Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

About the Monolith

What is Cinema Monolith?

Well, it’s not only the name of this movie review site, but also the name I gave to the revolving DVD and Blu-ray storage tower I purchased a few years back, a four-sided, 756-film-capacity monstrosity from where most of the the reviews on this blog will originate. After getting the thing assembled and stocked, I got the idea that it might be fun to launch a blog site and write reviews of the nearly 800 movies I own, and after days spent test-driving such eclectic site titles as The Torben Film Society, Filmcat, Midnight Movie Train, and The Film Goose, I finally realized, this had to be about the tower. And with that, while searching the internet for imposing synonyms for the word (such as citadel, fortress, spire, and turret), I finally settled on ‘monolith’, and thus, Cinema Monolith was born.

I try to post at least one review per week, and like I’d mentioned, most Monolith and Projectorof the reviews are from movies I own, though a small percentage will also come from theatrical viewings, cable screenings, and discs I’m able to borrow from family and friends. Occasionally I’ll throw an article or personal account into the mix to keep things fresh, such as my favorite movies in a particular category (Todd’s Top 5), my memories of a bygone theater I’d once frequented (Cinema Graveyard), or any one of a million mind-boggling experiences I’ve had in the film world (Celluloid Mayhem).

Of course, reviewing DVDs and Blu-rays that reside on the Monolith also means that my reviews come from films and genres I love to watch, so hopefully such categories as film noir, Bond, baseball, schlock, Eastwood, classics, Hitchcock, and ’80s teen comedies won’t scare you off, but instead will keep you coming back for more. Feel free to comment on any review or article I post, but please keep it clean and casual; I’m here to have fun, not suffer through attacks and indignities because I happen to find The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai a well-made and enjoyable movie.

Who is the Curator of the Monolith?

Todd at the Lido, 2010My name is Todd, I’m 59 years old, and I currently reside in Peoria, Arizona, where I spend my free time doing what I enjoy most, which is watching movies, bike riding, reading mystery novels, and replaying the entire 1978 baseball season using a board game called Statis Pro. The earliest movie I can remember seeing is Blackbeard’s Ghost at the Cinema Paramount in Fremont, Ohio when I was five years old, and my favorite movie of all time is Jaws, which I saw five times in theaters when it was first released in 1975. I love visiting and watching movies at old cinemas, wherever I’m able enough to find them, and in 1989 my brother and I were fortunate enough to be at the Kachina in Scottsdale, Arizona for their very last screening ever. Many years ago I began writing capsule movie reviews for friends and family, which I typed, printed, and bound in a yearly annual, until it was suggested that, to save myself time and money, I post these reviews on a free blogging site, a concept that had never crossed my mind previously. From there my two friends and I created The Derby Killer film review site, and a year later my own site was spawned, Cinema Monolith, which made its debut on January 31, 2014.

CM Review Rating System

I use a 0-10 rating system, with 10 of course being best, and 0 being absolute garbage. Previously I used a 5-star system for my movie review book, but for the CM site I decided to go with a 10-point numerical system, which to me was a bit more clean, crisp, and precise.

Good Things to Know About Cinema Monolith

• If you see a small Monolith icon at the top-right of a review page, it means I own the DVD of the movie reviewed. A film reel means I saw the film at a theater, a red-and-blue shield denotes a movie from my Project 82 page, and a ghoulish face with a top hat references a movie I watched on the late-night horror show Svengoolie.
• Unfortunately, I won’t be reviewing short subjects, concert videos, or TV series. Apologies, fans of Adam-12.
• I reference IMDb for release dates, MPAA rating, and cast and crew listings.
• For a film’s release date, I go with nationwide release, straight-to-video debuts, or original ‘made-for-television’ airdates. For foreign films, I use ‘country of origin’ release dates.
• If there’s question about a film’s title, I’ll use the title card shown at the beginning of the film itself.
• For a film’s MPAA rating, I use the original rating; therefore, some films in the 1960s and 1970s will have an ‘M’ or ‘GP’ rating. Also, the ratings system did not go into affect until 1968, so any film released before then will have a ‘Not rated’ designation.
• For genre, I go with the common denominator I find on IMDb, Wikipedia, and my own common sense.
• Sometimes the film’s one-sheet poster I use on the review page is different from the one that is commonly recognized; at times, I’ll use the version I saw at theaters (such as a teaser poster) that first drew me to the film, or the one I find the most aesthetically pleasing.
• The Monolith is made of a durable wood laminate, not a black, non-reflective, indestructible solid found in space.
• I welcome any and all requests to fix mistakes, typos, and broken links. Please let me know!

Special Thanks To:

• My brother Scott and my friend Julie for offering feedback and advice on the design of Cinema Monolith.
• Zana Ikeda for her stellar work on the ‘Todd’s Dark Desk of Noir’ photo.
• The gang at RedKid ( for their sign generator page, where I made the ‘CM Drive-In’ headers.
• For anyone who has allowed me—wittingly and unwittingly—to use photos, posters, and images on this site.
• Joe and Steve, my co-reviewers on The Derby Killer, for being cool when I moved on to my own blog.


24 comments on “About the Monolith

  1. butterboy44

    Cool! Now where’s your review of Season 2 of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters?


  2. Doug R.

    Congrats on the debut of the Monolith !! Looking forward to your movie reviews !! I believe I have seen that Monolith before. It sure gets around for being a piece of furniture.


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thanks Doug, and thanks for joining the fun! And yes, it sure does get around for being an unwieldy collection of wood by-products. I was going to call the site Cinema Box Springs instead, but somebody helped me throw that particular item out, so Cinema Monolith won by default.


  3. Popcorn Nights

    Congratulations on getting the new site up and running Todd – look forward to seeing just what is included in that revolving and imposing monolith. Best of luck, I look forward to an education in noir, shlock, Hitch, baseball, Bond and Indonesian cinema of the 1980s.

    What? Oh.

    p.s. I like the name very much but I am ultimately disappointed you didn’t go for The Film Goose.


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thanks Stu! I forgot to include Indonesian cinema and 1940s sex education films on my list…I appreciate the reminder. And I would’ve gone with The Film Goose as a name, if only I owned a goose who’d keep my DVD collection organized.


  4. Tyson Carter

    Pretty sure I should have a thank you for inspiring you to be a better writer and human, but I’ll settle with saying the place looks great Todd 🙂


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thank you, Tyson, and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit my humble blog. Oh, and Tyson…thank you for making me a better writer, an even better human being, and an overall wonderful guy.


  5. You have an excellent blog full of wonderful posts, that I enjoy reading from time to time. Keep up the great work.

    I would also like to invite you to participate in my upcoming blogathon in August. The link is below with more details


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thanks for the invite, Crystal, and thanks too for the compliment! I’ll see what Barrymore film I can find to watch and review, and when I do I’ll let you know!


  6. grandrapidsgirl

    Just stopping by to say “hello” and see how things are going at the Monolith! So I left the previous comment and of course WordPress told me I’d left that comment before and apparently it doesn’t like re-runs and I gather it rejected it so now I’m trying again. WordPress hates me I’m quite sure of it. Or maybe it’s a CM thing. Who knows?!? Glad to see all’s well here and you have some good new material!! 🙂


    • Todd Benefiel

      WordPress must not hate you as much as you think, because it allowed both of your comments to come through (I erased the first per your request). So things are going fine here…still updating a few pages, and I still have a whole mess of reviews to get caught up on. Keep your eyes peeled for more new additions in the coming months. Or years. Thanks for stopping by to say ‘hi’!


  7. jennifer

    I’m new to this site…some guy named Steve told me about it and I thought it sounded cool…looking forward to perusing you writings…


    • Todd Benefiel

      Happy to have you aboard, and tell that Steve guy thanks for introducing you to the Monolith experience! Come back anytime…hopefully I’ll have this thing up and running again in a month or two.


  8. jennifer

    What about a feature where your adoring audience tells you what movie you should watch and review? One of my favorite disaster movies is The Poseidon Adventure and I think it would be fun to have you review it…I would watch it, again, in anticipation…I remember renting the movie on Beta way back when I was a short, freckle-faced, red-headed Venezuelan brat…


    • Todd B

      That’s actually not a bad idea: make up a list of films that people have recommended to me on this site, then post a page of them to been seen by all…and possibly viewed by me. Although I must say that The Poseidon Adventure would be worth watching again…one of my first ‘grown-up’ films of the early-1970s. I’ll let you know when I track it down and watch it…unless you still happen to have a Beta copy I could borrow.

      A short, freckle-faced, red-headed Venezuelan brat from way back when? Is it safe to assume that ‘way back when’ means ‘two weeks ago’?


  9. grandrapidsgirl

    Lol I can think of a ton of movies I’d love for you to review! But it’s your blog and your gig – so I say watch and review what you want and when! The fun is in what sometimes obscure viewing has come from your virtually bottomless collection. ;o


    • Todd B

      Hey, you can recommend a movie any time you want! I think it’s fun sometimes to see what others are keen on, and whether or not I am too. So recommend away!


  10. Hi Todd. I hope all is going well for you. I just wanted to drop by to let you know that I’m hosting another blogathon, and would love to invite you to participate. The link is below with more details.


  11. Hi Todd. Hope you are well. I’m just dropping by to invite you to participate in my next blogathon. The link is below with more details.


    • Todd B

      Hi Crystal! Nice to hear from you again, and thanks for the invite! I see that your list of participants is already quite long, and a lot of good Tracy/Hepburn films are already spoken for, but I have a few films in mind that aren’t taken yet, so I’ll see if I can track one of them down before October!


  12. Carl

    Hello Todd! Sorry to bother you, but I have been trying for days to find the origin of the picture you used in your “Todd’s Dark Desk of Noir” section. The picture shows a man at a desk, with a glass of whiskey in his hands, frowning. May I ask you what movie the photo was taken from? I am in need for more information on the picture, as I am willing to use it in a personal school project. Thank you so much for your kind help!

    Here’s the link to the picture:


    • Todd B

      Hi Carl! No bother at all, but I hate to spoil your movie search…that’s a photo of ME, taken by my brother’s girlfriend inside their apartment! She’s a photographer, and wanted to take some noir shots, so we created that ‘set’ in their living room and snapped away. Actually, you’re the second person to think the pic was from a movie…I think that’s cool!

      Feel free to use it in your school project…if you’re able, you can credit it to Zana Ikeda Photography!


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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 232

From the Monolith: 129

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 6
1940s – 20
1950s – 39
1960s – 34
1970s – 36
1980s – 36
1990s – 7
2000s – 13
2010s – 41

Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 43
Comedy – 35
Crime – 23
Documentary – 5
Drama – 28
Horror – 38
Musical – 1
Mystery/Thriller – 19
Romance – 3
Sci-Fi/Fantasy – 28
Western – 8

Movies by CM Rating

10 star – 10
9 star – 28
8 star – 36
7 star – 34
6 star – 22
5 star – 23
4 star – 25
3 star – 18
2 star – 20
1 star – 13
0 star – 3

Movies by MPAA Rating

Pre-1968 – 94
G – 1
PG – 32
PG-13 – 35
R – 60
NC-17 – 0
TV and Unrated – 10

Blogathons I’ve Joined

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