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Tubi Treasures: Late Night Gems (March 2022)

If you enjoyed the previous Tubi Treasures reaching deep into the depth of Late Night Gems, then you may be wondering why this is the first Tubi Treasures post of 2022. While there are several reasons, any explanation would require me to start out with the classic, “what had happened was…”. Anyone who has worked with young people knows this is the standard starting point for a creative, yet often a nonsensical excuse. To spare you the B.S., I will simply say, teaching this year has been a lot. This is not to say this year has been particularly bad; in fact, this year has been much better than last year’s remote learning, but this year has been much heavier than before the pandemic. 

Since the New Year, my biggest mistake was waiting for the weight to subside before diving back into the activities, like this one, that brings me joy and a much-needed break from my day-to-day responsibilities. A few weeks ago, I decided to prioritize the activities I love doing, but don’t need to do as part of my job. Since then, the work is still heavy but has become more manageable. Hopefully, this list of late night gems provides you with the mental and emotional boost it provided me. 

(If you missed the previous posts, here are the updated links for October and December 2021)

IT (1990)

I was eight years old when IT was released as a three-part miniseries on television. A few years later, in my friend’s dank basement, his older brother popped a copy into their VCR. Even trying to act tough, I got as far as the opening scene before awkwardly pretending it was time for me to go home. For my friends who stayed to watch the whole thing, no one, except maybe Freddie Kruger, caused more sleepless nights than Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise the Dancing Clown.  Despite the made for t.v. vibe, IT still holds up well. The solid practical effects (especially the shower and mini-fridge scenes), excellent cast, and terrifying Pennywise combine to make this 3-hour classic worthy of revisiting. 

Wind River (2017)

Wind River is the best movie people have not seen. In fact, it is my wife’s favorite movie and my favorite thriller. Wind River, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario), grabs viewers by the throat with an opening scene of a terrified young woman sprinting barefoot through a snow-covered field and the tension never lets up from there. 

The young woman’s frozen body is discovered by Jeremy Renner’s character as he is hunting down mountain lions that killed livestock. Immediately, it becomes clear that he knows the young woman, Natalie, and her family, very well.  This connection leads him to help in the investigation alongside FBI special agent Banner (Elizabeth Olson) and tribal police chief, Ben (Graham Greene) tracking down Natalie’s killer. With each layer, Wind River only cuts deeper and grips its viewers’ attention even tighter. It is truly fantastic.  In addition to great writing, Wind River has an ominous soundtrack, a gritty cast, and a blitz ending that makes it a must-watch. 

Ginger Snaps (2000)

I have no idea why I waited 22 years to watch this movie. Maybe it was because of the terrible title? Maybe it was because werewolf movies typically suck? Who knows for sure. All I know is that Ginger Snaps is a coming-of-age werewolf flick that deserved to be watched much sooner. The movie’s success is thanks to the wonderful onscreen chemistry of the film’s heroines: Brigitte (Emily Perkins) and Ginger Fitzgerald (Katharine Isabelle). Both sisters are fantastic, but Brigitte’s growth from the first through the third act was as captivating as it was believable. Overall, Ginger Snaps is full of dark comedy, solid practical effects, teenage angst, the best hairless werewolf in cinematic history, and an emotional, action-packed ending that is damn near perfect. 

Tell Me How I Die (2016)

Tell Me How I Die is an ambitious psychological thriller about a group of college students participating in a weekend-long pharmaceutical trial for a memory-enhancing drug. While they are aware of the 24/7 monitoring and the possibility of some minor side-effects, no one expects to be able to see into the future. Stress levels skyrocket when one of the visions includes the violent deaths of their fellow participants. 

Unsure who to tell, who they can trust, or even what is real anymore, a small group decides to get the hell out of Dodge. Only to discover they are not only locked in, but even if they manage to get off their floor, or out of the building, they are still stranded high up in the mountains miles from civilization during a blizzard. All these obstacles are daunting enough, but this thrilling fight for survival includes a killer who seems to know their every move well in advance. 

No One Lives (2013)

No One Lives was a huge surprise. Having not seen the trailer, I went into this one blind and thought I had it pegged from the start. However, it didn’t take long to discover how wrong I really was. What I thought was a standard kidnapping and fight for retrieval story, turned out to be something much darker and much better. Luke Evans was ruthlessly believable throughout. He was so good, in fact, that despite having a really strong cast overall, Evans’s performance elevated No One Lives from a run-of-the-mill shoot ‘em up action flick to a gore-filled, gut-wrenching thriller. 

Frozen (2010)

Not to be confused with the Disney ice-princess musical with the same title, Adam Green’s Frozen is the anxiety-inducing tale of three college kids stranded in a chairlift some fifty feet above the ground. To make matters worse, there is a winter storm quickly approaching. Oh, and let’s not forget that the ski lodge is only open a few days per week. So, if they stay put and try to ride it out, they will be stranded for the next 5 days. Finally, there is a hungry pack of wolves circling the area. The result is an edge-of-your-seat human versus nature fight for survival that is extremely well-done and worth a watch. 

It Came From The Desert (2018) 

It’s hard not to love a movie based on an ‘80s video game that features teenagers partying in the desert, cheesy one-liners, dirt bikes flying through the air, secret labs, and giant ants. It Came From The Desert is more teenage adventure than horror, but there is plenty of bloodshed throughout. 

While not for everyone, It Came From The Desert has an old-school vibe with modern special effects. If you are a fan of juvenile humor, kaiju, and gratuitous dirt bike stunts, then It Came From The Desert is an obvious choice.  

Machete (2010)

My favorite Quentin Tarantino movie is Death Proof (2007). My favorite Robert Rodriguez movie is Planet Terror (2007), followed by From Dusk Till Dawn (1996). However, Machete is my third favorite Rodriguez flick. Like Planet Terror, Machete features over-the-top action, excessive violence, whip-smart one-liners, and campy super-villains. In fact, back in 2010, Robert De Niro’s portrayal of Senator McLaughlin, an immigrant-hating politician, was so outrageous it felt satirical. Now, unfortunately, twelve years later, it feels more plausible than ever. 

Machete is a tribute to the grindhouse flicks of the past, while still managing to tackle complex issues. With a star-studded cast: Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, Jeff Fahey, Lindsey Lohan, Shea Whigham, Cheech Marin, and Steven Seagal, Machete is an absolute must-watch.

Hellblazers (2022)

Hellblazers is the most enjoyable Tubi Original that I have seen thus far. Set in the late ’80s in a small southwestern town, Hellblazers focuses on a new sheriff coming to small-town America from the big city for a fresh start and some peace and quiet. Only to have his plans blown up by the chaos that ensues when a satanic cult comes to town to conjure a demon to feed on the souls of the townsfolk. 

 I enjoyed the cast of familiar faces: Billy Zane, Tony Todd, Bruce Dern, Meg Foster, Courtney Gains, and Adrienne Barbeau. In addition to the veteran actors, the entire cast did a wonderful job committing to this campy, low-budget gem. Specifically, Ed Morrone was fantastic as the burnt-out sheriff who has to shed his past in order to save his HopeValley. For fans of light-hearted, over-the-top, and fast-paced horror flicks with a retro vibe, Hellblazers is likely to please.