Film Lists

The 15 Best Classic Halloween Movies

From cute family-friendly flicks to horrifying slashers, there's a movie for everyone.

As the end of October nears, Halloween preparations begin. Usually, decorations are put up, parties are planned, and costumes are created. While this year might look a little different, you can still celebrate the spookiest night of the year. To help get you into the mood, you can queue up some classic spooky movies. Whether you're looking for cute and spooky or truly terrifying, there is a movie for everyone to enjoy.


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FILM & TV

Netflix Originals: The Best Unknown and the Worst Most Popular

Netflix has had some huge hits and also some major flops.

Netflix original shows usually receive high accolades. It all started with House of Cards in 2013 and has snowballed since. Several of its shows are pop culture phenomenons and critical darlings, including Stranger Things, Master of None, and The Crown. But several others have flopped critically while still being massively popular. And many others have gained no attention at all while still being very good shows. This list breaks down the best unknown Netflix's best unknown and worst most popular original shows.

1. Best Unknown: Travelers

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Time travel plots involving people from the future going back in time to save the world are a dime a dozen. But this show puts an original spin on the concept. Any time someone wants to come back in time, their consciousness has to be implanted in an already existing person. Usually, people are overwritten just before death, allowing the traveler to continue on their mission without disturbing someone's original life span. Travelers has received little attention, yet it is an incredibly binge-worthy drama.

2. Worst Most Popular: Iron Fist

Marvel's Netflix properties now span six original shows, but the worst of the bunch is Iron Fist. This show was mired in controversy when it was first released. Some people claimed having a white character learn traditional Asian marital arts was cultural appropriation and that the character should have been Asian himself. But setting that aside, the show itself isn't that great on its own. The first season is incredibly slow and doesn't have much to show for itself by the end. Skip this one if you can.

3. Best Unknown: One Day At A Time

One Day At A Time may not be completely original in and of itself, but it is a great sitcom on the Netflix platform. The show is actually a reboot of the classic '70s sitcom. This time, centered around three generations of a Cuban-American family living in one household. A newly single military veteran mom enlists the help of her mother to help raise her two children. The show is filled with relatable laughs and touching moments.

4. Worst Most Popular: Fuller House

This highly anticipated sitcom is the sequel to the '80s classic Full House. While the show is incredibly popular, it's also not the best. Especially in its first season, Fuller House cashes in heavily on nostalgia by having appearances from practically every member of the original show's cast. It's a huge crutch in the first season that almost prevents new audience members from understanding the newer characters and their struggles. This show can be entertaining, but it was made especially for fans of the original.

5. Best Unknown: The OA

If you enjoy Stranger Things, you'll probably like The OA. This is a science fiction mystery series following a young woman who went missing for seven years. When she returns, she calls herself "The OA" and refuses to tell anyone how or why she can now see even though she was blind when she disappeared. Instead, she assembles a team of five locals to help her on her quest. The series only has eight episodes but received a renewal just this month. This show is perfect if you love unpacking a mystery and crafting theories.

6. Worst Most Popular: Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life

This Gilmore Girls revival was highly anticipated by fans of the show, but left some disappointed. Instead of the traditional 50 to 60-minute episodes, the series consists of four 88 to 102-minute installments. One for each season of the year. Many were disappointed to see the lack of growth and development for their beloved characters since they left them many, many years ago. Critics found this show to be a pale shadow of the original series made only for the nostalgia factor.


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Why You Shouldn't Ignore Indie Video Games

These small ticket games offer big gameplay opportunities

Pay close attention! Popdust acknowledges these lesser known games, that yield hours of fun!

Every year, there are quite a few AAA games released on consoles and for PC. These are from big name publishers, including Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Gamers often wait with bated breath for the next Madden, Call of Duty, or the next big open world title. These games are great and make for a lot of enjoyable gameplay, but they shouldn't be seen as the end-all be-all of the gaming industry. Big titles aren't the only kind of game published every year. Hundreds of indie games are also published.

Indie games are named as such because they are produced and published from smaller, independent companies. Just like indie music or indie movies. If AAA games are like The Avengers, indie games are like Get Out. Not many have heard of them. But those who have are often rabid fans and supporters. Every industry has big and small players. And often, in my experience, the indie gaming space has a lot more creative styles of gameplay than you might find from the big publishers.

Some gamers might frown on indie games because of their simplistic graphics (I know I have in the past). But if you want an original gameplay experience, the indie space is the best way to find it. Games like Portal, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Horizon: Zero Dawn just don't come around that often. Indie games often have more freedom to experiment because they aren't trying to appeal to a broad mainstream audience. They can afford to take risks. Sometimes these risks fail and sometimes they pay off.

Great examples of risk-taking gameplay can often be found in the puzzle genre. Johnathon Blow has a couple indie games that break the mold and have gained much critical acclaim. Braid is a puzzle platformer where you can control time. Much of the game's puzzles are solved by rewinding time. This causes your character and his enemies to step backward in their actions. Most enemies and trap doors are affected by the passage of time. Others are not. This requires you to put your platforming skills to the test while also piecing together the mechanics of a puzzle. Most of the solutions have to be found through experimentation — rather than sitting around and thinking. The Witness has a similar feeling to its puzzles, but the mechanics are based around drawing lines on a grid to unlock things in a three-dimensional world.

But not all indie games leave the trappings of mainstream games completely behind. Stardew Valley is a perfect example of a successful indie game playing on mainstream tropes. This is a Harvest Moon-esque farming simulator. You inherit a farm from your grandfather and are tasked with fixing it up. While farming is a big mechanic of the game, you can also make friends with the townspeople, explore the mysterious mines, and unlock even more playable areas by fixing up the community center. For $15, this game offers hundreds of hours of gameplay. And it has become a smash hit in the indie space. Concerned Ape, the game's developer, is a one-man show. And he has earned over $30 million from game sales.

And there are plenty more where that came from. Indie games aren't limited to the puzzle or farming sim genres. There are shooters, platformers, online multiplayer competitions, racers, procedurally generated crawlers, and so much more. You know Cuphead? The punishing platformer game every YouTuber has been screaming about? That's an indie game. This space offers a lot of options for any play style. Yes, it might be a risk to invest in an unproven concept or idea. But, at least for me, the pay-off for an indie purchase is much higher than buying a AAA game that sticks to a tried and true (and sometimes boring) formula. Lastly, if you're a gamer on a budget, shopping around the indie space could give you hours and hours of entertainment for a much more affordable price. Whether you're a PC or console gamer, don't count indies out.


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The Top 13 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2018

Get excited for these adaptations to visit a theater near you.

Every year, Hollywood picks up compelling stories from books and brings them to the silver screen. These movies can be big blockbuster hits based on a science fiction novel or a compelling true story based on a biography. Either way, movie adaptations make these stories more accessible to a wider audience. And can cause international crazes. Here are the biggest book-to-movie adaptations coming to theaters this year.

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The massive popularity of movies based on comic book characters and storylines seems obvious. But before Batman Begins and Iron Man, they were often a risky investment followed by a major flop. And now, both Marvel and DC have their own universes created through interconnecting movie franchises. With each new film, audiences are expected to be familiar with the ongoing storyline, characters, and sequences of events. That might seem like common sense, but this serialization is pretty new for movies. And it's turning us all into nerds.

Franchises are the big ticket in Hollywood. Almost everything has a sequel and trilogies are a dime a dozen. But most sequels can be easily understood and enjoyed without having seen any of the previous films. The classic example of this is James Bond. There are over 20 movies in the series, but you can watch them all in any order you want and still be able to understand the plot. This is typical of action movie franchises like Die Hard and Taken. Many comedy movie series are similar, like The Hangover. The basic premise is set up within the first few minutes of the movie and allows the audience to jump in regardless of their previous knowledge of the franchise. It's essentially a fresh start every time — regardless of how high the number is in the movie title.

But the universes Marvel and DC are creating on screen with their characters break this mold. Every Iron Man sequel builds on the plot set out in previous movies as well as events in other Marvel franchises. These movies are often full of cameos, references, and call backs. Audiences are just expected to keep up. Sure, these films can be enjoyed without much prior knowledge. However, Avengers: Infinity War is set to be a blockbuster in 2018 and is the culmination of 10 years of movies. The film will include basically every character that has been introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And the plot will likely have far-reaching implications for each of the heroes in the story. Meaning, every single Marvel movie franchise will be affected by what happens. So if you only care about Spider-Man or Captain America, you kind of have to watch this movie to understand what will happen next. And that a huge change for Hollywood.

Yes, franchises like Die Hard and The Hangover do address events in the past. But this is usually limited to just a line or two and past events don't really affect future films. Just think about it. The plot lines of these franchises start to become ridiculous when you try to connect them all together. There isn't really any rational explanation for why John McClain always ends up in a hostage situation or why four friends can't party without blacking out and losing someone.

Marvel isn't the only one committed serialized stories in movies. There are rumors that the DC Extended Universe of movies will be rebooted with the upcoming Flash movie. Essentially, The Flash runs so fast that he goes back in time and creates an alternate universe. This could create a fresh start for most DC properties. This event would allow Warner Bros to recast Batman without much confusion. In the Hollywood before serialized stories, you could replace an actor and move on without mentioning it or addressing it. Like James Bond. But now, DC and Warner Bros feel compelled to adapt a complicated storyline to explain why some of their actors might be replaced.

In the decades before, this kind of storytelling was dismissed as something only comic book nerds wanted. Now it's almost a cultural staple. And honestly, Hollywood is playing a game of catch up. Serialized stories are the basic medium of any TV series nowadays. You can't even watch a 30-minute sit com without having to deal with character development and developing storylines. Netflix and Hulu originals have been creating popular serialized stories for years. There's a reason you can't wait for the next season of Stranger Things. You just have to know what happens next.

But this concept isn't entirely new in Hollywood. Star Wars is probably one of the earliest and most relevant examples. Each new film is another installment in the ongoing storyline. You can't really expect to watch The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens without having seen any other Star Wars movie. Disney and LucasFilm are taking the concept further with their anthology installments. Rogue One and the Han Solo origin film are intended to fill in the gaps the original episodes left open. And this is all to please the voracious appetite of committed long-time fans. It really wasn't that long ago that most films were created for the casual movie goer. Now, production studios are working to create large fan bases by providing rich lore and building a shared universe. This has already occurred with The Matrix trilogy and even the Fast and Furious franchise.

Comic book films have proved that movie goers enjoy serialized stories just as much as the graphic novel reader or the drama series binger. Like it or not, this kind of storytelling is here to stay. Might as well get nerdy with it.


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How Taylor Swift gained fame and why she is still a powerhouse!

Some people are completely over her, but Taylor is here to stay

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On November 10, Taylor Swift's latest album Reputation released after months of promotion. Thousands of reviews and analyzes popped up everywhere online within minutes from official publications and diehard fans alike. Her star power has not dwindled over the past 10 years. If anything, her fame and acclaim has only grown and flourished. But why is this? How did her brand survive a genre switch and continue to grow beyond it? What about Taylor Swift gives her staying power in a highly competitive industry?

Taylor Swift first came onto the country music scene back in 2006. She was 16 at the time. You probably remember how her second album single “Teardrops on My Guitar" was pretty much inescapable. By its nature, country music is niche and has a smaller audience compared to pop or hip-hop. Swift gained mass appeal because she was never just a country artist. While her songs had the hallmarks of country with violins and a drawl to her voice, the structure and lyrics were just as appealing to pop fans. Especially other teenagers like her. Her second album Fearless hit the top of both country and pop music charts. And she became the highest-selling country artist of 2008.

This fame and success didn't come out of talent. While no one can deny that Swift can write a decent song, her singing has often left much to be desired. She often had trouble staying on key and in tune while performing live. And she doesn't have massive vocal power like Cheryl Crow or Demi Lovato. But Swift has never claimed to be a talented singer. On several occasions, she has stressed that she is first and foremost a song writer. “Songwriting has always been the number one thing," Swift said in an interview with CBS This Morning in 2014. “If I didn't write, I wouldn't sing."

The key component of Taylor Swift's marketing and success is social media. All of her accounts are specifically tailored to present the cohesive image of a down-to-earth but classy young woman. She calls out haters on Twitter and interacts with fans on her Tumblr. She even creeps on her fans' Instagram stories and live streams. Recently, she took it a step further and released her own social media app.

Swift lets her fans into her life, which makes her relatable to her audience. But all of this is a crafted persona. Most of it may be true to herself, but a lot of it is caught up in promotion of her work. Still, she doesn't share absolutely everything online. Namely, her relationships. This secrecy is what leads to rampant speculation about what her new songs mean, given who she was dating at the time they were written.

Swift has also maintained a squeaky clean image over her career. Unlike other teenage stars, she hasn't had any public run ins with drugs or alcohol. The only controversies she has dealt with are dating rumors and break ups. And, oh yeah, that feud with Kanye West — which really only reinforces her public image. Swift often makes the conflict out as being attacked for her success because she is a woman. And her fans vehemently defend her every time something new comes up.

It's the unbreakable loyalty from her fan base that allowed Swift to completely change her sound. She had four full albums released as a country singer. In 2014, her album 1989 released under the pop category instead. To many, this change wasn't that surprising. Her country songs shared many of the same hallmarks as pop hits. Ultimately, the themes in her music have remained the same as when she first started out. Relationships, break ups, and all the happiness and heartaches that come with them.

Swift's loyal fanbase goes beyond listening to her new albums the second they release. For both 1989 and Reputation, her latest album was not accessible on any kind of music streaming service. Over 100 million people have a subscription to a service — the most popular being Spotify. These services infamously pay the artists minuscule amounts per each listen. Swift has taken a stand against this treatment by keeping her new music away. Despite this, Reputation has become 2017's highest selling album. All those Swifties pre-ordered copies or picked them up soon after the album's release.

Several pieces have claimed this success is due to a killer marketing strategy, but that strategy also played upon the loyalty and love Swift receives from her fan base. Fans freaked out when she went dark on her social media channels just prior to the first announcement of her new album. After seeing her so connected to her fans online, the silence was deafening. But no one thought she had abandoned them. If anything, the silence made her fans extremely excited for a potential announcement. And it got many, many websites talking about her strategy — giving free press for her upcoming album.

So what has made Swift a success? Cultivating and maintaining an image that appeals to a broad fan base and inspires loyalty and love from them with every turn.


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