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Blood Splattered Cinema
Hosted by: Horror Guru
The Horror Guru reviews the bloodiest, wildest, and weirdest horror that cinema has to offer!
Cartoon Palooza
Hosted by: Joey Tedesco
A satirical review show where a guy from Jersey watches and criticizes cartoons, including everything from comic books to animated movies. Whatever it is, Joey will either tell you to run out and see it... or fughetabouit!
The Count Jackula Show
Hosted by: Count Jackula
There are vampires, and there are men from outer space, but there is only one vampire from outer space! Join Count Jackula from the Planet Drakula as he explains the ins and outs of horror, from the mythic to the modern. Blood, off-color humor, and an obsession with Elvira are in store for you!
The Examined Life (of Gaming)
Hosted by: Roland Thompson
Just when video games were getting good, the late '90s and early '00s came along. The Examined Life (of Gaming) dares to delve into the good, the bad, and the value-priced games of this dark period, and sometimes we find something worth playing!
The Film Renegado
Hosted by: Film Renegado
Coming to you from south of the border, it's the Film Renegado! A civil engineer with a cinephile complex, the Film Renegado uses movies made in Mexico or by Mexican directors to share bits from his country's culture, past and present. You will both learn and be entertained! How cool is that?
Friday Night Fright Flicks
Hosted by: Count Jackula & Horror Guru
Welcome, fright knights, to Friday Night Fright Flicks! Join your hosts Count Jackula and the Horror Guru as they stumble their way through current horror releases, letting you know which ones are worth the price of admission.
Good Bad Flicks
Hosted by: Cecil Trachenburg
Good Bad Flicks is a show not only dedicated to rare movies, but also forgotten classics and misunderstood box office bombs. Your host Cecil takes you through each movie, discussing the promotional materials, and taking a look at what went on behind the scenes. With a healthy dose of Irish sarcasm, he throws a few jabs at even his most cherished favorites.
The Graphic Novel Picture Show
Hosted by: Sybil Pandemic
Your host Solkir presents The Graphic Novel Picture Show, a retrospective of the history of comic book movies!
The Movie Skewer
Hosted by: Team Agony Booth
From the makers of the Agony Booth™ comes The Movie Skewer, where terrible movies are roasted over an open flame for your enjoyment. Watch the very first online review/recap series that’s too much for one host to handle!
Mr. Mendo's Hack Attack
Hosted by: Michael A. Novelli
Need a healthy dose of cynicism from a guy whose face you can barely see? Then Mr. Mendo’s your man! Whether a movie suffers from Hype Backlash, Intellectual Dishonesty, or is just Complete Shit, Mr. Mendo is there. Mr. Mendo wasn‘t raised in this country, so he takes nothing for granted: if something ain‘t right, he’ll nose it out. So join him as he takes on Oscar winners and legendary flops alike in front of a blanket suspended between his couch and recliner!
Stuff You Like
Hosted by: Sursum Ursa
Stuff You Like is an original show where redhead Sursum Ursa waxes enthusiastic about movies, TV shows, and anything else that comes to mind! Expect singing, snarky subtitles, random pictures she finds on the internet, and lots of fangirling!
Terror Obscura
Hosted by: Fear Fan
Terror Obscura is a show dedicated to exploring the best and worst horror films ever made. While some shows are content to just mock bad films, this one isn't afraid to take even the most sacred of cows to the slaughterhouse. If you like horror, humor, or if you're just looking to find some titles you might want to rent, Terror Obscura is the show for you!
Tom's Retrophilia
Hosted by: Thomas Stockel
Is he a connoisseur of vintage media, or just a bitter old man trapped in the past?  Either way, tune in and watch Tom take a look at the movies and television shows from a time when he was actually in the target audience!
The Unusual Suspect
Hosted by: Unusual Suspect
The Unusual Suspect reviews popular movies, and tears 'em apart! They may be good, but no movie is perfect, and there's always things you may have overlooked and hadn't thought about. So join the Suspect as he exploits and ridicules the films you know and love. Just don't kill him for it!
What We Had to Watch
Hosted by: Il Neige
Il Neige is a smart-ass with a love-hate relationship with movies from the new millennium. Sure, reviews can be fun or cathartic, but there's also the risk of the occasional Twi-hard invasion or fireball to the face! ...That's how these things usually go, right? So join Il Neige as he braves the cinematic dangers that lie just beyond the fourth wall to critique the best and worst of 21st century filmmaking!
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the agony booth
Movie Recap
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
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The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Now, I know what you're thinking. "The NeverEnding Story? Isn't that a good movie? Isn't that a movie that people actually liked? What's it doing in the Agony Booth?" Personally, I'd call it an overrated movie (82% on Rotten Tomatoes? Really?), but that's not the reason I'm writing this mini-recap.

The real reason is that I received a recap submission some time ago from Michael Novelli, AKA "Mendo Loves Lum", whom you might recall as one of the contributors to the Battlefield Earth Mega Recap. He sent in a recap of the 1994 sequel The NeverEnding Story III: Escape from Fantasia.

While I thought it was a good recap, and worth posting, I had a feeling it wouldn't make much sense to people not intimately familiar with the previous two NeverEnding Story movies. Unlike, say, the Howling series, which essentially told seven different unrelated werewolf stories, there are, at the very least, several characters and elements that appear in all three NeverEnding Story films. (Although, there's a pretty loose continuity between the movies, but more on that later.)

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So I decided to write two short Agonizer mini-recaps, one for 1984's The NeverEnding Story, and
another for 1990's The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter. Together, these two articles should get you completely caught up in time for Michael's recap of the third film, to be posted in the next few weeks.

My reasons for writing these recaps are also a little selfish. Like a lot of people in my age group, I have fond memories of reading Michael Ende's original novel when I was a kid. I especially loved the "hook" of the novel, which was its dueling narratives.

The story follows an introverted kid named Bastian Balthazar Bux (a name that could only ever exist in fantasy novels) as he sits down to read a book called The NeverEnding Story. At the same time, we follow along with The NeverEnding Story itself, which tells the tale of a young warrior named Atreyu trying to save the realm of Fantastica (changed to "Fantasia" in the movies) from being wiped out by an unknown force. Eventually, the two stories become intertwined, as Bastian begins to realize the actions he takes in the "real world" actually affect the story he's reading. Let me tell you, this was mind-bending stuff to a preteen, and I loved every word of it.

I saw the film adaptation almost immediately after it came out in 1984. I enjoyed it, but I was somewhat disappointed that the movie only covered the first half of novel. I remember eagerly hoping there would be a sequel that would cover the rest of the book.

Unfortunately, by the time that sequel came around, six years later (an eternity in those days), I had outgrown the whole fantasy thing, and I no longer cared.

I know there are a lot of fantasy lovers who read this site, but frankly, the genre hasn't appealed to me in a long time. To me, the fantasy genre has two major flaws. One, fantasy novels seem to be primarily aimed at adolescents, and therefore the whole genre is stuck in a permanently juvenile mindset. Most fantasy stories are all about the complete avoidance of real-world, adult problems, with The NeverEnding Story being the shining example.

And two, the fantasy genre has never been much more than a small set of tired clichés, almost all of which were ripped off from Tolkien. The clichés are sort of the defining trait of the fantasy genre, really.

I mean, it's entirely possible that you could write a fantasy story without elves and wizards and dwarves. It's entirely possible you could write a fantasy story without mystical medallions and sorcerer's swords. And it's entirely possible you could write a fantasy story not set in a magical land that looks exactly like England in the Middle Ages. But at that point, it would cease to be called fantasy.

And yes, before you write in, I realize there are exceptions to every rule. I'm sure there are fantasy novels where characters carry Uzis, or laser guns, and they live in a realm that looks like ancient Egypt, or feudal Japan, or downtown Detroit. But I definitely haven't heard of any of them, and they sure don't make those novels into movies.

When I watched The NeverEnding Story again recently, nearly 25 years later, the clichés were never more evident. Maybe I'm too cynical these days, but I found myself constantly questioning the film. Why does there always have to be a "chosen one"? Why is there always some insanely powerful trinket that can do pretty much anything the wearer wants? Why are fantasy lands always ruled by a single person? And why is that person always either a tyrant—with an army of dark-colored creatures that can't talk—or completely benevolent, causing rainbows and unicorns to appear by his or her mere presence?

If you're looking for answers to these questions, or at least a fresh take on the old fantasy clichés, this is not the movie for you. Most of the movie clearly wasn't meant to be examined that closely, because a great deal of it doesn't even make sense.

The NeverEnding Story was directed by Wolfgang Peterson, who first came to the attention of American audiences with his Oscar nomination for 1982's Das Boot. Since then, he's had a pretty uneven career directing big-budget blockbusters, some good (In the Line of Fire, Enemy Mine), and the rest mediocre (Outbreak, The Perfect Storm, Troy, and his latest, the Poseidon remake.)

The source novel was originally published in Germany, so it's only fitting that the movie is a German production, and most of it was filmed in Germany. The production company behind the film was Neue Constantin, and if that name sounds familiar, it's because they also secured the rights to produce a Fantastic Four movie way back when. This led to both the current Fantastic Four film franchise, as well as an unreleased 1993 disaster, both well-documented on this site. Neue Constantin also produced all three Resident Evil movies, and while critical reaction to their films has been middling at best, the box office take has secured their place as one of Germany's most successful movie companies ever.

Before I get to the actual recap, let me get one thing out of the way: This movie lasts 94 minutes. That's right, it actually ends. That makes this the most blatant case of false advertising I've ever seen!

Beneath the opening credits is another brutal reminder of 1984: The movie's cheesy theme song of the same name, performed by Limahl, the lead singer of Kajagoogoo. I'm guessing by this song that Limahl struck out on his own because Kajagoogoo's music was a little too macho for him. The song is so overdramatic, syrupy, and pretentious, that it didn't surprise me in the least to find comical statements like this one made in all sincerity on Wikipedia:

As a reference to the film and its title, the song has no distinctive beginning, nor an end. While many songs fade out, NeverEnding Story also fades in, thus making it "never ending".

My god! It's pure genius! And here I thought it was just the single gayest song ever recorded.

Okay, onto the actual movie. The film opens in the kitchen of a suburban home. We quickly learn that Bastian is a lonely boy being raised by his single dad ever since his mom died. Dad is played by Gerald McRaney, best known from Simon & Simon and Major Dad. Major Dad gives Bastian an expository lecture over breakfast, about how they have to get on with their lives. The import of his speech is somewhat undercut by how he's mixing an odd smoothie the whole time, which contains orange juice and a raw egg. (Did this recipe get reused in Stone Cold?)

Caption contributed by Albert
"Look, Bastian, I'm sorry I had to make a smoothie out of your mom. If it makes you feel any better, she's delicious!"

Also in this scene, Dad mentions that Bastian's math teacher called, to complain that Bastian was drawing unicorns in his math book. Unicorns? Seriously, what heterosexual boy likes unicorns?

Bastian heads to school, but on the way there, he's terrorized by pudgy white kids, who do all sorts of vicious things to him, like toss him in a dumpster.

Caption contributed by Albert
"You thought you could fuck with the cast of Goonies?"

While trying to escape from them, Bastian ducks into a corner bookstore run by a creepy old dude named Mr. Koreander (no relation to any member of the New Teen Titans). Although, the place doesn't really look that much like a bookstore. It looks more like Koreander has OCD, and refuses to throw away any book he's ever owned.

Caption contributed by Albert
"Greetings, and welcome to Mastergrouch Theatre."

Koreander starts griping about how kids today don't read, and so a defiant Bastian reels off a list of the classic authors he loves. I guess that makes Bastian special, because Koreander reveals a huge book to him called The NeverEnding Story. Koreander then uses really obvious reverse psychology on Bastian to get him to steal the book. He's all, "oh, this is a special book! This is not the book for you! You couldn't handle this book!"

Caption contributed by Albert
Unfortunately, the title Koreander really wanted was already taken by Abbie Hoffman.

So, Bastian shoplifts the NeverEnding Story. He grabs the book and runs out of there, and Koreander looks smug and satisfied, probably because he gets to disappear from the rest of the movie.

Caption contributed by Albert
"Sweet! Now if I can just get the brat to commit arson, I can retire on the insurance money!"

Bastian gets to school, but once there, he decides to completely ditch classes to read the book. Shoplifting and truancy, all in the same day? I'm guessing by tomorrow he'll be selling drugs in the cafeteria.

Bastian heads on up to the school's attic and starts reading. It's the creepiest attic you'll ever see, complete with cobwebs, and rats, and skeletons, and lots of stuffed and mounted dead animals which will jump out at Bastian whenever the movie gets boring. Bastian takes a good hard look at The NeverEnding Story, which is a huge leather-bound book with a snake logo on front. This symbol is called the "Auryn", and believe me, you'll be hearing that name plenty of times over the course of the next few recaps.

The story Bastian reads is a pretty straightforward fantasy tale, taking place in the magical realm of Fantasia. As the name implies, Fantasia is just a generic fantasy land with all the various races and creatures you would expect to find in Generic Fantasy Land. In the first scene, several characters meet up in the forest, including Rock Biter (a giant stone creature who feeds on rocks, which seems sort of cannibalistic to me), and Teeny Weeny (a little guy, as the name would suggest, played by future Oompa Loompa Deep Roy). Other assorted random fantasy archetypes show up, who aren't really worth mentioning, since most of them vanish after this scene.

Caption contributed by Albert
"Hey, Depp's not coming back for the sequel, so somebody
had to step in!"

Caption contributed by Albert
Wow, Rock Biter has a magical Zamboni!

They discuss how Fantasia is being slowly destroyed by a force called "the Nothing". As we'll see later, the Nothing wipes out the land and leaves behind billowing smoke. The guys are all going to see the Childlike Empress, who lives in a place that's actually called the "Ivory Tower". So, is the Childlike Empress part of the academic intellectual elite? They all agree that the Empress will know what to do about the Nothing.

Caption contributed by Albert
The Ivory Tower. So, how many Fantasian Elephants had to die to make this place?

They journey to the Ivory Tower, which is a stereotypical fairy palace that glows like it's radioactive. Once there, they and a host of other krazy fantasy creatures are greeted by Cairon. Cairon is sort of like the Childlike Empress' press secretary, and he's played by Moses Gunn, last seen on this site in a far less dignified role.

Cairon informs the crowd that the Empress is sick, and some way or another this is related to the Nothing. Hey, who needs rational explanations in Generic Fantasy Land?

Caption contributed by Albert
"I'm always yelling, bitch, I'm Samuel L. Jackson."

It turns out that their only hope against the Nothing is this movie's "chosen one" character, an effeminate warrior-hunter kid named Atreyu. And for a warrior-hunter, he sure has pretty hair. In my opinion, he bears more than a passing resemblance to a preteen Alyssa Milano. We even find out in the dialogue that Atreyu hunts purple buffalo, which must be way more fabulous than normal buffalo.

Caption contributed by Albert
"Well, I did have a Selsun Blue ad to film, but I guess I can take some time out to fight the Nothing."

Atreyu is summoned to the Ivory Tower, where Cairon gives him a big medallion called the Auryn. It's in the shape of two intertwined serpents, each biting the other's tail. It's the same design as the logo on the front of the NeverEnding Story, which we're reminded of when Bastian fondles the cover.

Caption contributed by Albert
Damn, that's a lot of cleavage for a kid's movie.

So, in order to stop the Nothing, Atreyu is sent to see Morla, the "Ancient One". Because there's always an "Ancient One" in Generic Fantasy Land. He takes off on his horse (yes, it's white, how did you know?) and encounters various travails along the way. Like when he travels through the Swamps of Sadness, where the only way to get through is not to give into the sadness. Atreyu is fine, but alas, the same cannot be said for his horse, who gets depressed and drowns. And of course, in the "real world", we see Bastian actually shedding tears over this fictional horse.

Caption contributed by Albert
After this horrible incident, Horsey Prozac was created.

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