Movie soups and stews

Sometimes, particularly with long-running franchises, it can become difficult to distinguish one entry from another, and they all just sort of mush together into a cinematic soup or stew.

That’s not to say any one entry is especially bad (though that may often be the case), and it’s not even solely down to big name franchises, sometimes just styles and genres of films.

Without further ado then, here are some movie soups that I love, but still get mixed up…

The Hammer Dracula movies

I love the classic monster movies, both Hammer and Universal, but I’ve noticed in the case of the former that for me, the films featuring Christopher Lee as the titular Count sort of blur into one.

How did I realise this? Mainly by recording them whenever they showed up on The Horror Channel or Talking Pictures TV, because I couldn’t work out from the synopsis whether I had seen them previously.

Often, even after an hour of viewing, I still wasn’t sure – partly, I think, because there’s something so familiar and comforting about the Hammer look and feel of a movie, that it can become difficult to tell them apart.

I’ve considered coming up with some sort of mnemonic or rhyme to remember Dracula’s deaths in each film – often the most unique part of each entry – similar to the one about Henry VIII’s wives. I’m still not sure I’ve seen them all, but so far I reckon it goes like this…

“Sunlight, Water, Impaled, Dissolved, Lightninged, Impaled, Thorned.”

If anyone can come up with a better version of that (shouldn’t be difficult), please let me know.

The James Bond franchise

I might get some stick for this, and let me acknowledge at the outset that I love the Bond franchise and can find something to enjoy in pretty much every entry (yes, even Spectre).

But one of the dangers of a franchise that’s lasted almost sixty years, across 25 films and six actors, is that details are bound to get a bit foggy as the years go on.

To me, they sort of wind up with titles like Friends episodes – The One Where Connery Goes Japanese, The One With The Kilt, The One Where Rog Goes To Space, The One With The Invisible Fucking Car, etc…

It gets particularly mushy during the seventies, I guess, when the Bonds were really being churned out. My confusion is probably not helped by the series being on rotation on telly every weekend throughout the nineties (and to date, really).

Weirdly, even though Timothy Dalton only wound up making two films, it still takes me a minute to distinguish one from the other – generally using the ‘The Living Daylights is a great Bond film, Licence To Kill is a great action film that features Bond’ rule – but ask me to remember the plot details, pre-title sequences, baddies, locations or gadgets of a specific film without prompts, and you could be waiting a while.

Anthology/Portmanteau films

Firstly, you won’t believe how hard it was to find this gif – took me ages. That’s Joan Collins murdering her husband in 1972’s Tales From The Crypt – one of the Amicus portmanteau horror movies.

I suppose by their very nature, a portmanteau movie is a bit of a movie soup in itself – containing a series of short stories, often with a linking character, theme or wraparound story.

Whether you’re watching Asylum, Dr Terror’s House Of Horror or Vault Of Horror (as I have been after listening to the lovely Here Lies Amicus podcast), or one of the more recent portmanteaus like the V/H/S series, Trick ‘R Treat or XX, it can be tricky to identify one from the other simply because there are so many stories which – realistically, and especially in the case of the seventies British horrors – could be removed from one and inserted into another without causing much disruption.

Where the portmanteau style helps is that even if you realise during the first story that you’ve seen it, you might not recall the stories which follow, and in many ways, I don’t think it really matters – even if you don’t like it, there’ll be another one along in a minute… before you know it, you’ve experienced three or four morality tales with dramatic music and a cast filled with “Hey, It’s That Guys”, and you’re out the other side.

What am I missing?

Those are just my movie soups, and I’m pretty sure there are plenty more out there – they don’t have to be franchises obviously, maybe your movie soups are ‘films where Johnny Depp plays a kooky individual’ or ‘those films with the big meteors’.

I’d love to hear yours, so let me know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments and I’ll seek out some new viewing ideas!

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