Tag Archives: Horror

Wittrock/Criss ACS TV Criss-Cross!

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In the midst of all of events I have been busy with lately, I’ve barely had time to catch up on American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.  The second season of Ryan Murphy’s acclaimed series takes viewers into the event leading up to Gianni Versace’s death.  Other than Versace, also get a glimpse into the life of serial killer Andrew Cunanan (who we’ll discuss more about later this week!).

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One of the main characters we are introduced to is Jeff Trail, Cunanan’s first victim in his string of killings within the nation.  Jeff Trail was played by none other than Finn Wittrock, who acted alongside Darren Criss in the show. For the record, this was NOT the first time the two actor shared the silver screen.

Well folks – I believe it’s time for another epic TV CRISS-CROSS!

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So let’s get down to it – Finn Wittrock and Darren Criss both appeared in American Horror Story: Hotel, the 5th season of the horror anthology series (the season with the disturbing addiction demon!).  Wittrock played both Tristan Duffy and Rudolph Valentino.  Tristan was the male model who was a part of Will Drake’s fashion show.  He was attracted to the Countess as well, who later infects him with the virus.  The duo planned to kill Will Drake, inherit his money, and live happily ever after.

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Wittrock also portrayed Rudolph Valentino, the famous silent movie star who was involved in a secret polyamorous relationship with Elizabeth and ex-wife Natacha Rambova.  Valentino was one of the minor characters during a flashback of how the hotel came to be.

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Darren Criss played Justin, a hipster from Silver Lake who was seeking refuge in the hotel from pesky trick-or-treaters.  Justin had a string of demands for him and his girlfriend including a hotel room at a discount, a plate of artisanal cheeses, full-bodied red wine, and pâté.  After mocking Iris and her food, Iris kills him in a fit of rage.  He appears again later on as a ghost of the hotel demanding for some kale.

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While Criss and Wittrock never shared any scenes together, the fact that they were together on another series by Ryan Murphy proves to be an epic TV criss-cross to spot.  They are both veterans when it comes to Ryan Murphy’s work, making major appearances in series like Glee or American Horror Story.  It was only a matter of time before these two veterans would share some scenes together.

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We don’t get much TV criss-crosses these days, so its always amazing to discover a new one each time.  Who knows what other surprising actors/actresses will pop up in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

That’s all for today’s TV criss-cross event.  Stay tuned for more criss-crosses on the horizon!


Ryan Murphy’s American Netflix Story!

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Over the past decade, Ryan Murphy has become one of the most popular show-runners in cable television.  He created intriguing shows like Glee, American Horror Story, Nip/Tuck, and many others.  His latest series American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace has been winning over audiences since premiering in January on FX.  Other than on FX, he has also received widespread success for his procedural drama series 9-1-1 on FOX.

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Even though American Horror Story isn’t coming back until the fall, Murphy is still finding success with his latest shows.  In fact, Murphy has gained much popularity that he is in talks on a deal with the popular streaming service Netflix.

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Netflix, along with Ryan Murphy and his production company, signed a five-year deal that was reported over $300 million.  It is believed to be one of the biggest deals for an individual in television history.  Murphy only had a few months left of his contract with 21st Century Fox.  His provocative and trending hits made him a sought-after talented figure in television.

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What’s interesting to note is that Murphy isn’t the only sought-out figure in the television business.  Other notable people that Netflix linked deals with include ABC Show-runner Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, Scandal), Jenji Kohan (Weeds, Orange is the New Black) and producer Shawn Levy (Stranger Things).

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Image result for Netflix 2018

Murphy is one of many show-runners that is part of Netflix’s newest television PR strategy.  With all of these show-runners becoming successful over the years, Netflix is connecting with them to offer more bang for their buck.  For these trending show-runners, this new deal with Netflix presents them a whole new canvas to work on.  They wouldn’t have to be blocked of untapped creativity due to rules and regulations from such networks like ABC or FX.

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Image result for Netflix 2018

Both parties benefit from these deals – Netflix receive new creators who will create original content for their digital library and the creators will have much more freedom than the former networks.  Showrunners like Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes will pitch more bold storylines that introduce more colorful characters.

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This tactic shouldn’t come as a surprise, being that the streaming service audiences have been growing every year.  More and more audiences are cutting cable and streaming their favorite shows online.  Netflix saw that audiences are flocking to streaming services, so they have to do their part by hiring the best of the best talent that work in television and movies.  Star talents like Ryan Murphy will definitely give Netflix that leg up it needs from network giants like FX and ABC.

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As Netflix and Hulu become more popular in the future, you will see more TV/movie giants migrating their work over to streaming services.  Cable television series are pulling every last move to salvage their place with the American audiences while streaming services reap the rewards with series like Altered Carbon and The Man in the High Castle.  What you will see is that cable television is coming to a slow and painful end very soon.

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So what will see next from showrunner Ryan Murphy?  Will he release a line of drama series pertaining to shocking events in American history?  Could we see more horrific monsters like The Rubber Man or Twisty the Clown?  With Murphy’s new deal with Netflix, will there be a horror series much more disturbing than American Horror Story?

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Ryan Murphy, along with Shonda Rhimes and Shawn Levy, are a few of many showrunners who are making waves with streaming service audiences.

Damore Vs. Google: When Ideas Become Dangerous

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Google is one of the top search engines on the internet.  Millions of users worldwide use the search engine for many uses.  From searching for a new dinner recipe to keeping tabs on the Kardashians, many people enjoy Google’s widespread information.  Whatever your reason may be, you can always count on Google to provide you with the information you need.

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But within the Google universe, could there be such thing as limited information?  Are both sets of viewpoints easily accessed through the popular search engine?  Could such conflicting views have an effect on not just the search engine, but the Google culture itself?

To dive into these philosophical questions, it’s time I start a story (STORY TIME!).  It’s a timeless David-and-goliath-themed tale of one man standing up to a powerful search engine that’s run worldwide.  This is the story of James Damore, the man who is suing Google.

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James Damore was a senior software engineer for Google in Palo Alto, California.  While working for Google, he took notice of their diversity programs.  Some of the initiatives include women-only meeting and even mandatory sensitivity training for combatting alleged sexist bias. During his stint at Google, he conducted research that turned into a 10-page document titled Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, a memo citing Damore’s firsthand experience with Google’s diversity policies.

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His findings argued that men and women are biologically different, in terms of engineering work.  Some of his discoveries argued that men were biologically different from women because they strive for different goals (men were interested in materialist things while women were interested in people).  Another interesting statement showcased that men were more motivated to climb higher in the corporate ladder.  These findings were backed by various professionals in society.  They were replicated multiple times and even cited by multiple researchers as the CAUSE for the gender gap in tech (Damore was NOT making this stuff up, this was REAL findings backed by concrete evidence!).

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The ending results?  Google disagreed….as in, SERIOUSLY disagreed.  They disagreed so hard that newly appointed VP of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance Danielle Brown posted a memo explaining that Damore’s report ‘advanced incorrect assumptions about gender’.

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Things only got worse from there.  Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to all his employees, explaining that James Damore supposedly ‘crossed a line’ by pushing further for harmful gender stereotypes.  Pichai thought that this was NOT ok.  James Damore was later fired for his controversial memo.

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Even though he was brilliant software engineer, James Damone was fired by one of the most well-known technological companies of America.  Damore was fired simply for pointing out that these diversity initiatives were counterproductive to the ending goal.  Not only did employees disagree with his statements, but he was even silenced and eventually fired from Google.

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Damore’s memo blew up into a political PR nightmare.  His memo was known as the ‘Anti-Diversity Manifesto’ by many news companies including, Forbes, CNN, NBC News, ABC News, Wired, The Atlantic, and many others.  Many of the companies never took the time to read through the pages.

Ironically enough, Damore’s document was PRO-diversity and he brainstormed more creative ways to get more women in tech without resorting to the counterproductive discrimination.  His findings would’ve done more GOOD than harm, yet he was silenced for his un-politically correct viewpoints.

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Being that he was tired of being silenced and mocked, he is now suing Google.  Damore is suing Google for creating this ideological echo chamber (same name as his 10-page memo) where people are protected from hearing different viewpoints from this distorted bubble of group-thinks.  These group-thinks only agree on one set of viewpoints and take charge when one or more employees disagrees with the standard view.  It’s this ideological echo chamber that manipulated hundreds of employees to attack James Damore because of his differentiated ideas of diversity.

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This is a DANGEROUS PR nightmare that went from bad to worse in a matter of months.  It’s ironic (yet scary!) when a company like Google, that hires some of the brightest and best people in the world, couldn’t even handle one well-reasoned and scientific discussion.  Rather than hold a discussion about these unique ideas on diversity, they shunned him from the tribe and even went far as to terminate him.

What’s most terrifying about this PR nightmare is the censoring of IDEAS within the workplace.  Differentiated ideas and viewpoints are continuously being shutdown simply because they conflict with the politically-correct viewpoints.  Instead of holding mature discussions of various viewpoints, companies (and even colleges!) have been shutting down anyone who disagree with the PC atmosphere.

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Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 to serve as a warning for America, not become some beautiful utopia for fan boys/girls to dream up.  This futuristic dystopian world is becoming more real as time goes on.  Again, this PR nightmare is DANGEROUS.

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What will the future hold for James Damore?  Will his voice finally be heard in the land of the free?  Or will his ‘upsetting’ speech be censored by the PC Police of Google?

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Time will only tell for James Damore.  If we don’t solve this problem now, we could be facing much WORSE crises in PC America.  James Damore is one of many whistle blowers who refuse to stay silent in this dystopian world that closely resembles Fahrenheit 451.

We must come to our senses before we start burning ‘dangerous’ literature that differentiates from our personal values.  Ideas should be free of all perspectives, not just the ones that the majority agree on.

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Let’s hope that James Damore’s Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber doesn’t end up being burned due to it’s ‘dangerous’ and ‘upsetting’ viewpoints about diversity.


MakeSandcastlesNotWar’s Top TV in 2017

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Welcome back, my fellow readers!  Another timeless Christmas has come and gone.  I received lots of incredible gifts, saw The Shape of Water (which was REALLY awesome!), and ate some delicious Chinese food before binge-watching the new episodes of Fuller House.  Santa knew that I have been working hard this year for the blog and it definitely payed off.

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Christmas may be over, but a new year is right around the corner!  We are slowly creeping into 2018…and BOY do we have some surprises in store for us (more on that a little later on!).

But first, let’s look back down memory lane of 2017 for the next few days.  Our first stop on our journey are some of the most memorable TV series of this year.  There were some good TV cranking out on cable, but Netflix continues to steal the spotlight with their original content. Some franchises rolled out their newest season while others just released their season premiere.

Here is MakeSandcastlesNotWar’s list of most amazing TV highlights of 2017:

Santa Claritas Diet

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Usually I grow bored of these suburban-setting themed series with the cookie-cutter homes, trimmed hedges, and quirky family characters (shows like Suburgatory, The Neighbors or even The Middle!).  Santa Claritas Diet was definitely something different I found on Netflix.  It stars Drew Barrymore (Sheila Hammond) and Timothy Olyphant (Joel Hammond) as a couple living in the suburbs of Santa Claritas, California.  The real kicker?  Sheila experiences a medical condition where she transforms into a zombie and starts craving human flesh.

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Watching Sheila become a zombie in the suburban area of California is absolutely hysterical.  It meshes the typical cliches of life in the suburb with a zombie thrown into the mix.  Drew Barrymore is incredible in this series as a bad-ass zombie mom (my favorite part was when her character gnawed off her attacker’s arm and ends up eating him!).

Santa Claritas Diet was definitely one of the better suburb setting series.

Feud: Bette Vs. Joan

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Back in February, I discussed the tale of the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford (which you can read up on here).  Their notorious feud became the main plot for Ryan Murphy’s series FeudFeud looked at the rivalry between Bette and Joan while they were filming Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? back in 1962.  The 10-episode series showcased two bitter enemies in Hollywood who fought over fame, money, love, reputation, and even their own children.

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Bette and Joan’s feud became the central theme of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, driving a wedge further down their friendship.  Ryan Murphy’s newest series was a fantastic historic tale of anger, bitterness, jealousy, revenge, and loss.  Knowing Ryan Murphy from his other incredible series (Niptuck, American Horror Story, Glee), I knew I would be in for a wild and emotional ride.  It was certainly an emotional series I won’t forget and I look forward to the newest feud next season.


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Castlevania (derived from the famous video game franchise series) was a colorful, yet gory anime that came out on Netflix in July.  The story is taken from the 1989 video game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.  Trevor Belmont must defend the nation of Wallachia from Dracula and his evil minions.  He is aided by Dracula’s half-vampire son Alucard and magician Sypha Belnades.

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Even though I rarely played the Castlevania video games, I really enjoyed watching the series this past summer.  It was violent, gory, and had an action-packed storyline.  This is one anime I’m looking forward to next year when the second season is released.  Bring on the vampires!

AHS: Cult

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Every Fall I look forward to my most FAVORITE horror TV series of all time – American Horror Story.  Most horror movies don’t come close to the sheer bizarre, twisted tales of this incredible anthropology series.  Season seven was titled AHS: Cult, following the aftermath of the 2016 elections.  While the season didn’t feature Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Ryan Murphy managed to create a gruesome take on the shocking events.

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Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) leads a cult while running for city council in Brookfield Heights, Michigan. Restaurant owner Ally Mayfield-Richards (Sarah Paulson) becomes so distraught over Donald Trump’s victory and her many over her phobias intensify throughout the season.  She becomes terrorized by masked clowns, hallucinates irregular holes, and grows increasingly paranoid of the people around her.

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This was the first American Horror Story season that didn’t feature any supernatural elements and yet they knocked it out of the park.  It was an intense season featuring a broken marriage, creepy clowns (even Twisty came back!), one barbaric cult leader, and many historical cult leaders within the 20th century.  That’s what made American Horror Story: Cult a memorable TV highlight.


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If Twin Peaks and Stranger Things came together to have a baby via in virtro and the baby had some German flair, you’d get a bizarre sci-fi horror series called DarkDark is about the dark past of four families that hide a painful mystery that dates back three generations.  Four families, three generations, one gruesome mystery within the town of Winden.

This was definitely a great series to binge-watch during the winter storm a few weeks back.  Looking forward to what the next season brings!


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Breaking Bad was one of the best drug-themed series I ever watched.  I haven’t found anything that came close and then I watched The Ozarks.  This series truly filled the empty hole in my heart since Breaking Bad ended back in September 29th, 2013.

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Ozark follows Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), a financial planner who relocates his family from a Chicago suburb to a summer resort community in the Missouri Ozarks.  When his money laundering scheme goes wrong, he must pay off his debt to the Mexican drug lord.

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It’s got all you need in a great tv series – drugs, money laundering schemes, a tumultuous family situation, and one symbolic recurring opening theme.  Ozark was truly amazing to watch this summer and I look forward to what the second season brings for the Byrde family.  Who knows what twisted event will unfold next in Marty’s money laundering schemes.


AHS Cult Season Finale + Final Thoughts

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Last Tuesday was the season finale of American Horror Story: Cult.  It’s been more than two months since we dived into the cult theme for this season’s chapter.  We dealt with creepy clowns, crazed neighbors, bouts of betrayal, brutal acts of revenge, and one insane cult leader.  Other than the crazy cult that Kai initiated, we dived into the true horror stories of bizarre cult leaders of the 20th century.

Let’s start with a quick summary of what went down during the finale:


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We start the story 11 months later where Kai is in a maximum-security prison (more on that backstory just a bit).  Kai connects with members of the prison, increasing his army for his revolution.  He has more members doing his bidding, including employees of the prison as well.  While in the prison, Kai has been planning to kill Ally once he gets out.

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In the next scene, we go back to the event where Ally catches Speedwagon.  Ally realizes that Speedwagon was the mole of Kai’s group and proceeds to kill him.  Meanwhile, Kai bands his group together for a plan to massacre one-thousand pregnant women.  A SWAT team storms through the Anderson basement, disrupting their plan and taking Kai away (this is how Kai was sent to the maximum-security prison in the first place).

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Months after the SWAT raid, Ally reveals to Beverly that the FBI recruited her as an informant in order to capture Kai.  It was Ally who turned Kai over to the authorities in the first place.

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Image result for AHS Cult Kai Prison

Kai later escapes from the maximum-security prison, only to infiltrate a televised political debate between Ally and her opponent.  He tries to kill Ally with his gun, but failed to because the gun was unloaded.  Beverly later shoots him in the skull.

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After her political debate, Ally ended up winning the Senate seat of Michigan.  The finale ends with Ally donning an emerald SCUM cloak as she heads off to her next meeting.  Surprise, surprise – Ally became a part of Bebe Babbitt’s group to change the system.  That surprising twist marks the end of American Horror Story: Cult.

Final Thoughts

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This season dove into the themes surrounding a cult.  Kai Anderson, as well as other crazy cult leaders that were featured on the season, revealed some shocking insights about what a cult does to human beings.  As insane as the messages were, people still blatantly followed the leader’s every word.

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Some people are truly lost in the world, seeking for some guidance or hope that an answer will come to them.  When they are truly desperate for their answer in life, human beings will follow some divine figure that could provide them the results they are searching for (beggars can’t be choosers you know!).  Some individuals joined a cult out of fear or anger that they have felt for a long while.

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That fear/anger has been bubbling underneath the surface, waiting to explode at any minute.  The real event happens when those few individuals with those same thoughts band together to take action over their problems.  Kai’s members joined the cult based off of the same fear/anger they felt after the November 2016 elections.  After Donald Trump was elected, the group decided to take charge on this new world they were living.

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Many notorious cult figures, like Kai Anderson, made their mark on the world because of their revolutionary ideas.  Their hospitality, smooth charisma, determination, and ambition made them the valued leader of their community.  Some of their demands were disturbing, yet people blindly followed orders.

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As insane as their movements were, you have to admit that their community had some detailed tactics.  Whether it was Hitler’s strategy for the Third Reich or Charles Manson’s ‘Helter Skelter’ movement, these cult leaders came with some meticulously detailed plans for the world.  They were all planning something BIG for the nation and that plan went into extreme details before carrying them out.

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In the end, American Horror Story: Cult gave us a disturbing glimpse into the world of cults.  There were no supernatural elements this season, yet the cult them was frightening enough.  All of the main members joined Kai’s cult out of the increasing fear after the 2016 elections.  Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton were the main stars of the season, but the series definitely worked around these events.

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And with that, I can conclude that I’m done joining the cult and I’m ready to see what the next adventure brings us next season.