Beyond the Gates: Cheesy Fun

Are you a fan of “Stranger Things” and “Jumanji”? Have you always wondered if there is more to board games than meet the eye? Welcome to “Beyond the Gates,” an entertaining and sometimes frightening low budget horror film that won the Audience Award at the 2016 Los Angeles film festival.

This film concerns 2 adult brothers whose father disappeared a decade ago who discover a strange board game he was playing before he died. Titled “Beyond the Gates,” of course, the game is an elaborate, mysterious concoction that threatens your mind, body, and soul and takes you to another dimension. In order to survive, you must listen to the game master (played on videotape by Barbara Crampton from “Re-Animator”) and win the game. The two brothers (who are hoping to save their dad from the other dimension( and their friends are affected by the game, and there will be much confusion and weirdness, a body count, blood and gore, and an ending that may not be what the viewer will expect.

I thought this movie was excellent, primarily because of its great premise and unpredictability. The actors are fine and the special effects are good. It’ll make you think twice about playing a board game! It is currently streaming on Netflix and is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Re: Autopsy of Jane Doe

If you’re disheartened by the overly commercial movies being put out by Hollywood and you like horror, I’ve got a movie for you. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe,” starring Emile Hirsch and Brian (Hannibal Lector in “Manhunter”) Cox, is a small-scale but very frightening experience. It is about a farther (Cox) and son (Hirsch) who work at a mortuary, and their new patron, “Jane Doe,” has died a very unusual death, and they can’t figure out what killed her. Is she even dead

This film has two things going for it: great acting and an incredible sense of mystery, atmosphere, and dread. Brian Cox delivers his best performance in years as the father, a decent man with dark secrets. The director, who made “Trollhunter,” has a field day with the possibly haunted mortuary. Not only do we get jump scares galore, but also some truly disgusting and disturbing scenes. It all builds to a satisfying, dark conclusion.

In short, “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is a good sleeper horror film. Rent or stream it and turn off all the lights. You will definitely be scared!

Guardians is a Hoot

I assumed I would never like a movie with a talking raccoon, but “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is a blast. The secret, I think, is in the casting. I am not a big fan of Chris Pratt, but he is perfect as Starlord in both films. Zoe Saldana is also good, but the show is continually stolen by Bradley Cooper as a foul-mouthed talking raccoon. Throw in Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel as the voice of Baby Groot and you have a cast of outcast heroes worth cheering.

I liked this film better than the first because of the cast being so much fun to watch. Not only do we get Sylvester Stallone and (in a memorable role) Kurt Russell, but Michael Rooker gets to be the hero. The 3-D, surprisingly, is very good, and the film never seems stuck in Marvel Movie Formula. In short, the film is a hoot and will probably make a gazillion dollars. And, yes, Stan Lee and Howard T. Duck make brief appearances.

Big Day at the Track

I had a big day at the track today. Only made a single bet. Bet $10 to win, $10 to place, and $10 to show on Ted Oliver and he won at 20-1 odds. Made a little over 300 bucks. Have been betting on Ted Oliver for about three years.

The first time I bet on him I was at the track at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley and I bet $60 to win on him and he won by a lot. It only paid 2-1 and wasn’t a great payout, but it showed that if you had balls you could make some money on this horse. There were a few other times he won or placed for me. When they run him for too high of a purse in the first few races he doesn’t do as well as when they run him for a lower purse and later in the day.

The best thing about him is that when he is on that day, he sometimes can win by a lot.

His past before this race I had bet $30 on him to show , but he came in 4th. I like that he had raced recently and been competitive. Unlike other horses I won a lot on before (Maggie’s Gold for instance) – Ted Oliver seems to place higher the more often they run him, rather than after layoffs.

He had a crummy starting position that time ( on the outside or the inside). Whereas this time he was in the 3 or 4 spots, where its much easier to get a clear lane to run. Most of the time at GGF I recommend to bet on horses starting in the 3 or 4 spot, and avoid betting on horses positioned on the inside or outside positions.

Race 8

Off at: 5:00 Race Type: Starter Allowance
Age Restriction: Three Year Old and Upward
Purse: $10,500
Distance: Five Furlongs On The Turf
Track Condition: Firm
Winning Time: 57.70

Pgm # – Horse

Win

Place

Show

3
Ted Oliver 40.80 14.40 6.60

4
Whilly Pink 8.40 5.40

8
Preacher’s Bluff 4.40

Fire Stomper Now

I don’t know how many Oakland A’s fans are reading this article but this suffering A’s fan has seen just about enough. From hitting to relief pitching to mascots, this team is now decidedly second- rate. However, what really annoys me is our horrendous defense and continual inability to manufacture runs. Because of this, I believe manager Bob Melvin should be fired and replaced with Atlanta Braves 3rd base coach Ron Washington.

I know that many people blame General Manager Billy Beane for trading Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, and Brandon Moss two years ago after three successful seasons. But even then, the Athletics couldn’t play defense or manufacture runs. Now that the team isn’t nearly as stacked with talent, their deficiencies have become far more glaring. A new manager and a changed emphasis on getting the basics right could do wonders for this team. Ron Washington is an obvious choice to replace Melvin because he has coached the team effectively in the past and went to the World Series twice as the manager of the Texas Rangers.

Another thing that has to happen is that the mascot Stomper has to go, but that’s another article. For now, here’s hoping it’s bye-bye Bob Melvin, hello Ron Washington! A’s fans should unite with this urgent demand. We deserve a winning team!

A Decent Circle

The new movie “The Circle” has the unearned reputation from critics and audiences of being a bomb. It’s a smart thriller that plays against audience expectations. Going in, we know that Emma Watson has to be the heroine and Tom Hanks, as a Steve Jobs-type guru, must be the villain. However, neither character behaves according to type, which has caused many people to say the film makes no sense. I urge people to reconsider. This movie is about people who are in the public limelight 24/7. Because the main characters are in the limelight all the time, there is no way they can tip off that their modus operandi may be masking deeper motivations and secrets. As a result, it is a genuine surprise when the characters are unmasked at the end as not being what they seem. If the director had played everything straight and square, with characters behaving in a more understandable way, the point of the movie would have been lost. The film is about how technology forces us to react in unnatural ways.

That established, this is a good movie, much better than “Fate of the Furious” and “Beauty and the Beast.” It asks important questions about technology, privacy, and where we are today and where we are headed. The music, directing, performances, and cinematography are first-rate. Most importantly, it tells you that if a company asks you to be monitored by millions 24 hours a day without big pay, just say no. See “The Circle” to see that the future is now.