BOUND (1996)



I forget when I first saw Bound, but I’m guessing it was probably in high school. But I definitely remember when I first heard of Bound, which was when it was nominated for Best Kiss at the MTV Movie Awards. The kiss was between Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and Corky (Gina Gershon), and given the nature of the kiss I had never seen anything like it. There was just something about two women kissing when I was 10 years old that just totally blew  my mind and I really wanted to see it.

But, I kind of forgot about it. Bound isn’t a movie that you hear about all the time, and when it came out, The Matrix was still in the heads of the Wachowski brothers, who directed both, so it wasn’t as big of a movie as one might expect. When I finally did get around to seeing it, I expected it to be mostly sex with some plot thrown in. But it was actually much more than that, and actually pretty good. Violet is living with Caesar (Joe Pantoliano), a money launderer for the mob. Corky is hired to do work on the apartment next door to their’s, and not long after they meet, Violet and Corky sleep together. Caesar is pretty violent and awful, so Violet comes up with a plan to run away with Corky – they will steal $2 million that Caesar recovered from someone else who stole it from the mob.

The plot gets more complicated as the movie goes along, but is never hard to follow. At first, Corky is suspicious of Violet, which isn’t that surprising since Violet claims to be a lesbian while also being in a heterosexual relationship with not just anyone, but someone working for the mob. But it becomes clear that Violet is genuine and that she really is trapped in this shitty relationship with a pretty evil guy. It quickly becomes Violet and Corky vs. Caesar and the mob, and it gets really stressful, but good.

Bound is a movie you should never watch with anyone you don’t want to see a sex scene with, but other than that it’s definitely worth seeing.


I had never heard of this movie and it wasn’t till after we watched it that I even knew it was a Wachowski movie. I really enjoyed watching this. It was scary and stressful and had strong female leads. It was refreshing seeing a gay relationship as the main story between two women. Especially since this came out so long ago. I really wish I had seen it before now but I’m so glad Elizabeth recommended it. If you haven’t seen this, or even heard of it like me, I definitely suggest checking it out. Especially if you like the Wachowskis.





I’m super into watching these movies. I feel like I need to get through all of them, just because I set that as a goal for myself. But it really is the exact same thing over and over. And over and over. And over and over. I mean I have no reason to think it’s going to change in the fourth one but I will let you know. I really just want one of these movies to have people who find out that Jason is after them. No one ever knows until they are killed. The tension in these films is really lacking. The second movie is still the best so far.





Elizabeth (spoilers!)

For weeks Chris was trying to convince me to watch Candyman and I really didn’t want to do it, for several reasons. The biggest reason was that I was sick of shitty horror movies. I was sick of horror movies that didn’t know how to end themselves, so they just ended. I was sick of ultra-formulaic slasher movies that aren’t the least bit scary despite the gore. I had never really heard anything about Candyman so I assumed it was just uninspired and/or boring and/or just straight up bad. Another big reason I didn’t want to watch it is because, again, the poster horrified me as a child. Candyman was a movie, like The Silence of the Lambs and Hellraiser that I remembered passing by in the video store and being totally horrified by the VHS box.


Um, what’s that? A bee going into someone’s eye? NO THANK YOU FOREVER. When I was much younger I was scared of bees, mostly because of My Girl and I had never been stung before. So I had absolutely no interest in seeing a movie that seems to be about literal killer bees, and that really stuck with me.

And yet, Chris was relentless. Candyman was on Netflix and there was just no way to avoid it. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it probably wasn’t all that scary and was actually probably pretty cheesy, especially coming out in 1992. So I finally agreed to watch it as long as it was during the day (just in case it was scary) and figured I would just chalk it up to another shitty-horror-movie-watching session. And thus began one of the strangest and most rewarding movie watching experiences I think I’ve ever had.

Candyman opens with an aerial shot over the roads of Chicago, which was cool. Then the opening score began and Chris said “Isn’t this ‘Mamacita?'” Chris recognized the music almost instantly because it was sampled in Travi$ Scott’s song “The Prayer,” which comes on his mixtape Days Before Rodeo right before “Mamacita” and is included in the “Mamacita” music video. This really wouldn’t be that big of a deal . . . except all of the above (TraviS Scott, “The Prayer,” “Mamacita,”) are among both of our favorites right now. As the credits kept going, it was revealed that Philip Glass scored Candyman. PHILIP GLASS! At this point in the credits, I had to ask Chris, “So, is this supposed to be . . . a good movie?” In hindsight, it was really a perfect setup of what was to come.

Candyman follows Helen (Virginia Madsen), a grad student researching urban legends. She begins focusing on Candyman, a killer who will supposedly show up if you say his name into a mirror five times and gut you. Helen and her research partner, Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons) even jokingly try saying his name in a mirror, but unsurprisingly, nothing happens. One night at dinner with her husband Trevor (Xander Berkeley) and friends, a colleague of Trevor tells Helen that Candyman is based on a real man, the son of a slave whose father became a rich entrepreneur and grew up to be a painter. He fell in love with a white woman whose portrait he was hired to paint and impregnated her and was ambushed by a lynch mob that: cut off his painting hand and stuck a hook in its place, smeared honey all over him, threw some beehives on him, and yelled “Candyman” as he was stung/bled to death. I’m not really sure why Helen didn’t already know the backstory, but whatever. It’s a sad story.

Helen and Bernadette learn of a recent murder that happened in Cabrini-Green, a super scary, gang-filled housing project, which has been attributed to Candyman, so they go to Cabrini-Green to check it out. They meet Anne-Marie, the woman’s neighbor, who has a baby boy, and another young boy who lives in the building, Jake. Jake seems to be the most willing to talk about Candyman and tells them about a young mentally challenged boy that was brutally castrated in a public bathroom in Cabrini-Green, and that it was Candyman behind the castration. Jake takes Helen to the bathroom, where she explores while he waits outside. Inside, the bathroom is full of shit (literally – on the walls), and has an arrow made of shit on the walls of one of the stalls pointing down into the toilet. When Helen opens the toilet, it’s filled with bees. Outside, Jake looks up at someone and whispers “Candyman,” and then Helen turns around to see a gang approaching her in the bathroom. The gang is led by a man holding a hook, who calls himself Candyman. He attacks Helen and gives her a nasty black eye but she survives and is able to successfully identify him to the cops. Helen sees Jake at the police station and she assures him that Candyman was just this gang member, and the police have him, and what Jake thinks of as Candyman (the figure that comes in the mirror) isn’t real. Jake looks confused and says “Candyman isn’t real?” but seems to get what she’s saying. Despite the attack, Helen and Bernadette are excited by everything that’s happened because their story about Candyman, the research they’ve done, and the capture of the “real” Candyman has been tapped to be turned into a book.

While Helen walks to her car in a parking garage, she’s stopped by a man across the garage. He tells her that because she wouldn’t believe the stories, he’s making himself known to her to prove he exists. She blacks out and wakes up in Anne-Marie’s apartment covered in blood and holding a butcher knife. The decapitated head of Anne-Marie’s dog is on the floor and her baby is missing and when Helen approaches her, Anne-Marie attacks her. The police storm in just as Helen is able to defend herself, making it look like she’s attacking Anne-Marie, so she’s arrested. Trevor bails her out and seems supportive and concerned, though just as confused as Helen. Not long after, Candyman comes to her again and cuts her neck – not enough to kill her, but enough to make her unconcious. Then Bernadette arrives with flowers to check on Helen, who cannot warn Bernadette in time that Candyman is there. Bernadette comes in and Candyman murders her. Trevor comes home and finds Bernadette’s body and Helen is once again arrested, this time after being sedated first. She’s then put in a psychiatric hospital.

In the hospital, Candyman appears to her several times but doesn’t hurt her – but doesn’t help her case of not being insane. A month goes by in the hospital and Helen meets with her psychiatrist to discuss her pending trial. He seems to be on Helen’s side, even telling her that he’s essentially working for her, trying to help her (probably because to him, she’s clearly insane). He shows her videos of the times where Candyman appeared to her and she sees that he wasn’t really there. To try and prove that he’s real, Helen says she can call him and looks into a mirror and says his name five times. Nothing happens. Helen begins to tear up, maybe thinking that she really is crazy. Then suddenly, the psychiatrist coughs up blood and Candyman rises behind him, running his hook up through the psychiatrist’s back from the bottom up. Although Helen is horrified, after Candyman murders the psychiatrist he bursts through the barred window and sort of flies away (it sounds stupid, but it really isn’t), giving Helen a means of escape, which she uses right away. She goes home to find a young grad student living in her apartment with Trevor. Trevor and his girlfriend are clearly terrified of Helen, but she’s heartbroken.

After she gives up on that, she goes to Cabrini-Green in attempt to confront Candyman and/or find Anne-Marie’s missing baby. She goes to the building’s attic, which has paintings on the wall and the words “It was always you, Helen.” She finds Candyman as he appears to be sleeping, but when she approaches him he talks to her, implying that Helen has taken the place of the white woman Candyman loved (or maybe Helen is that woman reincarnated?) and that he expects her to become a legend with him. He opens his shirt and reveals a boney chest cavity filled with bees. He tells Helen that Anne-Marie’s baby will be spared if she sacrifices himself to him and essentially becomes his partner-in-urban-legend-crime. And what’s really interesting is that Helen seems to really consider it. Because honestly . . . why not? She’s on the run, accused of multiple murders (and I don’t know how she’d be able to explain away the psychiatrist’s murder), her best friend is dead and her husband left her. Now I’m not saying someone in a similar situation should just kill themselves, but Helen is obviously so distraught and lost, it doesn’t seem like the worst offer ever.

But, Candyman is still a bad guy, so he’s not being entirely truthful. The residents of Cabrini-Green have built an unlit community bonfire, which they believe Candyman is hiding in. His real plan is to sacrifice both Helen and the baby in the bonfire to help further prove his existence and feed his own legend of being a killer. Helen catches wind of this and knows the baby is in the bonfire. Helen climbs in to look for him and the residents light the fire. With everything burning, Helen finds the baby safe and sound and crawls out, hair and then body on fire, as the residents realize what’s happened. Once the baby is out and safe, Helen dies. At her funeral, which Trevor and his girlfriend attend, the residents of Cabrini-Green silently march toward her grave, Jake throwing a hook onto her casket before she’s buried. Later, Trevor cries in his bathroom while his girlfriend cooks. As he cries, he quietly says Helen’s name over and over until he gets to five. When he does, Helen appears to him and murders him with a hook.

The plot of Candyman is so intricate, yet has such good payoffs. There are some clunky plot points in the beginning as Helen discovers that her own apartment building was built in the likeness of Cabrini-Green, but other than that the movie moves forward perfectly while giving you an understanding of what you think is going on. When it’s revealed that Candyman is just a gang member who’s taken on the name to appear scarier, that made so much sense to me. Like, ohhhh, there isn’t a supernatural killer, but there is a killer who calls himself Candyman, of course! But then it also made sense when the real Candyman appeared, because he could not allow Helen and Bernadette’s book to be published as it would essentially debunk the entire myth of Candyman (and presumably because of that his spirit wouldn’t exist – or something). All of the characters had multiple layers – even down to the psychiatrist who’s in the movie for maybe 5 minutes, as he’s obviously sure Helen is crazy and wants to help her, but still doesn’t believe her.

While a lot of scary things happen in Candyman, I think ultimately it’s just enormously tragic. The whole thing came from the tragic and brutal death of a man who was murdered just because he was black and loved a white woman – and not only killed, but humiliated first by having his painting hand cut off. The real murders of real people (including one that resulted from a child being castrated) led Helen and Bernadette further. The murder of Bernadette drove Trevor away – whom I truly do believe really did love Helen, he was just faced with what he thought was reality, that the woman he loves has had a psychotic break and is a murderer, and is trying to move on. And Helen’s desperate crawl, hair aflame, from the bonfire while clutching the baby is super sad, because it’s her last hope of maybe redeeming herself (although heroically saving the baby would unfortunately not erase the other crimes she’s accused of). And ultimately, through no real fault of her own, Helen’s spirit will always remain vengeful and not at rest.

But finally. A GOOD HORROR MOVIE. Not just good, but one of the best I’ve ever seen. Watching this movie, I got the feeling that all the filmmakers involved knew exactly where the movie was going and how it would end, which made me trust that I would not be disappointed or that there just straight up wouldn’t be an ending. I just couldn’t believe that this movie, that I thought would be terrible, that I’ve never really heard anyone (other than Chris) talk about, would be this great. I mean, is Silence of the Lambs really the greatest horror movie of the 90s as I’ve heard so many people say? Or . . . is it Candyman? Because I will say right now that even though I haven’t seen Silence of the Lambs in like 10 years, I think Candyman is better. When Candyman  was over, I got the familiar feeling of “What did I just see?” that I’ve gotten so often from horror movies, but in the absolute best way possible. I immediately wanted to watch it again.

So, Chris was right. Candyman was more than worth seeing. Life-changing is too dramatic, but I’ve thought about Candyman every day since we watched it. Even though it’s not a new movie, it gave me some much needed, newfound hope that I haven’t seen every good horror movie, that there’s still hope out there to see an amazingly good film that just so happens to also be a horror movie.

See Candyman. If you haven’t, I’m jealous that you can still see it for the first time. It’s amazing.


I can’t not start this post by saying it was a real struggle to get Elizabeth to watch this with me. I was pretty close to watching it on my own but luckily she came around and I can only assume that her post will reflect that she’s glad she ended up watching it. Now I just need to convince her to watch Black Christmas with me.

I wanted to watch Candyman mainly because I have seen the cover to this movie my whole life and I know it’s a fairly famous movie/character. I was expecting the same kind of stuff that we’ve gotten out of most horror movies. Basic, straightforward, and probably a stupid ending where it feels like the writers didn’t even know how it would end. Fortunately, that was not at all the case and I would now place Candyman on my top five favorite horror movies. It’s just so good and solid all the way through. And there is a ton of thought put into the whole story.

I really don’t want to discuss the story too closely as I feel like this movie does a great job of having parallels between the real world and the world in which Candyman exists. There is the Candyman legend, but there is also a killer that goes by the same name. There is the main character’s relationship with Candyman as well as her deteriorating relationship with her husband. There is what is actually happening to the main character and what the rest of the world, mainly the police, see. I just had no idea how complex this story was going to be before we started. And Philip Glass did the score, crazy!

I’m also just very interested in Candyman as a villain. Elizabeth and I were talking and he is the only African-American killer I can think of, in terms of franchise killers. I find that to be very strange and the more I think about how Caucasians really do just dominate cinema it gets to be too depressing. As I think I’ve said before the only good thing about Tyler Perry is that he does keep good African-American actors employed, even if they have very little to work with. But what also makes me think of all of this is when the movie started I thought the score was immediately familiar. I realized it was the intro to the TraviS Scott song, “The Prayer.” I love that! And in regard to Travi$ Scott’s persona, of course the theme of Candyman would be somewhere incorporated in his music.

I feel like this movie must be looked over because I really don’t feel like enough people talk about this film. It’s pure fucking gold and I enjoyed every single part of it. I don’t think I’ve seen such a great horror movie in a long time. I really want to watch the sequels but I am anticipating that they will fall short. Although after how I feel about the first one I can’t not watch the others.





I don’t remember a lot about this movie since we watched it so long ago. But running from an abusive relationship is always stressful and scary. And this is a far better version than Safe Haven. At least there are no ghosts in this one!

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

So, first of all, even though I only saw this movie recently, for a long time I assumed it was super scary. Because for whatever reason, the poster was terrifying to me:


Because doesn’t it, in a way, if you look at it right, look like a creepy alien is about to come through the door and attack her in the bathtub? I mean, in hindsight yes that is clearly the figure of a man, or at least a person, in the doorway. But I truly think I somehow got this poster mixed up with parts of Alien I had seen. No idea what that was about.

But anyway, I thought Sleeping with the Enemy was pretty good for being a pretty simple, sometimes cheesy, thriller. It immediately reminded us of Safe Haven, which we watched earlier this year and is terrible, but luckily Sleeping with the Enemy is better (no ghosts). Julia Roberts plays Laura, a woman on the run after she fakes her death to get away from her psycho abusive husband. She moves across the country but he finds out she’s alive after finding her wedding ring in the toilet, which she tried to flush. Flush your wedding ring? Dumb move, Laura, because obviously it’s not going to flush and wouldn’t you rather pawn that? Anyway, the final confrontation between Laura and her husband was probably my favorite part of the whole movie. Martin, the husband, has knocked out Ben, Laura’s new boyfriend, and Laura has Martin at gunpoint. Keeping the gun on him, she calls the cops. I expected her say that there was a man in her house or her husband was trying to kill her or something. But instead she said “I’ve just killed an intruder,” and then shoots Martin three times. Daaaaaaaaaayyyyuuuuuummmm!! Of course he’s not really dead and comes back for a second to try and kill her again, but then he’s dead for real after that doesn’t work.

So I mean, is Sleeping with the Enemy amazing and groundbreaking? No, but it has good parts and tells a decent story. And it’s alien-free!



Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Before we watched Resolution, I did some searches for recent horror/thriller movies with good and original concepts. Resolution kept coming up, and with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (albeit out of only like 9 reviews or something) I thought I had really found a winner. WRONG.

Resolution has a whole lot going for it, which makes its ultimate failure all the more frustrating. Michael (Peter Cilella) goes to see his best friend, Chris (Vinny Curran), a drug addict who is essentially just living in a cabin and doing nothing but smoking crack and shooting guns. Michael wants to take Chris to rehab, so for some reason his plan is to handcuff Chris to the wall and wait a week while he goes through withdrawal and then take him to rehab. So, stop right there. Michael is not a doctor or a nurse or have any kind of experience or training in anything that he’s trying to do. I know Chris is his best friend but . . . wouldn’t that be all the more reason to have the situation handled by a professional? Michael didn’t even take into consideration what he was going to do for Chris to use the bathroom, forcing Chris to use a bucket.

Anyway, a bunch of stuff happens. Michael and Chris are threatened by neighborhood drug dealers and Michael finds out Chris is squatting in a house owned by Charles, which is also on a Native American reservation. Creepy stuff starts happening, Michael starts finding things around the cabin that seem like clues to something. Michael thinks the area is haunted, but he talks to another guy in the area who used to do research with other French students who tells Michael he doesn’t think the area is haunted, but the area needs a story. A good story with a beginning, middle, and end.

More clues and crazy shit pop up, including what appears to be a video of Michael and Chris being murdered by the drug dealers. They later find a recording that sounds like them being murdered by Charles. Obviously, Chris wants to leave, but Michael thinks it’s a curse and doesn’t want to bring it home. Instead, they leave the house and from afar watch as the drug dealers break in and are then murdered by Charles.

Obviously I’m skipping over a lot of details here. Because they don’t really matter. At this point, I thought the movie was genuinely creepy and suspenseful. But then, the camera rises over above Michael and Chris, who look into the camera as they’re put in the giant shadow of something. Chris starts crying and apologizing and Michael says “Can we try it another way?” THE END!!!!!!!!!!

Ugh. So this feels really similar to The Babadook to me. Because during the entire movie, there’s some kind of entity creeping around that the characters can’t see or even acknowledge. Until the last 5 seconds? When they suddenly see the thing (and we don’t get to) and know exactly what it is? What? It felt like an ending that the filmmakers themselves didn’t understood, which is one of the worst kind of movie endings. This just felt like a huge waste of time and a big disappointment.


I really enjoyed this movie until the very end where it didn’t have an ending. I’m tired of watching terrible horror movies that don’t wrap up anything.




Wowowowowowowowow, this movie! It’s funny how all of these religious movies have been popping up these past few years. After we saw Heaven Is For Real, I really wanted to make sure we saw this too, since they came out around the same time and Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) is in it. This movie did not disappoint.

It’s so funny in these films because they already have the difficult task of trying to prove something that is impossible to prove definitively, does god and the afterlife exist. But these movies make it so hard on themselves because they create situations that would never actually happen in the first place. For example, God’s Not Dead is about a college student who takes a philosophy class and before the class starts the teacher asks them to write God Is Dead with their signature. Of course, our main character does not want to do that. But absolutely everyone else in the class does? Well okay, let’s pretend that in this giant college class only one person believes in God. So after that the teacher doesn’t like him and for whatever reason they decide to have a debate. Each week the teacher will discuss why God’s dead and the following week the student will talk about why God’s not dead. WHAT? If I had gone to college and it ended up being half taught by a student, my own age? I would of been so pissed and would of tried my best to get that teacher removed. Why the hell would anyone allow that?

This movie has so many situations like this where it’s constantly reminding you that you are watching a movie. This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen ad I loved every minute of it. WATCH THIS!!!! I think it was better to see than Heaven Is For Real.


God’s Not Dead, like so many of the Christian movies we’ve watched, takes place in a world in which Christians are persecuted in America. Christians, especially white, male, heterosexual Christians, have such a tough time in movies like God’s Not Dead. Whether you believe in God or not, or have any feelings about it at all, it’s just a straight up fact that the majority of Americans identify as Christians. So does God’s Not Dead take place in an alternate, unnamed universe? It’s really the only way any of it makes sense.

Shane Harper plays Josh Wheaton. I want you to think about that character’s name for a second. Maybe say it aloud to yourself. Do you think maybe they could have found a name for the character that didn’t sound nearly identical to Joss Whedon? It was so distracting, especially at first when Chris and I both thought that his name was literally Joss Whedon.

Anyway. Josh is a freshman at an unnamed college, though it’s so obviously LSU in real life considering everything around them is purple and yellow. Josh takes a philosophy class taught by Jeffrey Radisson, played by Hercules (Kevin Sorbo), a very vocal atheist. So vocal in fact, that on the first day of class he makes every student write GOD IS DEAD on a piece of paper, sign it, and turn it in as the only way to pass the class. Even though this is not a religion class? Somehow, the vast majority of the students immediately do this with no hesitation. A few hesitate and then do it anyway. Um, what? Did Hercules magically get the right combination of students in his class to somehow make it majority atheist? Or are we actually supposed to believe that none of the people in this huge class have any real opinion on God and therefore have no problem writing it?

When I was in 10th grade English, we read Dante’s Inferno. A question that plagued me from way back in Sunday school, which was never answered, came up again. I couldn’t understand why Judas was so hated. So, he turned on Jesus, I get that. But his turning on Jesus started the chain of events that led to the crucifixion of Jesus, which we all (including Jesus!) know had to happen. It was written in the cards! And yet everyone hates Judas for doing something that, to me, seems like God had total control over the entire time in the first place. I raised this question in my English class, which I think my teacher was happy about, but he very quickly had to send another girl to the office because she totally lost her fucking shit over me asking that question. Before she left she said “You really don’t understand that Judas murdered Jesus?” Anyway, my point is: if me, a 15 year old student, asking that question in a class got that kind of reaction out of one person, how can I truly believe an auditorium full of 18 or 19 year olds would have 0 problem with and be totally on board with this guy A.) Declaring that God is dead (rather than not real, which I kind of don’t get) and B.) Forcing his students to also declare that God is dead in order to pass the class??? FUCK THIS MOVIE.

Well, of course, Josh/Joss Wheaton/Whedon doesn’t sign it, much to the dismay of Hercules, his classmates, and his girlfriend. Then, for some reason, Hercules challenges this child to a series of debates over God, which the entire class will have to sit through. He dedicates every final 20 minutes of class to these debates. If I was a student in this class I would be like, “So I don’t have to stay for this debate shit right? Because I’m paying for a philosophy class? Not whatever this is?” At every debate, Hercules has a counter-argument for Josh/Joss. Until . . . Josh/Joss asks Hercules why he hates God. This question causes Hercules to totally break down and totally blow his cover. What cover? Oh, I mean the fact that he’s an atheist, but has failed to mention he was once a strong Christian who gave up on religion when his mother died. Hercules, this hard-ass professor, was brought down by one child’s stupid question. This movie also implies that all atheists are just former Christians that need to be brought back to the good side. Naturally, Josh/Joss calls Hercules out by asking how he could hate something that’s not real. BAM! SOMEHOW HERCULES DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING AT ALL!

A bunch of other shit happens, including the Duck Dynasty assholes showing up. But none of that stuff really matters. What matters is that, in the end, Hercules is killed by a car running over him at the end. Instead of anyone helping him, Josh/Joss and his reverend kneel over him and the reverend makes Hercules admit that he believes in God, and then he dies. THE END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This movie makes Christians seem like terrible people who live in a totally alternate reality. This isn’t the case, so why would anyone support this awful, piece of shit movie? I’d rather watch Hercules and forget this ever happened.





I was around 7 years old when the McDonald’s “hot coffee” case became famous. The way I remembered it, an old woman spilled super hot coffee on her lap, sued McDonald’s, and won millions of dollars. I never really thought that much about it and I definitely never thought it was stupid. I guess I imagined that if someone burned themselves badly enough to sue, then it must have been worth it. I think at that age, too, I also thought that if a group of adults (like the court) agreed with the woman, then it was probably correct either way.

Hot Coffee focuses on four different stories on different areas of tort reform, focusing first on Stella Liebeck’s lawsuit against McDonald’s for the coffee. I loved the way the documentary went about telling this story: first they ask a bunch of people what they know about the case, then explain what really happened. Every person they talked to was wrong on some level, usually in major ways. There was a lot of talk of “this old woman spilled coffee in her lap while she was driving and sued McDonalds for millions and millions” kind of stuff. But the documentary quickly points out that all of these ideas about the case have come directly from how the case has been portrayed in the media, not the case itself. Because, to me, the facts make a lot more sense. Stella Liebeck was 79 when she spilled the coffee and was not driving. In fact, she wasn’t even in a moving car; her grandson (who was driving) pulled into a parking space so they could get their orders all organized. Liebeck was taking the lid off the coffee to put cream and sugar in when the cup essentially collapsed and spilled the coffee on her. She had third degree burns that required multiple skin grafts and surgeries and never fully recovered. But then there’s the coffee itself. Per McDonald’s requirements, the coffee was kept at a holding temperature of between 180-190 degrees, hot enough to immediately cause third degree burns on your throat if you drank it. And then on top of that, there’s the suit itself. This is where I was majorly wrong: Liebeck didn’t get millions and millions of dollars from McDonald’s. She won $640,000.

The second story is about a couple and their twin sons. One son was born severely brain damaged from lack of oxygen to his brain, which his mother suspected when she could feel the babies moving less in the days before they were born. Her doctor told her everthing was fine and as a result, one of the twins will need 24/7 care for the rest of his life. They successfully sued the doctor (who had been sued before) for a pretty large amount of money, which was figured out to cover the son’s cost of living for the rest of his life. Instead of that amount, though, they got just barely over $1 million because of a law in their state that puts caps on settlements.

The third story focuses on a former Supreme Court Justice from Mississippi, Oliver Diaz, who was the one political holdout that was against tort reform. He was falsely charged with bribery and all of the procedures involving that kept him out of the office for three years, effectively making him useless as a judge, which is exactly what the big companies that are pro-tort reform wanted.

The third story is on Jamie Leigh Jones, a former Halliburton employee who accused her co-workers of drugging and brutally gang-raping her, before she was locked in a shipping container guarded by an armed guard by her employers after she reported the rape. She could not bring any charges to court because of this arbitrition thing she signed when she was first hired. The arbitrition takes away the possibility of your case being seen or heard by a judge or jury, which seems like it just shouldn’t be legal.

The world of tort reform is huge and one that I knew nothing about before this documentary. That happens so often with good documentaries; they bring you into this world that you probably didn’t even know existed before and shows you just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Parts of Hot Coffee are overwhelming, like how crazy and scary Jones’ situation was. Other parts are sort of boring as there’s a lot of courtroom talk. But overall, the movie did a really great job of making something that seems vague and hard to understand seem very real.


I wasn’t into the idea of watching this movie because I thought most of it would go over my head and that I wouldn’t really care. However, watching it, the film gave me a clear understanding of many famous court cases where individuals sued corporations. The biggest example was the lady who sued McDonald’s for serving coffee that was too hot. I still don’t think I know enough on the subject to talk much about it but I think if you are interested in the subject this movie is completely worth watching.