Cinefessions Summer Scream Challenge Wrap-Up

As of 12AM this morning, the 3rd Annual Cinnefessions Summer Scream Challenge is over. I scored a respectable 293.75 points in 30 days of viewing sci-fi and horror films and TV series. I spent a lot more time on TV this year for the score factor and it paid off. Not too well, though; two other competitors practically eclipsed my modest little efforts to vie for the top prize in the challenge. To put it in perspective, I watched 50 films and 111 episodes of television in a month. That's not counting all the non-horror and sci-fi content I was keeping up with, like indie films (Belle is amazing), the new Sailor Moon subs, and all my usual research shenanigans for panels and writing work.

Just a few highlights from the month while I'm feeling nostalgic.

I watched the entirety of the Hellraiser series for the first time. I have to say, I was surprised to find even one sequel, let alone two, past Hellbound that are actually worth watching. This is one of those series that does not have a very good reputation and that reputation is not misplaced. The two films that are only tangentially Hellraiser episodes, though, are quite good: Bloodline and Hellseeker.

I got into a lot of great anime. Btooom! is an interesting spin on the deadly game/pulled into a game concept with a whole lot more heart than you might anticipate from such a blatant Battle Royale knock-off. Ghost Hunt is now one of my favorite haunted house stories and I've seen a lot of them. Persona 4: The Animation is very good for a video game tie-in series and looks great. Psycho-Pass is even better the second time around, allowing all those clues and connections to become clear that built such great suspense on the initial screening. Serial Experiments Lain has me convinced I need to put together a cyberpunk panel so I can address how amazing that anime is.

Speaking of surprisingly good animation, Batman Beyond is now up there with Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men as one of my favorite superhero shows. The cyberpunk setting and Bruce Wayne as mentor conceits work wonders. The villains, as always, steal the show in the Batman universe, but I found myself pulling a little harder for Terry McGinnis than I ever pulled for Bruce Wayne in other iterations.

I also fell in love with Dollhouse. It's a show I was always interested in but never really devoted the time to watching. How foolish I was to wait this long. I know the show is a little obtuse at times, but I love it. It's such a refreshing approach to science fiction and long-form narrative that I'm willing to overlook a few of the missing hows and whys and just go for the ride. Plus, the acting is incredible and the cast, forgive the superficiality, is one of the most beautiful ever put together onscreen.

Any regrets for this year? None, really. I'm still a little disappointed that Room 237, the amazing documentary about the crazy fan theories on The Shining, did not count as a supernatural film for double points that week. That's petty, too. There are (foolish) people who do not even think it's a horror film in its own rights, or even think it's a bad documentary. I won't judge them (too harshly) for their unenlightened interpretation of the material.

Would I participate again next year? Absolutely. As long as someone reminds me to sign-up, I'll do it.

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