The Shining announced at HHN Hollywood

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As we creep towards Halloween, we’re beginning to get some great news about upcoming haunt events. The best news so far, comes from Universal Studios. Universal Studios has just announced that The Shining will be a maze theme at Halloween Horror Nights. Guests at HHN in Orlando and Hollywood will be given the chance to wander the dizzying corridors of the Overlook.

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Universal promises to include many iconic scenes from the film, while adding their own creative flair. Those brave enough to enter will encounter a crazed Jack Torrance as well as the spirit of room 237. While not explicitly stated, the maze is also expected to include the eerie little girls Danny encounters in the famous hallway scene. Hopefully, we’ll also be treated to the blood gushing elevator and the guy in the bear suit blowing another guy. Seriously, it’s the weirdest part of The Shining.

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Click the link above to view the official maze teaser. Also follow us right here on All Hallows’ Haunts and on Twitter @allhallowshaunts for more Halloween updates.

Lola’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2016

While 2016 was mostly a good year for the horror genre, there were still some major flops that slipped through the cracks. My list consists of the films that were not necessarily the worst, but the ones that I found most annoying. I’ve ranked them accordingly.

disappoint5.jpg10. The Disappointments Room

There isn’t much to say here. I think Wentworth Miller had some sort of gothic trope check list that he used to create this script. The sad thing is, he’s an excellent writer. Stoker is a favorite of mine. If you want to see a good gothic thriller starring Kate Beckinsale, I’d go with Stonehurst Asylum.

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9. Holidays

There have been some great anthology films of late. Unfortunately, Holidays falls into the weird and stupid category next to The ABCs of Death. The best segment of the batch is the Kevin Smith one, but even Smith’s piece seems lacking. The worst one is the Saint Patrick’s Day one, which crams a shitty 90 minute film into about 15 minutes.

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I know many of you are going to disagree with me about this one. I liked the director’s first film, Blue Ruin, but Green Room seemed sloppy and nonsensical. It was drastically underlit, and I frequently couldn’t tell where the characters were in relation to one another. I’m also confused as to why this massive group of white supremacists couldn’t wipe out a few punk rockers. Finally, I have to talk about Patrick Stewart. His performance was almost unwatchable. He mumbles his way through the whole damn movie, like he’s sedated or something.

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7. Intruder

If I were ranking these films based on how poorly they were made, Intruder would be at the very top. This Netflix original had little to offer except unintended laughs. The most cringe worthy scenes are the ones where Moby attempts to act. Also, why can’t that girl see her stalker when he’s standing right next to her while she’s in the shower? She better get her peripheral vision checked.

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6. The Purge: Election Year

The Purge is a fun concept, and I enjoyed the first film and parts on Anarchy. However, Election Year just took it way too far. I didn’t hate this film, but it was just trying too hard. There were moments and characters I enjoyed, but the film as a whole felt like silly political propaganda.

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5. Ghostbusters

Ok, so Ghostbusters isn’t a horror movie, but horror sites covered the hell out of it and it has ghosts. To be honest, I couldn’t sit through the entirety of this film. The jokes fell flat as a pancake, and the characters made my flesh crawl. Whoever thought this script was good must’ve had their streams crossed.

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4. Morgan

This film had so much potential to be smart and scary. Instead, audiences were forced to endure some needless action scenes and an obvious plot twist.

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3. Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever gets the award for most pointless remake of 2016. Ever wonder what would happen if you took the exact same script, and reshot it with different actors? Yeah, neither did anyone else.

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2. Blair Witch

The Blair Witch happens to be one of my very favorite films. When I heard about the new film, I was pretty excited. The trailer looked good, and I knew it was in the capable hands of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a messy, confusing rehash of the original. Dumbest part of the movie? The drone, definitely the drone. They set it up to be an important part of the film, and then did nothing with it, what a waste.

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1. The Darkness

This film is so rubbish, it’d be comical if it wasn’t so sad. The trailer offered promise of an unusual ghost story, with Anasazi gods at the heart of it. Unfortunately, the Anasazi gods were only a minor part of the film. Instead, the audience was forced to endure haunted house 101 gimmicks, and a family that is full of dysfunction and low on likability. Kevin Bacon, you can do so much better.

 

 

A New Room Has Been Discovered At The Winchester Mystery House

Officials at the Winchester Mystery House revealed this week that a new room has been discovered in the mansion and that is now open to the public.

The room, being called “Sarah’s Attic,” appears to have been sealed in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake. The room contains numerous items including a pump organ, a couch, numerous paintings, and more. It’s speculated that Sarah Winchester sealed the attic after being almost trapped in the attic due to the earthquake, which she believed was caused by angry spirits.

The attic now brings the total to 161 rooms at the Winchester House. It’s believed that there may still be more hidden throughout the property.

Construction on the mansion began in 1884 after Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle Company, built the mansion believing it would be the only way to protect herself from malevolent spirits. The mansion was under constant construction for nearly 40 years, until her death in 1922. Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction and hotspot for paranormal activity.

For more information on the Winchester Mystery House, please visit http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.

(All Photos by Winchester Mystery House.)

Midsummer Scream Provides the Scares of the Summer!

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Disclaimer: We’ve posted a lot about Midsummer Scream over the last couple weeks, and our coverage is now coming to a close. We decided it was time to share our final thoughts. Though, I’m the one writing this, we discussed our opinions together, so this article represents AHH as a whole. Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, let’s get started!

This was the first year of Midsummer Scream, so there was great potential for disaster. However, the forces behind this new convention are experienced event coordinators. Their expertise coupled with excellent vendors, speakers, and haunts created an outstanding experience for Halloween enthusiasts. Midsummer Scream was perhaps the best convention I’ve ever attended. If I didn’t know it was the first year, I would’ve assumed it’s been going on for at least a decade.

A big part of what made Midsummer Scream such a spectacular event, was the venue. The Long Beach Convention Center was the perfect location. Sure it’s quite a trip for us Los Angeles dwellers, but the drive wasn’t too bad and Long Beach is a breathtaking area. The building has plenty of room, so everyone had space to breathe. It was also well air conditioned, which is a major step up from most conventions. (I’m talking to you, Monsterpalooza.)

In addition to the fantastic venue, Midsummer Scream also provided a huge supply of entertainment. All the local haunts were in attendance. Everyone from mainstream players like Knott’s Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights, to popular home haunts unveiled their plans for the 2016 season. Those who couldn’t wait for October could hit up the mini haunts in the Hall of Shadows. Of course it wouldn’t be a horror convention without the vendors. In the vendors hall, guests could find all sorts of freaky swag. To top it all off, those willing to spend a little extra could hit up the costumed dance party, headlined by Oingo Boingo.

I can’t say that I have any complaints about the convention. I’d be hard pressed to come up with anything I would change. Midsummer Scream was just what I needed to get me in the Halloween spirit, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

What did you think of Midsummer Scream? Be sure to let us know in the comments, or on any of our social media sites.

 

The Winchester Mystery House Had A Few Surprises At Midsummer Scream 

Front of House SunsetHistory has shown that the world is full of mysteries and wonder. There are places that can mystify, terrify, and captivate the mind in ways that one might not have ever imagined. One of those places lies in San Jose, California- The Winchester Mystery House. At the first annual Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival, The Winchester Mystery House shared what makes it one of the most haunted places on Earth, and what it has in store for its visitors!

For those who are unfamiliar with the Winchester Mystery House, it’s construction began in 1884. Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arm Company, fearing for her life and believing her family to be cursed, built the mansion in a way to give a home to the spirits who were killed by Winchester rifles. The house was under constant construction for 38 years, until Sarah Winchester passed away in 1922. Given the history and rumors surrounding the mansion, folks travel to the estate hoping to see spirits. Eventually the mansion was turned into a museum of sorts for visitors. Today, the house is a California landmark and hotbed for spiritual activity!

Leading the panel at Midsummer Scream were Winchester Mystery House staff members Walter Magnuson and Tim O’Day. They discussed the histories of both Sarah Winchester and the Winchester Mystery House. They discussed its current status as a travel destination for tourists, history buffs, and paranormal fans and investigators. They admitted that to this very day they are still finding new secrets and rooms. There are no actual blueprints to the property.

Towards the end of the panel, they were joined on stage by Peter Overstreet, the manager of special events at the Winchester Mystery House. The three together revealed the big plan for the Winchester’s Halloween season as they will be introducing the brand new Halloween Candle Light Tours. This new experience will allow visitors to go on a haunted guided tour of the mansion where the only light is candle light. Overstreet said that visitors will actually feel that “They are going through a real haunted house.”

They ended the panel by introducing the brand new “Skeleton Key” annual pass that grants members access to parts of the mansion that have never been open to the public before. As a treat, all those attending their panel at Midsummer Scream were made honorary Skeleton Key members.

I can honestly say that I’m extremely excited for everything that the Winchester Mystery House has to offer this upcoming Halloween season and year. The Halloween Candlelight Tour sounds absolutely amazing. To go through a haunted house only by candle light is a once in a life time experience. As for the Skelton Key, who wouldn’t want the chance to explore new sections of the mansion? I for one can’t wait to visit the Winchester Mystery House!

The Halloween Candlelight Tours will take place on 10 nights only! October 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st! Tickets range from $35 to $49, and go on sale September 2nd.

For more information on The Winchester Mystery House, the Halloween Candlelight Tours, and more, visit http://www.winchestermysteryhouse.com and follow them on Twitter- @WinchesterHouse . The Winchester Mystery House is located at 525 S. Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128.

The Dark Ride Project at ScareLA

 

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One of the things we’re the most excited about at ScareLA is The Dark Ride Project. The Dark Ride Project is an attempt by artist Joel Zika to document historic dark rides, using the latest technology. Here’s more from the ScareLA press release.

“LOS ANGELES – July 27, 2016 –- ScareLA, the Southern California Halloween convention, is proud to present digital artist Joel Zika’s “The Dark Ride Project”, the first virtual reality haunt experience that brings back the history of dark rides to ScareLA starting Aug. 6-7 at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, Calif. Digital artist Joel Zika travelled the world with a 360-degree camera documenting the most historic dark rides. Many of these dark rides are more than 100 years old. Every theme park attraction stems from these rides. The Dark Ride Project takes users through the folk art and history of some of the most exciting rides, and will be presented in 4k on GearVR, OculusRift and Google Cardboard. “This will be the first time these things [dark rides] will be shown in virtual reality at ScareLA,” said Jon Schnitzer, ScareLA Director of Programming and Experiences. It’s going to be very cool because people are going to be able to see what some of these dark rides, that are 110 years old, were like. It’s not fake, it’s not a recreation. [The Dark Ride Project] is exactly what the ride was like,” said Schnitzer. Zika will be traveling from Australia to bring “The Dark Project” to ScareLA and kick off his Kickstarter project to complete his research and documentation of more world renowned dark rides. Along with the virtual reality experience, Zika will conduct a panel to talk about a documentary he filmed while documenting dark rides from around the world.”
Stay tuned to AHH to hear more about The Dark Ride Project and ScareLA. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and right here on our site.

The Conjuring 2 as good as The Exorcist?

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I must admit, I was skeptical going into The Conjuring 2. While I enjoyed the first film, it was way overhyped. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson shine as Ed and Lorraine Warren. James Wan is clearly a master craftsman. However the story seems lacking. When all is said and done, it’s just another haunted house film. It’s nowhere near as innovative as films like It Follows or The Babadook. So with all that in mind, I entered the sequel with low expectations. I came out blown away, and elated by the delightful creepfest that is The Conjuring 2.

The film opens with the Warrens attempting to rid the Amityville house of evil spirits. Lorraine confronts the spectres in the basement. During her encounter with the ghosts, she has a vision of Ed’s death. This leads the couple to decide to stop taking cases.

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At the same time in Enfield, England, a family is at the mercy of a violent entity occupying their home. It has targeted the youngest daughter, turning her life into a living nightmare. The church requests the help of the Warrens. The Warrens, unable to ignore a family in need, rush to Enfield. They soon find themselves intertwined in one of the most famous and well documented hauntings in history.

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One of my favorite aspects of the film is the way it embraces the style of 70s horror. From the yellow titles, to the production design, and the plot, The Conjuring 2 is a love letter to films like The Sentinel and The Legend of Hell House. The 70s was arguably the best decade for horror films. Wan understands this and he manages to make his film feel like a product of a time gone by, rather than just an imitation.

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Another thing that The Conjuring 2 has going for it, is that it’s blood-curdling to the extreme. Wan knows how to create tension. One of my favorite scenes involves the Warrens attempting to contact the ghost that is tormenting the young girl. The girl tells them that the spirit won’t speak unless they turn around. With his back to the girl, Ed begins asking the spirit questions. The creaky voice of an old man begins to speak through the girl. Now this scene could’ve been shot in a thousand different ways. Wan chose to put Ed in the foreground, and the little girl in the background out of focus. As the entity begins to speak, the girl morphs into an old man. Of course all of this is blurry, so the details are left up to the viewers to imagine.

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At the center of all of this madness are Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. I’ve always found both of these actors to be quite charming. Together, their chemistry is palpable. Despite being defenders against evil, Wilson and Farmiga make the Warrens seem like normal people. Actually, they come off as kind of square. Some of my favorite moments in the movie are just the two of them talking. It’s a case of true love, if I’ve ever seen one.

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Finally, I need to address the theme of the film. This is an old fashioned good vs. evil flick. If the Catholic church was smart, they would’ve invested in The Conjuring 2. I don’t particularly identify with any religion, but there’s something nice about the idea that if your faith is strong enough it can drive away even the most vile of evils. It reminds me of the old Hammer films like The Horror of Dracula. Van Helsing was only able to defeat Dracula through the strength of his convictions. Lately, films have been reflecting society’s shift away from religion. Again, I’m not opposed to this, but sometimes it’s good to see things from another perspective.

One of the reasons The Conjuring 2 has been so successful, is that it holds appeal for all audiences. It’s artsy enough for the indie horror crowd, yet straightforward enough for mainstream movie-goers. Not to mention, it’s just flat out scary as hell! I don’t think it’s going too far to say that The Conjuring 2 is The Exorcist for a new generation.

P.S. Look at the letters on the bookshelf during Vera Farmiga’s vision.

Sinister Pointe’s Seance, Round 2

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Not too long ago, Chris Nelson and I attended Séance, for the 2nd time. As many may recall about a month ago All Hallows’ Haunts posted our review of the event. Though all four of us enjoyed it, we felt the show was flawed. Apparently others agreed, because suddenly Sinister Pointe shut down the event, in order to give it a makeover. All customers were given tickets to attend the new and improved show.

While we only had a few minor issues with Séance, we were curious to see how they would change the event, and what the new end result would be. Now that we’ve see the new show, I can say it’s a significant improvement over the old one.

The most obvious change is that Séance is no longer being headlined by Scott Sytten. Sytten has been replaced by Dasha Kittredge, an actress featured in Delusion. David Gonzalez plays her right hand man assisting her through the process. Although, I enjoyed Sytten, I must say I preferred Kitteredge’s presentation. The show as a whole flowed better under her command.

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The cast wasn’t the only new addition. At the top of the show, we were given goat’s blood to drink, that tasted suspiciously like Clamato juice. We were informed that drinking the blood would help protect us from evil spirits. That was just a hint of what was to come.

When the evil spirit was unleashed, all hell broke loose. The lights when out and the table began to vibrate. Then our seats were all but pulled out from underneath us. When the lights came back on there were live cockroaches scurrying all over the table. The evening ended when the medium was overcome by the spirits. We were told to flee for our lives. We all returned to the safety of the lobby.

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Overall, this new version of Séance isn’t much different from the previous one. It’s just a few details here and there, but it makes all the difference. I said this in our last review, and I’ll say it again. I still think the event is overpriced, considering its short length of 45 minutes. I understand that the seating is limited and production must be fairly expensive. However, if I was pinching pennies, this wouldn’t be an event I’d splurge on. Still, Chris and I both had a great time and I’m glad I had the opportunity to see both incarnations of the show.

 

 

 

In The Night- A Poem

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Maiden White coiled in moonlight,

Death is always waiting,

By candle in the witching hour,

For her breath abating,

 

Hushed whispers down the corridor,

The ghosts just passing through,

Tears glitter in the dark,

Oh, turn another screw,

 

She calls the devils with her spell,

“Bring them onto me”,

Painted by shades of afterlife,

Screaming like a banshee,

 

Fingers move up the bed sheets,

This is silent revelation,

Feeding from the bone,

Whatʼs another violation?

 

They take it all,

Drank the milk straight from her breast,

And she prays to fall,

Against the safety of Abrahamʼs chest,

 

Breathe in, breathe out,

Dawn is just within her reach,

Unfathomable fathoms,

Slither back to the breach,

 

Closing the gates behind them,

Limbs rising from the bed,

Another night sheʼs lived through,

And many more to dread.

 

Horror Movie Review – “Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension” (2015)

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SPOILER WARNING! This review contains a brief synopsis of the film. If you haven’t seen the movie and wish for it not to be spoiled, watch the film and then read. If you have seen it, read the review and watch it again!

Being a huge a fan of the “Found Footage” horror films (Don’t ask me why I am a fan of them. I don’t even truly understand why. I just find them fascinating.), I wanted to check out the final installment in the Paranormal Activity series- Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. This is the sixth installment in the series and is supposed to bring the story full circle. The big thing about this movie compared to the rest of the series is that the audience will finally get to see the “Activity.”

Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw), and their young daughter Leila (Ivy George) are just finishing decorating the house for Christmas, when Ryan and his brother, Mike (Dan Gill), find some old VHS tapes and an old video camera that has been altered. The camera has the ability to pick up fragments floating in the air. The family notices that Leila begins to act strange and begins to talk to an imaginary friend, Toby. As the days grow closer to Christmas, Ryan and his brother watch the videos, which are of Katie and Kristi, (the original victims of “the activity”) as they are trained to serve Toby. It’s also during this time that weird things keep happening around the house and the camera is beginning to pick up more and more things. Ryan observes that in the videos, Katie and Kristi are able to see into the future, even describing Ryan watching the tapes. It’s at this point that Leila’s behavior really starts to change. With Leila’s behavior becoming more erratic and Toby growing more violent, the family seeks the help of a priest. The priest determines that Leila is being manipulated by a demon of some kind. The family then learns that the house they live in was built on Katie and Kristi’s old house before it burned down and that the real estate agent who sold them the house was actually, adult Katie. Realizing that the family may have been set up and that the ghost is getting more and more dangerous, the they try to flee the house, but Leila sneaks back and actually enters a portal in her room. As Toby begins to attack the family more frequently, the priest returns to perform a type of exorcism on the house that will remove Toby. As the family prepares and attempts to trap Toby, the demon attacks and kills the priest. After taking over where the priest left off, the family is finally able to trap and rid themselves of Toby. With Toby gone, Leila turns back to normal… or so it appears. Suddenly, Toby returns and begins to kill the family. Leila escapes back to her room and enters the portal. Emily chases after her, and discovers that the portal took them back to Katie and Kristi’s house in 1992. Emily frantically searches for Leila, being taunted by children in the process. Emily finally finds Leila in the garage and they immediately hide from Toby, who has now grown strong enough to take a physical form. In the final scene of the movie, Toby grabs Emily by the throat and strangles her to death, then takes Leila by the hand and walks away.

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Being the sixth film in any franchise, there is always the concern of “will the film stand up to the rest in the series?” Films 2-5, while introducing the elements of the family story, the witches and the marked ones, relied way too much on many of the same tricks and ideas of the original. There are only so many ways to build the suspense and scare the audience with the antics of Toby (That’s the name of the demon, for those not familiar with the series.). However, this film definitely raises the stakes and changes the formula by now showing the activity through the special camera. This is the real first time, outside of the occasional shadows in the past films, that you actually see the activity in a physical form. This element changes the formula of the film enough to help it stand out from the rest of the films.

I also found the addition of the time travel aspect of the story to be very interesting. I wasn’t expecting for a doorway to be opened that traveled to the past. Throwing in something like that could ruin a plot line for a movie. However, I felt that it was used in a great way that did a fantastic job bringing the entire story of the franchise together.

Yet, is time travel and showing the activity enough? While it makes for an interesting change to the overall franchise, there is definitely a loss of suspense with the movie. The audience is more interested in seeing the ghost/demon move rather than being scared or intrigued by the story.

The acting in the film is good. Like the others in the series, and as for most “Found Footage” films, there is a degree of improvisation. This gives it a more “real world” look. No one really stood out in a great or bad way. The kid is creepy though.

The big loss to me in this film is that it’s only one in the series to not feature actress Katie Featherston as Katie. While her character appears in the film as a child, it was a real disappointment not to see the actress in this one. She has been integral to all the main entries, especially the first film.

The Paranormal Activity franchise has been one of the most successful film franchises in recent years. The first film was released nation wide in 2009 and there was a sequel released almost every year until the final film in 2015. In terms of success, all the films combined have made almost $900 million, on a combined budget of under $30 million. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension had the largest budget in the series, $10 million.

The thing about “Found Footage” horror movies is that they are either really good or really bad. We keep getting drawn to them because the ones that are really good, use the film style so well that we want to see more. As a result, we willingly try other films. Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension and the overall Paranormal Activity series have been one of, if not, the most successful franchises to use the “Found Footage” technique. They have found a way of making a difficult technique fun and successful.

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Overall, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is an okay movie. It’s different than the other films, better than the other sequels in the series, but it is nowhere as good as the original, and for me at least, there isn’t much of a re-watch value. It’s worth watching, but not more than once.