Not Another End of Year Movie List List

As if you need another list to read. Yet here it is, my end of year best genre movies of 2018 list. A couple of disclaimers first.

Some of these movies may not be considered genre films. But if they fill me with the same amount of existential nihilistic dread that I get from reading the news, then they belong on this list. That’s the mark of a solid genre film.

Second, I didn’t see everything. I missed a lot. And those who are familiar with my taste – and if you are then you have to find something better to fill your time with – you will notice that Lars von Trier’s THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT is not on the list. My guess is that if I saw it there is a good chance it would be here. But I haven’t yet so I had to move on with or without it.

That said, it was another solid year for genre film. A lot of very trippy movies, a few folk horror tales and even a movie that used horror as the vehicle to expose the past crimes  of the Catholic Church. That’s a great idea!

Genre fans have been very lucky the past few years. This decade is shaping up to be one of the best ever for horror, maybe since the 1930s. This year continues and adds to this positive trend.

Here is my top dozen in alphabetical order.













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Remake of a Roman Classic

I hear a lot of chatter and complaints about remakes. Especially of the classics. Why would we need to see a remake when the original was a masterpiece? The argument is often, to tell the story to a new audience and expose them to this great work.

No, I’m not talking about Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s SUSPIRIA, I’m talking about the US Bishops Conference remake of their 2002 meeting.

In light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation into clergy sexual abuse and the cover up, the Catholic Church is once again feeling a little pressure. Or maybe a lot of pressure. The Department of Justice has sent a warning to each Diocese in the USA, do not destroy documents relating to sexual abuse. Which is kind of like telling a toddler not to touch the television.

In response the US Bishops Conference was proposing two measures to handle the crisis. One was to set up a commission (Like the one was set up in 2015 that accomplished nothing), and the other was to set policies to hold Bishop’s accountable if they were found to cover up these crimes. But the Vatican stepped in and asked that they Bishop’s hold off on these measure. Much to the dismay of the US Bishops.

And the new audience responds accordingly, with shock and dismay.  Just like the old audience did in 2002.

Hot on the heels of the Boston Globe Spotlight series on clergy sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese, the US Bishops Conference felt they had to do something.

In response the US Bishops Conference was proposing a zero tolerance policy with priests accused of sexual abuse. But the Vatican stepped in and refused to endorse this proposal, effectively rendering it useless. Much to the relief of some church leaders.

The old audience met the news with shock and dismay.

Like in 2002, the 2018 US Bishops Conference remake has the same desired effect. The Bishops here look like the good guys trying but those people in the Vatican just don’t understand.

NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reported “critics of the delay said it sends the message that the Holy See does not grasp the depth of the crisis.”

I would suggest it’s just the opposite. They absolutely grasp it. They know what happened in Australia and have dug in their heels their too. Heels attached to a nice expensive pair of Prada shoes. In August of 2018,  they announced they are refusing to report crimes of clergy sexual abuse against children if they learn of these crimes in confessions. 

To that I would say, if you want to go to confession in Australia, get in line early.

The Vatican took the hit there too. They are the big bad boss hiding overseas. It’s great theater. And it continues to give local Bishops credibility. So everyone walks away and forgets. Until the next remake.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt anyone in the Vatican. Remember the Pope who refused the zero tolerance policy in 2002? Pope John Paul II. He’s now a Saint. The patron Saint of World Youth Day.

I wonder what the Mother of Sighs would say about that.

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The Top 21 Genre Films of 2017

In no particular order. Alright it’s alphabetical. Sort of. Some are films I saw at festivals this year so a few may actually be from 2016.  Sue me.

It was another great year of genre films. Whatever that means. There are some I missed that may have made this list otherwise. Happy New Year!

A Dark Song – Liam Gavin

Circus Kane – Chris Olen Ray

Dogged – Richard Rowntree

Gerald’s Game – Mike Flanagan

Get My Gun – Brian Darwas

Get Out – Jordan Peele

Hounds of Love – Ben Young

It – Andy Muschietti

It Comes At Night – Trey Edward Shults

Mickey Reece’s Alien

Most Beautiful Island – Ana Asensio

Mother – Darren Aronofsky

Offensive – Jon Ford

Personal Shopper – Olivier Assayas

Prevenge – Alice Lowe

Raw – Julia Ducournau

Theta States – Manny Serrano

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – Osgood Perkins

The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos

The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro

3 – Lou Simon


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Proper Burial? The Death of Cardinal Law

I find it odd that so many people are shocked, shocked that the disgraced Cardinal Bernard  Law will have a proper burial in Rome with Pope Francis overseeing it. Why would we think it would be any different?

In a telegram to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis wrote:
I have learned of the death of Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest emeritus of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, and I wish to express my condolences to the College of Cardinals. I raise prayers for the repose of his soul, that the Lord, God who is rich in mercy, may welcome him in His eternal peace, and I send my apostolic blessing to those who share in mourning the passing of the cardinal, whom I entrust to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary Salus Populi Romani.

This is exactly what one should expect. Regardless of the local Boston media outrage, Cardinal Law did exactly what he was supposed to do in regards to the cover up of clergy sexual abuse. He did exactly what every Bishop and Cardinal around the world have been ordered to do.

Let’s back up to Rev Gerald MC Fitzgerald who started notifying the Vatican of the epidemic of clergy sexual abuse in 1952. Yes, 1952. He finally met the Pope on August 26, 1963. Remember that date.

In his letters he wrote:
“Personally, I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young. Where there is indication of incorrigibility, because of the tremendous scandal given, I would most earnestly recommend total laicisation. I say ‘total’ … because when these men are taken before civil authority, the non-Catholic world definitely blames the discipline of celibacy for the perversion of these men.”

He even once told the Vatican they should by a private island and ship all of the pedophile priests there. For a decade Fitzgerald rang the alarm of clergy sexual abuse directly in the ear of the Vatican. In 1962 they responded.

In 1962 the Vatican sent a secret document to every Bishop and Cardinal around the world called Crimine Solicitationies  which means “instruction on proceeding in cases of solicitation”. It has the seal of Pope John XXIII. The instructions in a nutshell were the blueprints of the modern day coverup of clergy sexual abuse.

The following year the Pope finally meets with Fitzgerald and convicts them he will take his assessment under advisement. Knowing the church will do the exact opposite. The plan is already in motion.

The same plan that Cardinal Law followed. Just like every other Bishop and Cardinal.  And it hasn’t changed. Move the priests and avoid the civil authorities. And it hasn’t changed.

In 2016 a new class of Bishops was told that they do not have to report the crimes of sexual abuse to the police.

Their training manual states:
“According to the state of civil laws of each country where reporting is obligatory, it is not necessarily the duty of the bishop to report suspects to authorities, the police or state prosecutors in the moment when they are made aware of crimes or sinful deeds.”

Just stay on course and you too may retire to a luxurious life in Rome and have your funeral mass said by the Pope. All will end well for you. Just like Cardinal Bernard Law.

As they lay Law to rest, I’m guessing they feel a bit of relief. The face of the scandal is gone. They hope to bury the scandal as well. A proper burial and then move on. Just as they always have.

Posted in Cardinal Bernard Law, Catholic, clergy sexual abuse | 3 Comments

Trinity at the Boston Underground Film Festival!

TRINITY, will screen next at noon on next Sunday, the 26th, at the Brattle Theater in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts as part of the Boston Underground Film Festival.

As they describe it in the BUFF program:

In his first feature, Massachusetts’ own Skip Shea plumbs the depths of loss, trauma, and guilt through the story of Michael, a stoic artist (Sean Carmichael) who stops for coffee only to encounter the priest (David Graziano) who once sexually abused him. What would you do if you came face-to-face with the man who ruined your life?

Trinity explores that moment as a dreamlike journey through time past, a route that carries the troubled Michael in and out of churches, a dimly lit bathroom stall, and the tables of tarot card readers. We meet Father Tom’s other victims, most memorably the haunting Angel (Aurora Grabill), and a cadre of Michael’s chatty adulthood friends who seem to discuss the tenets of Catholicism as others casually discuss their theories about Westworld. Their removed, academic dissections rarely consider that the scars of abuse do not always fade with time. The experiences continue to strangle and suffocate the victims long after they’ve left the physical proximity of their tormentors.

An outspoken survivor of clergy abuse, Shea understands real terror is not necessarily found in cannibalistic reveries, but in the unexpected and most-unwelcome greeting from one’s tormenter in a benignly cozy coffee shop. These are the film’s most profoundly squeamish moments and they will stay with you long after you leave the theater. Filmed mostly in Western Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the non-linear narrative borrows from Mulholland Drive and the works of Alain Resnais, but this searingly painful story is all Shea. The journey is at times arduous and altogether frustrating, but you will never lose sight of the hope cautiously peering out from the rabbit hole. – Melinda Green

It’s a treat to be able to screen at this festival and bring the movie closer to home. It’s had a good amount of success outside of the USA, taking part in over twenty festivals and winning these seven awards.

Best Feature and Screenplay at the Lake View International Film Festival (India)
Best Horror Night Film a the Med Fest (Italy)
Best Director at the Amazon Underground Film Festival (Brazil)
Best Actress to Lynn Lowry at the HorrorHound Film Festival (USA)
Best Special Effects to Phil “Skippy” Adams at the International Filmmaker Film Festival (Italy)
Best Editor at the Arte Non Stop Festival (Argentina)

Tickets are available here. I hope to see you there. Thanks for your support.

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Giving Tuesday & the Shawna E Shea Foundation Inc

Dear friends,

Today is #GivingTuesday and we at the Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation, Inc. first want to thank all our many supporters who have sustained us for the past 16 years. Because of you, we have grown and expanded this year. We’re especially proud and excited that the Foundation is now an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, which means that all donations are tax deductible.


As many of you know, we are dedicated to continuing Shawna’s memory and legacy of helping marginalized young women and men realize their hopes and dreams. We do this in several ways:


The Shawna E. Shea Memorial Scholarship honors Shawna’s memory in both very tangible and symbolic ways. She was 16 when she tragically lost her life in an automobile accident in 1999. And because of her amazing network of friends and the Uxbridge community, a town-wide walk raised more than $10,000 and the Shawna E. Shea Memorial Scholarship was established. It is awarded annually to a female Uxbridge High School graduate who exhibits Shawna’s character and personality—qualities that made her unique and left a lasting impact on everyone she touched in her short life here on Earth.

Those qualities are best described in a poem written by her father Skip Shea entitled, “She Rode Her Own Wave.” It begins with these words:

She Rode Her Own Wave
inviting any and all on,
but never drifting off on others.
It was a large wave
with a direct route to the shore
passing us as the undertow
pulls us further out.

We believe that she would always want to help her friends and anyone who lives on the margins of life, who rides their own wave and yet deserves everything beautiful that life can give.

The Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation Inc. also awards an annual scholarship to a graduating male Uxbridge High School student in the name of Michael Liberty, Shawna’s cousin who also passed from this life at a young age.

Shawna Shea Film Festival

The Shawna Shea Film Festival (SSFF) is designed to honor truly independent films. It was established in 2012 at the Elm Cinema in Millbury, MA, with one block of independent films. Today, SSFF has its home at the Somerville Theatre in Somerville, MA and has grown into a three-day festival screening dozens of feature-length films and shorts from around the world.

The SSFF is a much anticipated festival among filmmakers everywhere and it is our unique way to support the Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation, Inc. as well as honor Shawna’s irresistible independent spirit by highlighting films that share the same quality.


This year, our Foundation established a new fellowship for first-time women filmmakers, which was awarded to professional studio photographer Erica Chick of Uxbridge during the 4th Annual Shawna Shea Film Festival (SSFF) at the Somerville Theatre on Nov. 20 this year.

The Women in Film Fellowship comes with a $500 stipend along with a mentorship from a variety of professionals in the filmmaking and arts community, including Shawna’s father Skip Shea, a local award-winning writer and director. Erica’s project involves writing and directing a documentary about the Empty Spaces Project in Putnam, CT, an innovative art gallery initiative that revitalizes empty downtown storefronts with cutting-edge arts programming and community education.

Erica’s finished documentary will have its premiere screening at the 2016 Shawna Shea Film Festival at the Somerville Theatre. SSFF brings together independent filmmakers locally and from around the world.

Please consider supporting our mission with your contribution by clicking on the Donate link here:

Thank you for your donation.

If you prefer, you may make your donation by check, payable to:

The Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Savers Bank
6 North Main Street
Uxbridge, MA 01569

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, your donation is tax deductible and will support our mission to help young people with scholarships, fellowships and educational opportunities.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Anna Chinappi
President, Shawna E. Shea Memorial Foundation, Inc.


Skip Shea

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I was privileged to have seen a sneak peek at Thomas McCarthy’s movie “Spotlight” which chronicles the Boston Globe Spotlight team uncovering the massive cover up of the sexual abuse crisis within the Boston archdiocese. One of the perks for being in the club.
It was a tough and surreal watch for me. Because I knew some of the people up on the screen. Not like Mark Ruffalo, although I was in Shutter Island. Not exactly with him. Or anyone else for that matter. But I was in it.
Because typecasting works. Thank you Worcester Diocese for helping me do a convincing crazy.
But I digress..
I know Phil Saviano whose character is in the movie. I know Mitchell Garabedian. I’ve communicated with some of the reporters. So it was strange to see.
What struck me the most was this moment in the film.

Mike Rezendes outburst and frustration happened because he felt something needed to be done. Immediately.
And some things were done. Cardinal Law resigned and went home to Rome. The Globe won a Pulitzer and other countries starting looking into the crisis within their borders.
The governments of the countries of Ireland and Australia took a huge and firm stance agains the church. Two UN panels on torture held the church responsible for these crimes against humanity.
But by that point there was a new Pope. A more groovy Pope. And people were less inclined to listen.
To the point where the Pope spoke at a joint session of Congress in the United States this year.
pope congress
Because this is just a sad piece of history in the Catholic Church according to Cardinal O’Malley. It’s also criminal, but that’s beside the point. And never discussed in polite company.
But for a moment the spotlight was shining on these crimes. and maybe because of the movie the light shine on it again. If only for another moment. See the movie and remember.
Before it becomes business as usual again.

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