Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Limited-edition vinyl, a hidden horror gem, and gamers who like to smash things

Stranger Things (Photo: Curtis Baker/Netflix)

Stranger Things Volume One


Created by Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of Austin-based synthwave group Survive, the Stranger Things score made as big a splash as the show. And rightfully so. The ominous synth tracks call to mind ’80s favorites, but are a tad more tasteful with sparse and serene sounds. “Friendship” is bubbly without bubbling over, providing a restrained take on a positive relationship; the album gradually builds momentum with tracks like “The Upside Down.” Packaged by Vinyl Me, Please as a limited-edition pressing, this double LP comes on dark red vinyl with black marbling and also includes an 8x10 print of Eleven walking in the Upside Down in a gatefold sleeve. This gives the 36-track score, which stands on it own from the hyped television show, the presentation it deserves, making for a great addition to your record collection. [Becca James]

Car Boys

The idea of watching people play video games as they make bad jokes with their dumb friends is largely unappealing to me, but the Car Boys series from gaming site Polygon has quickly become one of my favorite things on the internet. The videos are all based around a car game with the catchy name BeamNG.Drive, which uses a soft-body physics engine—meaning cars crumple and shatter in a realistic-ish way instead of just bouncing off of stuff. It’s sort of like having an enormous box of Hot Wheels cars and a ridiculous track to play with them on, but they’ll actually get destroyed if you hit something too hard. Car Boys hosts Nick Robinson and Griffin McElroy started the series by causing simple-yet-brutal wrecks, but they’ve since moved on from testing the limits of the game’s vehicles to testing the limits of physics itself. There’s even a slight narrative angle, thanks to a running joke inspired by a seemingly immortal crash test dummy named Busto. To say too much would spoil some of the series’ thrills, but just imagine a pickup truck being ripped apart by those city-bending effects from Doctor Strange, and you’re on the right track. [Sam Barsanti]

Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

There’s no shortage of “meta” horror movies out there, winky exercises in genre filmmaking that want to follow in the footsteps of Scream and provoke real chills while simultaneously mocking their own ostensibly scary premise. But few films commit to the bit as thoroughly as this 2006 hidden gem, which sees a trio of inept documentarians invited to watch wannabe slasher Leslie Vernon set up his first killing spree. It’s an absurd idea, but the movie slowly, deliberately ratchets back in the ethical reality as discussions of the importance of cardio—to ensure a killer can do the whole “slow menacing walk” thing and then dash to catch up with his victims—give way to a reminder that this wacky goofball is talking about slaughtering actual living beings. The cast features a few horror ringers, like Robert Englund and Zelda Rubinstein, but the real star is the chemistry between Nathan Baesel as Leslie and Angela Goethals as Taylor, the head of the film crew. Baesel, especially, is a delight, using the energy and inviting goofiness of a young Jim Carrey to lure the viewer into sympathizing with his insane scheme. It’s a real shame that Behind The Mask didn’t launch any careers. Neither Goethals nor Baesel nor writer-director Scott Glosserman has gone on to do much in Hollywood—but it’s worth tracking down if you like smart, funny horror that’s not too smart or funny for its own good. [William Hughes]


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