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Archive 81: Every Major Movie Reference In Season 1 Explained

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Archive 81: Every Major Movie Reference In Season 1 Explained

Netflix’s Archive 81 season 1 featured a number of movie references and nods to classic film throughout its run. The streaming platform’s new horror outing references a lot of movies across its eight episodes, ranging from obscure arthouse flicks to Hollywood blockbusters. In a series all about media and how people interact with media, it makes sense that a lot of importance is given to these metatextual clues and Easter eggs.

Based on a popular podcast, Archive 81 tells the story of Dan Turner, a film conservator who is asked to restore numerous tapes recorded in 1994. They were initially recorded by Melody Pendras, a student working on her Ph.D. dissertation on the mysterious Visser apartment building. Pendras attempts to record an oral history of the Visser and its inhabitants, and, in the process, becomes embroiled in the plot of a sinister cult.

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Related: How Archive 81 Uses Found Footage To Create Immersive Horror

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Archive 81 uses its many Easter eggs and references to old science-fiction and horror works in order to play with the audience’s expectations. This appeal to genre codes and tropes adds a very meta dimension to the series, as viewers navigate the references, attempting to parse their significance and relevance to the story. Through this process, Archive 81 becomes a game, of sorts, in which the viewer is asked to decode these Easter eggs, mirroring the position of the main character, Dan, who is asked to restore the tapes and also finds himself lost in this labyrinthine plot. Here’s each movie reference in Archive 81 season 1.


A Trip to the Moon

The first major reference to cinema occurs early on in Archive 81 episode 1, “Mystery Signals,” when Dan goes to work at the Museum of the Moving Image. While this reference is perhaps not as immediately significant as some of the nods to classic horror fiction, the reference to Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon does serve a purpose in the narrative. First of all, it sets up Dan’s profession; he works with old films and George Méliès is one of the pioneers of early cinema. It also alludes to genre elements that will come to the forefront later on in the series. A Trip to the Moon is perhaps the first great science-fiction film, and while Archive 81 leans into supernatural horror, it also features a major element of science-fiction: the comet. By the end of the series, it remains unclear what exactly the supernatural entity known as Kaelego really is, but it could very well be an extra-terrestrial.


Night of the Living Dead

George Romero’s classic zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead, also hints at some major developments in the series. A Night of the Living Dead poster can be seen in the background at Mark’s apartment in Apartment 81 episode 1. This scene features the two friends watching footage of the presumed-dead Melody Pendras. The tone is already very somber and the presence of the Night of the Living Dead poster in the background only serves to highlight the morbid nature of what Dan’s relationship with Melody will become. In a sense, she is a “living dead,” trapped between two worlds.

The Twilight Zone

When a colleague asks about The Circle, the film Dan is currently restoring, he compares the obscure anthology series to The Twilight Zone. Of course, this reference to Rod Serling’s classic series clues the viewer in to what kind of tone Archive 81 is going for, as well as suggesting that this series may feature a surprise twist ending, something very familiar to fans of The Twilight Zone. However, this reference may go a bit deeper. Perhaps this allusion to The Twilight Zone also hints at the future of Archive 81; the premise of the series lends itself well to an anthology format, after all.

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Related: Archive 81 Cast & Character Guide

Solaris

During his first night at the compound where he has been tasked with the restoration of Melody’s tapes, Dan decides to kick back and watch Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 sci-fi classic, Solaris. While, at first, this reference to an arthouse masterpiece may stand out in comparison to genre works like Night of the Living Dead or The Twilight ZoneSolaris is perhaps an even more significant reference. Andrei Tarkovsky’s acclaimed film adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel sees psychologist Kris Kelvin being sent on a mission to the eponymous planet Solaris, in order to evaluate the status of the scientific research being conducted there. On Solaris, he is surprised to find his deceased wife, Hari, as an apparition produced by the planet itself. Kris’ relationship with this apparition is very similar to Dan’s relationship with “ghost Melody.” Just like Hari, Melody is unaware of her circumstances and believes herself to be real.


The Shining

Episode 1 of Archive 81 features both a bookshelf full of Stephen King novels and an explicit reference to The Shining. Worried about Dan’s mental state, Mark asks him over the phone: “You’re not gonna go Jack Torrance on me, are you?” It is alluded to that Dan suffered a mental breakdown a few months before the series begins, and so, this reference to The Shining‘s Jack Torrance casts doubt on the veracity of what he is experiencing at the compound. Is it really happening, or is it all just a figment of Dan’s imagination brought forth by his isolation? But perhaps this Stephen King reference relates more obviously to what Melody is experiencing at the Visser building. With its strange residents and occult history, it is very much Melody’s own Overlook Hotel. And just as Jack is seemingly transplanted back in the Hotel’s past by the end of Kubrick’s adaptation, so too is Dan transported back to the Visser in Archive 81‘s twist ending.

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The Secret of Nimh

Strangely enough, the most prominent reference featured in Archive 81 is probably The Secret of NIMH. This might come as a surprise considering that Archive 81 is a horror series about a haunted apartment building, and The Secret of NIMH is an animated movie based on a children’s book about mice living on a farm. However, there are some surprising similarities between the two works. First of all, The Secret of NIMH is known for its dark and mature tone, as well as its spooky character designs and animation. The series of children’s novels is also about the consequences of laboratory experiments conducted on rats. This relates to Melody and Anabelle’s time spent in a psychiatric hospital, as well as Melody’s relationship with Dan’s father and his interest in her paranormal abilities.


Ministry of Fear

In Archive 81, Episode 3, “Terror in the Aisles,” Dan can be seen wearing a Ministry of Fear t-shirt. This is a film noir from director Fritz Lang (best known for his 1927 sci-fi classic, Metropolis). Ministry of Fear opens with the main character, Stephen Neale, being released from an asylum. This mirrors the starting point of both Dan and Melody’s stories in Archive 81. They each begin their respective journeys in the aftermath of a mental breakdown of some kind. The film also features a séance, as does Archive 81, Episode 4, “Spirit Receivers.” Lang’s film constructs a paranoid atmosphere through its meticulous use of shadows and stark compositions, an aesthetic integral to film noir. Of course, paranoia is also integral to Archive 81 (especially in Dan’s storyline), but this anxiety and paranoia being linked to the characters’ mental state and previous mental health troubles is the main connection between this series and Ministry of Fear.

More: Archive 81 Cliffhanger Ending Explained


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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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