SPOILERS for all three films.
Scream VI – We saw this at the theater, even though Beth had only seen the first two movies in the series, and I’d only seen the first one. It’s not like that made it difficult to follow or anything, but there were characters whom viewers were presumably supposed to recognize. I think I actually liked it better than Beth did; she said she found it too heavy on the self-reference and didn’t create a sense of dread. I think the latter is pretty much true. The movie had a really fast pace, and the killing scenes were more action sequences than anything suspenseful. I thought it had a decent enough plot, though. It builds up mystery about who the killers are, with several red herrings. I do wonder why they made a point of showing that Sam and Tara’s love interests survive while Mindy’s doesn’t, when she and her girlfriend seem to have a more committed relationship. Mindy is also the one who gives exposition in the form of The Rules, the laws of horror movies that don’t really apply to all that many of them. I even wonder sometimes if the stuff about dying if you have sex or drink isn’t necessarily some kind of purity thing so much as that they’re both things that make people lose their concentration. But it obviously depends on the movie. In this one, the expositor claims that, once a movie becomes a franchise, each one has to be bigger and higher budget. Never mind that a lot of horror series go direct to video (or, in more recent years, direct to streaming) with their later entries. Also, as Beth pointed out, she’s saying this in a Scream movie where they didn’t want to pay for Neve Campbell to appear. Obviously being meta-referential is the series’ bread and butter, but I do have to question some aspects of how that worked. Apparently someone made an in-universe movie of the events of the first film not long after they happened, and Ghostface masks are really popular despite being associated with multiple serial killers. And no one seems to think this is insensitive? There’s also an indication that Scary Movie exists in this world, so is it a parody of Stab, or what? I guess I also now know who the killers are in the other movies in the series, but I already don’t remember most of them.
The Fantastic Adventures of Unico – Beth had seen this anime film and its follow-up when she was a kid, and she and anyone else I’ve known to have watched them tends to consider them weirdly disturbing. They’re based on a manga from the seventies that was published by Sanrio, who also produced the movies. That’s why Hello Kitty makes a cameo appearance, and probably why it has a similarly cute style, at least most of the time.
Unico is a baby unicorn with the ability to spread happiness, which the gods object to for some reason, so they tell the West Wind to take him to the Hill of Oblivion.
The Wind feels bad for him, though, and instead takes him to a series of places where he makes friends he has to abandon quickly before the gods can track him down, making him a rather tragic character. Apparently the part with the gods is a simplification of the story in the manga, where it’s Venus who’s Unico’s particular enemy due to his part in an adaptation of the Cupid and Psyche story. Anyway, Unico first arrives on an abandoned island where he meets Beezle, the young Devil of Solitude, who inherits the position after his father, seen as a stone idol, accidentally smashes himself up during an argument with the unicorn. Beezle is mean to Unico at first, but finally comes around and starts to care about him.
At Unico’s next stop, he befriends a cat named Katy who’d been set adrift on a river in a basket. She tries to remain cheerful, but her goal is to become a witch in order to get respect from humans.
Katy befriends an old woman whom she thinks is a witch who can teach her magic. Unico tells Katy she’s been reading too many fairy tales, kind of a weird thing coming from a unicorn with magic powers who’s a personal target of the gods, but in this case he turns out to be right. Unico grants Katy’s wish to become a human child, and has to save her from a demonic man who invites her to his castle in the woods, gets her drunk, and presumably wants to sacrifice her. Beyond his ability to spread happiness, Unico seems to demonstrate new powers at various times with no real explanation for them, but his ultimate ability is changing into a grown unicorn with wings.
Speaking of which, it’s interesting that this form, like Unico’s mother, has an equine head, while Unico’s normal form and his siblings all have round heads. Barbara Goodson, the English voice of Unico, later voiced Rita Repulsa on Power Rangers.
Unico in the Island of Magic – This is the one Beth remembered better, and described it as being about a wizard who turns people into puppets and builds a building out of them. I couldn’t really imagine from this description what puppet building blocks would look like, but they turned out to be sort of like three-dimensional paper dolls that move around with a sound like suction cups.
I’m getting a bit ahead of things here, though. It starts when Unico arrives in a forest ruled by a tough orange cat who’s a lot like Heathcliff, and finds out that a magician in a bug suit with a hairstyle that’s really long and pointed in the front is turning all the animals and people in the area into these living puppets for his master Kuruku.
The apprentice magician, Toby, does show that he still has some compassion by saving his younger sister Cheri, who has already befriended Unico. The girl and the unicorn go to seek advice from the Sphinx, only to find that she’s off visiting friends, leaving behind her daughter. The young Sphinx is characterized very similarly to Beezle, albeit less mean and selfish. Since she presumably doesn’t know where her mom has gone, she instead directs Unico and Cheri to a place where unwanted things end up. This is the home of the Trojan Horse, a big rocking horse who explains that Kuruku was originally a mistreated marionette who was mysteriously brought to life and given magic, and vowed to get revenge on all of humanity. Unico eventually manages to befriend Kuruku by showing him sympathy, but the magician dies because only his hatred had been keeping him alive.
There’s a very psychedelic style used when showing the shape-shifting Kuruku and his castle of living toys, including a mechanical dragon.
It reminds me of Yellow Submarine, and Beth pointed out the similarity of the magician’s voice in the dub to HIM from the Powerpuff Girls, who was partially based on the Chief of the Blue Meanies. One bit I wondered about was that the cat character wears headphones, and at one point he shows that they contain a tweeter and a woofer, which are actually a bird and…a frog. Maybe it just didn’t translate well.