A stylishly dressed young man and woman. The subtitle says “He only appreciates people who become wrecks by drinking alcohol.”

It was a good year for deeply cynical people who hate everything.

2023 FINE

Wrap-up for the 2023 calendar year of movie-watching.


And here we are at the end of another year. I see I’ve not added a blog post this year at all until now, and the “Collections” section I made back in ’22 and had such plans for has gone untouched. Not only that, but I only wrote six reviews this year. You’ld be forgiven for thinking I’d lost interest. But there are only so many hours in a day.

Reviews don’t happen here on an editorial schedule, and they only get written when I feel like I have something to say. This year I spent a lot of time watching movies starring Spanish film star Paul Naschy. Naschy is called “Span’s Lon Cheney, Jr,” and is well-known for his werewolf and vampire roles.

Head shot of Paul Naschy from Night of the Werewolf. He has chin-length hair and a well-trimmed but full beard.

To be fair, Naschy does look a bit like a werewolf.

I’d never seen any Naschy films before this year, but I jumped in with both feet. I just kept watching those movies waiting for one to snag my brain, but… really, nothing. I watched five, then gave up on a sixth (Hunchback of the Morgue) about halfway through.

Dracula vs. Frankenstein was much more interesting, in part because it was so much worse. This Al Adamson movie had a fair bit of star power, including Lon Cheney, Jr., also known as “America’s Lon Cheney, Jr.” It also starred J. Carrol Naish, another long-time genre actor, and musical numbers by Regina Carrol, Al Adamson’s wife. It was really, really bad and resulted in the longest review on my site so far.

A scientist in a lab coat grimaces and holds both hands out in front of him defensively

TFW someone suggests we watch another Paul Naschy film.

The Sorry State of Streaming

Last year about this time just about every mid-level streaming service and even some of the more popular ones were offering deep discounts on annual membership, but what we’re seeing now is more consolidation and more attempts to squeeze larger profits without growing (and sometimes by shrinking) the subscriber base. Netflix and Disney added advertising tiers to their memberships at discounted rates. Which, OK, fine.

Amazon, the company that always insists on being the biggest dick in the room, chose another strategy. Their December 26th present to Amazon Prime subscribers was the announcement that all Prime members would start seeing “limited” advertising by the end of January — unless they ponied up for the new, more expensive ad-free tier.

Ads — particularly in-video ads — are lucrative sources of revenue for businesses. I’ve seen some folks suggest that ad revenue per viewer is a lot more valuable than subscriber fees, which would not surprise me a bit. Advertising is largely a scam run by businesses on other businesses. It’s cheap to sell the time and space, most people put up with it, and you can charge quite a lot without anyone expecting anything significant in return except a lot of eyeballs.

Subscribers, on the other hand, have a low tolerance for subscription fees but expect the product they paid for. Really inconvenient.

A middle-aged man with a very evil open-mouthed smile and glowing green eyes

Here we see an advertising executive discovering a new mechanism for selling advertising inside advertising.

The December 26th announcement by Amazon suggests they are hoping people would be too busy recovering from eggnog hangovers to notice, and maybe a lot of people were, but come the end of January a lot of those folks who thought they were still paying for an ad-free experience are going to notice real fast and be pissed. Pissed enough to cancel or pay the extra fees? I don’t know.

The Best Movie I Didn’t Review

Every year I see at least one or two movies that I like so much it defeats my ability to speak about it intelligently. This year’s biggest discovery for me was Mad God. A stop-motion film made in corners of time over a period of decades by special effects master Phil Tippett, Mad God somehow manages to be both stomach-turning and deeply touching.

A plasticine figure wearing a gas mask, large overcoat, and metal helmet, holding binoculars

“The Assassin,” Mad God’s viewpoint character, mostly serves as silent witness to all of the other horrible things happening.

There’s not really a story as such. It’s just atrocity heaped on atrocity for approximately 80 minutes, which sounds awful. But to me it felt like Tippett was both showing us the naked aggression and industrialized, impersonal, yet entirely destructive exploitation of all this, but in a way that implies that aggressors are also the victims of a demented deity to set things up to work like this in the first place.

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series was intended as an atheist version of The Chronicles of Narnia, but perhaps Mad God hits a lot closer to the mark.

Where the Rest of My Time Went

I honestly don’t remember if we discovered it this year or late last year, but much of my non-movie-watching time was spent with Max Miller on the “Tasting History” Youtube series.

Max Miller’s been doing these videos for about three years now, and has built a sizable following fast. He’s a skilled entertainer but not terribly flashy and manages to make compelling videos without doing goofy reaction shots in his thumbnails. I think we made one dish of his this year, but we did end up with his print cookbook so we’ll probably do more in the year to come.

A fair amount of my blogging energy also went Thudfactor, which I relaunched as a technical weblog. In an otherwise difficult year, I rediscovered my interest and love for my paying career — that of web development. While the industry has faced a lot of layoffs, the web as a platform has become much stronger. Also, the failure of Twitter and mass distrust of Facebook is opening the door to the independent, weird web again.

Filmhydra has been and remains part of that weird web. I am not supported by advertising. There’s no cookie banner pop-up on this site because I don’t use cookies at all, I track no one, I sell no eyeballs. Thank you for reading, thank all of you who shared my posts and / or made film recommendations to me privately. I hope to have more things for you to read in 2024.