers of any genre, for when used correctly, horror helps people confront that which they most wish to hide.

The subjects addressed by horror stories, by their nature, deal with subjects that make readers uncomfortable. It doesn’t take gallons of blood or hundreds of fangs to make a good scare; just the dread of what is possible.

Home invasions, disease, murder, and pain are all typical objects of fear, things that people all rationally fear in their day-to-day lives, but these are not usually the stories that stick with people. People remember the alien that lays its egg in your chest, for it invokes the often-avoided specter of rape.

People remember the were-wolf, again and again revisit the sensation of the body being painfully transformed and unleashing a person’s darkest desires.

Humans are very good at avoiding these subjects. People seek security systems, guns, science or religion, looking for assurances that they are safe, and that they are protected. Horror defies security. Horror allows safe exploration of these subjects.

This is why horror story protagonists are often heroes, bravely facing the unexplainable because there is too much to lose. Inspiration comes from confronting great challenges, and the tangible presence of fear will prove the power of a threat every time.

Horror can be buckets of blood and zaniness, a cathartic release when the Sharknado is defeated. Just remember that that there is more to explore and more boogeymen to face. You never know what you might learn.

Koontz gives Frankenstein new life

Kristoffer Hayward Staff Writer

Everyone knows Frankenstein as one of the classic monsters, but being a classic it may be a bit dry for modern readers.
Dean Koontz, one of the biggest names in the modern horror genre, has taken the Frankenstein mythos and updated it into twenty first century New Orleans. Koontz didn’t just make another hodgepodge monster with a soft side, he actually took Dr. Frankenstein and his creation wholesale and gave them conflict leading to this modern era.
The iconic monster, Deucalion here, is on a soul searching trip across the world while the good doctor is using a new name and making a rather big impact on society. Stumbling on these ancient figures, two local cops get mixed up in their affairs and have to question what could be real and what could be tricks played by their mind.
The series stands at five books usually ranging below five hundred pages apiece. The series itself wouldn’t be counted as horror so much as science fiction and fantasy, though there is a few points of horror elements and a little mystique when Deucalion gets involved.
For people looking for lighter reading but the same depth of the books, this Frankenstein series also comes in comic form which is made up of six volumes and encompass the story the books tell. Though some stories don’t translate well into a visual medium, the content from Prodigal Son [Book One] is filled with scenes that beg to be printed in a comic.
The comics can probably be found around four dollars and the books are around ten. Either way, the same story should be told with a different impression. If an inexpensive and visual medium catches your eye, the comics are ideal. If you enjoy hours of reading and a solid mental image of a character, the books might suit your fancy.
Comic book or novel, this series at least deserves a look.

evil dead review

Kristoffer Hayward
Staff Writer

Deliciously gory and not for the faint of heart, “Evil Dead” stands as a testament to classic horror films and the original as well.
Instead of a hopeful Ashley Williams taking his friends to the woods and falling into every cheesy folly a horror character can fall into, as in the original, it’s a young man with his sister and two friends.
David [Shiloh Fernandez] wants to help his sister by staging a secluded cabin trip as the setting of extreme detox. When the standard fare of creepy and scary happens, it’s waved off as the ramblings of a junkie in withdrawal.
For those out there who remember the first “Evil Dead”, the protagonist has changed and the guests are in the cabin number five instead of four. Other than that, it’s still a creepy cabin in decrepit woods; it still has no important digression, and it still features a creepily possessed girl chained in the basement, making vulgar threats.
Without spoiling anything the trailer hasn’t shown, the story keeps all the little things that made the first “Evil Dead” a cult classic. People who loved the original will find the same enjoyment out of the remake and people who come into the movie with none of the prior knowledge will still find plenty to love and squirm about.
Original lead actor Bruce Campbell directed this gem and he brings the same grizzly magic that the earlier version had. The rather short ninety minute film isn’t quite a remake and it isn’t quite a completely unrelated story. Rather, it acts like a retelling of an old myth.
There’s still a mysterious book, dangerous woods, heavy storms, a gift and a chainsaw, but even a fan of “Army of Darkness” will find themselves surprised by the new twists and turns.
Remember to stay after the credits for a little extra head-scratcher; it’s groovy.

Finding the normal in ‘Paranormal’

Latest in horror series may be weakest installment, still scares up audience

Valerie Ettenhofer
Staff Writer 

The first time around, Paranormal Activity was an unknown entity, a film that defied expectation and shocked audiences. In the vein of The Blair Witch Project, filmmakers passed it off as a ‘found footage’ documentary about a couple who sets up cameras in their home to figure out what is going bump in the night.

Every successive film in the franchise has tried to top the scares while playing to a fan base that now expects a set formula. In most ways, “Paranormal Activity 4” follows the new horror movie standard to a T. It drops viewers into the home life of a well-off family right as something strange is about to happen. The incident divides the household and surrounding characters into three parts: the skeptics, the curious and the convinced. Action escalates, and the final scene is, well, killer.

This time, fresh-faced and charismatic Kathyrn Newton plays Alex, who quickly becomes convinced that there’s something strange about the neighbor boy. Unfortunately for her, the family is skeptical, and an accident lands the unsettling child in their care. A quick recap at the film’s beginning shows a possessed Katie (the first film’s hero) kidnapping her nephew Hunter, and the boy (whose name is Robbie) appears to be the catalyst for all of the trouble in this new household. Alex’s little brother Wyatt, who strikes up a friendship with Robbie, stands in as the curious side of the “Paranormal” archetype triangle.

Most of the supernatural thrills are predictable, providing ample setup to create a tense atmosphere. After noticing the movement of a Cheshire cat clock in five different scenes, one is just waiting for it to stop for the “I called it” moment. Despite the lingering feeling of fear that comes from heightened expectations, new props are used well to convey a growing sense of dread. A bathtub, a chandelier, a garage door, a kitchen knife and an X-box Kinect all become items of menace.

As far as series plot goes, this installment offers two meager twists that advance the overall story. The cleanly executed, thinly written, respectably acted film ends with a hook that will elicit screams of surprise from some and groans of frustration from others.

Fear comes to Seattle; fans can’t look away

The city of Seattle has always offered the public with good, wholesome fun for all to enjoy. Why not take a day to go down to Pike’s Place and watch the butchers toss around the fresh catch of the day, walk down by the harbor or even take a trip up in the Space Needle; but what about those daring individuals who constantly crave that feeling of excitement? A visit to the Experience Music Project/ Science Fiction Museum will be the cure for your craving.

The EMP/ SMF has welcomed a new exhibit into its halls; an exhibit that is solely devoted to the genre of horror films.

“Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” is every horror fan’s fantasy. The exhibit includes vintage and classic artifacts from the most terrifying horror films ever made, as well as a deeper look into what exactly lures audiences to horror films and exclusive interviews with notable filmmakers such as, Eli Roth (“Hostel”, 2005.), John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”, 1981.), and Roger Corman (“The Little Shop of Horrors” 1960.).

“Can’t Look Away” takes fans deeper into the history of horror film. Filmmakers explore the genres past 100 years in the film industry, analyzing what ingredients exactly were used for such iconic horror films. Films like “The Bride of Frankenstein”, “The Wicker Man”, “The Exorcist” and “The Shining”, among many others, are analyzed scene by scene as to what made them so terrifying and how they helped pave the road for the types of horror films we see today.

The frightening, iconic artifacts include a full creature suit from “Alien”, the hockey mask and knife wielded by Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) in “Friday the 13th,” the razor-sharp glove worn by Freddy Krueger, and even the boots and hairpiece worn by Glenn Strange in the 1948 film “Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.”

There are interactive exhibits for guests, including the “scream room”; a soundproof room where visitors scream on cue while watching a scene from a horror film. There is also a “Shadow Monsters” installation created by visual artist Philip Worthington, in which the visitors shadow is projected onto a screen and guests can watch it morph into an eerie form before their very eyes.

A large section of “Can’t Look Away” is individually devoted to the musical elements of horror films. This part of the exhibit takes fans into the musical realm of horror films, allowing visitors to watch and listen to certain scenes from both old and new films. This part of the exhibit tells how music sets the scene in any horror film, explaining certain scoring techniques and fundamental music elements that are used to make the scenes as bloodcurdling as they possibly can be.

One of the most interesting sections of the exhibit is the “monster timeline”. Through this mural, fans are able to examine the particularities of the many monster archetypes that inhabit horror films. Zombies, vampires, werewolves, and aliens are only some of the various monsters that are featured.

Even the layout of “Can’t Look Away” is eerie, with the ominous dark red light affects and the creepy barriers that divide the sections of the exhibit; they much resemble the slashes curtains often seen in horror films. Guests will most definitely feel like they are trapped inside a horror film.

“Can’t Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film” does not disappoint in covering all the aspects in the genre that make it so irresistible to movie-goers. This exhibit is a paradise for long-time fans and admirers of horror films and even a great introduction to the genre for up and coming fans.

Scary Sketches Score students $125 in prizes


Superstition Week, a series of Halloween themed events, included a very scary challenge. “Show Me Your Horror”, a drawing contest hosted by ShaTara Baker of Student Programs required contestants to draw and color something gruesome, disturbing, and most of all horrific.

The first place winner would receive a 75 dollar gift card to Michaels, and 50 dollars to the second place winner. Baker said that her main reason for holding the contest was to “reach out to students who weren’t in an art class, or maybe couldn’t even afford one.”

The planning process took place within the week, as she wanted to give the artists enough time to create their frightening piece of horror.

Baker also stated that she would suggest the contest for next year’s special event coordinator, and plans do possibly hold another contest around Valentine’s Day. “Show Me Your Heart, maybe.” She said that “The winners were great and really captured the title of the contest.”

Jordan Watts, a graphic arts major, took home first place with his painting “Til Death do us Part.” Watts’ love of both Halloween and art compelled him to enter a piece.

The painting, which depicts a pair of conjoined twins, was inspired by his friend. She gave him the idea to paint an “inescapable position,” which resulted in the image of one twin eating another in a zombie like fashion.

His artistic background includes involvement in art clubs at his high school, and at the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburg. Watts also received an Associate of Science in Graphic Communication in Pittsburg.

He said that he really enjoys using different types of media, as it adds breadth to his work. When asked what he planned to do with the prize, Watts’ replied “Probably Sharpie paint markers, because they’re really fun to use.” Watts also complimented Baker and the Student Programs office on all the Halloween activities offered during the week.

The first and second place winners, along with a surprise third place winner, were announced on October 26th, during the Superstition Week festivities.

Paranormal Activity strikes again

Trilogies don’t always have to be horrible, and a perfect example would be the recently released “Paranormal Activity 3.” In this movie series the audience follows Katie and Christy through their experiences with paranormal encounters.

The movies go backwards in time further explaining the previous movies in the series. In “Paranormal Activity 3” the director focuses on Katie and Christy when they were children.

For a horror movie “Paranormal Activity 3” is relatively good. The graphics never fail to impress, and though they seem a little cheesy at points it adds to the fun of the movie.

“Paranormal Activity 3” follows the form of the others but it has fun little twists that make it better and it stays true to the year the story is set in.

The actresses that played Christy and Katie were a great fit for their roles and seemed dedicated. All the actors seemed very realistic, believable, and the effects it actually looked real.

The story line wasn’t great and was somewhat cliché. But it was still entertaining without having to think too much. The ending was expected as well but it was still creepy and left a lasting impression.

The scary moments were not something that would stay with a person after they left the theater but they were good for the moment. The writers even included some humorous moments that broke up the intensity of the movie.

The directors used cool camera angles and kept things fresh. It kept the suspense up and people on the edge of their seats. The writers also came up with some pretty good scares that I haven’t seen before.

All together this was defiantly the lesser of the three movies and they still left it open to another sequel but there isn’t enough room in the movie world for another “Paranormal Activity” movie.

Leave a Comment