Films listed in green are first time viewings.
= means anti-gay slang, stereotype or moment (taken in context)
Ratings are from **** (excellent) to bomb.
Ratings are from **** (excellent) to bomb.
GAMERA 3: REVENGE OF IRIS **1/2
TERROR IN THE AISLES **1/2
METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS **1/2
JUST LIKE HEAVEN **
TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD **1/2
MURDER IN THE BLUE ROOM ***
STEVE NILES' REMAINS **
GIORGIO MORODER'S METROPOLIS ***
THE BELLBOY *1/2
OUR IDIOT BROTHER *1/2
THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN **1/2
THE THING (1982) ****
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS: THE TRUE STORY OF FLYING SAUCERS *
BURN, WITCH, BURN ***
CINEMATIC TITANIC: EAST MEETS WATTS ***
THE BROKEN TOWER **
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY **
SUNSHINE X (short) *
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN ****
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN ***
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY ***
HARD RIDE TO HELL **
STAG NIGHT **1/2
STEPHEN KING'S BAG OF BONES **
BREAKFAST AT MANCHESTER MORGUE a.k.a. THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE a.k.a. LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE **
THE NAKED GUN ****
MAN FROM ATLANTIS **
HORROR ISLAND ***
BEYOND THE DARKNESS **
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL **1/2
ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) ***
KING KONG VS. GODZILLA ***1/2
THE BLACK SCORPION **1/2
THE BLACK CAT (1934) ***
BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL **1/2
INBRED ALIEN REDNECK ABDUCTION *
GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS ****
SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959) ****
THE ZOMBIE DIARIES *
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH ***
WORLD OF THE DEAD: ZOMBIE DIARIES 2 **
SMALL TOWN FOLK *
ALIAS JESSE JAMES *
SAFARI DRUMS ***
PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGUE **
THE GHOUL (1933) **1/2
CAPTAIN AMERICA (1979) bomb
CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON *
GOING THE DISTANCE **1/2 =
GRAVE ENCOUNTERS **1/2
HIGH PLAINS INVADERS 1/2
HIDE AND CREEP **
POSSESSION (1981) ***
A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN ***
WRONG TURN 4: BLOODY BEGINNINGS *1/2
THE BIRDS ****
THE MALTESE BIPPY **1/2
EL CICLO (short) **1/2
PROMISE (short) (2008) **
COMMUNICATION (short) (2010) **
AUSTIN POWERS, INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY ***
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME *
AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER *1/2
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW ***1/2
THE WIZARD OF OZ ****
HALLOWEEN: H20 ***
HEAVY METAL ***
WINNER TAKES ALL (short) (2011) *
SPRING (short) **1/2
VIDEO NIGHT (short) **1/2
SOMETHING BORROWED ** =
WHO DONE IT? ***
THE SKIN I LIVE IN ***
APRIL FOOLS DAY (1986) **
THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP **1/2
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE ***
ONE DARK NIGHT **1/2
SATURDAY THE 14TH *
THE BURROWERS *1/2
TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES *1/2
1313: COUGAR CULT bomb
LITTLE ERIN MERRYWEATHER *
SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED **1/2
THE 7 a.k.a. THE OAKLEY 7 *1/2
SATAN'S BLOOD **
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL ***
3 (2010) ***
THE MUMMY (1959) ***1/2
REAR WINDOW ****
DARK HOUSE **1/2
EDWARD (short) ***
THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN ***
ALL SORTS (short) **
STARS WARS: EPISODE 1--THE PHANTOM MENACE (3D Version) **
HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE ***
BLOWN (2005) bomb
MR. SMITH GETS A HUSTLER **1/2
SODOMA'S GHOST a.k.a. IL FANTASMA DI SODOMA *
THE BLEEDING HOUSE **
TERROR TRACT *
SON OF DRACULA (1943) ***
SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF *1/2
MOUNTAINTOP MOTEL MASSACRE **1/2
BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS **1/2
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS ***
SUPER 8 **
THE ZOMBIE CHRONICLES bomb
REVENGE OF THE CREATURE ***1/2
JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM **1/2
SINTHIA: THE DEVIL'S DOLL **
SATANIS: THE DEVIL'S MASS *
THE SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS 1/2
TOWER OF EVIL ***
BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN (AND DON'T COME BACK!!) **
THE GREEN **1/2
GRIMM LOVE **1/2
PAJAMA PARTY ***
THE ERRAND BOY **1/2
A DAY AT THE RACES ***
THE BIG STORE **1/2
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA ****
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS ***1/2
THE GOLDEN IDOL **
KILLER LEOPARD **
SHARK NIGHT **
THE KILLING KIND **1/2
MAMMA MIA! ***
101 DALMATIONS (1961) ***
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK ***1/2
SPOOKED: THE GHOSTS OF WAVERLY HILLS SANITARIUM **1/2
THE SEVERED ARM ***
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1939) ****
KILL KATIE MALONE *1/2
GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER ***
NIGHT KEY ***
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES **
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS **
PSYCHO SHARK a.k.a. JAWS IN JAPAN *
SCORE (1974) ***
WEIRD WOMAN **1/2
KILLER TONGUE ** =
THE MUMMY THEME PARK bomb
HOUSE OF THE DEMON bomb
CURSE OF THE DEAD a.k.a. HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD *
HALL PASS *** =
TWELVE AND HOLDING ***
MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS ***1/2
CHEERLEADER NINJAS * =
SUBJECT TWO ***
MONSTERS CRASH THE PAJAMA PARTY (short) **
EVILS OF THE NIGHT *
GNAW: FOOD OF THE GODS PART 2 **
SMILE (2009) *
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES ****
DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN ***
LOVE AT FIRST BITE ***
THE LIVING COFFIN 1/2
GAMERA VS. ZIGRA **
GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS ****
THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS *1/2
THE THIRSTY DEAD 1/2
THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING bomb
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (2011) **1/2
THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA **1/2
LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH ***
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON **
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (FULL SEQUENCE) *
2-HEADED SHARK bomb
7 NIGHTS OF DARKNESS bomb
CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE **1/2
THE MUPPETS ***
THE OLD CHAIR (short) ***
THERE'S NOTHING THERE (short) ***
MOCKINGBIRD (short) **
THE EASTER BUNNY IS EATING MY CANDY (short) **1/2
ROOM 19 (short) **
JACK (short) **
SUICIDE GIRL (short) **1/2
POLYDEUS (short) **1/2
GLASS TRAP bomb
THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z *1/2
DR. BLOOD'S COFFIN **
ZOMBIE 3 **
THE PYX bomb
KING KONG ESCAPES ***
BLACKMAIL BOYS *
HOLD THAT GHOST ****
LEPRECHAUN 2 **
LEPRECHAUN 3 **1/2
LEPRECHAUN'S REVENGE **1/2
FROM A PLACE OF DARKNESS **
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) ****
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 **
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III **
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER ***
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD ***
JASON X ***
FREDDY VS. JASON **1/2
AMITYVILLE: DOLLHOUSE **
AMITYVILLE 1992: IT'S ABOUT TIME *1/2
THE SHE-CREATURE (1956) ***
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1940) **
THE BIG DOLL HOUSE a.k.a. WOMEN'S PENITENTIARY III **1/2
THE MIGHTY GORGA *
POPCORN (1991) ***
ONE MILLION AC/DC 1/2
HAUNTED SPOOKS (short) **
102 DALMATIONS **
THE BEAST (short) **1/2
THE THREE STOOGES (2012) *
MIRROR, MIRROR (2012) *
GALLERY OF HORRORS a.k.a. DR. TERROR'S GALLERY OF HORRORS 1/2
HUMANS VS. ZOMBIES **1/2
GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS ****
THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH ***
THE THING (2011) **1/2
SORORITY SISTERS SLAUGHTER bomb
LITTLE DEATHS (2011) *1/2
DEAD TEENAGERS bomb
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: CASTLE OF FU MANCHU **
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: KING DINOSAUR **1/2
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE LAST OF THE WILD HORSES **
SPRING BREAK *1/2
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: CODE NAME: DIAMONDHEAD **
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS ***
WINTER A-GO-GO **
A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER bomb
MONSTER BEACH PARTY A-GO-GO **1/2
DARK CHAMBER a.k.a. UNDER SURVEILLANCE **
DON'T LET HIM IN *
TIM & ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE bomb
A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1958) **1/2
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH **
DEATH ON DEMAND * =
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW **
THE TOMB OF LIGEIA ***
CHERRY CRUSH *1/2
BURKE & HARE *
THE BOYS: THE SHERMAN BROTHERS' STORY ***
DARK SHADOWS (2012) *
YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN ****
WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST **1/2
BRINGING UP BABY ***
PSYCHO (1960) ****
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS ***
RED RIVER ROBIN HOOD **1/2
PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED bomb
FINALE (2009) *1/2
I EAT YOUR SKIN **
IN SOCIETY **1/2
THE BAT ***
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS ***
HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM **1/2
A GOOD OLD FASHIONED ORGY **1/2
THE 3 INVESTIGATORS IN THE SECRET OF SKELETON ISLAND **1/2
THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) ***
EXPORTING RAYMOND **1/2
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL a.k.a. HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN **1/2
WOMEN IN CAGES **1/2
WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY ***1/2
CORMAN'S WORLD ***
THE GHOST BREAKERS ***
NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE **1/2
EDEN LOG *1/2
GOD'S LITTLE ACRE *
THE AVENGERS (2012) ***
WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY *1/2
HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980) ***
BUCK PRIVATES **
THE WORM EATERS **
TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES *
PIRANHA 3DD **1/2
3-DAY WEEKEND **1/2
REQUIEM FOR A VAMPIRE *
THE DEMONIACS *
PANIC BEATS *
EATING OUT: THE OPEN WEEKEND **1/2
THE WOMAN IN BLACK **
LIGHT GRADIENT *
MANIAC (1963) *1/2
THE SNORKEL **1/2s
EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC *1/2
THE LOST TRIBE **
THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS **1/2
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW **1/2
DRIVE, HE SAID **1/2
A SAFE PLACE **
NUDE FOR SATAN *
NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH *1/2
SAINT a.k.a. SAINT NICK **
WILD SIDE *
TOBOR THE GREAT **
THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919) ***
SUPER SHARK **
JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK bomb
MUMMY MANIAC bomb
ROOM 33 *
SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY **
THE NUDE VAMPIRE bomb
DONNER PASS bomb
DONT GO IN THE WOODS (2010) bomb
INVASION a.k.a. INFECTION *
THE STEWARDESSES *
HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD a.k.a. NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES a.k.a. VIRUS *1/2
OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES *
THE TRIP (1967) **
SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES *
REVENANT (2012) ***
LIPS OF BLOOD *
SAN FRANPSYCHO bomb
NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST **1/2
NIGHT OF THE LEPUS *
X-THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES **
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN ***
THE WHITE GORILLA *
SUCKABLOOD (short) ***
MOTHER DIED (short) **
GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM ***
MUNSTER, GO HOME! ***
A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN ***
HAIRSPRAY (2007) ***
SEX AND THE CITY 2 *
THE SMURFS **1/2
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS ***
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE **
MANIAC (1934) *
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN ***1/2
THE SNOW DEVILS *
III SLICES OF LIFE a.k.a. SLICES OF LIFE **
MEAT WEED AMERICA * =
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN **1/2
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER **
PROMETHEUS (2012) ** =
BIGFOOT (2012) *
MADISON COUNTY *
THE FIELDS ***
MEDIUM RAW: NIGHT OF THE WOLF bomb
INFRA MAN **
ANDREW LLOYLD WEBBER'S LOVE NEVER DIES *
MAGIC MIKE **1/2 =
TO ROME WITH LOVE **
THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK **
LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS **
FRIGHT CLUB bomb
THE SPIRIT IS WILLING ** =
TERROR TRAP *1/2
IN THE CLOSET (short) *
NAKED COWBOY (short) **
GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH **1/2
CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD bomb
THE SLAUGHTER (2006) *
THE HOWLING: REBORN **
GIORGIO MORODER'S METROPOLIS ***
MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND **
THE LIVING DEAD GIRL **
THE EAGLE-SHOOTING HEROES **
GOLIAD UPRISING *
NUDE ON THE MOON bomb
HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD **
BLUBBERELLA ** =
BLAZING SADDLES ***1/2 =
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN **1/2
TWINS OF EVIL **
FLESH & FURY: X-POSING TWINS OF EVIL **
STUNT ROCK **
THE PASSING *
BATMAN (1968) ***
100 GHOST STREET: THE RETURN OF RICHARD SPECK **
THE MUMMY'S TOMB ***
THE MUMMY'S CURSE ***
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE ***
WHO DONE IT? ***1/2
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES ****
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES ****
THE EVIL DEAD ***1/2
NANCY DREW--DETECTIVE ***
NANCY DREW AND THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE ***
HALLOWEEN (1978) ****
DEAD MEAT (2004) **
THE DOBERMAN GANG **1/2
THE DARING DOBERMANS **
SIDEKICK (2005) **
GRAPES OF DEATH *1/2
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE ***
THE ROAD TO MOROCCO **1/2
BUG CHASER (short) **1/2
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON ****
THE LADY'S FOOT (short) **1/2
HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING ***
CHEERLEADER MASSACRE bomb
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: GAMERA VS. ZIGRA ***
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: FUGITIVE ALIEN **1/2
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: STAR FORCE: FUGITIVE ALIEN 2 **1/2
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON **
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE ** =
127 HOURS ***
THEY CAME BACK (a.k.a. LES REVENANTS) **1/2
THE SKI TRIP *
BENEATH THE DARK *
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS **1/2
THE MUMMY'S SHROUD ***
REVENGE OF THE CREATURE ***1/2
MAMMA MIA! ***
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE MOVIE ***
WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (2003) ***
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: GAMERA VS. GUIRON ***
SNAKES ON A TRAIN * =
MONSTER BRAWL *
THE INNKEEPERS **1/2
THE BOOGENS ***
ANONYMOUS (2004) **
THE FOG (1980) ****
THE BOOGENS ***
TOM AND JERRY & THE WIZARD OF OZ *
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN ***
THE DEADLY MANTIS ***
SGT. KABUKIMAN, N.Y.P.D. **1/2
JUST BEFORE DAWN ***
HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE ***
RISE OF THE DEAD *1/2
STAR TREK: NEMESIS **1/2
COWBOYS & ALIENS *
PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) ***
RED RIDING HOOD (2011) **1/2
THE WICKER TREE *
GROWTH (2010) **
THE THEATRE BIZARRE **
THE THREE STOOGES (2012) *
GHOSTS OF GOLDFIELD *
THE WINDY CITY INCIDENT bomb
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN ****
THE ESCORT a.k.a. L'ESCORTE **
FINAL REMAINS a.k.a. MORTUARY *
RHYTHM & BLUES *1/2
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN ****
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN **
DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE TRAVELING SALESLADY? ***
YOUNG ADAM **1/2
YOG, MONSTER FROM SPACE ***
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1939) ***
HANGER bomb =
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS ***
HANDS OF A STRANGER **1/2
GASLIGHT (1944) **1/2
DYING BREED **
THIRST (2008) **
ALL ABOUT EVIL *
CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE **1/2
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009) **
SILENT HOUSE (2011) **1/2
O.C. BABES AND THE SLASHER OF ZOMBIE TOWN bomb =
THE VALLEY OF GWANGI ***
BIG TOP SCOOBY-DOO! **1/2
IT CAME FROM HOLLYWOOD ***
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON **
THE MAKING OF JAWS ***
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON **
THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING **1/2
JUAN OF THE DEAD **1/2 =
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE ***
EDWARD SCISSORHANDS ***
LIVE FEED 1/2
THE PROWLER (1981) ***
DEEP IN THE WOODS **1/2
DEAD H00KER IN A TRUNK **
NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS bomb
PRINCE OF DARKNESS ***
THE GHOST GALLEON **1/2
MARRIAGE MATERIAL *1/2
FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) ****
THE MUMMY'S GHOST ***
MARK OF THE GORILLA *
IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE ***
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS ***
ELVIS MEETS NIXON *
REAL STEEL **
LE CLAN (short) **
THE MEN NEXT DOOR **1/2
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY ***
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH **1/2
HALLOWEEN II (1981) ***
FIRST TIME (short) **
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA **
THE DEAD (2010) ***
HALLOWEEN II: THE TELEVISION VERSION **
HELL HATH NO FURY (2006) bomb
DOCTOR X **
CURSE OF THE DEMON ***1/2
CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB **1/2
ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT CHEERLEADER *
REAR WINDOW (1954) ****
STEVIE (2008) **
SON OF FLUBBER ***
IN THE LIGHT (short) **1/2
COWBOY (short) ***
HOUSEMATES (short) **
WAVES (short) **
IN THE DARK (short) **1/2
THE MORNING AFTER (short) **
SUMMER BLUES (short) **
BREAKFAST? (short) **
ALL THE RAGE (1996) **
AFTER THE SKY TURNED BLACK (short) **1/2
13 OR SO MINUTES (short) ***1/2
THIRT13N GHOSTS **
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF ***
GODZILLA VS. THE THING ****
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN ***
THE INCREDIBLE MELTING MAN **1/2
TEN LITTLE INDIANS (1956) **
THE HAUNTING (1963) ****
HAUNTED FOREST *
NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH bomb
VAMPIRE HOOKERS **
PROPHECY (1979) **1/2
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE ***
THE SHINING (1980) ****
GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN ***
GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI ***
CASTLE OF BLOOD **1/2
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (1986) ****
THE REEDS **
THE HAUNTING (2009) *
THAT GUY... WHO WAS IN THAT THING **1/2
THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH **1/2
FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED **1/2
BLUE SUNSHINE **
EXIT HUMANITY **1/2
FRANKENSTEIN CREATED WOMAN ***
THE MUMMY'S HAND ***
THE MUMMY'S TOMB ***
THE MUMMY'S GHOST ***
THE MUMMY'S CURSE ***
AND SOON THE DARKNESS (2010) **
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES ****
AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS! **
GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER ***
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON ****
LIGHTNING SKETCHES (short) **
THE HAUNTED HOTEL (short) **1/2
THE DESCENDENTS ***
FRANKENSTEIN (1931) ***
MARTIN & LEWIS **
THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES THAT STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES ***
THE FUNHOUSE **1/2
THE RED HOUSE **1/2
THE HYPNOTIC EYE **1/2
SILENT PREDATORS *
A TASTE OF EVIL **1/2
THE CAT CREATURE *1/2
CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW **
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 bomb
THE LEGEND OF LIZZIE BORDEN ***
WEREWOLF OF WOODSTOCK bomb
MOON OF THE WOLF ***
OLD DRACULA a.k.a. VAMPIRA ***
JUNKYARD DOG *
ROAD KILL a.k.a. ROAD TRAIN *
FALL DOWN DEAD bomb
THE TELL-TALE HEART (1941) (short) **
TERROR TRAIN **1/2
DRACULA (1931) ****
DRACULA (1931--Spanish Version) ***
CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON ****
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH ***
WOLF TOWN bomb
RISE OF THE ZOMBIES **
MUNSTER, GO HOME ***
COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE ***
THE AMERICAN SCREAM **
DOG SOLDIERS **
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS ***
DEMENTIA 13 ***
MESSAGES DELETED **
HALLOWEEN: H2O ***
IT CAME FROM KUCHAR **1/2
CEMETERY JUNCTION **
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD ****
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES ****
DRACULA, THE DIRTY OLD MAN *
MUNGER ROAD **1/2
HOUSE OF DARK SHADOWS ***
THE BUS MOVIE **
THE LIE ***
A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON'S GRAHAM CHAPMAN **
THE WOLF MAN (1941) ***1/2
WRATH OF THE TITANS **
A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS *
UNDERTOW (2004) **1/2
THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK ***
LISA AND THE DEVIL **1/2
THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM **
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 ***
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: REVENGE OF THE CREATURE ***
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: KITTEN WITH A WHIP *1/2
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: OPERATION DOUBLE 007 ***
SASQUATCH: THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT ***
HOW TO STUFF A WILD BIKINI **
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: ROBOT HOLOCAUST **1/2
SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED **
BOGGY CREEK bomb
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO GO TO MARS **
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL **1/2
THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION ***
GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER **
THE ARTIST (2011) ***1/2
BEWARE (2010) bomb
PEGASUS VS. CHIMERA bomb
ALADDIN AND THE DEATH LAMP bomb
DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011) **1/2
DJANGO, KILL! ...IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT! **1/2
LOST IN A HAREM ***
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE **
4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH *1/2
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS ***
THE MONOLITH MONSTERS ***
CORPUS CHRISTI: PLAYING WITH REDEMPTION **1/2
HOSTEL PART II *1/2
HOSTEL PART III **1/2 =
ANNIE HALL ****
CHOPPING MALL **1/2
KING KONG (1933) ****
SQUEAL (2010) bomb
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN ***
THE MUMMY (1933) **1/2
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) ****
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943) **1/2
THE AMITYVILLE CURSE bomb
EPISODE 50 *
DEATH AND CREMATION **
THE MEN NEXT DOOR ***
WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY? ***
SCROOGE a.k.a. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1951) ****
BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) ****
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY **1/2
J. EDGAR *1/2
DEATH SHIP *1/2
THE NUDE BOMB bomb
THE GRAVES (2010) *
DAYS OF DARKNESS *1/2
THE MAD GHOUL **1/2
DARK SHADOWS *
AMERICAN HORROR HOUSE *1/2
ED WOOD **** =
RIO RITA ***
LOST IN A HAREM ***
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN HOLLYWOOD **
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN ****
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN ***
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY ***
NIGHT SCHOOL **
WONDER WOMAN (1974) bomb
METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS
Documentary about the great comedian Jerry Lewis, from his start to his recent comedy tour. It's a real love letter to Lewis and once it's over, you will think he's the most brilliant man in show business. He did create some amazing things, including the video assist, and pulled off some great deals with Paramount. Lots of funny clips are shown, and it might lead you to seek out some of his films. It did, me. Check out my review of THE BELLBOY a few paragraphs down.
JUST LIKE HEAVEN
The spirit of a young woman haunts the apartment she used to live in, and the new tenant doesn't like having her there. A medium tells him that she's not really dead, and it's revealed that she's in a coma with the life support about to be withdrawn. Can he save her life in time? Will they fall in love with each other? A very by-the-numbers rom com that won't teach you anything new, but if you have to sit and watch a flick with the siggy other, then this one won't kill you.
TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD
Larry Blamire makes it seem so easy. Alien foreheads invade the Earth and only a ragtag group of sailors and scientists can stop them in this parody of B horror films. Larry's gentle sense of humor really carries this film.
STEVE NILES' REMAINS
An accident causes the zombie apocalypse and a small group of people take refuge in a hotel casino in Reno. Some paramilitary types show up and try to take over, yadda yadda. There's nothing new here and the final shot, which reveals a zombified character who we CLEARLY saw get chewed up by zombies, reappears with not a scratch on them and sporting a weapon, as though they have become a new breed of zombie. Middle-of-the-road.
After being told by Billy Wilder that he should direct the film himself, Jerry Lewis did just that and sparked a new career for himself, making a fortune in the meantime. Here he plays two characters, himself and an overly enthusiastic bellboy. The gags with Lewis don't really work, as he seems intent on making himself look like a jerk, especially when contrasted by the sweetly innocent bellboy. There's no story (and the movie warns us of this right at the beginning), but it's just a series of gags, some of which work, but for me, most of which were just silly. I sought this movie out after seeing the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS, and while it is shot in gorgeous black and white, it just reminded me that I wasn't a fan of the comic anyway.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER
I like Paul Rudd, but this entry from the "feel good" playbook of films didn't get me stirred up. Rudd is arrested at his farm stand after selling pot to a cop. When he gets out, he discovers that his girlfriend has kicked him out and refuses to give him his dog, Willie Nelson. Rudd has no recourse other than to turn to his sisters for help, but they are busy with their own lives and don't want to have to take care of him. Of course, Rudd helps them see life differently, and they go to the farm to get his dog back. A gentle comedy that wants to be more, but just couldn't.
Returning from Mexico, two college girls, two college guys and a businessman take a late-night shuttle but soon realize that they are being kidnapped by a ruthless driver for reasons unknown. The movie does manage to generate some suspenseful moments but it's so unbelievable that it takes them so long to realize something is wrong, not to mention several moments of ludicrous scenes where the passengers get the upper hand only to lose it again to the driver. This happens three times!!
German film in which young man Sasha is about to embark on a career as a concert pianist but is devastated by two things: his piano teacher is leaving town, and he cannot come out of the closet as gay because his father is homophobic. Sasha lets his dad believe he is having an affair with his gal pal, but is actually sleeping with a friend of the family. When Sasha's younger brother begins to really have an affair with Sasha's girl, secrets have to come out, resulting in a deadly stand off. Nicely filmed story, but again, there's nothing new here. It's really a more serious version of a coming-out comedy.
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS: THE TRUE STORY OF FLYING SAUCERS
Docu-drama from 1956 about various accounts of people seeing U.F.O.'s and a newspaper man's attempt to discover what the government is trying to hide. At the very end is color footage from an 8mm movie camera of something weird in the sky, purportedly flying saucers. Unfortunately, this movie is like an old 50's sci fi film with all the footage of the monster taken out, leaving only the dry science talk.
THE BROKEN TOWER
James Franco writes, directs and stars in this B&W biopic about gay poet Hart Crane. Set in the early 20th century, the film begins with the young Crane (played by Franco's younger brother Dave) attempts suicide. Then we jump several days later where we see him write, sulk and cruise for men. The film looks great, but unfortunately, Franco's direction gives it a clumsy, crude student film feel. It will probably be most noted for Franco's depiction of himself having some explicit gay sex.
Based on the best-selling book, FREAKONOMICS is a four-part documentary on how the field of economics is able to reveal truths in areas of life other than finance, specifically, how human behavior is affected by incentives. Directed by six different indie filmmakers, the segments cover whether or not a person's name influences their success in life (directed by Morgan Spurlock); why a noble sport like sumo wrestling has so much cheating in it; why crime fell naturally in the USA in the 1990's and finally, would cash prizes encourage struggling students to raise their grades. Using live-action and animation, the subjects are generally interesting, but some (like the sumo segment) are too long. And finally, the segment on students getting cash prizes didn't have a conclusive summation to it, which I felt odd. Still, if you find any of the topics interesting, it's not a bad viewing.
Directed by Joe D'Amato, this Italian horror flick is about a group of tourists who land on a little island village only to discover the residents have disappeared. To make things worse, they are being stalked and eaten by a horrible figure who is mighty hungry. There's a lot here that is typical of the Italian horror genre: bad dubbing, crazy zoom-ins and histrionic acting, but the villain is pretty creepy and two acts of gore that go waaaay over the top make it stand out from some of the others. You'll know if it's for you.
HARD RIDE TO HELL
A group of young people in a winnebago witness a human sacrifice by some Satanic bikers and are then pursued to a church to ride out the night. Mediocre affair done better in RACE WITH THE DEVIL.
Four men bar-hopping on a stag night in New York pick up two women and take the subway, where they become trapped at a deserted station. Soon, they find themselves fighting a clan of cannabalistic human underground dwellers. The film looks great, and the acting is very good, but you can't shake the feeling that you've seen it all before (because you HAVE). Kip Pardue and Brendan Meyers up the ante a bit, but basically, it's THE HILLS HAVE EYES in a subway tunnel.
STEPHEN KING'S BAG OF BONES
Pierce Brosnan is a writer who goes to a rental house in the woods to work on a new book with a short deadline. He's also trying to get over the death of his wife. Once there, he discovers that the local town is cursed with fathers drowning their young daughters. This 4-hour TV-movie has "Mick Garris TV Movie" written all over it. Mediocre direction, locations, camerawork, etc. keep it on the same level as THE TOMMYKNOCKERS, DESPERATION or 1997's THE SHINING (although THE STAND was an exceptional exception). No suspense to be found here.
BREAKFAST AT MANCHESTER MORGUE a.k.a. LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE
An environmentalist meets a woman traveller and they discover that a new device using radiation to kill insects in crops is also causing the recently dead to return to life and eat the living. They can't convince anyone, and a local detective who hates them on sight because he believes they are hippies is convinced that they are the killers, part of a Satanic cult. From there, it's a pretty standard "run away from the zombies" film. I would have rated it higher, but the film's detective is so outrageously mean-spirited in every single scene he's in, his character almost ruins the movie for me.
THE NAKED GUN
Jon Abrams and the Zucker brothers continue their anarchaic comedy in AIRPLANE! and tackle the cop drama. "Police Squad!" was a very short-lived TV series that got this wonderful big-screen treatment after it was cancelled. Leslie Nielsen reprises his role as Lt. Frank Drebin, out to avenge the beating of his partner Nordberg (played by O.J. Simpson) and getting involved in a plot to assassinate the visiting Queen of England. The jokes and sight gags come at you a mile a minute and 99% of them are hilarious. Definitely worth a look.
MAN FROM ATLANTIS
A fierce storm washes a man on shore, who is taken to the emergency room. Dr. Merrill realizes that he isn't human, but with webbed hands, yellow eyes and a need to live in water, the man must be a citizen from the lost continent of Atlantis. They give him the name Mark Harris, and soon the navy is asking him to investigate a submarine that mysteriously sank. This leads Mark into conflict with super-villain millionaire, Mr. Schubert (Victor Buono). The TV movie is innocuous enough, and actually fun in parts. It later became a series.
BEYOND THE DARKNESS
A creepy young rich guy who lives alone in a mansion with his even creepier housekeeper loses his fiancee to voodoo. Devastated, he digs up her body, stuffs her and puts her in bed in one of the mansion's rooms, then sets out to try and find another girlfriend. When the young ladies he picks up don't work out, he kills them and with the aid of his housekeeper, gets rid of the bodies. Creepy but not in a good way, the twisted relationship between the young man and the housekeeper is what gives the film its "ick" factor, as the smitten woman dotes on the young man in every way, letting him breast feed on her and giving him the occasional "helping hand" (wink wink, nudge nudge, say-no-more). What we end up getting is a horror film about as interesting as a glass of milk with a sour edge and an ending ripped off from PIECES.
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Kirk Douglas plays Jonathan Shield, the son of a failed Hollywood movie producer. At the beginning of the film, a director, an actress and a writer are summoned to a studio exec's house to be asked for a favor from Shield about a new movie. After being pitched on why they should help him, each of the three characters has a (lengthy) flashback as to how Shield met them, befriended them, spurred them to greatness then betrayed the relationship. The acting is top-notch, as are the stories in this dramatic anthology. My main quibble is that the film was a bit too long. By the time the third story started, I was ready for it to be over. Definitely worth watching, though, especially for people interested in how the film industry stories.
ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
Bette Davis is Margot Channing, the Queen of Broadway. One night, the playwright's wife finds a timid young woman named Eve, waiting by the stage door after a performance, and after learning that she has seen every show, she takes her backstage to meet Margot. Instantly captivated by the young woman, Margot makes her her personal assistant, but soon it seems that Eve is worming her way into every aspect of Margot's life, becoming her understudy and then up for the new part in the playwright's new work. With many quotable lines, terrific acting, a snappy script, a brilliant cast (including Marilyn Monroe) and a great story of manipulation and undercutting. My only problem was seeing the ending coming a mile away, though whether this film introduced the circular nature of this or not, I don't know. See it.
BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL
Bomba discovers a book which leads him to search for his parents. His quest takes him to an African tribe where he learns that the woman who cared for him knows the fate of his folks. When she is killed, its a race to get to the cave to discover another book which proves treachery on the part of the tribal leader and his daughter. This is one of the best-plotted and most exciting of the Bomba movies, with lots of back-stabbing, dart-blowing, cat fights, croc wrestling and political intrigue.
INBRED REDNECK ALIEN ABDUCTION
A little girl asks her pa how he got a scar as he's putting her to bed, and he tells her a tale about an invading spaceship, it's one-eyed alien pilot, two government "men in black" agents and a hillbilly clan and how they all run riot in the apple-pie-shaped flying saucer. Man, this movie tries, and I give it props for that. But other than a few smiles (the spaceship gets into a dueling banjo duet with pa), it's really too silly to be fun. Hillbilly jokes lead the pack but they're all pretty corny. The effects are decent, but the film was shot on video, and that look hurts it. If goofy closed-circuit TV shows give you chuckles, check it out, but I didn't care for it.
A bank robber ties his teenage hostage to the bed in a dumpy motel room, but another, more ruthless character shows up to throw the power balances in a constant shift. I can see where this might have been a good script (or play), but the bad acting, horrible camerawork and claustrophobic location all work against it. And the "twist" ending didn't rock me. Skip.
THE ZOMBIE DIARIES
Low-budget British found footage film (aren't they all?) about a documentary film crew, a military team and a small group of friends who three points of camcordered view are intercut as the groups come closer to intermingling during the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse. Throw in a pair of psychotics and you have a film that really, really tries, but the acting is lame, the pacing is too slow, and you just want more to be happening. The film's outstanding character is Goke, a handsome, dangerous psychopath that is using the outbreak to sadistically assault unsuspecting humans.
WORLD OF THE DEAD: ZOMBIE DIARIES 2
This found-footage British sequel takes place four months after the first film. After rescuing the girl who survived the assaults of Goke and his equally disturbed friend Manning, the military team from the first film hole up in a deserted army barracks when they get a radio transmission saying that there is a sanctuary in Europe. After a zombie attack, the team moves out to find it, only to run into Goke and his band of psychotic misfits. This film is a bit better than the original. It is able to generate some suspense and create some effective zombie attacks. The undead makeups are pretty decent, too. But one problem with the original still exists here: 99.9% of the world has died and returned as zombies. So why are they so few and far between? The low budget is obvious, but the filmmakers manage to pull it off a bit better here.
SMALL TOWN FOLK
Jon and his wife decide to drive until they have an adventure. But when they get lost, they are given advice from a large man with a dwarf on his back...and a warning. Do not follow the "road of light" to the town of Grockleton, because no one who goes in, comes out. Jon decides to try, anyway, and soon they must look for a hotel to spend the night. Beesley Manor seems to be the place, until weird events cause the couple to flee, chased by the hotel owner's inbred kin, who are looking for a woman to carry on the family lineage. This is a low-budget Australian piece of weirdness, taking clues from the Road Warrior films, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and Peter Jackson's early work. It also had a very odd look to it, with several shots using green-screened drawn pictures as backgrounds. It got old fast.
ALIAS JESSE JAMES
In the Old West, Bob Hope plays an insurance salesman who unwittingly sells a policy to Jesse James. He must get the policy back and so, go after the famous crook, only to find himself falling in love with James' fiancee. Jesse decides to collect on the policy by killing Hope and passing the body off as himself. For me, Bob Hope movies are hit-and-miss, and this one is a miss. Even with the end shootout where Hope thinks his revolver shots are picking off the bad guys, but it's really a group of TV and movie western stars doing cameos (James Arness, Gary Cooper, Fess Parker and Jay Silverheels, to name a few). It's just bad.
Bomba the Jungle Boy helps a camera crew film scenes of animals in Africa, not knowing that one of them has committed a murder. Bomba will help the Hollywoodlings out as long as they do not kill any animals. But the crew has another secret. One of the trucks holds an animal that the director intends to turn loose in the hopes of staging and catching a big fight. Can Bomba save the day and catch the murderer? The Bomba films just keep getting better as the series goes along, with some really good villains, exciting animal footage and moral conundrums. Of course, the biggest one is that the film strongly puts forth the idea of putting two animals together to fight just for film cameras is wrong...but in so doing this, the film puts together two animals to fight!
PHANTOM OF THE RUE MORGE
Someone is murdering women in the Rue Morgue section of France, and the police are baffled. They arrest several people, but as they are all cleared, they narrow their focus to one: a scientist. But the police are overlooking an important fact: all the women who were killed were wearing a bracelet with little bells, and the scientist's favorite gal is about to the be the next victim. The film is an exercise in tedium, although it does manage some moments of fright. But it's pretty maudlin.
CAPTAIN AMERICA (1979)
Steve Rogers completes his military service and returns to a beachside town to indulge in his art and to contemplate on where he wants his life to go. But a family friend and scientist informs the young bodybuilder that his father was a super-strong and fast champion, the original Captain America, but was assassinated by an evil man out to blackmail the world with a neutron bomb. When the same baddies try to kill Steve, he is given the super-soldier serum, called Flag, to save his life. Now, as strong and fast as his father was, Steve dons a red, white and blue costume, a super-powered motorcycle and a tricked-out van to stop the detonation of the dangerous device. First, Reb Brown is incredibly boring here, unable to muster up any emotion. Secondly, the costume is wrong. The stripes here are vertical, not horizontal, and Brown's Cap wears a motorcycle helmet with painted-on wings and a big A in front. Third, the film reeks of bad 70's TV movie, and never ascends higher. Watch the serial or last year's version or heaven help us, even the 1990 failure instead.
CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON
Steve goes to a small town overrun by bullies to find a missing scientist. He discovers that a madman called Miguel (played by Christopher Lee) is planning on using the scientist's chemical, which accelerates the aging process, to blackmail the U.S or he will spray it over a major city. The president refuses to give in to his demands, so Captain America must find and stop Miguel before he can carry out his plan. Here, the costume is definitely better, although the helmet is still there, only with wings on it. There are some exciting bits that elevate it above the status of its predecessor, but the final fight between Cap and a rapidly aging Christopher Lee is painful to watch.
GOING THE DISTANCE (2010)
Justin Long meets Drew Barrymore in San Francisco and they fall in love. But soon, Barrymore gets relocated to New York, the two lovers try to keep the relationship alive over the long distance. The setup seems like a typical romantic comedy, but what makes it different is the addition of lots of really sophomoric, base, gross-out humor. Think SLEEPING IN SEATTLE meets THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. Long and Barrymore, who became a real-life couple from this film, are totally engaging, as is the rest of the cast. The one-liners are snappy, fast-paced and genuinely funny. But they're so low-brow for the most part, that they seem out of place in this love story. It's a lop-sided romantic comedy, but the next time you are asked to pick out a chick-flick, give it a try. I'd be curious to see your partner's reaction.
This is a found footage horror film that begins with a production company rep talking about receiving tapes for a production about a ghost-hunting show that was before all the others. It was a decent show, until they got the raw footage from episode six. He tells us the footage has not been tampered with, only edited to tell the story. So the show, called "Grave Encounters", has a host, two camera people, a tech and a fake psychic who allow themselves to be locked in to an abandoned mental hospital to capture any paranormal activity. Before long, they start experiencing frightening phenomena, but when it's time for them to be released, the caretaker doesn't show up. Neither does the sun. As the quintet try to figure out what to do and how to escape (the interior of the hospital seems to shift around, adding to their distorted sense of direction), things go from bad to worse as they start running out of power for their lights (the interior is pitch-black), food and patience. Now, the "found footage" horror film is gaining steam, and as they go, this one has several good moments. It does create a creepy atmosphere and builds a sense of dread, and the scene when the host gets incredibly hungry and decides to eat something is powerful and shocking. But when the ghosts start showing up, the film has its rug pulled out from under it, and it loses the momentum it had. Cheap computer effects are used to distort the ghosts faces, and the last one of a doctor was just laughable. Still, I'd recommend seeing it, especially if you're a fan of these kinds of movies.
HIGH PLAINS INVADERS
A man is about to be hanged in the Old West, but is saved when an alien creature strolls into the middle of main street and starts slaughtering people. It turns out that a spaceship has come to earth in search of uranium, which is the food source of the creatures inside. The townspeople can only fight back with revolvers and dynamite, and a handful are soon all that's left in a bid to get out of town. James Marsden is the lead, but he plays the hero so understated that I kept waiting for someone else to emerge as the hero. A gunslinging bounty hunter woman plays the tough guy, but her acting is horrible, as it is for most of the cast. The only good thing in the film was the CG effects of the ship and the aliens, which was quite exceptional. But the rest of the movie is dull and terrible.
HIDE AND CREEP
A video store owner ponders the phenomena of why all his zombie movies are rented out. Suddenly, the real deal appears, and the shuffling undead threaten to overrun the small town. A homeland security agent shows up, but is only slightly more competent than the townsfolk, who have a hard time taking the threat seriously. A sheriff's dispatcher takes charge in the effort to get out of town, but can she get the citizens interested enough to follow her? Shot on a very low budget, the film relies heavily on humor for its entertainment. There's lots of blood, not much gore, and the screenwriting is pretty good. One of the directors plays the video store owner and does so with a charming and effective sense of nonchalance. The biggest problem with the movie is that music is used sparing and the silent undercurrent undercuts the humor, making most of the fun lines seem flat.
Sam Neill discovers his wife is having an affair, which drives him to the edge of borderline insanity. He becomes obsessed with discovering who her lover is, beating her and questioning her incessantly. Finally, he discovers the man's identity and goes to see him, but gets beaten up himself. Soon, however, the lover appears at Neill's door to tell him that his wife has left them both for someone new. They are determined to discover who the new amour is, and are shocked to find that it is a weird, tentacled creature who the woman is killing men to feed. The movie is highly intense from the get-go, with lots of shouting, screaming, violence, self-violence, high emotions, sexual encounters and bizarre sexual encounters. I kept wondering if this film inspired Clive Barker's HELLRAISER and his short story "Human Remains", but it is definitely Lovecraftian in its overall tone.
WRONG TURN 4: BLOODY BEGINNINGS
In the 70's, a new doctor comes to a mental hospital and meets the inmates One Eye, Three Finger and Saw Tooth, who are children. But the youngsters escape their cell and free the other inmates, who kill the staff of the hospital. Many years later, a group of friends are snowmobiling in the area but get lost in the blizzard and take shelter in the hospital, now deserted, except for the cannibal hillbillies who stalk and eat them one by one. The movie is better than parts two and three, taking a SLIGHTLY more serious tone than it two predecessors, but there is still some comedy (for example, one of the group has been captured and is being eaten alive...in a fondue...and while he screams in agony, the rest of the group debate and vote on whether or not to rescue him). POTENTIAL SPOILER: Ultimately, you can't really root for the heroes, as this is a prequel and you know that the killers are going to live, so you sit back and just wait for the protagonists to die, knowing that they aren't going to escape. This, as I've said many a time, robs the film of any dramatic tension because you know how it's going to finish up. Also, the ending is ripped off from, of all things, 2001 MANIACS.
Anthology film of sci-fi/horror stories based on tales from the publication. An astronaut returns home in a convertible with a gift for his daughter: the Loc-Nar, a glowing green ball of evil sentience which immediately vaporizes him. The ball terrorizes the little girl by telling her stories of its history: its value as a prized possession in future NYC, its power to send a young boy to another dimension where he is a giant muscleman, its ability to change a nerd into a monster at a trial, its power to re-animate the dead in a B-17 bomber during WWII, its contamination abilities which mutate a tribe leading them to massacre a temple which incurs the wrath of a female warrior named Taarna, and more. The stories are all entertaining, though some more than others, and the varying styles of animation lend themselves nicely to the movie. This should appeal to fans of sci-fi, animation, horror and potheads. Oh, and there's some good music, too.
Romantic "dramedy" about Rachel, a shy girl who had a crush on handsome Dex in law school, but couldn't approach him. When he met her best friend Darcy, they hit it off and got engaged, but the wedding is approaching and Rachael, acting as the maid of honor, still has feelings for him. At a birthday party, Rachel tells Dex about her crush, they get drunk and end up sleeping together. As Dex begins to return Rachel's feelings, she is conflicted about returning them, since it would mean crushing her best friend's dreams. But Rachel's best guy friend, Ethan, demands that she tell Darcy or he will. The acting is decent but the story just seems so innocuous that I had to wonder whey anyone thought it deserved to be a movie.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
The friends I saw this movie with agreed with me that Pedro Almodovar can take the craziest of story situations and totally make you believe in them. In this Spanish film, Antonio Banderas is a doctor who is experimenting with a synthetic skin that is tougher and insect-resistant than real skin. He is forbidden from experimenting on humans, but we know he has already been doing so, using a victim locked in an upstairs room in his house and closely monitored on screens by his housekeeper, whose jewel thief son, dressed as a tiger, forces his way into the house while the doctor is out and rapes the girl. It's around here that the movie flashes back six months. The doctor is grieving the loss of his wife, who died when she was leaving him for another man. Their daughter goes to a party where she is drugged and sexually molested, causing the doctor to track the perp down, then kidnap and torture him in the barn behind their house. Things go even wilder from there, and I won't give the rest away. It's very engaging, and the ending is totally anti-climactic, but it's a wide-open eye ride to get there.
SATURDAY THE 14TH
A pair of vampires want to get inside an old house, but the rightful owner dies and leaves it to his family. They move in, and the son opens the Book of Evil, unleashing several monsters found inside its pages. The family hires a consultant to get the creatures out of their house before the day of evil arrives. Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentis do okay as the clueless parents, and the actors are all pretty decent, but the humor falls flat, draining this film of any life.
In the days of the Old West, a creature attacks a family hiding in a cabin and makes off with the women and children. A man related to them asks for help in locating them, convinced they were kidnapped by Indians. Unfortunately, as they journey cross-country, they discover the culprits are really monsters who have turned from eating buffalos to people. Good-looking film has characters that are so ugly and unpleasant, you want them to die, and soon. This really ruins the movie.
TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES
A group of female impersonators work at a tranny club. When three of them are picked up only to be raped, beaten and killed, the others decide to get revenge on the attackers. Weird combination of camp, absurdist comedy and straightforward drama that smells of low-budget and doesn't satisfy. Think I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE crossed with THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
1313: COUGAR CULT
Aging scream queens Linnea Quigley, Michele Bauer and Brinke Stevens are three rich women living in a mansion in Malibu, California. They entice young virile men into their home so they can hypnotize them and perform a ritual that makes them younger. But when the ritual fails to work again, they decide they need to up the number of men...and eat the leftovers. While Linnea, Michele and Brinke handle themselves admirably, the rest of the cast suffers from bad acting. The film itself is quite horrible, with bad effects (still cut-outs of cougar faces are superimposed over the actresses' faces when they attack in one scene), handsome men in underwear rubbing their own chests in a daze and lots and lots of padding (the film, not the costumes). Run, don't walk away from this one.
LITTLE ERIN MERRYWEATHER
On a college campus, a figure in a bright red hooded cape is attacking solitary men, removing their guts and replacing them with stones. A professor and three students working for the paper realize a serial killer is in their midst and try to stop them. There are some nice images in the film, but any remote possibility of the killer's identity being a mystery is ruined by suspicious glances from the character early on and, of course, the giveaway title itself. I wanted to like it, but overall, it didn't work for me.
THE 7 a.k.a. THE OAKLEY SEVEN
A geology professor takes several of his students on a spelunking trip for extra credit. Once inside, they encounter a "monster" that picks them off one by one. This movie suffers from some of the same problems that low-budget films so often do: 1. it's too dark, making it hard to see things, 2. the acting is just awful (the lead actress has an accent so thick she is often unintelligible), and 3. ...well, really, one and two are enough. You never get a really good look at the monster in this movie, and when you do, it appears to just be a large bat. Next.
A young couple encounters an older couple who invite them to their castle for the night where they get mixed up in a Satanic mass and a sex orgy. The next day, they return to their apartment, only to find everything is gone. Their neighbors offer to help, but--ta da! Twist ending. And that's the whole movie. Not much to recommend here. Lots of male and female nudity and erotically filmed sex on big pentagrams.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT ROYAL ALBERT HALL
This is basically a concert film of the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, celebrating its 25th year of performances by having the show done at the Royal Albert Hall. Now, because the venue is a concert hall and not a theater, some things had to be changed (the elephant, the mirrors, etc.), it is still a grand performance of the show. My only real problem (other than missing the elephant) was that the actors belt out the songs instead of injecting emotion into them, so a lot of the drama is lost. But the singers are all quite wonderful, especially the actresses portraying Christine Daie and Carlotta. There are some fun moments at the end, as the original London cast comes onstage, as well as appearances by Webber and Michael Crawford. Another highlight is "Music of the Night" sung by Sarah Brightman and five Phantoms. One note of interest: while Webber is lauded for the music, no one...NO ONE...mentions either of the two lyricists. If you're a fan of the show, you must see it.
Tom Twyker-directed drama about a couple, Simon and Hanna, who are in love but realize that something is missing in their relationship. Hanna meets Adam, a medical researcher and starts having an affair with him. Simon is diagnosed with testicular cancer and afterward meets Adam in the locker room of a magnificent swimming facility. The two men are attracted to each other and also begin having an affair. The rest of the film deals with how the married couple reacts when it is revealed they are both cheating with the same man. Beautifully filmed and nicely acted, the story kept me interested and wondering how it would all turn out. My only gripe is the use of multiple split-screens that occur several times throughout the film, which often distracted me from the story and made it hard to focus on one screen. In German with English Subtitles.
A crazy religious woman running an orphanage goes insane and murders all the kids but one before killing herself by shoving her hand in the garbage disposal. Years later, the survivor returns to the house as a young woman with several other people as part of the cast of a magnificently hi-tech haunted house Halloween show. But her presence disturbs the ghost of the crazy woman who infiltrates the computer system and turns all the house's holographic haunts into solid creatures who begin killing everyone. Much better than it has a right to be, with Jeffrey Combs chewing the scenery as the haunted attraction showman. The cinematography was good, the kills were not bad (what's with the use of CG blood these days?) and it was nicely paced. The ending was a letdown, though.
STAR WARS: EPISODE 1--THE PHANTOM MENACE (3D)
In what I think is the worst entry in the series, I made myself go watch it because I wanted to see how good the quality of the 3D-converted scenes was. First, the story: a race of aliens blocking trade with a peaceful planet decide to invade, and the world's ruler goes to the galactic senate for help, accompanied by two Jedi Knights. Their ship is damaged and forced to land on the desert planet of Tattooine, where the meet a boy whose has the mystic Force strong in him. They use the boy to win a race where they've gambled the ship for parts to repair it with. It's all pretty basic but yet comes off as convoluted. I didn't think the movie really kicked into gear until the last twenty minutes. As for the 3D, it was adequate, but the problem is that with a movie not intended to be in 3D, it's not as exciting. As much as I didn't care for the film of MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D, it was a lot of fun because they threw everything at you in that movie. THE PHANTOM MENACE wasn't shot for 3D, so other than seeing foregrounds and backgrounds separated, it wasn't as much fun.
Some guys buy a blow-up doll as a gag for a bachelor party, but find out that it's possessed and murderous. It's a comedy, natch, but it is one of the unfunniest things I've ever seen. Bad camera work, directing, acting, timing, writing, shot on video and looks it...pee-yoo.
MR. SMITH GETS A HUSTLER
An older man hires an eighteen-year-old male escort to talk to him in his hotel room. A bond grows between the two, but while the young man becomes hopeful that his life is going to change for the better, the older man is hiding a secret that is going to have bad consequences for them both. I feel bad for this film. It's well-written (if a bit cliched), very well-acted and the direction is quite good. The problem is that it looks terrible. Often underlit, this is a good film that is sunk by its bad cinematography, which is a real shame.
A young sculptress returns home only to be overly-protected by her aggressive gym-owning brother who fires any of his male staff who gets too close to her. He's actually doing them a favor, as the sister goes berserk any time a hot muscular guy gets too close to her (she was raped by her father after he killed her mother). After doing the hunks in, she cuts off parts of their bodies to assemble into a new sculpture which she is unveiling at a gallery. This is a male body worship video masquerading as a horror movie, but it's not all bad. Some of the acting is over the top, some is decent. Most of the gore effects are on the level of a monster kid movie, but (sigh) the hunks are buffed, handsome and chiseled. If you don't care about that, skip this.
SODOMA'S GHOST a.k.a. IL FANTASMA DI SODOMA
Lucio Fulci directs this tale of a group of young people who explore an old castle that used to be a brothel where Nazis came to kick up their goose stepping heels. Of course, the ghosts of the prostitutes and the Nazis appear and kill a few of the visitors, but the blood is light (with the exception of one really gory scene) and the story and characters are pretty bland. The ending made me shake my head.
In this French film (with English subtitles), a gay man born with tapered stumps for arms and legs searches the internet for sex partners. He finds a young black man called Christian who is a "devotee", slang for someone who is sexually attracted to amputees. Christian comes to visit, and his attraction seems to go beyond sex, but will this couple find happiness? Odd film is sometimes fascinating, sometimes grueling. It's definitely hard to watch, especially the sex scene. My biggest problem is that it just...ends. There is no conclusion, no end to the story arc, just a "you think your problem is bad? Try mine"-thing. Not for everyone.
THE BLEEDING HOUSE
A family who resides deep in the woods takes in a stranger who needs help and find out that they've made a big mistake. The stranger is a serial killer who believes that he is going God's work by torturing the sin out of people then killing them so their souls are saved. Unfortunately, the killer learns too late why the family lives so remotely and that the house holds it's own secret. Patrick Breen, an actor I've always liked, plays the charming killer (with a Southern accent that I found unnecessary) who believes he is right and never gets angry. The acting is good, the concept is good, and the final payoff was fun. Not a great film, but it got more entertaining as it went along.
Anthology film with John Ritter as a real estate agent trying to sell one of three houses to a young married couple in a neighborhood that seems eerily perfect. The first story is about a cheating wife and her lover who kill her husband but are not prepared for his return from the dead. The second story is about a killer monkey and the final story is about a psychic teenager who warns a therapist that she is the next victim of a serial killer. None of the stories are particularly good, and the finale of the wraparound with the wife driving through the neighborhood showing its real face was the best thing in the movie. Also stars David DeLuise, Bryan Cranston and Rachel York.
Odd Italian murder mystery directed by Umberto Lenzi about a young man discovering an unconscious woman lying on the beach. He rescues her, then meets her at a party the next night and starts to fall in love with her. They go to a motel to have sex, only to be attacked by a stranger. The young man shoots the stranger with his own gun, but when the police arrive, the body is gone. Things get more complicated from there, but without the over-the-top gore, it's really not that interesting.
SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF
A gun trafficking goes wrong, which results in two brothers getting shipwrecked on an island inhabited by women. While the bad brother wants to steal their pearls and escape, the good brother falls in love with an island girl, who agrees to go with them. They decide to make their escape from the island, kidnapping the woman in charge to make sure they can navigate the reef safely. This Roger Corman effort is really bland. With no monsters, the drama is so uninteresting that the movie becomes a bore. The good brother's motives become questionable as he readily agrees to kidnap the elder woman. For Corman purists only.
BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS
An all-B-star cast makes up this remake of THE SEVEN SAMARAI and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. To protect a small outer space farming colony about to be invaded by an evil galactic enemy, a farmboy takes a talking spaceship and recruits several vigilantes to fight the invading forces. It's cheesy, yes, but it's also fun and has some good concepts. Co-written by John Sayles and starring Richard Thomas, Robert Vaughn, John Saxon, George Peppard, Sybil Danning, Sam Jaffe, Marta Kristen, Julia Duffy and others.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
After the war, an American (Gene Kelly) decides to stay in Paris to paint. His work is admired by a wealthy woman who becomes his patron, but also is in love with him. He, however, is in love with a girl that is secretly engaged to one of his best friends. This not-light musical has some great songs, some not-so-great and amazing choreography by Mr. Kelly. The final 17-minute dance number is a classic.
Set before the video age, some neighborhood kids are shooting a zombie movie. Joe, who's doing the makeup effects, is in love with Alice, who is the female lead, but afraid to tell her how he feels. They shoot a night scene at the railroad station and accidently catch a major train accident on film. Soon, the air force moves in and clamps down on the town. Joe's father, the sheriff's deputy, tries to find out what is really going on. What is really going on is that an alien has escaped from the train during the crash and is trying to return home. This failed effort by J.J. Abrams to do a modern Spielberg movie never matches the style and charm of the source material. The kids are obnoxious, the deputy is an arrogant jerk and the air force commander is a one-dimensional villain. Spielberg's success was in creating characters you like and emotionally invest yourself in, but you just can't do that here.
THE ZOMBIE CHRONICLES
A female reporter encounters a hitchhiker who agrees to give her directions to her destination. He tells her two stories about zombies in this anthology film. First, a woman having an affair with a military man who deliberately ran her husband to death think they are free to marry, but the corpse of the dead soldier has other ideas. Then, a group of campers comes across a graveyard and show disrespect by peeing on a grave. The buried occupant rises to get even. This shot on video (and looks it) film is, frankly, awful on every level: the acting, camerawork, effects, makeup, etc. is just terrible. And the film was in 3D, but with no glasses and not in the analgyph red/blue system, I couldn't watch it in 3D. I'm not sure that would have made a difference, as I noticed the double images would shift around. I think I spared myself a headache by not watching it in 3D, although I didn't spare myself one by watching it at all.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: DOOM
Another entry in the Warner Brothers line of DC animated features. In this, an adaptation of the book "Tower of Babel", Mirror Master invades the Batcave and downloads information from the Batcomputer. It turns out that the Caped Crusader came up with contingency plans to stop every member of the Justice League in case they were mind-controlled or went rogue. Vandal Savage creates the Legion of Doom and invites Cheetah, Metallo, Star Sapphire, Mirror Master, Bane and Malefic to join him in conquering the planet. But first, he gets them to use Batman's plans to incapacitate every League member so they can't stop him. While the voice acting was pretty good (they bring back all the actors from the "Justice League" TV show plus Nathan Fillion as GL), it was off the mark a few times, and some of Batman's plans were so simple you thought "Why haven't the villains tried this before" or so oddball (making Green Lantern think he's failed so he develops an insecurity complex and loses his willpower--which is the plot in the Broadway musical "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!"), that you were left with a blank expression on your face. The animation was top-notch, though, and the cast included Cybord, a hero I'm not a fan of. If they are adapting classic comic book stories for these films, certainly there are better ones to do. Still, it's good to see the DC heroes in new productions.
SINTHIA: THE DEVIL'S DOLL
As a little girl, Cynthia wanted nothing more than for her father to love only her, but when she spies on him having sex with her mother, she kills them both in a jealous rage. Eight years later, she's free and about to marry, but she's having a series of nightmares about Hell and the devil and wonders if she's still insane, so she visits a psychiatrist who tells her to take control of her dreams and see where that leads her. She dreams that her lover is an artist who looks like her father, she has sex with another woman who finds her attractive, re-creates her first kiss and finally arrives back at her parents' bedside. An old film from 1970, it doesn't have enough sex or horror to make it really interesting, which is surprising, as it's directed by Ray Dennis Steckler.
SATANIS: THE DEVIL'S MASS
A documentary about Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan has interviews with Christians, laypeople, satanic church members and LaVey himself talking about the misconceptions of Satanism. We see some of their rituals performed. The Christians come off as boring and dull people contrasted to the fun-loving, freaky Satanists. Unfortunately, the movie starts to drag quickly and never picks back up.
BON VOYAGE, CHARLIE BROWN (AND DON'T COME BACK!!)
Charlie Brown receives his first letter and is amazed that he has been invited to go to France as an exchange student. He, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Snoopy and Woodstock all go abroad and become embroiled in a mystery concerning the Chateau of the Bad Neighbor. The Baron, who lives there, wants no part of Charlie Brown and Linus, who are tended to by his niece (the one who invited Charlie) and keeps making vague threats about what he will do to them if they don't leave. In the meantime, Peppermint Patty develops a crush on a French boy with eyes only for Marcie, and Snoopy and Woodstock go to a cafe every night to drink root beer. As Peanuts movies go, this is probably the worst one, showing adults and hearing them speak for the first time (instead of the trombone wah-wahing we usually hear). The voice acting is lackluster and there are no set pieces, other than having Snoopy flicking his chin at another driver who rear-ends them at a stop sign while Marcie chews them out in French.
A homosexual high school teacher who tries to help a bullied gay teen is accused of sexual impropriety with the boy. When the lad runs away, the teacher cannot validate his innocence, and is fired and harrassed by the locals. He gets a lawyer, but when a past indiscretion turns up, it throws his personal home life into chaos. The movie looks great and has good acting. It gets a bit too pat in the last fifteen minutes, but everything leading up to it works great.
A college student decides to do her thesis on a notorious German man who advertised for (and found) another man who will allow himself to be cannibalized alive. She begins the project with a sense of excitement, but as she learns more about the cannibal's background and what led him to become a flesh-eater, the more horrified she becomes. It all culminates when someone sends her a copy of a tape made by the cannibal when he killed his victim. This is a dark, gritty film that I was totally engulfed in, until the end. While you question the motives of the student doing the investigation, you also feel empathy for the cannibal. But the film's big problem is that there is no resolution at the end. What has the student learned about the cannibal and more importantly, about herself? What happened to the cannibal? Did he kill more men? Was he caught? The movie claims to be based on true events, but exasperatingly leaves the film without a conclusion. WARNING: The film contains one of the most intense, disturbing sex scenes I've ever witnessed.
THE ERRAND BOY
Again, not a big Jerry Lewis fan, but I'd heard several good things about this film (which Lewis also directed) and decided to check it out. Although, like THE BELLBOY, there's no real story, mostly a series of gags, I enjoyed it a bit more than that film. A group of studio executives want to spy on their various departments to see if anyone is wasting their money, so they hire a paper hanger to work in each department then report back to them on what he's seen. It's off from there. There are plenty of misfires, but also real set-pieces of comedy: Lewis finds a quiet place to eat his lunch but ends up in the middle of a war movie; he goes to a western set and encounters all four Cartrights from "Bonanza" and gets his sandwich stolen by Hoss; and the famous boardroom conducting concert is there. The black and white cinematography isn't as good as THE BELLBOY's, but I think I prefer this movie over that one. Also stars Brian Donlevy and Floyd the barber from "The Andy Griffith Show".
THE GOLDEN IDOL
Bomba the Jungle Boy retrieves a stolen idol from a murderous Arab chief who, in turn, has hired a villainous soldier of fortune to get it back at any cost. Johnny Sheffield was getting a bit too old by this time (24 years old) to still be called a jungle "boy", but he plays Bomba believably. One of the lesser entries in the series, including some tiger vs. wild boar footage that borders on an animal snuff film.
Beverly Garland is movie actress Linda Winters, who has come to the jungle seeking her runaway husband, who has embezzled a large sum of money. She asks Bomba to help her find him, and he agrees, although after talking with her, he is tempted to return with her to civilization, and she is tempted to stay in the jungle. Meanwhile, a killer black leopard is on the loose. Beverly Garland elevates this entry in the Bomba series, giving it some much-needed sexual tension that has been missing until now.
When a group of seven (!) college friends go to a holiday house by a salt-water lake, one of them is attacked while water skiing by a shark. His arm is bitten off (but not swallowed), causing two of the others to go for help with the remaining ones left behind to care for their friend. It turns out that the lake is full of sharks, and there is a nefarious plan behind why. I did not see this film in 3D, and I'm not sure it would have made a difference. There were several problems here: 1. You cannot have the leading man be the hottest cast member and play someone pining for the lead actress, 2. Joel David Moore, who I usually find quirky and charming (see HATCHET, DODGEBALL and CHILLERAMA) is just obnoxious here, and 3. One of the sharks roar like in JAWS: THE REVENGE. The water is a murky green, the villains are cliched...think VACANCY with sharks.
THE KILLING KIND
A young John Savage is sent to jail for his participation of the gang rape of a young woman. Years later, he is released, and he returns home to live with his creepy, doting, "very" close mother, Ann Southern. But John is mentally unbalanced, and soon seeks revenge on the young woman who was raped, and any women who strike his fancy, including the one in his mother's boarding house. When the mother realizes her son is a murderer, she decides to help him get rid of the latest victim, but knows there is only one way for things to end. A quiet, creepy film with a believable performance by Savage and a wonderfully quirky turn by Southern.
101 DALMATIONS (1961)
Disney animated film about dalmations Pongo and Purdy, who fall in love and get their owners to fall in love, too. When Purdy gets pregnant, she soon gives birth to fifteen puppies, but they are desired by the evil Cruella DeVille, who wants to make fur coats out of them. She hires two thugs to kidnap the puppies and hold them with eighty-four others in a deserted house. But Pongo and Purdy take off to rescue their pups with the help of a very brave cat and the "barking network". Wonderful animation and an avalanche of cuteness make up for a slight story. The nanny is the exact same character design for Flora from SLEEPING BEAUTY. The voice work by Rod Taylor and others is spot on. See it with kids.
SPOOKED: THE GHOSTS OF WAVERLY HILLS SANITARIUM
A documentary by the filmmakers of DEATH TUNNEL, who shot their film there and decided to return to cover that location's story. Waverly Hills Sanitarium is a huge medical facility opened to cure tuberculosis patients, but built an underground tunnel to wheel out the bodies of those who died without upsetting the other patients. The conditions were less than ideal, with untried experiments being performed on patients in search of a cure. Things got worse after a cure was found, and the facility became a nursing home where conditions became so bad that the state shut the place down in the early 1980's. The film goes into detail about the building's history, examines it floor by floor, and contains interviews with ex-patients, security guards, ex-staff, ghost hunters, the new owner and the filmmakers themselves, who superficially end the film with a segment on their film shoot of DEATH TUNNEL. There are lots of EVP recordings played and grainy pictures presented as proof of the building being haunted, but oddly, the majority of the film is about the shocking conditions of the hospital's medical history than the haunting part. Suspense is reinforced by a deep rumbling on the film's soundtrack. I watched it once and thought it was mildly entertaining, but I don't need to see it twice.
THE SEVERED ARM
Five men explore a cave and are trapped when it collapses. No one knows where they are, and after a week, they decide to draw straws to decide which of them will sacrifice a body part to feed the others. Poor Ted is the unlucky fellow, and after begging them to wait a while longer, they cut off his arm. But before they can even eat it, they are rescued. Ted is now delusional, and the others make a pact not to divulge why they cut off their friend's arm, saying instead it was crushed in the cave-in and had to be amputated. Several years pass, and the leader of the group receives a severed arm in the mail. Now, one by one, a one-armed man is killing the others, leading the survivors to enlist the aid of Ted's daughter to help them find her father before he gets his revenge. Low-budget, dark and grainy, this film is nonetheless fun to watch, a 70s grindhouse flick that has some suspense, some gore, an intense scene or two and a twist ending.
KILL KATIE MALONE
Three college students go in together to buy a ghost in a box online. Thinking it's a gag, they soon change their minds when the box arrives in the mail and upon opening it, anyone who becomes a threat to this trio is killed by an unseen force. Nicely acted and a neat idea, but it wasn't executed very well, and I got antsy about halfway through.
Several college students take an extra credit assignment of a field research trip into the Great Dismal Swamp. Dana, who is also treated badly by her boyfriend, decides to go, but soon realizes her mistake when the group is attacked by a monstrously ugly hillbilly cannibal who lives in the vicinity. As her classmates are butchered one by one, Dana realizes that she can't trust anyone and must rely on herself to survive. Now, the acting in this movie ranges from bad to decent, and the photography is well done, but the use of bad CG effects for blood and fire, plus the fact that the movie is laden with cliches (the people you think you can trust are in on it, etc.) really bring the movie down, making you feel like you've seen it all before. Only if you're desperate.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES
Capt. Jack Sparrow rekindles his romance with Blackbeard's daughter in order to get hired on his ship so he can rescue the Black Pearl, shrunken and trapped in a bottle. Blackbeard is racing with the British and the Spaniards to get to the Fountain of Youth so he can become immortal, as his fate has been foretold that he will be killed by a one-legged man. While the Spaniards have a map, and the Brits have Sparrow's first mate, Blackbeard has Sparrow to lead the way. I saw the film in 3D, which I wouldn't recommend. There's not enough things coming at you to make it worthwhile and the focus bleeds from time to time. The 3D also makes the film very dark in scenes. Johnny Depp has toned down Sparrow's quirkiness, which lessens the interest in him, and the movie gets repetitive as we see heroes escape only to be immediately recaptured happen again and again. While it's better than POTC: AT WORLD'S END, it's not as good as THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, falling along the same quality as DEAD MAN'S CHEST. It's just not as clever as its predecessors, and we've come to expect it to be.
PSYCHO SHARK a.k.a. JAWS IN JAPAN
Mai and Miki are two pretty Japanese girls vacationing at Sunny Beach. They can't find their hotel and get lost, then are rescued by a young man who invites them to stay at his lodge, run by an older man who likes to record his guests. But the girls soon realize that something isn't right, and that they are in danger from forces in the water and on dry land. The movie mixes amateurish home video-esuqe footage with often beautiful cinematographic images and the mix just doesn't work. The story is too simple, and you don't get to see the shark until near the very end. Light on the blood and virtually no gore, take a cue from the title and think PSYCHO and EATEN ALIVE with a shark.
Radley Metzger directed this swinging erotic tale of Jack and Elvira, a bisexual married couple who are trying to seduce Eddie and Betsy, a repressed, timid pair of newlyweds. There's a bet involved. Elvira must seduce Betsy by midnight. If she does, Jack will let her have Eddie, but if she doesn't, he gets a crack at the naive man. This is a very light-hearted, "naughty" flick that actually has clever, snappy dialogue (if at times is badly performed) and doesn't take itself seriously. I saw the uncut version on Blu-Ray and it looks gorgeous. Caution: while the hetero and lesbian sex scenes are filmed in a "hard" R-rated fashion, the film's gay sex scene includes some actual hardcore footage, so be forewarned. I found the movie overall to be fun, sexy and highly erotic, as the entire film is basically one long seduction scene.
There are weird movies and then there are films that just defy description. KILLER TONGUE fits somewhere in between. Three men and a women pull a heist and escape into the desert. There, the man-woman couple double-cross the two men, super-gluing their lips together and leaving them to their own devices. However, the male, Johnny, is caught and sent to a harsh prison, led by a sadistic, dove-loving warden (Robert Englund). His girlfriend and her four poodles take refuge in a convent waiting for him to be released. One night, a pink meteorite falls to earth and lands in the soup the nuns are feeding her. She eats it and turns into a black leather-clad alien woman with a ten-foot tongue, and her poodles are transformed into four drag queens! Her boyfriend escapes and also comes in contact with the meteorite, but he is chased by the warden and the two men who still want their share of the money. This crazy movie contains lots of gore and the acting is over the top. The film is just so nuts that its hard to take it seriously, but parts of it were genuinely funny and fast-paced. It reminded me of Peter Jackson's earlier work, like BAD TASTE.
THE MUMMY THEME PARK
When an archeologist discovers a major Egyptian tomb, a rich native decides to turn it into a Jurassic Park-like attraction. A high priestess of the cult the mummy belongs to has other ideas and curses the attraction, sending the robotic mummies out to kill the guests. There is absolutely nothing to recommend about this film. The acting is bad, the dubbing (it's an Italian production) is bad, the effects are terrible, the plot is ridiculous, the costumes are stupid...I could go on, but I'll spare you. The heroine hears a noise in her hotel and runs down the hall THREE DOORS to the hero's room. When he refuses to let her stay the night with him, she leaves, running back down THE SAME HALL toward her room, but she stops halfway there and cries that she's LOST! Sheesh. If you see it on Netflix, click to something else and never come back.
THE HOUSE OF THE DEMON
No, it's not a sequel to THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. This shot-on-video feature is about an old man who hates Halloween, even though he is a Satanist who raises a demon. When the old timer disappears, his heir, Charlie, inherits the place and decides to throw a party there. Once inside, however, the demon reappears and begins possessing the girls at the soiree. I hate to bag on other indie films, but the direction is just awful, the acting is bargain-basement, the makeups are kind of crude and the editing and music are amateurish. The demon even laughs "Mwah ha ha!" Run, do not walk...away.
CURSE OF THE DEAD a.k.a. HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD
South African film about a mad scientist residing in a plantation who is using monkeys to experiment with transferring souls. After butchering most of the animals there, he begins experimenting on humans, including the residing family. The film print I saw of this was bad, yellowed and fuzzy, but even pristine, I doubt I'd have enjoyed it. Long stretches where nothing happens and a lab with bubbling potions in test tubes. Boring.
After overhearing her husband and his friends talk about sex, two wives decide to give their husbands a "hall pass", i.e., a week off from marriage, in which they can do whatever they want, including have an affair. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis spend most of the week playing golf, sleeping and going to Applebees to try and pick up women, but soon get involved in a crazy scheme that makes them realize how good they had it. Surprisingly genuine, sincere and touching in places, since it was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, and yes, there are some crude bits (including a couple male members on display), but it's not the gross-out comedy you'd expect, and could actually be a good date movie.
TWELVE AND HOLDING
Three friends, Jacob, Lenny and Malee, face tragedy and isolation. Jacob's twin brother Rudy is killed when neighborhood bullies set fire to a treehouse not know that Rudy and Lenny are inside. Lenny escapes, losing his sense of taste in the process, which prompts him to lose weight. Jacob, however, decides he wants to get revenge on the bullies who killed his brother. Malee is a girl who meets a man who works for a road clean-up crew (Jeremy Renner) and falls in love with him. The film is wonderfully acted and directed, showing various people in stages of loneliness and how they cope with it. Two of the most powerful moments occur when Malee peeps on Renner in the shower as he cries for some unknown reason, and Jacob's final standoff with the bully responsible for killing his brother. It's a drama with kids, but not a kids' drama. In fact, I would not advise letting younger people watch the movie without parental supervision. It's definitely worth watching, but I think an adult needs to be there to discuss the characters' choices afterward.
When a Catholic school superintendent decides the internet is evil because it carries gay porn, she enlists a flaming gay teacher to help destroy the web. But a squad of martial arts cheerleaders team up with a bunch of computer nerds to fight back. Okay, remember how funny AIRPLANE II: THE SEQUEL and THE NAKED GUN 33 1/2 were? Me, neither. And that's the point: this film is an anarchistic comedy in the same way AIRPLANE, TOP SECRET! and THE NAKED GUN are, but without the genius of the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrams, weak 0imitations of their comedy seem like just that: weak imitations. To be fair, some of the gags in CN ARE funny, or should work, but they don't, generally because the talent isn't up to the task. A lot of these gags need to be timed just right, and it takes professional actors to do that. Casting your mom may be sweet, but don't be surprised if she can't tell a joke that has people on the floor laughing. You can tell a lot of thought went into this (except for the MULTIPLE homophobic jokes which were just too easy--and stupid), but a lack of expertise in comedic timing really destroys anything the film might have had going for it.
Adam is an anti-social college student who decides to get away from it all by accepting a job as an assistant to a medical researcher conducting experiments in a snowbound cabin in the northern part of the country. Once there, Dr. Vick garrets Adam, then injects him with a serum that brings him back to life. Resurrected, Adam discovers that he is Subject Two, and the first successful experiment in which someone has come back from the dead. Dr. Vick continues his experiments on Adam by killing him and resurrecting him over and over. But the experiments have side effects: Adam's irises turn white and he begins to lose his sense of touch, which makes him even more anti-social and depressed than he was before. I went into this movie not expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. The concept is great, as is the acting. The open spaces covered in snow still give one a sense of claustrophobia, and I kept wondering what was going to happen next. A low-key, interesting horror drama that I recommend.
EVILS OF THE NIGHT
There seem to be a lot of sex-starved 20-something teenagers making out in the woods. Unfortunately for them, alien vampires are kidnapping them (helped by a couple of hooded auto mechanics) for their blood which helps them stay young. This doesn't seem to work for John Carradine, the ship's captain. Julie Newmar and Tina Louise are wasted here as aliens helping the process. Full of boobs, shirtless guys in tight shorts, alien vampire ladies in 50's sci-fi outfits (2 of them lesbians) and corny optical effects of green rays being shot out of rings that look like dice. For laughs only.
GNAW: FOOD OF THE GODS PART 2
A university department creates a serum that causes gigantism in vegetables. When they try it out on rats, the critters escape and become giants, attacking custodians and students. It's silliness that's fun but not as much fun as the original. The giant man having sex with a normal-sized woman scene is priceless.
A group of students go on a trip into the woods to do some camping, but pick up an old Poloroid camera at a mysterious shop on the way. Unfortunately, whoever gets their picture taken by the camera dies in horrible ways. Now, this should have been a fun movie, but it being an Italian production, the hysterical acting, dubbing and motives of the actors/characters is SO over the top, it's just ridiculous. If a natural death can't occur for the victims, why, a flying spike from nowhere will suffice! This film is just so badly conceived with characters making the dumbest choices imaginable (at the end, didn't she HEAR the car coming?), you will miss a third of it from shaking your head in disbelief.
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
THE LIVING COFFIN
Mexican horror/western about a cowboy and his sidekick come to deliver a letter to a young lady rancher only to get involved in a murder. While trying to solve the murder, he also gets involved in the legend of the Crying Woman, a corpse who will appear and kill if a knife stuck in a grandfather clock is removed. The film is shot in color but it looks washed in sepia and very grainy. There's a fight scene in a bar where every punch thrown obviously misses, and the comedic sidekick actually gets some "boing"-type sound effects when he does something stupid. But what sinks the film is that it's dull. Not much really happens and it takes forever to get there. Check out the other Casa Negra films instead.
THE SWAMP OF THE RAVENS
A mad scientist moves to Ecuador to conduct experiments on bring the dead back to life. His girlfriend gets tired of this and runs off to Paris with another man, but the doc follows her and brings her back. He kills her then uses her body as the guinea pig for his experiments. Low-key film fails because it's neither fast-paced, fun, shocking or scary enough to enthrall.
THE THIRSTY DEAD
Four women living in the city are kidnapped and brought to a jungle where they are held captive by a cult of blood-drinkers. One of the women is to become their new queen, while the other three are doomed to give their blood to keep the cultists alive. Sounds better than it is, with odd touches of humor (one of the women, a stripper, talks about how she would enjoy being a white sex slave), but comes off as an odd TV movie.
THE AMITYVILLE HAUNTING
Found footage film about the most dysfunctional family in the world who buys the famous Amityville house thirty-five years after the murders. Doors open by themselves and the youngest daughter has an imaginary friend with the same name as a boy who died in the house, but most disturbing of all are the accidental deaths that keep occurring. Can the family wise up in time to get out? Okay, first of all, here's the plot: family buys house, realtor dies; family moves in, mover dies; father becomes paranoid, catches daughter with a "bad" boy, boy dies; son tapes several supernatural events on camera, never shows them to anyone; father goes insane, house goes insane. The end. I don't even know where to start here. The father is an ex-marine and thus has to be ultra-mega-in everyone's face. He accuses every single kid of lying to him and gives them death stares. The son records odd events on his camera then follows that up with recording himself telling us what we just saw. The father becomes so paranoid that he installs security cams in every room of the house, throwing us into PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-ville, but whenever they pick up something interesting, like a door opening by itself or the ghost of a little boy appearing and disappearing, they go unnoticed because NO ONE WATCHES THE FOOTAGE. At least two people are killed, but we don't see it happen because when ghosts are around, the camera gets interference and goes black. Yes, it saves money on stunt people but it becomes laughable. We see the famous front of the house early in the movie, but the insides don't match the outside. It's just a bad, bad film. A similar effort, AMITYVILLE: THE LOST TAPES is in the works. Let's see if they can do it better.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
Justin Timberlake, who shows off a body so lean and ripped and perfect I want to give up working out because I know I will NEVER look like that, is a graphic artist hired by Mila Kunis to run GQ's art department. He relocates from L.A. to New York, and since they have a hard time finding love, they decide to add sex to their friendship, which doesn't work out the way they expect it to. This is another romantic comedy with a sharp sophomoric humorous edge to it. It's a love story but they tackle the "real" humor you find in situations, like stopping in the middle of sex because you have to use the bathroom. While it's not over-the-top hilarious, it was pretty amusing and better than I thought it would be.
LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH
Jessica has recently been released from a mental institution and her husband and their mutual friend drive her to a farmhouse in the country where they hope to sell the antiques inside. Once there, they run into a traveler, a red-headed girl, who looks like the daughter of the homeowner in a picture found in the attic. Jessica begins seeing glimpses of a little girl in a white dress and starts hearing voices who warn her of vampires. Is she going insane or is something really happening? And why DO all the old men in the village wear bandages? Thick with menacing atmosphere and great performances, this is a 70's movie (that I think Ti West has been channeling for his last two films) that I suggest you see.
THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II (FULL SEQUENCE)
Martin is an odd little man obsessed with the film THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE. He works in an underground car garage where he shoots and crowbars his victims, taking them by large black van to a warehouse where he hopes to build a twelve-person human centipede. Any semblance of plot ends there and the gruesome torture porn aspects of the film take over as he staples people together, cuts knee tendons, force-feeds the "head", rapes the "tail" and incites diarrhea, all as an homage to what he's seen in the first movie. There's also some nasty business with a pregnant lady and pleasuring himself with a piece of sandpaper. It was truly an ordeal to sit through, and after it was over, I couldn't think of any reason why this movie was made other than to out-gross the original by explicitly showing what the original mostly hinted at and profit therewith. Thankfully, in black and white.
2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK
Charlie McConnell is a professor who takes about a zillion of his students out to sea on a boat for some reason involving an old star compass. This is just an excuse for the girls to wear bikinis and the guys to take their shirts off. Any complaints? Okay, we'll keep going. Suddenly, a mutant 2-headed shark appears, attacking anyone who falls off or leaves the boat, tearing them in two pieces during its feeding frenzy. The majority of them find safety on a floating atoll, but of course, it begins sinking, making them all potential victims to the 2-headed terror. Now, I love movies like this, they remind me of Corman's B-flicks from the 50s and 60s. The only difference is those were good and these rarely are. But you really don't watch them expecting greatness. The shark is 90% CG, of course, with a few shots with a practical double shark head, which was welcome. But the shark's size changes perspective, sometimes as big as a boat, other times small enough to sneak up on a guy enjoying some live lesbian action in waist-high water with no clue to its approach. The shark eats so many people that I kept thinking, "Shouldn't it be getting full by now?" The acting is bad, you don't care if anyone lives or dies, a drum of gas explodes causing a tiny spray of water, a few shots of the shark are used repeatedly and one shot of the shark is obviously (and laughably) flipped. PLUS, a girl is attacked by the shark. She fires a gun at it and runs out of bullets, then--yes, I know it's incredible, but--she throws the gun at it! It's an Asylum picture, so you know what you're in for.
7 NIGHTS OF DARKNESS
Found footage film about six contestants in a game show who have to spend seven nights in an old haunted mental asylum to get a piece of one million dollars. Each night they must carry out tasks and film their exploits, even as they begin to hear strange noises and see glimpses of a little girl. When the group's only paranormal medium goes into a trance then disappears, the group really begins to unravel, leading to a confrontation with the forces of the building. Okay, let me just say there that this is the WORST found footage film I've seen. The camera work is particularly awful, the people involved are amazingly irritating (especially John and Nick) and the ghost effects were laughable. Again, we have instances of people recording phenomena and then NOT SHOWING IT TO THE OTHERS, instances of secret rooms being discovered and not explored, and details of laughably low-budget (the envelopes with the tasks are written in hand by a magic marker and we never see hide nor hair of the TV show producers or crew). After the end credits there was an extra scene that was a bit clever, but it was waaaaay too little, too late. Watch GHOSTLY ENCOUNTERS to see it done better, and that's not saying much.
CAESAR AND OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE
Writer/director Dave Campbell plays Caesar, an easily-agitated, flamboyant and excitable guy who takes a pregnant woman to the hospital where he gets into trouble with a police officer. Thinking they will be coming after him, he and his half-brother, the dumb but likable Otto, drive into the woods and get jobs as summer camp counselors, but when the mysterious girl Carrie shows up (played by SLEEPAWAY CAMP's Felissa Rose), the other counselors being disappearing, getting murdered by a stranger carrying sharp weapons. Can Caesar stop thinking about himself long enough for he, his brother and their father to escape? Obviously low-budget, the film still looks pretty good and director Campbell keeps the pace going fast and funny. None of the jokes made me laugh out loud, but it all-in-all, it was pretty entertaining. Lots of cameos, including some by Joe Estevez and Brinke Stevens.
THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z
When Dr. Zimmer reveals his tests in mind control to a science conference, he is ridiculed and suffers a life-ending heart attack. Before he dies, he asks his daughter to continue his research and she does...outfitting a stripper with poisonous fingernails and sending her out to kill the scientists responsible for her father's death. A bit creepy and sort of interesting. The black and white cinematography is great, but the movie doesn't really kick into gear until the end. Directed by Jess Franco.
DOCTOR BLOOD'S COFFIN
After being thrown out of a medical facility for his experiments on reanimating the dead, Dr. Blood goes to a Cornish village where he grew up to continue his experiments. When people start disappearing, Blood's nurse starts getting suspicious...and why does he need curare? The film is pretty dry until we get to the final scenes in the cave, which are fun, but it's a long road there, even with the beautiful Hazel Court as a distraction.
ZOMBIE 3 a.k.a. ZOMBI 3
Government agents kill a terrorist infected with a weird chemical and burn his body, but the smoke spreads over a small island, turning the locals into flesh-eating zombies. Three soldiers team up with a group of tourists and barricade themselves in a hotel trying to come up with a plan to escape the zombies and the government hazmat team killing everyone and trying to cover the entire situation up. Not much gore, surprisingly, or zombie attacks. The film obviously and unapologetically steals from THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE CRAZIES. The scene where zombies attack a guy dangling from a helicopter is pretty cool, but the rest of the film is rather uninspired, and too many zombies with horrible faces are shown to have nice pink, healthy tummies.
A missing %#%@%+ leads to police detectives to a group of Satanic priests in this gritty flick that's more crime drama than horror film. Karen Black is the missing prostitute and Christopher Plummer is one of the two most annoyingly obnoxious detectives it's ever been my misfortune to witness. If you like BAD LIEUTENANT, you'll probably like this.
Two gay men having a long distance relationship close the gap when one moves to the other's city to be with him. He moves into his lover's apartment and discovers that he has been working as a male escort to pay for school and his place to live. He is even more shocked when he discovers that an repeat client is a homophobic preacher who actively campaigns against gay rights. This boils his activist blood, and he and his hustler boyfriend decided to record the next sexcapade and blackmail the preacher with it. Things don't work out the way they hope. This is a mumblecore movie, so it has the obligatory shaky handheld camerawork, young twinky actors, improved dialogue, explicit sex and nudity and light plot. If you've seen a Joe Swanberg film, you know what this is (Joe even plays the preacher in this film). I wish I could say it was deep or moving or intriguing, but it's none of those things. Kudos for trying, but I didn't care for it.
Dan O'Grady steals a pot of gold from an evil leprechaun and flees to America. The leprechaun follows him, but O'Grady traps him in a crate with a four-leaf clover. He has a heart attack when he tries to burn the creature alive, and years later, Jennifer Aniston and her boyfriend buy the house only to have the local slow-minded carpenter accidently release the little monster, who now kills anyone who gets in the way of him getting his gold back. Fun film, and Warwick Davis is obviously having a lot of fun as the little green man. It's hard to build suspense, though. How do you fight a creature with magic powers who can do anything? The tone is the same as CRITTERS, and the film was so popular it spawned five or six sequels.
In the past, the evil leprechaun gets to take a bride on his 1000th birthday. If he can make a girl sneeze three times, she will become his unwilling bride. The woman he chooses is the daughter of his slave, and he foils the spell so that the evil little thing must try again on his 2000th birthday, which takes place in present day. He chooses a woman who is the descendent of his last choice and kidnaps her, but her boyfriend goes to her rescue and causes more trouble when he steals a gold coin from the leprechaun. Lots of mayhem and gore. Warwick gives another spirited performance. If you like these movies, you'll dig this one, too.
Not related to the Warwick Davis LEPRECHAUN series, this film is about a young woman who sees a red four-leaf clover in the woods and picks it, releasing an evil creature that begins killing people in the local town. Only four horseshoes can capture it, and only another red clover can keep it contained. Great-looking film directed by short horror film king Drew Daywalt, who utilizes some of his "dread" themes here, as well. Unfortunately, the movie runs out of steam pretty quickly, and the suspenseful moments stop coming, so by the end it's just another Syfy Channel flick. Daywalt is definitely a director to keep an eye on, though.
FROM A PLACE OF DARKNESS
Miles is a filmmaker who had a hit years ago but now needs another. He decides to make a documentary about the snuff film industry and finds the centerpiece of his film: Vic, a snuff film director. As Miles films him, he begins to see ghosts on his monitor and realizes that they are the victims of snuff films trying to get more powerful so they can be seen by the naked eye. Miles realizes that Vic has a plan of his own, involving the ghosts and Miles, and it isn't a documentary. Dark, edgy film that is surprisingly tame given its subject matter. The acting is good, the cinematography is a bit too dark for my tastes, but overall it's not a bad way to kill a couple hours.
A little girl is given a replica of the infamous murder house (and I have to admit, I'd love to have it myself), but at night, when the dollhouse's "eye window" lights brighten, weird things happen in their home. People start having accidents and dying. Soon, her parents realize that the evil from Amityville has infested their house and they must escape before it kills them, too. Not a bad film for the time. The premise is good, but I just wish more had been done with it.
AMITYVILLE 1992: IT'S ABOUT TIME
A widower brings home a clock haunted by the evil from the Amityville house. Once there, it causes accidents, turns the family dog evil, and makes the teenage daughter slutty. When the father is laid up by one of these accidents, the son must try to find out how to defeat the evil presence, even as it begins to mess with the time continuum. Nice premise, too, but it's not particularly expanded upon or done well. Very mediocre.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
The Pyncheon family is heavily in debt. Clifford wants to sell their magnificent house to pay off their creditors, but his brother Jeffrey and their father object. When Clifford and his father argue about the house, the elderly man dies and Jeffrey tells the court that Clifford was guilty of causing their father's death, to which he is sentenced to ten years in prison. Jeffrey smugly thinks the house is his, but their lawyer informs him that his father transferred the house's deed to Clifford's fiancee, Hepzibah. Now in charge, Hepzibah throws Jeffrey out of the house, eventually taking in boarders, a niece and opening a shop in the mansion to help pay for it. The place falls into disrepair, but when Clifford is released three years into his sentence, will his presence change things? And what of the secret treasure supposedly hidden in the house? This gothic tale is watchable, but I never found it captivating, except for the presence of a very young Vincent Price who sings!
THE BIG DOLL HOUSE a.k.a. WOMEN'S PENITENTIARY III
In a Phillipine prison, a sadistic warden tortures her female inmates until five of them join forces with two horny fruit vendors. They kidnap the warden and hold her hostage as they escape. This plot really isn't necessary. The reason to watch this movie is for the nudity, the women wrestling in mud, the women taking showers, etc. It DOES have the fabulous Pam Grier and the always fun-to-watch Sid Haig.
THE MIGHTY GORGA
A circus owner travels to the jungle to find out if a legendary giant gorilla exists. He meets a lady trapper whose father has gone missing and they team up, hoping to fulfill both missions. A tribe that worships the giant ape captures them, reunites the lady with her father, and the trio escapes, leaving Gorga hot on their trail. The movie is an unintentional laugh riot. I'm guessing unintentional because the actors play it straight, but I bet when it was done their shock was second only to that of Jeff Morrow and Mara Corda's when they saw the bird in THE GIANT CLAW. Gorgo is a shaggy bad costume with painted eyes, and the suit actor is as animated as though he was a children's party performer. The fight scene between Gorgo and a plastic hand toy T-Rex must be seen to be believed. Horrible.
ONE MILLION AC/DC
A tribe of horny cavemen and women are trapped in their hole in the wall by a dinosaur that makes the one in THE MIGHTY GORGA look like a master work of art by comparison. While they wait, they eat, get horny, feel each other up and hump through their furry loinclothes. There's all kinds of female nudity, bad jokes and odd blackout humor. A caveman and his mate come out from behind a rock, walk to the camera, sing a rhyme then, deadpanning, turn and go back in their best Henry Gibson fashion. Bronson Canyon makes an appearance. As erotic as a pencil sharpener and just as funny.
Cruella DeVille has spent years in a mental institution and has been rehabilitated to love all animals. She even locks up all her furs in the basement of her house. But when Big Ben's ringing bell shatters her calm demeanor, the evil Cruella is back and once more determined to make a coat out of dalmation fur. She hires a designer to help her and they go after her employee's dogs. There's a substory about a dalmation puppy without spots and a talking parrot (voiced by Eric Idle) that thinks it's a dog. This is strictly a kids' movie. I did laugh once or twice, but everything is just so sweet I had to check my blood sugar afterward. I'll stick with the Disney animated feature.
THE THREE STOOGES (2012)
First of all, I'm not what you'd call a fan of the Stooges. I've always like Abbott and Costello and the Marxes better, but I wanted to see how this new adaptation handled the comedy team. Turns out, not well. Moe, Larry and Curly live in an orphanage run by kind-hearted (and one crabby) nuns. They get passed over for adoption again and again, until finally, as adults, they set out to raise over $800,000 to save the orphanage from closure. They run into rich snobs, killers, the police and perhaps most terrifying of all, the cast of "Jersey Shore." The movie does do a few clever things: it breaks the film up into three acts, each preceded by a recreation of the old Three Stooges title cards, each with a different title. And every Stooges gag is in here: the "hello, hello, hello...hello!" doorway bit, the eye pokes, slaps, etc., hammer bangs, hair pulls, triple slaps, Curly's side run, hospital situation, fancy party where all hell breaks loose and even how the endings to their shorts usually had them running off into the sunset. There's some unnecessary modern humor involving lion testicles and a lobster grabbing Larry's wang, but the most impressive (and really only good bit) were the recreations of the characters themselves. Curly, done by Will Sasso is good, but Curlys are so easy to do. More impressive was Sean Hayes doing Larry. He had the speech pattern and the dialect down almost perfectly. He slipped out of it once or twice, but it was pretty good. Most impressive was Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe. His body language, facial expressions and speech patterns were nothing short of perfect. The movie was even filmed like the shorts, almost entirely in medium and long shots, which was good, because closeups really didn't work well. The worst parts: whenever a "sad" moment occurred. The Stooges don't do sad well, and it shows. The best part: Moe getting cast on "The Jersey Shore" and unleashing his brand of Stooges payback on the cast. For fans only, and even then they may not like it.
MIRROR, MIRROR (2012)
The evil Queen keeps her stepdaughter Snow White hidden away in the castle while she runs her kingdom into bankruptcy. Snow escapes into the forest and finds a handsome, inept prince who falls for her. The Queen has eyes on the prince, herself, in the hopes that marrying him will solve her money problems. Snow meets the 7 Dwarves who train her in swordplay as she decided to take her kingdom back from her stepmother. This film is a retelling of the classic fairytale with a mix of slapstick, action and sardonic humor, a mix that didn't really work. The only good parts of the film that I enjoyed were the fight scenes with the dwarves, who are robbers. They wear accordion pants that make them appear to be giants instead of little people to intimidate their victims. The scenes were impressive. The film had good costumes, too, but overall it was a big bore.
GALLERY OF HORRORS a.k.a. DR. TERROR'S GALLERY OF HORRORS
John Carradine stands before an image of a castle and introduces five stories in this cheapie horror anthology. In the first, a married couple find a grandfather clock in the mansion they have bought and start it ticking again. An old man arrives in a thunderstorm and is offered to spend the night, but he puts the wife under a spell and tries to take her away from the husband. Next, a detective is trying to catch a bloodsucking killer with a thin build while the community gets hostile. In the third, a scientist discover how to return the dead to life, and uses himself as a guinea pig when he discovers his wife and her lover are planning to kill him. Next, Lon Chaney is a university medical professor who teams up with two students to use Dr. Frankenstein's method to bring an unidentified corpse to life. Finally, in a condensed version of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Harker arrives at Castle Alucard to deliver the deed to Carfax Abbey. When people start turning up dead, Harker must confront the count, but he has an un-Stoker-like surprise for the caped gentleman. Obviously made on the cheap and the quick, the film still has some monster kid appeal, but it's a stretch.
HUMANS VS. ZOMBIES
Based on a popular college game (like TAG), a laboratory experiment results in the release of a virus that transforms people in flesh-eaters that chase down and devour others. Several college students team up with a Vietnam vet-turned security guard as they try to escape the campus with their lives. Low budget, but yet the film had a good sense of fun with lively characters, decent makeup fx and a fast pace. The ending was a big surprise.
SORORITY SISTERS SLAUGHTER
A sorority girl is pregnant but none of her sisters will talk to her, because they are more interested in going to a party. The girl kills herself with a self-performed abortion with a knitting needle. Years later, the sorority house is reopened, and a game of Ouija awakens the spirit of the dead girl who kills off the new sisters and some guys who crash the party. The movie looks terrible, lit with swaths of red and blue lights in every scene to make Dario Argento jealous. The acting is bad, the plot is non-existent. The movie's sole gimmick is that it's an all-black sorority house massacre slasher. I took it pass/fail and it didn't pass.
LITTLE DEATHS (2011)
A British anthology film with three stories that deal with sex. In the first, a husband and wife drug a homeless girl and subject her to sexual torture and degradation in a dungeon in the basement of their home. But she has a surprise for them. Next, a drug dealer gets involved in secret experiments to farm a powerful recreational drug from mens' "essense", only to have it all go wrong. Finally, a man in a dominate/submissive "dog" relationship with an emasculating woman has enough and plots his revenge. The shorts are all pretty dark and gritty, with each one pushing boundaries further than the one before. The first one was actually my favorite, even though it was the most simplistic, but none of them were worth doing cartwheels over.
Shot on video (and looks it) anthology film about a young man who discovers an old English composition notebook in the library and begins to read the stories within. In the first, a teenager has nightmares that he is being pursued by a bagheaded killer who murders his father. Next, a teenager who broke up with his girlfriend keeps pushing her away when she tries to get back together...because the moon will be full that night. Third, a young girl inherits the house of her late aunt, a sadistic old lady who tortured her daughter by making her practice on the piano relentlessly. She finds out the ghost of the old woman is still around. And finally, two slackers run a movie theater about to be closed down only to discover several coffins in the space behind the screen filled with vampires. This production was as low on the ladder as you can go. Unimaginative camerawork, zero budget, friends as actors, uninteresting plots, bad lighting, the whole works. Run, do not walk away from this one.
MST3K: CASTLE OF FU MANCHU
I'm a fan of MST3K, but I've always felt that for the show to be entertaining, the movie must also be entertaining, even if in a bad way. CASTLE OF FU MANCHU is one of those Jess Franco films that is so mind-numbingly dull that watching it is a torture that would please even Manchu himself. The plot which seems forever in coming and diluted into invisibility when it does, concerns Fu Manchu creating a device that would freeze the world's oceans. The scenes with Joel and the bots reflect the intense dullness of the film and therefore, enhances that feeling.
MST3K: KING DINOSAUR
Joel and the bots riff on the lizard-laden flick about a planet that drifts into our solar system. Four scientists pilot a rocketship to check it out and find iguanas and baby alligators masquerading as dinosaurs and fight each other. A fun episode.
MST3K: LAST OF THE WILD HORSES
A cowboy gets involved in a land grab between ranchers in this dull western. This is a point in the series when the host segments got kind of high-concept. The mad scientists invent a machine that allows evil versions of Mike and the bots into their universe from a parallel dimension. A bit much.
Two college nerds go to Florida for spring break where they discover that their motel room has been overbooked with another couple of guys, two hot frat men who promise to help the nerds have a good time if they let them stay in the room with them. And while their days are full of wet t-shirt contests, beer busts and suntanning, one nerd's step-father is trying to ruin his kid's good time while Richard Shull as a building inspector is trying to shut the motel down for good. Directed by Sean Cunningham, it's better than it should be, but I got tired of it at about the halfway mark.
MST3K: CODE NAME: DIAMOND HEAD
Apparently this was originally supposed to be the pilot for a television series but it didn't make it. Set in Hawaii, a government agent tries to stop an evil supervillain from stealing a nerve toxin gas. This one was yawns all the way, and I really don't even remember the host segments here.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Five college students head off to the mountains for a weekend of fun, unaware that they have been chosen for an ages-old ritual that will save the world if they die, but end it if they live. This was a really fun movie but hindered by its own cleverness. It has really fun moments and several jump scares. There is some suspense, and it is cleverly done, as you root for the event to happen that means the main characters' deaths. You've heard the old chestnut about not being able to say more without spoiling it, and that's certainly true here. I enjoyed the movie, particularly the beginning and final acts, but it has problems. The inclusion of certain secondary characters seem pointless. But there are lots of fun homages (the cabin looks exactly like the one in THE EVIL DEAD, and several monsters look like famous monsters from other films...there's a Cenobite-ish creature, a RINGU-like ghost as well as the twins from THE SHINING and a giant cobra from countless SyFy Channel Films), and it's here the movie kind of loses its charm. After a ton of practical effects, we go 75% CGI at the end. However, there's enough good stuff here to recommend it.
A group of cool kids go to an old ski lodge, fix it up and open it for business, keeping mindful not to sleep around, drink alcohol or party too hard while they pay off a debt to a loan shark and deal with jerks trying to out-tough the owners. Columbia's attempt to cash in on the AIP Beach Party movies, only without the fun, the names or the characters.
A NIGHT TO DISMEMBER
A detective brings us up-to-date on the Kent family, whose history of murder and insanity seem to culminate with Vicki Kent, who has just been released form an asylum after she murdered two teenage boys. Staying with her aunt, uncle and two cousins, she feels unwelcome, and that's because...well, she is. When she starts hearing voices and seeing zombies walking through the woods, bodies begin turning up and Vicki is afraid she has started killing again. Doris Wishman directed this piece of junk with 99% ADR'd dialogue, jump cuts and general absurdities. Skip.
A young man lives with his aunt and her nerdy son Hoax (!) because his mother died and left her sister in charge of the young man's trust fund. He likes to gamble and drive his motorcycle, but his aunt keeps him on a short leash. Hoax hero-worships his cousin and when he dials a horror hotline, he is bestowed with supernatural powers that he uses to get revenge on his tormentors. Stephen Geoffreys turns in another good, if stereotyped, performance, and the effects are what you'd expect. The ending, where the house starts splitting up and dropping off into Hell was impressive. Directed by Robert Englund, the film has its rabid fans. I'm not rabid, but I thought it was okay.
MONSTER BEACH PARTY A GO-GO
An all-girl rock band gets stuck in a small beachside town as a series of murders happen committed by a skunk ape washed ashore from a hurricane. A local mechanic and an anthropology professor both fall in love with the lead singer as the obsessed police sheriff wants the bigfoot dead. Think RIDE THE WILD SURF meets THE BEACH GIRLS AND THE MONSTER. It looks really good, but the story isn't that interesting and they play it for straight camp, meaning that everyone acts totally serious even though some of what we see happening is just ludicrous (Bigfoot dancing in a crowd during a concert by the band). There's no real sense of fun here, and that hurts the film more than anything else.
DARK CHAMBER a.k.a. UNDER SURVEILLANCE
Directed by Dave Campbell (CAESAR & OTTO'S SUMMER CAMP MASSACRE), this very serious outing is about Justin, a young man who moves back into his father's house after living with his mother for 10 years. He finds that his father has split the house into three apartments, each occupied by less-than-desirables. But Justin's father is a police officer and believes he can keep them all in line. When Justin finds a body apparently killed by a local Satanic cult on their property, he lets two friends talk him into installing pinhole surveillance cameras in each of of the apartments, to see if any of them might be the killer. But the more he learns, the more danger he finds himself in. I have to applaud the effort of Mr. Campbell to make this film. It creates an interesting debate on who is responsible for a psychopath's actions, himself or society...but gets its message conflicted when it tries to make one point then later flips, possibly even satirizing the film's own position on this. The acting is all solid, the film is competently shot and directed. My biggest problem is the script. This is a dull story and one that I wouldn't have even bothered telling. Not much really happens, and you can see both reveals coming a mile away. No one in the film is likable, and SPOILER...when one of the trio is killed, the other two don't really seem to care, judging by their reactions, even when they were the ones who sent him to his death! Dave is better with comedy. See his Caesar & Otto films.
DON'T LET HIM IN
A married couple, the wife's sister and Tristan, a guy she met at a bar the night before, drive into the British countryside where they've rented a cabin for the weekend. It turns out that the guy from the bar is a criminal being hunted by the police, so he's glad to find a place to hole up, but a local bobby tells the quartet that a serial killer called the Tree Surgeon is murdering people, cutting them up and hanging their body parts from trees and to be careful. Later that night, a man appears at the door with a gash in his stomach. He says he was attacked by the Tree Surgeon while taking a shortcut through the woods. They tend his wounds and let him stay the night, but the next morning, Tristan's true colors are revealed and soon the survivors are fighting for their lives. But is Tristan the Tree Surgeon? And if not, is anybody really safe? Very low budget Brit horror film that keeps you shaking your head throughout with its mistakes. Tristan is so arrogant and obnoxious, you can't imagine why anyone would let him come on a vacation with them, especially since they've known him less than 24 hours. The killer's revelation is no surprise, and for being named the Tree Surgeon, we never see any body parts hanging from a tree. Don't let this in.
TIM & ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE
The two stars of Cartoon Network's "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" branch out into film, and the world will never be the same. After screening their new film which cost a billion dollars, Tim & Eric have a major bomb on their hands. They cast an actor claiming to be Johnny Depp but is really a Mexican, and the film runs 17 minutes. The backers, a nasty pair from the Shlaaang corporation want their money back or Tim & Eric's corpses, so the pair hightail it out of town and take jobs trying to reinvigorate a run-down shopping mall. That's really all there is to the plot. The rest of the film contains jokes about male member-piercing, sex, dancing security guards and has cameos by some "Saturday Night Live!" personnel that was completely unnecessary. There are f-bombs aplenty and one scene involving scat and a bathtub that was just disgusting. This has to go on my list of the 10 Worst Movies I've Ever Seen in My Life.
DEATH ON DEMAND
A rich college student decides to organize a web show on Halloween night wherein three couples will explore a house where a mountain climber went berserk and murdered his family before killing himself. The couples perform a seance that brings the killer back to life then must try to find a way out when he begins killing them. Shot on video and looks it, bad acting abounds here, including the character of the porn star. Dopey characters and a story ripped off from HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, of all things.
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW
Global warming causes a large ice sheet to break of in the Antarctic which spells doom for the world, triggering a new ice age. A paleoclimatologist discovers that his son is trapped in New York City as rain, a tsunami and the freezing spell approach, and he decides to rescue him. It was well-acted and a lot of fun; an action movie for the Left, but not worthy of the tirades it got on Fox News. My favorite part: Americans trying to outrace the disaster by swarming to Mexico where the authorities had to close the border to keep them out! Keep repeating: it's only a movie...it's only a movie...it's only a movie.
Jordan is a teenager with a passion for photography, but when some racy pics of his fellow prep school girls gets him expelled, he transfers to public school where he falls in love with one of his models, a girl named Shay. But life with Shay brings danger, as Jordan gets involved with murder and corrupt cops in this beautiful-looking teen noir. There's the standard double-crosses and criss-crosses, and I'm convinced that Jonathan Tucker is one of the most underrated acting talents in film today. I've loved every performance he's done, and this film is beneath him.
BURKE & HARE
John Landis-directed black comedy about the notorious grave robbers Burke and Hare, who provided corpses for dissection to the Edinborough medical school. It's a fairly lucrative business until the bodies run out. What are two enterprising young men who have become accustomed to a certain lifestyle to do? Make their own corpses by killing the city's undesirables, of course. While the film is humorous, it was never laugh-out-loud funny, often deriving its humor from gross actions. Worth checking out, but I doubt I'll be coming back. See I SELL THE DEAD instead.
THE BOYS: THE SHERMAN BROTHERS' STORY
Documentary on Robert and Richard Sherman, the brothers that wrote some famous songs for the films MARY POPPINS and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, among many others. The fascinating thing is that everyone thought they were best of buddies, but in reality, they were completely apathetic, even hostile towards each other. The film was made by their sons in the hopes that it would bring them back together. Does it? Fascinating film that gives you a peek into the early days at Disney Studios.
Barnabas Collins spurns Angelique for a new love, Josette DuPres, but the furious female turns out to be a witch who drives her rival off a cliff and turns her former lover into a vampire. The townsfolk chain Barnabas into a coffin and bury him where 200 years later, in 1972, he is accidently unearthed and returns to Collinwood to meet his descendants. But things are not good: the family business, a fish cannery, has done poorly in the shadow of a rival company, and the Collins family is riddled with problems: teen angst, adolescent precociousness, alcoholism, indifference and lechery, to name a few. He reveals his true nature to the matriarch of the clan, Elizabeth, and uses the secret fortune to rebuild the mansion and the business. But the rival company, run by the immortal Angelique, refuses to let sleeping dogs lie and sets out to destroy the Collins family once and for all. Okay, first of all, if you are a fan of the old TV show, you are going to hate this film. Period. If you're a fanatic, you will wish Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter dead. Even if you're not a fan and going in cold, you should realize that the movie, although visually beautiful, is an outright mess. Each character has a micro-story, none of which are fully developed, just as no character is fully fleshed-out. The film swings back and forth wildly between horror and sophomoric comedy, which undermine each other. Finally, the third act and the final confrontation are so harried and out-of-nowhere that it's just laughable, and not in a good way. I kept imagining Joan Bennett standing on the stairs with a shotgun, cocking it with one hand and blasting at Angelique, and while that might have been more fun, actually, here it was groan-inducing. And when Caroline reveals her secret, it's completely out of left field. The TV show theme is nowhere in earshot. Whether you like the old show or not, DARK SHADOWS is a horrible mess that Burton, Depp, Carter and Grahame-Smith should be hanged--I mean, hang their heads in shame for.
RED RIVER ROBIN HOOD
When a corrupt judge declares that a phony land grant giving countless farms to a land baron is authentic, the new owner tells his "tenants" that they can pay him rent or move. But while the local newpaper editor tries to uncover the truth, two ranchhands, new to town, try to help by dressing up in black masks and capes to rob the rent collectors and give the money back to the farmers. This was a fun oater that I enjoyed; fast-paced, funny and light.
PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED
Five ghost hunters test their luck when they spend the night in an abandoned train terminal that is supposed to be haunted. Incredibly low-budget but while the filmmakers try their best, it just fails on almost every level. Bad acting, story, camerawork; leave it be.
When a young man commits suicide, his mother decides to uncover the truth: why was black paint on every reflective surface in his house? Are there occult forces at work at his old school, now attended by his younger sister? And is the mother's investigation causing her to go insane herself? Shot on some fascinating locations, the film unfortunately doesn't take advantage of them. The acting is decent, and the climax has a great hanging scene. But the movie never reaches anything above a level of ho-hum. The filmmakers said they were trying to make an American giallo, but I never got a sense of that. You might take a look for yourself and decide.
I EAT YOUR SKIN
A playboyish government agent/photographer/spy-type guy is recruited to discover what's happening at a small Caribbean island where a cancer treatment scientist is creating an army of zombies. The film was retitled to make up the 2nd half of a drive-in double feature with I DRINK YOUR BLOOD. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to its title. Some funny bits, but overall a wash.
HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM
Michael Gough is the caretaker of Scotland Yard's black museum, a display for all the various murder weapons used in famous cases. He buys obscure criminal devices, such as binoculars that eject spikes into the user's eyes, and uses them to commit crimes that he can then write about. He gets his assistant involved, first by the use of a drug, then by his own twisted admiration and enthusiasm. A bit slow, but Gough is always fun to watch.
A GOLD OLD FASHIONED ORGY
Eric is a 30-something party boy who loves to throw events for his friends at his father's large house in the Hamptons. But when Dad tells him he's putting the house up for sale, Eric decides to go out with a bang--literally--and throw an orgy for his gang on Labor Day weekend. You have the usual lot: the fat slacker, the nerd, the cool rocker and their girlfriends, but surprisingly, their characters were nicely rounded out and the acting was very good, especially with Jason Sudeikis and Tyler Labine. This is a sophomoric sex comedy with heart. The orgy is handled tastefully, although there is a scene at a swinger's club where you are going to see some unattractive people fully nude, and Lin Shaye in leather get-up and a strap-on. But if you liked HALL PASS and the like, you should enjoy this.
THE 3 INVESTIGATORS IN THE SECRET OF SKELETON ISLAND
After solving a case that nearly costs them their lives, the Three Investigators, young teenage boys Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Pete Crenshaw, take a vacation to South Africa with Pete's dad where he is designing an amusement park for a wealthy women. When a girl's father is arrested for protesting the development, the boys decide to help find her dad, running afoul of a creature that threatens to stymie them. Now, I've always been a fan of the 3 Investigators' books, especially the early ones that guest-starred Alfred Hitchcock, even more so than the Hardy boys. And while some of the boys were miscast (I could buy the kid playing Jupiter, even though he should have been heavier, but the actor playing Pete was too short and too young), the movie is still lushly filmed and quite exciting, although more for a younger audience, I'd say. It never rises above a mediocre 80's action film, but I was pleased that so much care was given it. But it's more for kids.
After Phil Rosenthal's TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond" becomes a huge success, he goes to Russia to help them develop it into a series there in this documentary about cultural differences. Phil is a fish out of water trying to convince everyone that it's really a big pond where some things are the same. But he hits resistance at every turn: the writers don't understand the concept of the show and consider Phil an outsider, the costume designer wants the wife character to vacuum in fancy clothes, the national theater company won't give up their star to do the show, and the Russian network doesn't like the script. Add in casting problems, script problems, language problems and a fascination with his driver/bodyguard, and it adds up to an interesting examination of a side of show business we rarely get to see.
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL a.k.a. HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN
Paul Naschy stars as an ex-con who gets hired as a handyman for three odd sisters. But he's having weird dreams where he strangles girls, and soon, someone is killing blond, blue-eyed females, cutting out their eyes and leaving them in bowls of water. Sometimes filmed very realistically and sometimes dreamily, the film is a bit slow-moving and takes a while to get to the gore in this Spanish giallo.
WOMEN IN CAGES
"Jeff" is set up to take the fall for drug trafficking instead of her drug dealer boyfriend and is thrown into a Fillipino women's prison run by sadistic lesbian warden Pam Grier. When the dealer decides it's better if his girlfriend weren't around to accuse him of crimes later, he tries to arrange her murder, but she escapes with two other prisoners. They try to make their way through the jungle to freedom in this gritty, sweaty, grindhousey film that was kind of fun. Pam Grier was wild in the villainess role, and there are some entertaining scenes.
WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY
Massive three-and-a-half hour documentary that never got boring and in fact, seemed too short about the life and works of Woody Allen. It starts with his life as a child and follows his career up to MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. The film still seems light, covering most of his movies in depth, although surprisingly, RADIO DAYS was barely touched on. The more recent the film, the less coverage it got, as was his personal life. Still, I found it very fascinating.
A documentary on the life of Roger Corman and his work. While the film would be great for those unfamiliar with the "King of the B's", for those of us who've seen other docs, there really isn't much new here. There IS a lengthy modern interview with Jack Nicholson that is broken up and spread throughout the movie, and the legendary tough guy actually breaks down and starts crying in the film's most amazing moment.
Tommy (Tom Hardy) returns home from service in the military and asks his alcoholic ex-trainer father (Nick Nolte) to train him for a Mixed Martial Arts career. Meanwhile, his embittered younger brother Brenden (Joel Edgerton) is an ex MMA fighter who became a public schoo leacher and is on the verge of losing his house. He decides to re-enter the sport and fights his way to the final round which has a huge cash prize, but this puts him on a direct collision course with his brother, who has also been winning matches. The final fight is between the two brothers, who must also face what broke their family apart. While I don't normally like these kinds of films, I found it really entertaining. The fight scenes are incredibly action-packed and the family drama got me hooked. Fantastic acting and camera work, this is a must-see for action fans.
After being betrayed by the settlers, Pocahontas returns every century to Jamestown to kill all the descendants of the original settlers (if she kills them all, how can there be more one hundred years later?). This year, a group of young people come to Virginia because they've won a contest where the first prize is a weekend camping trip. Soon, the spirit of Pocahontas shows up and she begins offing them in horrible special effect-y ways. The film is a horror comedy with gags like a woman gynecologist being named "Dr. Anigav. It's just terrible all the way around. You've been warned.
NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE
A documentary about the evolution of the American horror film. It begins with 1910's FRANKENSTEIN and touches on significant changes throughout the next one hundred years. The Universals are covered, as are big bug movies, 70's flicks and remaking Japanese horror flicks. We get interviews from the usual suspects, like John Carpenter and a few new ones like Tom Laughlin, but it's another breezy visit through the movies. Still worth watching for some fun clips.
Dario Argento-directed film about a woman who believes her fashion model sister has been abducted by a serial killer who disfigures and murders women. She teams up with FBI Inspector Avolfi (Adrien Brody) who is working on other cases of the killer, who has been described by a survivor as having yellow skin. Nicknamed "Yellow", the pair try to find the missing model before she dies at the hands of the fiend. What happened to Dario Argento? He's gone from making some of horror's most classic films to dumb crap like his. Adrien Brody is wasted here, playing an unlikeable detective who, it's revealed (SPOILER) is a murderer himself. He grumbles all his lines and is just plain nasty. For Argento fans ONLY.
Fascinating (perhaps too much so for its own good) story about a man who wakes up inside a cave with no memory of who he is or the identity of the dead body next to him. He travels from underground facility to the next, pursued by a growling creature, trying to find his way to the surface. The roots of a majestic tree guide him as he meets other denizens of the scientific facility. Amazing to watch but you really have to pay attention, as new ideas, concepts and info come flying at you.
GOD'S LITTLE ACRE
Ty Ty is the head of a poor family of farmers who digs up his property looking for gold that his grandfather told him was there on his deathbed. He has reserved one acre of his property for God, promising to build a church on the property and give the Lord anything that the acre provides, but as he suspects the gold might be on that land, he keeps moving the acre around. Ty Ty becomes more and more desperate, kidnapping an albino which he's been told has magical powers to see underground and begging his estranged son for money to keep the farm running. He must also deal with his sexy daughter-in-law, who is attracted to his son-in-law. The local mill has also closed, which is causing disaster for the town. Considered a classic, I was really turned off by the movie. There are very few likable characters and none of them are the leads. I get that the film is about compromising your ethics, facing reality and attempting to reunite a broken family, but the weird mix of light comedy and heavy drama just made me not care. You may feel differently. The cast includes Tina Louise, Jack Lord, Buddy Hackett and Michael Landon!
THE AVENGERS (2012)
Sequel that finally ties together the Marvel Avengers films. When Thor's step-brother Loki hypnotizes a scientist and Hawkeye and steals the cosmic cube, Nick Fury has no choice but to implement the Avengers Initiative and bring Captain America, Iron Man, Bruce Banner, Thor and Black Widow together to form a team to fight off an alien army that Loki has enlisted to conquer the world. Full of fun bits, character moments and lots of action scenes, this is a fun movie (although not the screaming delight some have made it out to be). My favorite scenes all involved the Hulk. You will want to see this, as it's become the third biggest box office hit of all time. But since it IS a sequel, to get the full experience, you should first watch (in this order): IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, IRON MAN 2, THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.
WITH GREAT POWER: THE STAN LEE STORY
Documentary about Stan Lee, who got a job at Timely Comics, then, when it became Marvel Comics, he helped create some of the most iconic superhero characters in comic book history, including Spider-man, the Hulk, Iron Man, among others. The movie follows his birth, wartime service, marriage and the object of rabid fandom. I wish it has covered the creation of the heroes more. Too much time was spent on his home life, which I didn't find that interesting.
A man is on the verge of opening a giant water park and his step-daughter is concerned that the water supply might be tainted with the giant piranha from the first film. The park opens on schedule, and of course, the little nasties find their way in, and the feast begins. I found this film more entertaining than the first one, as this one makes no bones about what it is: jump scares, sophomoric humor, blood, gore, p*nis gags and tons of ample boobs. David Hasselhoff has a very memorable small role, but the film is in no way to be taken seriously. It's directed by John Gulager, so if you liked FEAST, you'll know what you're in for.
Jean Rollin-directed madness about two women who are beset upon by a gang of robbers and thugs. They go to a wizard and his daughter seeking power for revenge, and he gives them access to an evil force in the form of a man who gives them his magical powers after they sleep with him. But they can only possess his powers until dawn, at which time it will return to him. The two women then track the thugs down at a local bar and scare them with their powers, but they escape and kill the wizard and the daughter. The women now have a moral problem: dawn is approaching and they only have a short time left to wield their magic. Should they kill the thugs or use the time to return the wizard and his daughter to life? The film is full of sneering villains, hysterical acting, rampant sexuality, pantsed rapes, silent duos and oddball endings...in other words, a typical Jean Rollin film. You'll know if it's for you.
Paul Naschy wrote, directed and stars in this Spanish film about a knight who returns from the dead every century to kill all the women in his ancestral home. I found it a bit dull. None of the usual Naschy flair here.
EATING OUT: THE OPEN WEEKEND
Fourth film in the series continues where EATING OUT: DRAMA CAMP leaves off. Five winners of the drama camp contest get to spend an all-expenses-paid weekend at a gay resort in Palm Springs. Zack's new boyfriend wants an open relationship, while his old boyfriend Casey is pretending to have a new boyfriend to make Zack jealous. Hilarity ensues. Probably the best-shot film in the popular series, the storyline is humorously twisted and there's lots of sexy fun. But if you're not a fan of the movies, you probably won't like it.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Daniel Radcliffe is a harried accountant sent to a small village to collect and record the personal papers of a recently-deceased woman who apparently has put a curse on the town. She appears as a spectre in black, and when anyone sees her, a child in the village dies. Creepy and beautifully filmed, but it never gets its engine revving.
German film about two young gay men hiking through the countryside and soon find a respite in the home of a woman and her teenage son, who views the men with suspicion at first, but soon comes to accept them. But is one of the gay guys having an affair with the mother? Or her son? Or both? Slow-moving drama that unfortunately really wasn't about much and wasn't that interesting.
Kerwin Matthews is an American painter stranded in a small French town where he falls in love with a young woman but is soon seduced by her mother who then enlists his help in concocting a plan to free her maniac husband from a mental asylum where he was committed after the murder/rape of a schoolgirl. Unfortunately with that title, the film is more of a passionate potboiler than a horror film. And yes, there's a scheme behind the mother's plan. Dull.
A man murders his wife by sealing her in a room, filling it with poison gas, then hiding under the floorboards while he breathes air through a snorkel and an oxygen tank. When the police determine the death a suicide, the woman's daughter refuses to believe it, sensing that her step-father was somehow responsible. The film isn't a suspense blast, but it does have some cool scenes and the ending was great, although I would have clipped the last minute from the movie, myself.
THE LOST TRIBE
Five friends are in a boat going to Asia when they rescue a shipwreck victim. The man changes the boat's course and ends up sinking the vessel off the coast of a small island where a savage tribe of beast-men start killing everyone. But how is the Vatican involved, and why have they sent an assassin to keep the secret covered up? Film looks great, and there is actually some honest-to-goodness character development, but I kept feeling like I'd seen it before. WRONG TURN, maybe? Give it a look.
THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS
Bruce Dern has recently gotten out of jail and is fronting for the mob in Atlantic City, a violation of his parole. He is trying to get his brother David, Jack Nicholson, who works on the radio in Philadelphia to go in with him on developing some property. Things, of course, don't go as planned. Sharp film with brilliant acting; you can see David being swayed by his older brother into getting involved in something he shouldn't. Wonderfully directed, but it's a bit slow. Still, see it, especially for Nicholson fans.
DRIVE, HE SAID
Jack Nicholson's directorial debut is a drama about a college basketball player who is trying to help his friend evade the Vietnam draft while his girlfriend decides whether or not she should break up with him. Well-acted, of course, and my simple plot description doesn't do justice as to how intriguing the movie was.
A SAFE PLACE (1971)
Noah is a young woman living in New York. She continually escapes reality, fixating on "magical" objects given to her by a magician she met in Central Park as a child. She is also seeing two different men: one who is practical but boring and the other who is wild and sexy. Her day-to-day life is so depressing and destructive to her flower child mentality, that she regresses further and further from reality as she looks for a fantasy world where she can be safe. With an amazing cast, but I had a hard time getting into it. With Tuesday Weld, Orson Welles, Jack Nicholson and Phil Proctor.
NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
Antarctic researchers fall through a layer of permafrost and are kidnapped by the survivors of the Third Reich who stay alive using pieces of fresh human flesh applied to their own bodies. They are planning an attack on the world using new technology they've created, specifically a flying saucer battleship and a robot with a familiar human head. This is one wild and whacky film that should have been really entertaining, but for some reason, often falls flat even with the outstanding special effects and over-the-top performances. I'd say you should see it, but you might get my complaint.
RABIES a.k.a. KALEVET
Okay, take a deep breath and try to follow along: a sister and her brother run away from home (they're in their 30's) and hole up in a nature reserve. A psycho killer kidnaps the girl, and her brother tries to find help. Meanwhile, a group of young tennis players on their way to a conference hit someone on the road, so they stop and take out their frustrations on each other. Meanwhile, a forest ranger is surveying the reserve with his dog and encounters the killer. Meanwhile, the tennis players call the police, but when one of them sexually molests one of the girls, they bash him with a rock and escape into the woods. The movie is fairly fast-paced and often reminds me of early Peter Jackson. It's apparently Israel's first slasher film.
SAINT a.k.a. SAINT NICK
St. Niklas is an evil bishop who attacks villages with his gang of thieves. Finally, a town puts an end to his rampage by burning his ship. With his dying breath, Niklas vows to return every December 5th if there is a full moon. We then shift to present day Amsterdam where Frank and his friends are attacked by Niklas and his undead gang. The police believe that Frank is the killer, but he escapes after Niklas and his white horse attack the squad car. Frank then teams up with ex-detective Goert, and together the two men decide to blow up the Niklas' new boat. Good effects and lots of action make this fun to watch. The scene with Niklas on his horse chasing the police car over the rooftops of Amsterdam was a standout.
WILD SIDE (2004)
When a hospital calls a transexual woman to tell her that her mother is dying, she gathers her two best friends, a gay male couple, and together they set off into the countryside to see her, remembering past events as they travel. Dull french drama.
Spanish film about a teenage girl who begins having convulsions. Doctors can't find anything wrong with her, and a psychiatrist who performs hypno-therapy on her dies during the session. The girl watches the recording of the session and believes she is possessed by a demon and asks that her uncle, a priest, perform an exorcism on her. The family is concerned because a previous exorcism performed by Father Chris resulted in the victim's death. For a film about possessions and exorcisms, not much really happens. Lots of handheld photography. Meh.
Radio waves attract a giant great white shark that can move about on land. A boat captain, a lady scientist and the army fight back with a walking tank. It's really goofy, with lots of that CGI blood. You know if it's for you.
JERSEY SHORE SHARK ATTACK
In a spoof of the TV show "Jersey Shore", parodies of the stars are having territory battles with upper-crust preppies. Throw into this an offshore oil drill that has its sonic vibrations attracting a group of albino sharks to the area, snacking on the locals. When the preppies invite Nookie on a cruise where they will be attacked, her ex-boyfriend, the Complication, must gather his friends and come to the rescue. Okay, now I realize this is supposed to be a comedy, played straight. But the actors playing parodies of the Jersey Shore bunch are, if possible, even more annoying than their counterparts, and it was really teeth-grating to sit through this.
A young man dresses up like a police officer, kidnaps girls, takes them to his basement where he tortures them, kills them and wraps up their heads in bandages like a mummy. Then goes after the next one. That's it. No, seriously. That's all it is. Run away.
A group of roller derby girls and their friends are on their way to a game but their car breaks down, forcing them to take shelter in an abandoned mental hospital. They meet a girl named Roxy, who is covered in blood and traumatized to where she can't speak. Suddenly, a figure in a black coat begins murdering the group one by one as Roxy's mystery is uncovered. Nothing special. The killings are fairly uninspired, especially given the roller derby theme, characters' motivations are suspect, but not in a good way, and important to the plot people show up from nowhere. Skip.
Teenagers go to a house in the snowy mountains for the weekend where they meet another group of party-crashers. The homeowners' son tells the story of Donner who killed and ate his party of settlers when the food supply ran out, and now his soul haunts the area, possessing people and turning them into flesh-eaters like him. Suddenly, members of the party start turning up dead...and eaten, and the stranded survivors have to figure out how to escape with their lives...and their flesh. First of all, let me say that there are some really obnoxious characters in this movie. So bad that my husband left the room rather than watch them. Finally, while there are some nice plot twists here and there, the overall story was confusing. Add to that a smattering of uninteresting gore effects and some performances SO underplayed I had to wonder if the actors were really dozing.
An Asylum picture. Okay, ready? Let's go. A film crew goes to Hawaii to shoot a slasher movie, not realizing that they are about to run into a giant snake with the head of a piranha that is chasing a scientist that has stolen one of its eggs. Add to the mix some terrorists, an oblivious vacationing couple and a second piranhaconda, and you have a big goofy mess that no one takes seriously. It's one of those movies where the snake strikes and swallows people whole, followed by a CGI'd mist of blood. Stars a home makeover show guy. Nuff said.
DON'T GO IN THE WOODS (2010)
Vincent D'Onofrio directed this flick about a folk/rock band that goes camping in the woods to find inspiration for new songs. Their girlfriends crash the song-session and soon a black-cloaked killer shows up, murdering the band members and their groupies one at a time. Now, this isn't just a slasher film, it's a slasher-MUSICAL, with folksy rock songs popping up every few minutes, sometimes one following the other. None of the songs are any good, and the gore effects are just okay. I liked the idea that one of the band members was blind, and when his guide is killed, he is left alone in the woods with a killer, which was a pretty good situation but not utilized to its full effect. The entire movie is a lead-up to the film's final line of dialogue, which is a punchline to the entire affair. I wonder why anyone thought making this was a good idea?
INVASION a.k.a. INFECTION
Found footage film taken entirely from the dash-cam of a police car. An officer drives through a park until he meets an older man acting strangely. The older man attacks him, spitting a little black worm into the cop's ear. Now the policeman drives back down the road until he meets the mayor's son parking with his girlfriend. He infects the boy, and the girl gets in the policecar driving endless through the park trying to escape, but with the exits sealed by the autos of the infected and the town being taken over, she must rely on her own wits to escape with her life. Okay, the film gets points for creating and maintaining a creepy mood throughout, but my god--the driving shots--the driving shots!! Eighty percent of this movie is just the car's P.O.V. as it drives down a deserted dirt road. Seriously. And man, does that get OLD. The director adds flash frames every so often, and a long continuous shot going backwards down the road we've just come is just ridiculous. For fans of found footage movies only, and I mean ONLY.
The stewardesses of a 747 flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles have a long layover in which to pursue their various interests: a pilot takes Tina home as his latest bedpost notch, two girls find pleasure in each other, another has an LSD trip, a group of girls go to a club for airline personnel only, but the saddest tale is of Samantha, who wants to be the spokesmodel for a new ad campaign, and agrees to let the business man (an ex-homosexual??) abuse her in bed. Afterwards, though, she regrets what she did and takes revenge...then pays for her deeds. With all this drama, it's hard to believe that the film is quite boring. I saw the 3D version which made quite a lot of money upon its initial release.
HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD a.k.a. NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES a.k.a. VIRUS
On a tropical island, scientists experimenting with a gas accidently leak it into the atmosphere where it transforms anyone who breathes it into flesh-eating zombies. A small military band teams up with a reporter and her cameraman and try to escape. This Italian production has the usual histrionic acting, green-faced zombies, lots of gunfire and people getting shot. We see zombies that have already been killed walking around again, one gun man who keeps telling everyone to shoot them in the head keeps shooting them in the chest, a bank heist gone bad that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, Goblin music ripped off from ZOMBIE and DAWN OF THE DEAD and when people get attacked, the others stand around in wide-eyed horror instead of acting like trained military marksmen. It's dopey as all get-out, but if you like the Italian zombie genre, have at it.
OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES
Military types lo(2oking for Nazi treasure seek out an oasis in the desert but are beset upon by grey-leather-faced zombies lurking beneath the sand. These zombies have modern-day hair, bugged-out eyes and seem very similar to each other, as if they are the same handfuls of actors swapping masks out. One of my main problem with zombies is that they always seem to take a few bites out of their victim then move on, and these are even worse, sometimes just taking a nibble. It's slow-moving as the undead themselves, and the few relatively bloodless zombie attacks aren't very exciting.
THE TRIP (1967)
Peter Fonda is a TV director who goes to see his pal Bruce Dern and try LSD for the first time. The remainder of the movie is his "trip", depicted on film, full of flash frames, psychedelic colors, music and sex. But he begins to panic as the trip turns dark, with visions of witches, hooded figures, black horses and death. While the movie is pretty plotless, it is one of the most painstakingly and fascinatingly edited films I've ever seen. Written by Jack Nicholson and directed by Roger Corman.
Paul is an out-of-work writer who rents a house where a father shot and killed his wife and two children while they slept before turning the gun on himself. The place is supposedly haunted, and Paul hopes to experience some phenomena and write a book about it. Things begin to happen right away, and his girlfriend refuses to return to the house after her first night there. Paul tries to talk to previous renters of the place (and there are a lot!) but only one woman agrees to speak with him, and she warns him to move out. Over a three-month period, Paul experiences the occasional phenomena, but finally loses his cool and goes hunting for the main spirit, which turns out to be a bad idea. Filmed on a budget of $2000, the film IS an impressive piece of work. The visuals are nice, the fx are minimalistically done, but impressive, and the music, while a bit repetitive, is still terrific. The problems lie in two areas: 1. the script, which never gives us a good reason as to WHY Paul is so adamantly trying to write this book. He says, at one point, that he needs to know he can finish something, but WHY does he need to know he can finish something? Some backstory to define his character's motivation would have been good. Scenes in the film also evoke other horror movies, such as POLTERGEIST, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 & 3 and the 1979 THE AMITYVILLE HORROR. Then, 2., the editing. The dialogue scenes were paced too slowly, while the suspense scenes were cut too quickly. And...for a horror film...NO ONE DIES. But still, I was impressed by what they were able to pull off for the money, and with all the problems I had with it, I still enjoyed it. I saw the film at a special screening, as it's currently being shopped around for distribution, but if/when it comes out, catch it and see if your reaction was the same as mine.
LIPS OF BLOOD
Jean Rollin film in which a young man sees a picture of an old castle by the sea and seems to remember childhood memories of playing games with a young girl in the catacombs. He seeks the castle out and discovers four female vampires and a woman in white who help him uncover a family secret. I thought this was in interesting film by Rollin. There's the same themes of dreaminess, silent vampire women and acceptance of a life in the supernatural (not to mention the same pillars in the sea at the end), but this one was a bit more interesting that his others.
Produced by James Cameron, this film is about a 17 year old boy who joins his father on an expedition into an undersea series of caves. When the treacherous journey is compromised by an unexpected death and a flash flood that blocks their escape route, the team has no choice but to continue deeper into the caves in the hopes of finding a way out that leads into the sea where they can be rescued. Add to this a growing sense of panic due to the unknown and dwindling food supplies, the team must continue the quest and their own fears. Beautiful-looking film takes this a notch above an Irwin Allen disaster movie but it's on the same beam. Several characters with conflicting personalities trying to get out of a dangerous situation. It was moderately interesting. Worth a look if you're into the action genre, but think THE DESCENT underwater with no monsters.
A beefy, bald serial killer commits murders in San Francisco and sends a hand-written letter to a TV news reporter after each crime. He's trying to get to her, of course, and she, along with two police detectives and a priest, are trying to stop him. The film looks cheap and the actor plays the psycho with the nuance of a hammer hitting a glass nail, leering and giggling like a loon. The other performances aren't any better. Skip.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
Steven Spielberg directed this animated adventure of the famous French reporter who buys a model of a sailing ship only to find that someone desperately wants it, too, and is willing to steal it. Tintin and his little scottish terrier Snowy decide to investigate and find themselves involved with a pickpocket, the twin Thompson detectives and finally, a plot to uncover a hatful of gold coins. He meets Captain Haddock for the first time, a boozy sot who is also involved in a century-old family war with the descendants of the Red Dragon. Written by Edgar Wright and co-produced by Peter Jackson, the film feels like an animated Indiana Jones movie, but moves along briskly and has lots of fun moments. I saw the 3D version which utilized the medium excellently.
THE WHITE GORILLA (1945)
A hunter being pursued by the mythical white gorilla (who is angry because he is outcast by the black gorillas because he's white) narrates his tale to a handful of people in the jungle who rescue him. He tells the tale of a jungle boy who commands all animals (except lions) and even the natives (who kiss his hand). He witnesses men attacking women and beating up other men (but can never do anything more than hide in the bushes and watch because there are always lions in the way). After witnessing two "thunderous" battles between the white gorilla and its black counterpart, he finally confronts the ivory beast himself. This weird little flick is a combination of taking the 1927 serial PERILS OF THE JUNGLE and intercutting new scenes into it to create the story of the white gorilla. The jungle boy helps a couple escape a hut from rampaging lions but his story goes nowhere after that. It's dopey and I wish I could say it was fun.
Lukas is a transgendered teenager going from female to male. He takes hormone injections and tries to hide his breasts from the public in his efforts to pass as a boy. His best friend, a lesbian named Ine, takes him to a party where he sees the handsome and sexually adventurous Fabio, who may or may not be a hustler and bisexual. Lukas and Fabio flirt with each other, but Lukas cannot allow things to get out of hand or else Fabio may discover his secret. Interesting premise with some very good acting, but I kept wishing things would speed up.
Fracking causes an earthquake in New Orleans which releases purplish-white spiders of all sizes, biting the locals and using their bodies as incubators for their young. The spiders quickly evolve into having an ability to ignite a flammable substance they squirt out, turning them into living flamethrowers. A small group of the townsfolk try to put a stop to it. Now, I normally grimace when I see "SyFy Channel Presents" at the beginning of a movie, but this film was actually entertaining. It had a healthy sense of humor, cool makeup fx (the spiders were the same old bad CGI), decent acting and a fast-moving pace. The spiders walk on water and shoot fire. I enjoyed it.
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE
Vampire Caleb Croft rises from the grave in the 50's to kill a young man and rape his girlfriend. In the hospital, she discovers she's pregnant and against the advice of her doctor to terminate the pregnancy, she has the baby; a gray thing that only drinks blood. The child grows into a normal-looking man and travels around the world searching for the creature that is his father, finding him teaching folklore under the name of Lockwood at a small college. The son falls in love with a girl that resembles his father's first wife, killed by humans over one hundred years ago, and a seance spells trouble when one of the vampire's victims possesses that corner of the love triangle and won't let go. Goofy and definitely grindhouse-y, this film moves along quickly even with its boring cinematography. The climactic fight between father and son is a stand-out, and the final on-screen credit was laughable and unnecessary.
A vaudeville impersonator befriends a mad doctor trying to reanimate the dead. The doc has a beating heart in a jar that he wants to put into the body of a corpse then return it to life. He asks the vaudevillian to kill himself and be the donor, but instead, the doctor is killed and the vaudevillian impersonates him. Unfortunately, after causing a man to go insane by giving him the wrong drug, the impersonator goes nuts himself. Lost in limbo somewhere between a silent film and a Poverty Row epic, this film generates more laughs than gasps, especially in the over-the-top moment where a patient, treated with the wrong serum, goes insane, implodes mentally then explodes verbally and carries off a woman to do god-knows-what with while the doctor and a woman talk calmly afterward!
This movie was made to warn us all of the dangers of drug addiction, so beware. A promising medical student delivers a baby via C-section (real medical footage) and decides to hang out at an opium den. Now addicted, he leaves his practice to become a carnival barker where he can sell his illegal drugs to the masses. He is invited to a drug party, which is pretty racy for a 1933 movie. Drugs are spread out on the table and the guests are encouraged to take the drug of their choice, which leads to hysterical laughter, paranoia, the hiking of one's skirts and other weird behavior. The doctor meets a bad end, of course. I think the film, made in earnest, is supposed to be considered campy now, but I just found it dry.
THE SNOW DEVILS
With a title that sounds like a Jonny Quest episode, this movie finds the ice caps melting followed by the destruction of a Himalayan weather station, prompting a science military team expedition to discover what's going on. Thinking they've encountered Yetis, they soon realize that the blue-furred creatures are really aliens from another world looking to invade the earth. Production design looks like something from THE GREEN SLIME, this film is so dated it's sad, not funny.
III SLICES OF LIFE a.k.a. SLICES OF LIFE
A young woman wakes up outside a dumpy isolated motel with no memory of who she is or how she got there. The owner of the motel puts her to work behind the front desk while she sorts things out, and suddenly, a book appears. Full of text and sketches, the book has the words "Work Life" scratched into its cover of human skin, and reveals the first story in this anthology: a meek clerk working at a corporation has cyber-sex which somehow infects an email with a virus that turns anyone who opens it into zombies. Next, "Home Life" is about a kidnapped little girl whose disappearance prompts the ghosts of other missing children to appear to the pregnant wife of the detective handling the case. Finally, "Sex Life" has a brother and sister escaping from a life of sexual abuse finding refuge at an old deserted house with problems of its own. As she reads the stories, the young woman begins seeing the characters from the books wandering around the hotel. Is she going mad or are more sinister events taking place? This low-budget indie flick has its heart in the right place, making up for its lack of money with energetic editing, gore (mostly in the last story) and some decent acting. Unfortunately, its cons are real set-backs: the film was shot on video and looks it, some of the CG special effects look really cheesy and worst of all, the stories aren't that interesting. I applaud the filmmakers' efforts, however, and look forward to the next movie.
MEAT WEED AMERICA
The characters from MEATWEED MADNESS are back! In this sequel, Lord Meatweed's house is attacked by a miniature RC airplane by the evil Bin Smokin' who wants revenge for an injury he suffered at Meatweed's hands when he was an infant. Meanwhile, Jessie Bell goes to New York City to try and become a model but finds herself in trouble, so Lord Meatweed must gather the family and some horny nuns and come to the rescue. Director Aiden Dillard shoots and edits with an incredible energy, and seems to have a definite message in mind with these films. It's just a shame I can't figure out what that message is. The movie opens with him cavorting in a field completely naked and just goes everywhere/nowhere from there. Imagine a movie as a pane of glass which is then struck by a sledgehammer and reassembled incorrectly and you have the perfect metaphor for this film. Nudity abounds (both female and male) and while most of the cast seem to be in on the joke, Debbie Rochon and Peter Stickles seem lost. Lloyd Kaufman is right at home, though, which is perfect, as this has the look and feel of a Troma film. I think Aiden Dillard has the makings of a good director, he just needs a strong producer to put a leash on him.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker's parents (try saying that three times fast) leave him with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May then disappear. Several years later, Peter is an angst-ridden teenager who gets beaten up by Flash Thompson and pines after Gwen Stacey. He discovers an old briefcase of his father's and some secret papers that lead him to Oscorps and Dr. Curt Conners who is experimenting with cross-species regeneration. Peter wanders into a secret lab and gets bitten by a spider, which gives him super-strength, fast reflexes and spidey-sense to know when danger is about to happen. When Peter has an argument with his Uncle Ben and runs away, he finds that action results in his uncle's death and he uses his powers to track the killer down, bringing him to the attention and scorn of the police chief, who also happens to be Gwen's father. Meanwhile, Dr. Conners uses the regeneration serum on himself in hopes that it will grow him a new arm, and it does, but it also turns him into a man-lizard that runs amok in New York City. Spider-man feels its his responsibility to bring Conners in, and he sets out to capture him, putting him in direct conflict with the police. Okay, first of all, I have to say that I didn't care for the re-imaging of the classic story, but it all falls in line with the MTV style of the film. Parker's angst, the slick, dark look of the film, the casting...all scream MTV's Teen Wolf. Andrew Garfield's acting is out of the British "David Tennant" school, which, while it works for Doctor Who, is often irritating here. The jokey nature of Spider-man is more at play here, but Garfield just can't pull it off. There's some good stuff here, my favorite scene is Spider-man building a giant web in the sewers then lying on it awaiting vibrations made by the Lizard so he can tell that he's coming, which was pretty suspenseful and creepy, and overall, I enjoyed the film, but it doesn't beat Sam Raimi's version.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER
Nine-year-old Abraham Lincoln defends a little black boy being whipped by a slave master and befriends him, but later that night, the slave master turns out to be a vampire who kills his mother. Many years later, the adult Lincoln tries to kill the same vampire but fails. He meets Henry Sturgess in teh process who fills him in on the vampire invasion of the undead creatures in the south. He trains Lincoln in the art of killing vampires and, armed with a silver ax, Abraham travels to Springfield, Illinois to study law and kill fangers. He meets and marries Mary Todd and becomes president, but soon discovers that the vampires have aligned themselves with the Confederates and plan to take over the entire country. There's a lot to like here, but none of it stands out in any special way, it's strictly CGI Action Movie 101, and the big "d'oh" moment comes when Lincoln figures out how to fight the vampire army, but in a way any decent vampire hunter should have thought of in the first moment. The acting is decent, the story blends fact and fiction well, but I just didn't find it especially fun.
In this prequel to the ALIEN films, Shaw, an archeologist, discovers a star map in a cave in the year 2089 which is interpreted as an invitation from an alien race to contact them. They travel to a distant moon where they discover the remains of a crashed ship (that looks like the one found in ALIEN) belonging to beings Shaw calls the Engineers. She finds remains of this alien race and when studied discovers their DNA is exactly the same as humans, prompting the belief that they created life on earth. But the ship also contains large containers of a dark green liquid, which contaminates two members of the crew. One contaminated member has sex with Shaw, getting her immediately pregnant, even though she is sterile. She must deal with the unwanted pregnancy immediately, even as a living Engineer is discovered. But the message they uncover is a disturbing one: while the Engineers created human life on Earth, they were in the process of destroying it with the same biological weapon, prompting the question: Why? What incident was the basis for the decision to destroy the very life they created? Here again, we have a movie that concerns itself with major aesthetic questions instead of a decent human story. There was no suspense, and the film felt like it was being forced to set itself up as to match the events as ALIEN begins. (NOTE: in a recent interview, Ridley Scott says the planet this film takes place on is NOT the same one where the space ship is discovered in ALIEN. So, my question is: what's the point?).
A concert promoter (Danny Bonaduce) wants to have an 80's music festival in South Dakota, but several acres of trees must be cut down to prep for it. Conservationist Barry Williams is out to stop him, but both of them find a complication: Bigfoot! But this ain't your friend-of-the-forest monster, this Bigfoot is twenty feet tall and loves to bite off humans' heads before ripping them apart. Okay, the movie is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek (and kudos to casting Bonaduce and Williams as antagonists, referencing the old Battle of the Network Stars special where they were boxing match opponents and Bonaduce cleaned Williams' clock), but the CG Bigfoot is too fake-looking, the plot goes nowhere and no explanation is given for why this sasquatch is as tall as a two-story building. Cameo by Alice Cooper.
Five college students travel to see an author for a thesis on the small town he wrote about in his books and encounter a sadistic killer who wears a pig's head mask who begins to massacre them while the locals look on, uninterested. While the film looks good, it's quite maddening in the questions it raises: Why is the killer murdering people? Who is the old woman in the store? Why does he wear a pig's head mask? Why are the two men helping him? And most importantly, why don't any of the townsfolk care when people are being murdered before their eyes? While the killer is a bit frightening, things like having him follow his victims through woods and on gravel roads unheard while literally six feet behind them and once his victims fight back, hitting him in the head with a shovel then running away without finishing him off made me keep rolling my eyes. For slasher fans only.
THE FIELDS (2011)
The diamond in the rough! The needle in the haystack! Set in the 70's, a small boy is staying with his grandparents on their farm while his parents work out a separation. The boy is told to stay out of the dead cornfield next to the house, but he can't help himself. Each time he goes inside, he finds something new, a dead body, an abandoned amusement park, but no one believes him. Finally, someone or something begins to attack his grandparents' house at night. The film looks gorgeous and sets up a creepy mood at the beginning that never lets up. There will be some wonderful deja vu's for monster kids, too. Set during the Manson trial adds a nice touch, but it's Cloris Leachman and Bev Appleton as the grandparents who steal the show. They are wonderful, believable and spot-on. The film doesn't really ratchet up until the third act, but I didn't care. I was sold within the first five minutes. See it!
MEDIUM RAW: NIGHT OF THE WOLF
A little boy's sister is killed by a serial killer called the Wolf. Years later, he has become a rookie cop who helped catch a man believed to be the killer, at the cost of his partner's life. When the murderer is placed in a mental asylum, the cop and his new partner sneak in under the premise of uncovering the whereabouts of the last victim, but once in his cell, the cop unveils his true plan: to kill the murderer. Before he can accomplish this, the power goes off at the facility and when it comes back on, the security system reboots, freeing all the inmates from their cells (although we only see about eight of them). Now the cop must save his ex-wife (played by the director's real wife), a little girl, and everyone else from being murdered by the freed inmates. Okay, let me just say that while the Wolf costume was pretty cool, that wasn't enough to raise this movie from it bomb status. I have never wanted to see a lead character die as much as I did here. The cop looks like a kid and his acting (which amounted to little more than posing and posturing) was so one-dimensional a new branch of physics would have to be created to study its effects on time and space. Of course, triple knife blade stabs through the gut kill everyone else, but the cop is only out of commission for a few minutes, then rebounds, perfectly refreshed. His movements and shot frames were so ludicrously and narcissistically staged that a thought began to nag at me. I checked, and sure enough, Andrew Cymek, who plays Johnny the Obnoxious Cop, was also the film's writer, editor and director. I haven't seen so much bad acting since film school (in one scene, a psycho attacks Johnny, throws him against a wall, then, when he's about to attack again, the cop gives us a look of mild annoyance--pretty damn cool for a rookie). I wish there was a magic eraser for the brain that would take the memory of this film away from me.
Bionic superhero Infra-Man is created to stop the evil Queen Dragonmom from taking over the Earth with her army of monsters. That's basically it. Lots of fast camerawork, zooms and kung-fu craziness. For the Power Rangers crowd, although Roger Ebert has sung this film's praises on many an occasion.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER'S LOVE NEVER DIES
In this filmed performance of the Phantom of the Opera sequel, the Phantom, Madame Giry and Meg have traveled to Coney Island and started a vaudeville show there in the hopes of getting rich and making Meg a star. But when Christine Daie, her now-husband Raoul and their son arrive for her to sing a special song at the show, the Phantom realizes he is still in love with her. This musical has none of the charm, star quality or catchy music of the original, and in the few moments when music from Phantom IS used, it just reminds you of how great a show that was and how bad this one is. Webber took a wonderful musical about tormented love and turned it into a dark, stupid piece where the good guy is now the bad guy, the bad guy wavers back and forth between good and bad, an inexplicable reason is presented as to whom the father of Christine's son really is, and love, in general, is given a black eye. The ending is incredibly dumb, too. The voices are great, some of the songs are good (not many) and some aspects of the production are nice, but overall, it's an unworthy sequel.
Mike is a stripper trying to start up his own custom furniture design business. He's the star of a show but as he's turning thirty soon, he's having his doubts about continuing. He meets Alex Pettyfer and introduces the kid to the stripper business and deals with Alex's sister as she disapproves of their jobs. Alex gets into the darker side of the business, and Matthew McConnaughy, as the emcee of the show and the owner of the strip joint, is a slick, slimy guy trying to move the guys forward and fill his own pockets at the same time. I expected this to be an exploitative sleeze-fest...and was rather disappointed when it wasn't. It is a well-shot, nicely-paced film with terrific acting, especially from Channing Tatum (who is so charming and charismatic in this film that he could talk me into anything, too), Alex Pettyfer and Mr. McConnaughy, but it still has a lot of problems. None of the four back-up dancers have back stories, and they are played by celebs. The plot is strictly by-the-numbers and not that interesting. I wanted a male version of SHOWGIRLS, but it's too mainstream for that.
TO ROME WITH LOVE
Take the core ideas of four other Woody Allen films and put them together as an inter-related anthology and you have TO ROME WITH LOVE. A retired opera director discovers that the father of his future son-in-law has an amazing operatic voice...but only when he sings in the shower. A newlywed couple desperate to impress the groom's family must pass off a #*#!!@ who comes to the wrong room as the bride when the wife gets lost trying to get her hair done. An architect (Alec Baldwin) journeys through his memories about a secret affair when he visits himself at a younger age (an awful Jesse Eisenberg) at an apartment he used to live in. And finally, an average family man (Roberto Beligni) inexplicably becomes a celebrity when camera crews begin following him around. The footage of Rome looks beautiful, of course, and the acting is typically Allen. The problem is that none of the stories seem fully thought out, as though Woody thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if...?" and just wrote that down without expanding the ideas. Not a bad film, but there are better Woody Allen movies.
THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK
A genius Nobel Peace Prize winner (Ross Martin) is killed and his brain surgeon father encases the organ in a large robot body. He tells his brother about what he's done but decides to keep it from Ross' wife and son. The robot is gentle enough, but after a year decides that he has a mean streak and wants to show it to the world, so he hypnotizes his father and goes out at night to kill people he doesn't like. It all climaxes at a United Nations party where the colossus zaps people to death with eye beams, and only his son, who thinks he's a giant, can stop him. This is a movie I've wanted to see since I was a kid, and finally did. I liked it enough, but instead of a fun B movie, it has a very dark side to it. I'm not sure if this makes it better or not, but I was expecting something a bit more campy, which it isn't. Worth a look.
LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
Jake Gyllenhaal gets a job as a pharmaceutical salesman in Pittsburgh where he is trying to convince a pharmacist to prescribe Zoloft to his patients instead of Prozac. He meets Anne Hathaway, who is in the initial stages of Parkinson's disease but nonetheless won't let that stop her from leading a wild life of promiscuous sex. She begins an affair with Jake, who becomes a sales star when Viagra hits the market, but she won't let him get close to her. The poster makes this seem like a sophomoric sex comedy, but it's really a very serious drama about two people with trust issues and large sexual appetites. Very good, but a bit of a downer.
A trio of partiers go to a gallery where they are escorted into the basement and told that if they want to join the "Fright Club", they must each tell a scary story to the club's founder, a gothic artist called Sebastian Crowe. Yes, it's a shot-on-video anthology film. In "Little Red Riding in the Hood", a latino werewolf terrorizes the neighborhood, in "The Boy Who Cried Vamp," a man discovers that a vampire girl has killed his girlfriend and "Spare Parts" is an Asian take off on the Frankenstein story. The stories were lame, the acting was bad, the effects ho-hum. Run. Fast.
THE SPIRIT IS WILLING
A sea captain is talked into marrying a homely woman so he can inherit her father's wealth, but on their wedding night, he sneaks off with the maid. They are both killed by the bride, who is in turn murdered by her husband before he dies, and their spirits immediately haunt the house. Present day: Sid Caesar, his wife Vera Miles and their teenage son Barry Gordon have rented the house for the summer, but only Barry becomes hip to the fact that the house is already inhabited. His parents just think he's being difficult. Their rich sailing uncle comes to visit and at Barry's birthday party, everything comes to a head, including a psychiatrist (John Astin) who everyone thinks is gay. This ghost slapstick comedy is a weird choice for William Castle, and I wish I could enjoy it more, but there's so much vitriol between Caesar and Gordon that it borders on abuse. It is also strange in that the movie clearly reveals that the boy loses his virginity to a ghost. Odd. For Caesar and Castle fans only. The score by Vic Mizzo is good.
In this knock-off of VACANCY, a married couple driving through the boonies is hit by another car. The unsavory sheriff offers to drop them off at a nearby motel and have the car towed in the morning, but soon the pair are terrorized by masked psychos while in another room, people who have paid for a show are watching them being victimized. Better than it should be, but not as good as VACANCY.
CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD
During a zombie outbreak started by the supernatural force of an old undead man, a car full of teenagers is in an accident and they are all killed. The undead man attacks the cemetery caretaker and opens all the coffins, bringing the dead teens back to life as zombies. Then they all disappear. Years later, for no reason, the teenaged walking dead return and attack the living. Man, this was bad. Tom Savini has a small role as a zombie killer, but there's no rhyme or reason to anything that happens in the film. People barricade themselves in a house then have a civil, calm conversation about what to do as the undead beat on the walls. Bad acting, camerawork and fx abound, with the only good makeup job being on the undead old man.
THE HOWLING: REBORN
Based on Gary Brandner's novel "The Howling II", which I've read but don't remember, Will is a hot high school nerd who pines for Eliana. He finally gets up the nerve to ask her out as his graduation nears, but their blossoming romance is spoiled when he learns he is descended from a werewolf clan who want him to join their ranks. When he refuses, the entire pack is out for blood: his. The acting is decent here, but the werewolves and the transformations are bad CGI. Not worthy of the HOWLING series, and there were some BAD movies there.
MERMAIDS: THE BODY FOUND
Calling Orson Welles! This mockumentary actually had people believing it was real and calling the Navy. Sigh. Marine biologist Dr. McCormick begins a scientific investigation as to what caused some weird underwater sound recordings. His journey takes him to South Africa where a shark autopsy reveals parts of a corpse that has human DNA but doesn't look like a human. Add to this secret interviews and camera footage taken by kids of a web-handed creature that washes up on shore when dozens of whales beach themselves and you have a conspiracy-theory storyline about why and how the Navy is aware of a secret race of mer-folk who have been around since man. The film is told in a series of talking-head interviews and recreated pieces, and the cell-phone footage of the beached mer-man is supposedly being shown for the first time. While it's a fairly engaging piece, it's laughable that anyone could have thought it was a real documentary. The actors doing the interviews are obviously acting and the cell phone footage is straight out of a horror film.
THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (1982)
A Jean Rollin film. A few men are hiding barrels of toxic waste in the catacombs beneath a castle. An earthquake hits as they do a little graverobbing and one of the barrels opens, spilling waste on the corpse of the blond heiress who lived there. She returns to life and kills the men by jabbing her fingers into their necks, then goes out to find flesh to eat. She hunts down her childhood friend who finds victims for her dead companion to snack on, soon using her corpse-like zombie bestie to kill off people she doesn't like. Soon, the undead woman becomes regretful of what she has become. Now as interestingly shot or containing beautiful dreamlike locations as other Rollin efforts, but more coherent and emotional. Still, I'd recommend it for Rollin fans mostly.
THE EAGLE-SHOOTING HEROES
Apparently this is a parody of a serious novel with the same title. An evil Asian queen and her cousin plan to take over the kingdom, but a princess tries to stop them by finding a manual of secret super kung fu techniques. The cousin gets there first and becomes amazingly powerful, so the princess must gather other warriors to fight the villainous pair. This is one of the most frenetic, crazy, whacked-out movies I've seen. The camera is always whirring along as people fly through the air, whip body parts around and talk silly nonsense. You're either going to find it delightfully entertaining or headache-inducing.
In the near future, people wear ear devices that are as popular as smart phones. Nearly everyone has one, but the company making them is secretly broadcasting signals and messages that are brainwashing people to kowtow to crippling domestic and national security forces and give up their civil rights. There is a resistance force, of course, and a girl who is a key member meets a janitor who works at the company making the devices. She gets him involved in their quest when she finds out he has access to the computer that broadcasts the brainwashing signal. The resistance makes a video exposing the secret and try to get into the building to broadcast it, but are pursued by various security forces at every turn until a confrontation between the pair and the company owner becomes inevitable. This ultra low-budgeter is written, directed, edited, produced by and stars Paul Bright, who is mostly known for making gay-themed indies. He tries something new and more mainstream here, but unfortunately, the production quality is so low that it drags the movie down with it. The leads, Shannon Lark and Aaron Weisinger did rather well acting in their roles, but others didn't fare so well, especially Mr. Bright, who cast himself in the role of the lead villain and plays him as a mild-mannered great-uncle instead of a vicious manipulator. The lighting, camerawork and editing are horrible, and the story needed more sparkle to it. Bright does creates an atmosphere of oppression but the movie needs more than that to work. And for some reason, everyone wears hats and gloves. If you're a fan of Bright's, you'll know what to expect, but if you're expecting another gay film, forget it. While there is a very subdued gay element in two of the secondary characters, they amount to little more than furniture in the movie. A great opportunity was lost, too. In one scene, a domestic security agent pulls a gun on two national security agents, who simply knuckle under. It would have been great to see the two forces bump heads and erupt in a power struggle.
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
93 & 94
DEAD MEAT (2004)
Irish horror film about humans eating meat tainted with mad cow disease and turning into flesh-hungry zombies. A woman runs away when her best friend is attacked and meets up with a gravedigger armed with a shovel. Together they try to reach a castle where they think they'll be safe. Slow-staring but picks up and gets really fun. The ending was a let-down, though.
THE DOBERMAN GANG
A gang of bank robbers uses high-trained dobermans to pull off their latest heist in the 70s movie that was really popular. It's a bit dated now, and the movie is somewhat spoiled by opening with the dogs pulling off the heist then flashbacking to how it started and then showing it again!
THE DARING DOBERMANS
This sequel to THE DOBERMAN GANG picks up not long after the first film. The dogs (one of whom was killed in the first movie but now seems miraculously alive again) are discovered by a man roughing it in the desert, and when he realizes the dogs are the famous bank-robbing dobermans, he and his friends train them to rob a senator of his illegal campaign funds. This film isn't as much fun, and there is a horrific scene where, trying to get him to leave the dogs alone, the lead actor savagely whips an small Indian boy with his belt.
A comic book nerd discovers that one of his co-workers has the power of psychokinesis and tries to get him to become a superhero, only to have to deal with the situation he's made when said "superhero" realizes that it's more fun (and profitable) to use his power for evil. Decent performances, but a better script and cinematographer would have made this better. With Daniel Baldwin as a comic book store owner.
You know exactly what kind of movie this is when the opening credits list the actresses' names over shots of them topless. Five cheerleaders, their coach and some guys go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend but are soon picked off one by one by a killer. Bad.
MST3K: THE SWORD AND THE DRAGON
Mike and the 'bots riff on a Russian film about a cripple cured magically who then becomes a mighty warrior trying to defeat a Mongolian army single-handedly and be king. The movie is really dull, which makes it hard to sit through. The jokes are just so-so in this episode.
SOME GUY WHO KILLS PEOPLE
A 30-something loser who works scooping ice cream wants revenge against his classmates who tortured him in high school. Then his eleven-year-old daughter comes to visit to find out what kind of a man her father is. Lackluster production with a lead character who slumps his way through the film drags the pacing of the entire thing down. On the plus side, Karen Black as the guys' mother and Barry Bostwick as the sheriff trying to find the killer are hilarious.
Danny Boyle-directed outing about James Franco as an adventurer who falls into a crevice while rock climbing and is trapped when his right arm is pinned by a boulder. You know how he is ultimately going to escape, but before that happens, he must deal with hypothermia, dehydration, hunger and delusions. Well-acted and gripping. Unexpected surprise: Scooby-Doo.
THEY CAME BACK a.k.a. LES REVENANTS
A small town doesn't know what to do when 30,000 of its deceased citizens suddenly reappear and want to continue their lives where they left off. These are no rotting zombies, but normal-looking people who magically appear on top of their graves. The town puts them into temporary housing while they try to figure out what to do. The dead want their old jobs back, their old relationships to continue and family members to take them back. Everything seems normal, but when it is discovered that the dead don't sleep but are merely pretending, and meeting in small groups whispering secretly gives the living the idea that something bad is afoot. Will this make it easier to deal with the problem? Interesting little French film that is not really a horror film. There's no eating of flesh or murders or anything like that, so if you expect it, you'll be surprised. It's mostly about concepts.
THE SKI TRIP
When a gay man ends his relationship, his friends offer to take him on a ski trip. But four black men heading to the slopes isn't as fun as it sounds. Neither was the movie.
BENEATH THE DARK
A newlywed couple have an accident and spend the night at a dumpy little motel where they meet a creepy desk clerk, an ominous street person warning them of danger, and a videotape in their room that reveals a secret about the husband, sending the young couple's relationship spiraling into chaos. Interesting movie that's more like DEAD END than VACANCY, but the hero is much shorter than the other male leads, which comes across as a bit silly when he grabs others by the shirt to threaten them.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
Woody Allen's hit film about a young writer named Gil vacationing in Paris with his fiancee. Gil is captivated by the city, but he seems to be the only one. When he's out for a midnight walk, he comes across a car occupied by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who takes him into the 1920s to meet Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Gaugin, Salvador Dali and many others. He pines for this Golden Age, but when he finds himself falling in love with Picasso's mistress, who pines for a Golden Age of her own, he realizes that he may be wearing rose-colored glasses. Woody straddles a line here between fantasy elements like in THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO and realistic like in MANHATTAN, but he does it very well and makes a very entertaining film.
A novice pilot whose mother died in a plane crash takes her friends in a small plane to a concert, but a technical malfunction forces the plane to keep ascending. The problem gets fixed, but now, lost in a cumulus cloud, they encounter a Cthulhulian creature trying to make a meal of them all. This is one of those films that I fully expected to be junk and hate, but it was actually well-shot and acted and generated suspense and excitement. One thing though: one of the characters is so obnoxious that you have to wonder why anyone would want him around? Allegiances change and tensions mount. Worth watching.
SNAKES ON A TRAIN
A Mexican medicine man and his wife sneak on board a train headed to L.A. so his uncle can cure the woman from a curse that makes her vomit up her internal organs which have transformed into snakes. When a few escape, they grow perpetually larger and soon begin eating the other passengers. Silly Asylum rip-off. Watch SNAKES ON A PLANE instead.
Various monsters fight for the title of Champion while Dave Foley drinks and Art Hindle rants. Cyclops vs. "Witch @!+*%", the Mummy vs. Vampire Woman, Frankenstein vs. the Zombie and the Werewolf vs. Swamp Gut. The makeups are good, the sets are nice, but there. is. no. story. Monsters are introduced, we are shown their backstories, their stats and they fight to the death. Next match. This film is the most like a video game I've ever seen. And there was no Middleweight Finals bout! Skip this.
Ti West follows up HOUSE OF THE DEVIL with a similarly-paced film about a man and a woman working at an inn during its last weekend in business. They spend their free time pranking each other and shooting a documentary about a lady ghost and paranormal activity in the hotel. This takes up most of the film, and then things go into high gear for the last 15 minutes. The pacing is slow, but it's offset with jokes, so it's not as dreary as HOUSE OF THE DEVIL. Ti West is one to watch, and if you liked his last film, you'll dig this one, too.
TOM AND JERRY & THE WIZARD OF OZ
The famous animated cat and mouse return in a new cartoon feature where they are whisked away to Oz with Dorothy and Toto and help her and the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion fight the Wicked Witch of the West. The animation was a bit odd, I thought, and the story was really forced, not to mention the dumb jokes and physical comedy, but there were a couple of cool things: 1. The music was taken from the original film, and 2. some of the voice acting was great. All the actors try to sound like the original film's characters, but Grey DeLisle as Dorothy and especially Laraine Newmen as the Witch were excellent. Droopy makes a cameo as the head guard of the Winkies. This is for kids only, though. Even adult fans of the original movie will want to flee the room after ten minutes.
SGT. KABUKIMAN, N.Y.P.D.
Relatively normal (for Troma) Troma film about a New York City police detective trying to solve a series of mob hits on Asian men and becomes possessed by a spirit that allows him to transform into Kabukiman, a white-and-black-faced superhero who can deflect bullets with a handheld fan, and pin people to walls with razor-sharp chopsticks. It's silly, yes, but it's about as mainstream as Troma gets, and had some actual story structure.
RISE OF THE DEAD
When a baby kills itself playing with a gun, the birth mother notices that people around her begin drooling from the nose, then going ballistic, murdering whomever is nearby. It turns out the spirit of the child is angry and wants revenge. First of all, the box art for this film makes you think it is a zombie film. It is not a zombie film. The synopsis on cable TV says it's a zombie film. It is not a zombie film. The acting was okay, but the cinematography ruins what might otherwise have been a decent supernatural thriller.
COWBOYS & ALIENS
Daniel Craig is a cowboy who has an alien device on his arm and can't remember who he is. He and his rival, Harrison Ford, both want some gold that is changing hands. People hit each other a lot and there are a lot of explosions as the aliens seem to want the gold, too. That's all I can remember about this. Be warned.
PUSS IN BOOTS (2011)
This spin-off feature from the SHREK movies is a lot of fun. Puss is a wanted cat whose old pal Humpty Dumpty wants to re-team with to steal some magic beans and steal the giant's golden goose, which will make them all rich. Puss wants to redeem himself with his home town, so he agrees, but there's double crosses in store. The voice performances are great, the animation is stylish, and I really enjoyed it. More fun if you have cats, though.
RED RIDING HOOD (2011)
Valarie has been promised in marriage to Henry, even though she is in love with the woodcutter, Peter. This all takes backseat to a bigger problem: a werewolf is attacking their village, killing people. A religious chancellor arrives to deal with the problem, mostly by torturing innocents into revealing who the werewolf is (he's decided it's someone in the village) and when he discovers that Valerie, whose grandmother made her a red cloak, can talk with the beast, he proclaims she's a witch and uses her for bait. Visually lush, with plenty of action and drama, the movie just failed to grab me. Maybe it needed a 60-second werewolf break.
THE WICKER TREE
A popular Christian gospel singer and her chaste boyfriend travel to the island of Tressock, Scotland to participate in a local festival called May Day, unaware of the temptations and threats that lie ahead. This sort-of sequel to THE WICKER MAN plays things light and loose with a comedic touch, and therefore, is unable to generate any suspense. The townsfolk's intentions are clear from the get-go, as they say suspicious things to each other out in the open. Can't rate it too highly.
Scientific experiments develop a parasite that can make humans stronger and smarter, but things get out of control and many years later, the island on which the experiments took place is overrun with a new breed that makes you go insane, too. Jamie goes to the island with her step-brother and her boyfriend to sell her family home, but the boyfriend gets infested with the little sluglike creatures as a group of scientists decide to try and kill the critters (and anyone infected) once and for all. Not a bad film. Definitely high on the "ick" factor, but there's way too much unconvincing CGI and dark cinematography.
THE THEATRE BIZARRE
A young woman lives across the street from an abandoned theater, then one night, she sees that the door is open, so she sneaks inside and is presented with an odd show. A human-sized man-puppet (Udo Kier) tells six odd stories: In "Mother of Toads," a horny witch seduces a young husband while his wife is menaced by ominous toads. Next, in "I Love You," an obsessive man drives his girlfriend to heights of desperation with his clinginess when she tries to leave him. Third, in "Wet Dreams" (directed by Tom Savini), a man has nightmares about being castrated by his wife. Then, in "The Accident," we get a child's interpretation of the horrors of everyday life. Fifth, "Vision Stains" (probably the most-cited of all the stories) tells the tale of a junkie addicted to other people's memories which she can experience by withdrawing the fluid from their occular orbs and injecting it into her own eyeball. Finally, in "Sweets", a couple take their love of sweet treats into perverse new areas. The young woman learns too late the penalty she must pay for her curiosity. This film has garnered lots of buzz, but frankly, I'm not sure why. None of the stories are particularly spectacular, and some are really poorly shot. "Vision Stains" has gotten the most attention, but really just because of the icky eyeball thing. My favorite was "Mother of Toads", but "The Accident" was really dreamlike and quietly disturbing. Each short was filmed by a different director, and it shows: the style and tone of each one varies wildly, making the movie as a whole really unbalanced. But, you might still want to give it a shot to see something different.
THE GHOSTS OF GOLDFIELD
A group of student filmmakers hope to capture footage of the ghost of a maid killed in a hotel in a deserted western town but find out they're in deep trouble when the lead girl's necklace, handed down to her from her grandmother, directly ties in to the incident. As a film, it seems competent enough, but it's really dull and not much happens.
THE ESCORT a.k.a. L'ESCORTE
Phillipe and Jean-Marc own a failing restaurant and are throwing a small party to celebrate. Some of the guests order an escort over the phone as a joke, then leave. When Jean-Marc is alone to clean up after everyone, the escort shows up, and he and Jean-Marc have sex. The next morning, the escort tries to fix some elaborate macrame hanging from the ceiling and gets caught up in it, inadvertently choking himself. Phillipe comes home and saves him before he hangs himself and is concerned that the action was a suicide attempt. Now, Phillipe and Jean-Marc must deal with his indiscretion and the young man who has suddenly thrust himself into their lives. Quirky Canadian comedy in French with English subtitles has some light moments but unevenly jumps back and forth between comedy and drama.
FINAL REMAINS a.k.a. MORTUARY
After a woman is killed in a cemetery and her body stolen, the local sheriff must once more confront the fact that a serial killer who has been striking in the town of Deerhaven is once more on the prowl. His suspicions are turned to the local mortician when a doctor arrives to tell the sheriff that the mortician used to be in an institution but was released too soon. To make matters worse, four young people decide to break into the mortuary and have a party, not knowing that they are soon to be in the killer's sights. Bad camerawork, bad acting (some parts look like relatives were cast) and an uninteresting story add up to something you won't miss if you skip.
RHYTHM & BLUES
An eccentric young man meditating in a cemetery is spotted by a call boy and talked into joining the agency and becoming an escort. He becomes quite popular, even doing magazine shoots. But a serial killer who targets men who hire male hookers is on the loose. Could one of the call boys be the killer? Or the next victim? This is supposed to be a comedy, but it's not funny, looks terrible and moves at a snail's pace. Nope.
MST3K: SAMSON VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN
Mike and the 'bots riff on a Mexican wrestler horror film about a vampiress who seeks a doctor's daughter because her blood and body are needed for their vampire queen to possess. The doctor knows a clan of vampires are behind the attempts to kidnap his daughter, so he asks Samson (Santos) to protect her. The movie is fun and atmospheric, and it's the one where Samson unmasks his opponent to discover he's a werewolf. The jokes are so-so with a few good ones here and there. This is the episode where TV's Frank left the show.
A young man comes back to life during a zombie apocalypse only to realize that he was shot in the head before he could propose to his girlfriend. He teams up with another coherent zombie and one who has "turned" and together the trio road trips it back to the girlfriend's house so he can ask her to marry him before he loses his ability to think. Meanwhile, a team of soldiers is trying to keep the zombies under control. This gentle comedy looks good, has good acting and a fun story. It never made me laugh out loud, but I smiled a lot.
DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE TRAVELING SALESLADY?
The amazing Phyllis Diller appears in her only starring vehicle. It's 1910 Kansas, and Bob Denver is a bumbling (what else?) inventor whose failed inventions create more damage than revenue. He blows up his family's barn, then destroys the town with his steam-powered automobile. He owes a lot of people a lot of money when Diller arrives, selling player pianos. Her efforts also cause the destruction of her sample piano, which she has to pay for. Together, Diller and Denver try to raise money to pay off their debts with his inventions: a cigarette lighter and an automatic milking machine. When these also fail miserably, their last chance is to enter Denver's wood-burning auto in the big country fair race. Diller gives it her all, and while she lays some clunkers, she is mostly on top of her game here. Bob Denver plays Gilligan, basically, but is still fun to watch, and the cast is a collection of "Hey, I know that face!"-ers. It's moves fast and furiously and just kind of ends, but I've always like this one.
Okay, I'm about as far from being a prude as you can get, but HANGER is reprehensible garbage. A pregnant prostitute is given a forced abortion by her pimp, who (in a graphically explicit scene) rips the fetus out of her with a coat hanger. He throws the baby in the garbage, but a homeless man rescues it. Eighteen years later, the deformed boy is on his own and befriends an Asian burn victim and a perverted drug dealer. He runs into his biological father who talks him into taking revenge on the pimp who aborted him, but then the movie really falls apart. It's obvious that the director tried to do something un-PC and over-the-top gory, but it's just a pathetic piece of trash with no redeemable qualities. It's fitting that Lloyd Kaufman plays a transexual %++*!$ here, as the movie really tries hard to be a Troma film, but at least Troma flicks had a quirky lightness to them, a distinct sense of humor. Every attempt at that here, falls flat. For some reason, every male character in the film (except for the pimp) possesses distorted features. What is the director trying to say? An explicit (fake) abortion, an awkward female self-pleasuring scene, blowtorches to the face, lots of anti-women brutality, anti-gay slurs, used feminine products as teabags, roofie rapes (including through a very messy colostomy bag hole)...had enough? I did. From the director of GUTTERBALLS, which should tell you all you need to know.
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS
A pianist dies and suddenly, claims of his disembodied hand strangling people alert the police who try to get to the bottom of the case. Peter Lorre as the manor's librarian is particularly wonderful and dangerous here, but don't discount J. Carrol Naish, who is also great as the local police chief.
HANDS OF A STRANGER
A famous concert pianist (why are they all pianists?) is in a car accident and his hands are mangled before recognition. An arrogant medical doctor tries an experimental surgery and grafts the hands of a mobster onto the pianist's amputated arms. Instead of being grateful, the pianist is horrified at having the new, strange hands and soon uses them to get revenge on the people whom he feels have put him in this position. Surprisingly gripping (no pun intended) with all the acting (from the hysterical sister to the sleazy police detective) being waaaay over the top, I had fun with this.
Charles Boyer marries Ingrid Bergman and convinces her to move back to the house where her aunt died. Once there, a series of events begin happening, such as the gaslight in her room dimming for no reason, that convince Ingrid she is going insane. Police detective Joseph Cotten is determined to solve the mystery. Moody and atmospheric, this film kept my interest although less so toward the end.
A young woman leads a small expedition into the Australian island wilderness to find the legendary Tasmanian Tiger after she gets an image of a paw print sent to her by her sister from the same island before she goes missing. They run across a group of locals who are the inbred descendants of Alexander Pearce, a murder who escaped from a notorious penal colony. These locals seem friendly, but they are all cannibals, of course, who kidnap women for breeding purposes to prevent so many inbreds yet continue to populate the town. The film has some exciting bits and looks good. The acting is also very good. There's gore, of course, and violence, and I was enjoying it until the final scene, which is very dark.
Four friends drive deep into the desert to explore and to shoot photos of one of the girls, a model. When they have an accident, they find that they are miles away from anyone and must determine how to survive. Great-looking film unfortunately spoiled by horrible acting and a lead female character who knows everything. There is the required bickering and outside danger presented by a wolf who is following them, but still, I was having fun with it. THEN...the ending. I literally convulsed with laughter at Nina's "saving" solution. It was so outrageous, yet so super-logical, yet so HUH?, that I will never forget this film.
ALL ABOUT EVIL
Deb, a mousy librarian, has always wanted to be an actress but was humiliated as a child when she peed on stage singing a song and got shocked by the microphone. Now, when the death of her father, she inherits his movie theater and goes insane, hiring lunatics to work the cinema and filming them and herself killing people then showing the shorts on the screen. Business booms as gorehounds flock to the theater, but one young man becomes suspicious of the truth, forcing the librarian to decide to make his mother the star of her next film. Filmed in San Francisco at the Victoria Theater (where my film BITE MARKS had its world premiere!), the film is not meant to be taken seriously. The acting is over the top, but it's kind of fun...and kind of not. Stars Cassandra Peterson (Elvira) with lots of drag queens (including Peaches Christ).
CAROL CHANNING: LARGER THAN LIFE
Documentary about the Broadway star best known for being the first woman to portray Dolly Levi in the musical "Hello, Dolly!" The film covers her life up to present day, detailing her Broadway career, TV show appearances and her inability to break into film. She always seems so upbeat and cheerful...except for one scene where she talks about Barbara Streisand playing Dolly in the film version of the musical. But all in all, it's for fans of Ms. Channing and the "theater" only.
SILENT HOUSE (2011)
American remake of the Spanish classic about a young woman helping her father clean out their old country home but becoming frightened when he disappears and evidence that someone else is in the house arises. The "gimmick" of the film is that it is shot in a way to make you think the entire movie is one continuous shot and that the horror is unveiling in real time. This does work to some degree, as there are a few frightening moments and lots of suspense. But I do think it could have been scarier and you will have some questions at the end.
O.C. BABES AND THE SLASHER OF ZOMBIE TOWN
Okay, here's what I THINK happens: in Orange County, California, two homophobes decide to go to a bar to celebrate a birthday and to pick up chicks but become trapped when zombies surround the place on the outside, and a serial killer is with them on the inside. The film is so low-budget it's in the negative numbers, and the already-short film is padded out with long scenes clipped from Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD! There are a few topless girls and some dumb-looking gore, but this movie is a hopeless, insulting mess. Directed by prolific schlockmeister Creep Creepersin.
BIG TOP SCOOBY-DOO
Talking dog Scooby and his gang of mystery-solving humans go to Atlantic City but are sidetracked into solving the mystery of jewelry-stealing werewolves at a circus. The gang take performing jobs to scope out the scene, and Scooby is the most popular but gets upset with Shaggy when he is given all the credit for "training" his dog. The voice acting is pretty much on the nose, but Matthew Lillard as Shaggy loses the voice once or twice. A decent film, but mostly for kids.
A business executive is under a lot of stress and suddenly must cope with the death of his father by taking his wife to the family farm to settle his affairs. Once there, he is reunited with his estranged sister who is running both their farm and another one. The memories of the farm and the addition of even more stress causes the exec to rapidly go insane, as his wife knows something is wrong but isn't sure what until her sister-in-law reveals the family secret. Obviously low-budget, the film does pack a lot of beautifully composed shots and takes its time building suspense, not really revving up until the last fifteen to twenty minutes. I admire what the filmmakers accomplished, but I was left really wanting more from the film overall.
THE MAKING OF JAWS
In-depth documentary interviewing a lot of people associated with making the Steven Spielberg classic JAWS. The film begins with the book and covers everything up to its release. The biggest chunk of the movie covers the hardships during filming (as it should). If you are even a little bit of a fan of JAWS, you should check this doc out.
THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING
I saw this documentary on the impact of JAWS in cinema and society as a complimentary film to THE MAKING OF JAWS. A lot of contemporary young directors site Spielberg's film as what motivated them to find careers in the biz. On its own, it's definitely lacking in focus and a smooth story, but there were lots of great stuff and some new footage I'd never seen before. If THE MAKING OF JAWS is for the JAWS fan, then THE SHARK IS STILL WORKING is for the JAWS fanatic.
JUAN OF THE DEAD
In Havana, Cuba, people receiving a mysterious vaccine for a flu-type virus suddenly begin dying, then reanimating as zombies. Juan, a local guy trying to make ends meet while he reconciles with his adult daughter, forms a business with his best friend and his best friend's son to come over and kill your loved ones for a fee. They end up killing their clients more often than their targets, however, and soon, the zombie population is so out of control that they have no choice but to try and flee the country. This is a horror comedy, and while it never made me laugh out loud, I was enjoying it until the two-thirds mark, when suddenly anti-gay slurs started getting flung left and right. There are some great bits, such as when Juan and his group are surrounded by a large mob of zombies and a stranger in a pickup truck comes to the rescue; Juan finds himself handcuffed to a drag queen who converts and his efforts to keep the flesheater away turns into an impromptu tango; forced to strip by the military, the naked group scrounges the deserted city for clothes; and the biggest, strongest, hulk-like member of the group can only fight zombies blindfolded because he faints at the sight of blood. It's hard to like the group, as they are really amoral. They allow people to die so they can take their possessions, and they watch friends and rescuers die with no remorse. Still, parts of it were really fun. In Spanish with English subtitles.
I don't know what it is, but when I find a director whose films I absolutely hate, I feel obliged to seek out his other works, maybe to see if he redeems himself somehow? This isn't the case here. Five Americans go to an Asian Chinatown-like city and unknowingly insult a mob boss. They are allowed to leave, but the mob's men trap them in a porno theater and take their revenge. This is from the director of GUTTERBALLS and HANGER, and while the story is more realistic, there's still the themes of violence, blood and gore. Women are still treated like nothing more than sex toys, some appearing only to perform naked pole dances. The quality of the cinematography varies wildly, and the acting is pretty bad. One can almost see the film director Ryan Nicholson wanted to make, but budget was not in his fortune. I'm not sure how much of an improvement it would have been, anyway.
A serial killer kidnaps a woman and locks her in the trunk of his car. She has only the time it takes to get to the place where he kills his victims to talk him out of it, via a microphone/speaker system that allows him to talk with her as he drives. An interesting idea, it's just unfortunate that it's mishandled. The film looks cheap and with such low-light locations, is pretty grainy. 90% of the film takes place in the trunk of the car and in the driver's seat with the same shots being used again and again. I was hoping for a much cleverer ending.
DEAD H00KER IN A TRUNK
Much-lauded film directed by and starring identical twin sisters about a four young people going on a trip not realizing that the body of a pr*stitute has been put in the trunk of their car and a cowboy assassin among others, is following them to get it back. The film looks very good but I'm not sure what all the hubbub is about. It's a pretty standard thriller done on a low budget.
NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS
A few priests and cardinals of the Catholic church are running a cocaine operation using nuns (who are forced to work naked in their habits) to weigh and package the drugs. The cocaine is then sold to bikers who deal it while running a sleazy bar/brothel. Some of the nuns are forced to work in the cathouse. One nun decides to fight back, killing the priests and then going after the bikers. This is a true attempt at a grindhouse exploitation movie, with bikers, drugs, lots of violence, sex and nudity, but it's SO distasteful that I couldn't enjoy it. There are scenes of nuns being raped...a LOT of them. Some with bruised faces, all of them crying. This is to set up the villains, but it's also shot very exploitatively and in a titillating way. There's also some male nudity but it's never presented in the same manner as the women. There's also some lesbian sex between the nuns with is straight out of a Skinamax movie. Now, I'm far from prudish, but this movie just made me wince all the way through, which is a shame. It looks great and the acting is very good. It's just got a tone so sour it pushed me away.
Another Joe Swanberg mumblecore movie, this one running only an hour. A married couple leave their 7-month-old baby for a day with unmarried friends of theirs who live together. They bathe him, feed him and put him to bed, then return him to his parents the next morning. This sparks "baby fever" in the girlfriend who suddenly decides she wants to get married and have a baby, but the boyfriend likes things the way they are. The basis of the mumblecore movement is films that are about relationships between people in their 20's and 30's, and this is a prime example. The film is made up entirely of static shots, the camera never moves. A conversation about the status of their relationship between the two lead characters while they're in bed literally takes up half the movie, and afterward, they hardly speak to each other for the rest of the film. The dialogue was either improvised or the actors are VERY natural. Now, you'd think that after everything I've said, the film must be very boring, and to be honest, it has moments that are captivating but watching these two people have a conversation that you have probably had yourself wears out its welcome fast. And the scenes afterward of the couple doing day-to-day things but not talking brilliantly shows the tension that now exists between them, but that too, gets old after five minutes and it goes on for fifteen more. If you like mumblecore, have at it. I'm on the fence.
MARK OF THE GORILLA
A Jungle Jim film. Apparently there's a buried treasure chest full of gold that would save a failing continent, but an evil explorer and his Nazi henchmen dress up like gorillas to kill anyone who tries to interrupt their search for it. Enter Jungle Jim and his own expedition, and... Well, you get the idea. I'd never seen a Jungle Jim film and was decided less than impressed with this one. The acting is really wooden, which in Johnny Weissmuller's case works for Tarzan, but not for any other character. The prevailing spirit is that killing someone, whether you're the hero or the villain, isn't that big a deal. Truth must be beaten out of someone, and it always works...even Jungle Jim spills his guts when he gets punched a few times! I thought the film was dull and flat. Not good for a jungle picture.
ELVIS MEETS NIXON
Cable TV movie about Elvis Presley, bored and having no one to play with, decides to skip out of Graceland and impulsively go for airplane trips to Los Angeles where he points guns at blacks in a donut shop, runs into hippie protesters and acts like a petulant child. Meanwhile, Richard Nixon doesn't understand why he's unpopular, why the Vietnam War isn't going well, obsesses over Jane Fonda and creates an enemies list. Back in L.A., Elvis (decked out in one of his Vegas suits) decides his life's calling is to be a federal marshall for the DEA, so he jumps on a plane to Washington D.C. to see Nixon about it in person. This is a mockumentary about a real-life event. Directed by Allan Arkush, everything is played broadly. Rick Peters is a bad Vegas Elvis act and Bob Gunton does Dan Ackroyd doing Nixon, so I never really felt anything for either character. The supporting players are decent, but the fake sideburns kept taking me out of the movie. I think a real documentary might have been a more entertaining approach to the story.
In the future, the most popular sport is robot boxing. Hugh Jackman plays Charlie, an ex-boxer trying to pay off a debt to some mobsters. When his ex-wife dies, he takes his 11-year-old son to his ex-sister-in-law but wants money to buy a new robot in exchange for giving the boy to her. When this robot is defeated, a trip to the junkyard with his son uncovers a sparring robot named Atom, who the kid wants to enter into fights. Charlie is reluctant, but gives in to his son and is surprised when Atom wins. Managed by the boy, Atom gets bigger and better fights until he's in a match with a world-champion robot. This is a by-the-numbers cliched boxing movie where robots are substituted for the fighters. And it works. The action scenes are fun, the acting is decent (the kid is a bit much) and the robots are cool. This is one of those movies where the kid is ten times smarter than the adult, and Hugh Jackman takes a back seat to the child actor. Why they just didn't license the name and call it "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots" is beyond me.
THE MEN NEXT DOOR
Writer-director Rob Williams gives us another gay romantic comedy about a man, Doug, abandoned at his 40th birthday party only to meet his new neighbor, the 30-year-old Colton, whom he begins dating. But Doug is also dating the 50-year-old Jacob and is shocked when he discovers that the two men are actually father and son! In love with them both, he must try to decide which one he wants to see exclusively as both men try to pressure and bribe him to choose them. Sexual hijinks and situations abound, along with colorful secondary characters who give Doug non-helpful advice. This is one of those movies where the performances really sell the laughs, and I had a good time with the film. The acting varies from so-so to really great, with Benjamin Lutz, Eric Dean and Mark Cirillo being stand-outs. Heidi Rhodes is hilariously over the top, and a lot of the performances are wonderfully understated, making them funnier. I felt the editing needed to be tweaked a bit, with the film cutting away to another character during important lines, etc., but overall it's a fast-paced, funny film. There are several shots of male nudity, both front and back.
Documentary on the life and work of gay activist Vito Russo, who penned the famous book "The Celluloid Closet". The film is more of a history lesson of the gay civil rights movement and AIDS culture with Vito being a major player. It was a fascinating look back at that time, but I would have liked more concentration on the subject matter, Vito.
Tired of dealing with humans, who he holds responsible for the death of his wife, Dracula builds a huge hotel in Transylvania, far from the eyes of any prying mortal. It's a place where monsters can come and relax...and come they do: Frankenstein's monster and his bride, a werewolf and his cubs, the mummy, a blob, Bigfoot, skeletons and more check in. But it's also Dracula's daughter's one-hundred and eighteenth birthday, and she's itching to see the world. Enter a human backpacker who has gotten lost and wants to stay at the hotel. Dracula cannot get him to leave, so he disguises the young man as a monster so his guests won't panic and his daughter won't be tempted to leave. Of course, sparks fly and the human and the vampire girl fall in love, as Dracula frets over how this is all going to end. The one immediate solution, which Drac never thinks of, is to bite the boy and turn him into a vampire, too, but instead, we get frantic hysterics, fart jokes, and a pacing so fast it would induce exhaustion in the Flash. There are fun parts, but I was disappointed in this animated outing.
A pretty somber animated film. Norman is a horror movie fan who is picked on by bullies at school because it's gotten out that he can see dead people. His father is upset because he doesn't believe Norman talks to his grandmother. But when Norman's uncle dies, it falls to Norman to stop the return of a witch girl's curse and the rise of seven zombies. For a kid's film, it's pretty heavy and not that much fun.
THE DEAD (2010)
A military engineer's plane crashes in the African desert during the zombie apocalypse. He tries to find an air base so he can fly home to his wife and daughter. He teams up with a militant who is searching for his son, and together, they run into zombie encounter after zombie encounter on their journey. The catch here is that the zombies are black and really slow. Romero's zombies could beat them in a foot race. But their power comes from when they swarm. The film is slowly-paced, but I found it very fascinating to watch.
A young man tries to survive in America which has been pretty much wiped out by the zombie apocalypse. He follows several rules which he credits for his survival. He teams up with a Twinkie-desiring older man, adept in shooting guns and driving fast, and they also soon join forces with a woman and her younger sister. The young man wants to go to Ohio to check on his parents, the man wants to go to Mexico, and the girls want to go to an amusement park. They encounter zombies along the way in grocery stores, mansions and open roads. This is a very sharp, snappy film that balances comedy and horror perfectly (except for one scene where they take shelter in a movie star's house and find him still alive inside...this is heavily comedic which changes the tone of the film). It's a lot of fun.
Decades ago, an entire small town walked up a path called "Yellowbrickroad" and vanished. Later, several hundred were found dead; some frozen, some slaughtered. Now, an expedition is going to take the same path and try to find out what caused the deaths and disappearances of the townsfolk. But as they progress, they experience strange things: old-time music from nowhere, screeching brain-splitting sounds and worse yet...each of them start to go mad and experience thoughts of rage and murder. This film has great cinematography and decent acting (one actor is almost cross-eyed) with bucket-loads of mood and atmosphere, but it's not enough to save it. Do you want answers to all the odd things they're hearing? They're there, but only if you think existentially. A thinking man's horror film, but if you don't want to think, you won't like it.
HELL HATH NO FURY (2006)
A man waits in a restaurant for his girlfriend and is joined by a cowboy stranger. The two start talking about women and share stories about women's revenge on men who treated them wrong in this anthology (which is weird because three stories start BEFORE this happens). In the first, a married man sleeps with a woman only to find himself tied to her bed the next morning. Then, a police woman is raped by a man but she hypnotizes him to kill himself. Next, a man is visited by his future self who tries to warn him about his upcoming breakup with his girlfriend. Finally, a woman is raped on her way to work but she captures her assailant and spends the next several days torturing him in gruesome ways. First of all, the movie looks like crap with bad lighting and sloppy camera work. The stories are often confusing and pointless, ultimately making no sense whatsoever as the end credits give us more bits and pieces. The final story is actually the best, and by "best", I mean most coherent, and the sex is not filmed in a titillating way, which is odd given that it's directed by Ryan Nicholson, the director of the loathsome GUTTERBALLS and HANGER. The movie describes itself as "erotic", but that's not the best choice of words, given that most of the sex either stems from infidelity or rape. There's plenty of blood, fornication with wounds, gore and torture, but it's really, really bad.
CURSE OF THE 50 FOOT CHEERLEADER
Roger Corman-produced film about an aspiring cheerleader that takes her science student friend's experimental drug to make her hot and athletic so she can join the cheerleader squad, but it has the side effect of making her grow 50 feet tall! Her rival, not to be outdone, also takes the drug, resulting in a cat fight during the big game! It's totally played for laughs and has the required sex scene with a giantess and her normal-sized boyfriend. There's also boobs, sex, Ted Raimi and Treat Williams. It is what it is.
A British couple want a family but can't conceive, so they adopt 8-year-old Isabel, but they get more than they bargained for when the little girl's invisible companion, Stevie, leaves messages like "Goodbye" around and becomes destructive and violent. The mother can't get anyone to believe her, so she is determined to find out what Stevie is and what it wants. The acting is quiet good, but a film about an invisible characterless entity left me wanting more. The film tries to play the trick of "is the mother really insane" but there's one last twist at the end.
A British couple want a family but can't conceive, so they adopt 8-year-old Isabel, but they get more than they bargained for when the little girl's invisible companion, Stevie, leaves messages like "Goodbye" around and becomes destructive and violent. The mother can't get anyone to believe her, so she is determined to find out what Stevie is and what it wants. The acting is quiet good, but a film about an invisible characterless entity left me wanting more. The film tries to play the trick of "is the mother really insane" but there's one last twist at the end.
Three guys go hiking in the woods and encoutner the vengeful spirit of an Indian girl who lover was massacred by the white man. Her curse causes her spirit to posses a tree and make a nutty guy help sacrifice hikers so she can take their souls to the underworld. One of the three men turns out to be a descendent of her lover (how?) which brings special attention to him. Some decent shots in this, but it's pretty unimpressive.
NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH
A gang of the most obnoxious and stereotyped thugs you've ever seen kidnap a debutante, kill her fiance, shoot all the witnesses, slap women around and beat each other up...and she falls in love with the mob boss! The acting here is waaaay over the top (the Ma Barker-like mom even goes "Nyah...Nyah..." at one point) and there's more slapping than twelve Three Stooges shorts combined. NO likable characters, a pointless plot, cliches so thick you can't see through them. Why watch this?
Little Victor Frankenstein's dog Sparky is hit by a car and killed. The boy is forlorn, until he learns from a substitute science teacher about the power of electricity. He uses a lightning storm to bring Sparky back from the dead, but unfortunately, his secret is discovered by Eddy the hunchbacked Igor kid, who demands Victor revive his dead gold fish. Once done, Eddy blabs to some other boys who bring back their own pets for the big upcoming science fair, and soon, monsters are running rampant. Only Victor and Sparky can stop them! Wonderfully puppet-animated black and white film, which is a feature-length version of Tim Burton's live-action film school short. The 3D was great, the character designs wonderful and the film was very emotional and moves along at a brisk pace. My only complaint is that it ends too abruptly. There should have been a few more scenes showing what happened afterward. The scene where the science teacher (patterned after J. Carrol Naish!) talks to a room full of parents was a highlight.
THE HAUNTING (2009)
A woman and her husband have their second child and move into an old mansion rented to them by the Catholic Church. They are warned that the basement and attic are still being renovated and are locked and off limits. The woman starts having visions and hearing noises of children and decides to look into the past of the house and discovers a covered-up scandal involving an orphanage and three little girls who claim to have been given healing powers by the Virgin Mary. The film has a spooky look and decent acting (it's a Spanish film and the version I saw was dubbed), but I kept getting the feeling I'd seen it all before.
THAT GUY... WHO WAS IN THAT THING
Documentary about over a dozen men who are character actors trying to find work in Hollywood. Almost all of them are recognizable, and the roster includes Bruce Davison and Robert Joy. They talk about how they got interested in acting, how they started out to find work, how they feel they are treated by the industry and how it gets harder as the business changes. It's almost completely talking heads, but it's still pretty interesting.
The zombie plague has broken out in present day and a civil war soldier's diary is discovered, revealing that the plague first raised its rotting head in the mid-1800s at the end of the Civil War. The rest of the movie is told through the point of view of the soldier writing in his diary as he sets out to find his son after his wife turns into one of the undead. Zombies roam the land, and he must deal with them as well as a crazed general, a pregnant woman and an old lady the locals believe is a witch. This is a very good low-budget film. Yes, it's slight on action, but the settings, acting and deliberate pacing, as well as zombies in that era all add up to a good time. The makeup effects were also good. My only two gripes are that one, the movie incorporates animation that seemed out of place in the film, and two, that the story ultimately ignores what the entire point of reading the diary was for. Are they hoping for a sequel?
AND SOON THE DARKNESS
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
George Clooney is a man with a lot of problems for someone living in Hawaii. His wife was in a boating accident and is in a coma in the hospital on life support. Her father blames him. His daughters are uncontrollable. He is in charge of a trust supervising a land deal that will make him and his entire family rich, but he's not sure he wants to sell. And then, he learns a secret about his wife that becomes an obsession. It's not the most exciting story, but it grabs you early on and doesn't let you go. An excellent drama.
MARTIN AND LEWIS
TV movie biopic about famed performers singer Dean Martin and comedian Jerry Lewis. The movie depicts how they met, became famous and then broke up. The performances are decent. Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) goes a good job as Lewis but slides in and out of the voice pattern. The movie shows both men as flawed, and Lewis' solo antics don't really work as well when Hayes does them. Worth watching for fans.
Two executives leave their Christmas office party so one of them can take a girl he's attracted to home. The third wheel friend wants to get some pizza first, so they stop at an ATM only to find themselves trapped by an ominous serial killer in a parka. They try various ways to call for help or escape, but the killer seems to have everything all thought out. Or does he? Written by the same guy who wrote BURIED, he seems to like horrific situations in tight spaces. The acting and dialogue here is great. The movie is creepy without much gore. The biggest problem is the number of "Why didn't they do that instead?" moments, and there are a few. I'd still recommend giving it a look.
THE RED HOUSE
A teenage girl asks her guardian to let a young man work on their farm. He agrees, but the young man takes a shortcut home through a patch of dangerous woods and is scared back. Now he and the girl are determined to find out what is the secret of the red house deep in the woods, over the guardian's objections. The scene where Nath walks through the forbidden woods is truly frightening. The rest of the film is a bit melodramatic, but Edward G. Robinson's portrayal of a man slowly going insane was great. Lon McCallister as the teenager acting like he was a 40-year-old tough guy was a bit too much for me.
A truck carrying snakes from another country overturns and one escapes. Twenty years later, thousands of hybrid rattlesnakes are overrunning a nearby town. Very low-key horror film. Not much snake action, although the dog killing one was a fun scene.
A TASTE OF EVIL
70s TV movie about a little girl who is raped and goes to a sanitarium in Switzerland to recover. Seven years later, she returns home to her mother, her uncle and the gardener and stars seeing visions of her uncle being dead. Is she going insane again or is something more sinister happening? The is-she or is-she-not going insane again thing isn't anything new, but it's fun to watch these stars in a genre film. With Barbara Stanwyck, Roddy McDowall, William Windom and Arthur O'Connell.
THE CAT CREATURE
When an old collector dies, someone steals a cat amulet from the neck of a mummy. Now, it seems that an Egyptian vampire, who can change into a cat, is killing anyone who might be in possession of the amulet, the only thing that can defeat it. Mediocre 1973 TV movie directed by Curtis Harrington, starring Meredith Baxter, David Hedison, Gale Sondergaard, Keye Luke, John Carradine and Stuart Whitman.
CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW
Twin sisters are at the center of a series of murders involving men found wrapped in spiderwebs during the full moon. A detective tries to find out who's responsible and what the girls have to do with it. Another average TV movie from the 70s but it's a bit more fun thanks to Dan Curtis' direction. Stars Tony Franciosa, Donna Mills, Patty Duke, June Lockhart, June Allyson, Max Gail, Vic Morrow and Sid Caesar (!).
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4
Katey kidnaps her infant nephew Hunter and disappears, leaving behind his murdered parents, one killed by her, the other by the demon Toby. Now, several years later, the teenage daughter living across the road from Katey and her adopted son Robby becomes suspicious when Katey is injured and Robby must stay with her family. Robby becomes fast friends with her little brother, Wyatt, but embodies some odd behavior: prowling the house at 3am, talking to his invisible friend Toby, and getting into bed with the teenage daughter. What are the mysterious symbols that she finds Robbie drawing on Wyatt? And why do so many cars park at Katey's house when she's not home? This sequel adds one small nugget to the goings on in all the other films, but that's it. The rest of the movie is everything you've seen and heard before: mysterious noises, bumps and thumbs, moving furniture, flying knives, etc. And the film suffers from "show the footage"-itis. The reason for recording everything is pretty flimsy, and then, when something devastating is captured (like an invisible being lifting the sleeping teenage girl off her bed), no one shows the footage to the parents because NO ONE LOOKS AT IT THEMSELVES! Boring and dumb.
A writer of true crime books moves into the house of a family who were found hanging from a tree in their backyard. His wife doesn't know they're in the murder house, and his two kids begin having nightmares and drawing pictures of other murdered families. The writer, who desperately needs another hit book, finds a box of Super 8 film reels in the attic and obsessively watches them, which depict the murders of the families. Putting together all the evidence, he realizes that not only has he stumbled into a supernatural-based series of murders, but he's put himself and his family in danger, as well. Low-key movie tries to make up for the slow pacing. The acting is decent, and the story is very interesting, even though the payoff falls short.
THE LEGEND OF LIZZIE BORDEN
Elizabeth Montgomery breaks her stereotyped image of happy suburban housewife by starring in this 1970s TV docudrama about the famous murder case. Lizzie Borden's mother and father are discovered in their home, both murdered with an ax. Lizzie is the main suspect, and the film covers her murder trial with flashbacks to pertinent scenes. Great acting and one of the best TV horror films.
WEREWOLF OF WOODSTOCK
A hippy-hater gets drunk and storms the stage at the now-evacuated music festival. Lightning strikes him and rearranges his cells so that now, whenever there's a thunderstorm, he changes into a werewolf and sets out to kill hippies! That's the plot, and the werewolf makeup looks like something out of a Saban TV show. Pretty bad.
Six men on an isolated construction site try to move a meteorite with their bulldozer, but when they do, a blue glow leaves the big rock and invades the blade of the dozer. Now, the machine is possessed by the alien entity and runs around by itself, killing the workmen one by one. Really goofy premise but makes for a real fun 70s TV movie.
Dennis Weaver is a husband and business exec trying to get to a client before he leaves town. He gets into a p*ssing match with someone driving an 18-wheeler by passing each other, but things quickly turn deadly as the big truck sets out to kill him. Nerve-biting game of asphalt cat-and-mouse.
A tow truck driver gives a lift to a young woman going to a Halloween party but turns out to be a serial killer/rapist/cannibal who keeps his victims in an underground room for a month, then butchers them, eating their flesh and giving some to his vicious dog. This time, he's being sought after by an FBI agent trying to rescue his latest victim. Okay, the acting is really horrible, and since when does an FBI agent act on impulse without letting anyone know where she is? The actor playing the killer is suitably creepy and you can't wait for the smirk to be wiped off his face, but everyone else should study Stravinsky. This is another example of the killer being stabbed, shot, beaten, burned and yet STILL comes after the agent and the girl as though he's only been slapped. And the last scene just made me sigh with exasperation. Skip.
ROAD KILL a.k.a. ROAD TRAIN
Australian film about an 18-wheeler pulling two loads that runs a car with four occupants off the road. They later find the truck empty and steal it to find help, but soon find out that the truck hides a secret inside it's trailers. A nasty one. The film looks great, but the story is a mess. Is the truck supernatural? Is it a refuge from a Stephen King book? What happens when people go inside the trailer? Is the injured guy possessed? What does Cerebus the three-headed hound of Hell have to do with anything? I dunno. If you watch it and understand it, please explain it to me.
FALL DOWN DEAD
Udo Kier is the Picasso Killer who is caught having just committed another murder by Theresa, whom he chases to a high-rise office building where the security guard, a couple having an affair and two undercover cops team up to try and stay alive. The film is a major failure on all levels and the German dialogue dubbed into English doesn't help.
A masked killer roams a ghost town where a young man is wandering around. His friends realize the danger he's in and go to help him. This film feels like an old film from the 50s but with some really heavy atmosphere and ponderously thoughtful dialogue. I wanna recommend it just because it's so odd.
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH
A rocketship splashes down in Sicily and the rescued astronaut tries to find a cylinder containing a Venusian lifeform. Too late, though. It has already gotten loose and is growing rapidly. Wonderful Harryhausen effects lift this sci-fi B film up. The fight between the Ymir and the elephant is a must-see...but what does Harryhausen have against pachyderms?
Four young people get stranded in a ghost town where intelligent wolves are running loose. While it's great that they used real wolves instead of CG creatures, the movie is boring with the teens running here for a standoff, then there for a standoff, then there, then there... Old. And excitement is shown by shaking the camera vigorously that editing it with a fast chop. No.
RAMMBOCK a.k.a. RAMMBOCK: BERLIN UNDEAD
German film dubbed into English about a man who tries to find his wife and gets trapped by zombies in her apartment building. As the undead breaks down barriers, forcing the man and a teenage boy to retreat from room to room, he discovers other residents and finally, a secret his love has kept from him. Not bad, but there really isn't anything in here we haven't already seen. And many times.
RISE OF THE ZOMBIES
A group of survivors of the zombie apocalypse are holed up in Alcatraz, but when the undead start popping up from the surrounding waters, they must escape and try to find a scientist who says he has a vaccine against zombie bites and maybe a cure. There are some new ideas here (the zombies hate electricity, if you're bitten you turn in 30 seconds) and some interesting gore moments. It's an Asylum picture but the production values have really been stepped up. Still it's no better than an average episode of "The Walking Dead". Stars Mariel Hemingway, LeVar Burton, Danny Trejo and French Stewart(!).
THE AMERICAN SCREAM
Documentary that follows three different families who turn their homes and yards into haunted houses for Halloween. One man is the son of a Branch Davidian who never got to celebrate any holidays and who is now compromising his own children's happiness; another is a yin-yang relationship between a father and son who fight for dominance over the decorations and finally, another man who got the idea to do his house by seeing how popular a neighbor's was. Only two of the three households were interesting to watch, one because of the constant irony and the other because of the train wreck that is their relationship. Maybe take a look if nothing else is on.
Scottish soldiers on a training mission find a special ops man severely attacked by an animal. They are attacked themselves and rescued by a young woman doing research on werewolves in the area. The soldiers don't believe her, but they take refuge in a home and try to figue out how to escape from the creatures. Lots of action and the rules on lycanthropy are very blurred, but once more, we have a film with no likable characters who shout four-letter words in every other sentence. It's considered a classic, and you might like it. I was left feeling iffy.
When Carol's sister goes on vacation and leaves her alone, she begins an almost immediate slide into madness. Gorgeous black and white cinematography accentuates this early film by Roman Polansky. One of the best cinematic examples of insanity.
Matthew Lillard is a screenwriting teacher who has only ever sold one screenplay. One day, he gets a message on his answering machine from a man begging for help. Thinking it to be a prank, he deletes it but the man's body is dumped from a building right in front of him the next day! He gets another call, this one from a woman, and goes to her apartment to find her dead, too. He is now the main suspect from the police in these killings, then he realizes that the murderer is following the plot from his sold script. Matthew Lillard is better playing bad guys. It's hard to like him here, especially when the murderer is revealed and he towers over them. The mystery is a decent one, but it depends on sloppy police work and major coincidences. If you're in the mood for an okay murder thriller.
Spanish found-footage film about a family trying to find out the truth about a ghostly girl who leads people lost in the woods to safety. Ironic because the film, in which nothing really happens, is kind of like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The interesting thing about the movie is that the premise of the ghost girl is set up and dealt with throughout 95% of the movie, but then the last ten minutes shows you what really happened, but by then, it was too late for me to care. Dubbed into English.
IT CAME FROM KUCHAR
Documentary about the famous underground filmmaking twins, George and Mike Kuchar. The movie covers their childhoods, the start of their film careers in the 50s and how they were embraced in the 60s. The doc covers the making of their films, including HOLD ME WHILE I'M NAKED and the infamous SINS OF THE FLESHAPODS. It also covers their friends and actors and George's involvement in the underground classic THUNDERCRACK. The twins are very entertaining to listen to, and the documentary also interviews other filmmakers who were influenced by their work, including John Waters, who seems to turn up in every single documentary about sex or film these days.
Comedy-drama with the emphasis on drama about three British young men who live lives of drudgery and dream of doing something bigger and more exciting in 1973. The acting is quite good, but the youths themselves are hard to like. Directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
Sam suggests to his friend Marshall that they go on a weekend trip to become closer friends. However, it's all a ruse: Sam's ex-girlfriend is getting married and he wants to crash the wedding and try to get her to come back to him. Michael Angarano (RED STATE, SKY HIGH, "Will & Grace") shines as Sam, here, coming across as charismatic and slickly charming. Also stars Uma Thurman and Lee Pace.
THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES
Two teenage couples decide to test an urban legend in which if you park your car on railroad tracks out in the woods on Munger Road, the ghosts of several children murdered by a lunatic who lived nearby will push your car to safety. To their surprise, it works, but then the car won't start and they begin to hear noises outside. Meanwhile, the sheriff has gotten word that the lunatic has escaped the asylum and may be headed back to town. Interesting use of cross-cutting found footage with regular filming, but that also hurts the movie. The film cuts back and forth between the kids and the cops trying to find them, resulting in having any suspense that gets built up suddenly dissipate. There are some very creepy moments with the kids and just when you think you know where the film is heading, it changes direction, going from potential slasher to supernatural, but there are also a few WTF bits that destroy disbelief. The kids believe someone is outside the car and freak out. But when one of them leaves to get help, the others decide to take a nap! And the most groan-inducing moment comes at the very end, almost making me angry. It's a competently made suspense flick, but you'll yell at it right before the end credits roll.
THE BUS MOVIE
A documentary on the VW bus that was so popular in the 60s and the people who own them. The overriding theme here is that the VW bus symbolized freedom and appealed to those with a hippie lifestyle. The movie has lots of great commercials for the bus and the people who drive it are interesting, but it could have gotten its message across in a 30 minute short instead of a feature, I think.
First-time director Joshua Leonard (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) turns in a fascinating performance as an office worker who is so depressed by his job that he lies and says that his baby has died in order to get out of work the next day so he can record music with his nomad friend. Of course, a whopper like that results in his co-workers being concerned for him, and the lie presents more pressure than his job did, slowly but surely pinning him into a corner. A fine drama, wonderfully acted and worth seeing.
A LIAR'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY: THE UNTRUE STORY OF MONTY PYTHON'S GRAHAM CHAPMAN
Before he died, Graham Chapman recorded his book based on his life. Now, several animators took sections of the recording and animated it, each in a different style. Graham talks about his childhood, his life at university, how he met the other Pythons, his sex life (a great chunk of the film is dedicated to this), his homosexuality, his alcoholism and his parents. Very few clips from his works are presented, but the film ends with the video of John Cleese's great eulogy at Graham's funeral. Unfortunately, the animation styles don't really enhance the recording that much and more often than not, are so hyperkinetic that they actually detract from it. Still, if you're a Python fan, you will probably want to see this.
WRATH OF THE TITANS
In this sequel to the remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS, Perseus lives as a fisherman with his son Helius. His father Zeus contacts him to ask for his help: the gods have grown weak since humans have stopped praying to them, and his other son Ares, the God of War, has struck a deal with Zeus' brother Hades, the God of the Underworld, to free Zeus' father, Chronos the Titan, who will destroy the world. Perseus refuses, but when Zeus is captured, he changes his mind and joins his cousin, the son of Poseidon, to travel to the underworld to free his father. The film is big in scope, but small in story, with plenty of gods but not many other mythological creatures. Pegasus returns for a few minutes, and there is a cameo by a certain metallic animal, but while the film looks good, it seems to end on a rather odd message: that it's better to be a soldier than a fisherman.
A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS
Harold and Kumar have not seen each other for several years. Harold is now married and spending Christmas with his gruff father-in-law. Kumar shows up and accidently burns down the father-in-law's prized Christmas tree, sending the pair off into the cold New York night to find one to replace it, in which they run into street gangs, Neil Patrick Harris and Santa Claus. The humor here is totally sophomoric and mostly unfunny. Some of the in-jokes were cute, but things like Harold getting his "candy cane" stuck to a frozen pole left me unmoved. The scene with Neil Patrick Harris and his husband David Burtka was pretty humorous. If you're a fan of these films, see it.
An evil scientist digs up the bones of a mysterious creature in the jungles of Borneo and extracting DNA, grows a new creature. The CIA as one of the scientist's colleagues to help them find the creature when contact with the lab is broken off and mutilated bodies begin to turn up. This PREDATOR rip off is like a bad SyFy Channel movie. You hardly see the creature, and when you do, it looks like a cross between an alien from ALIENS and a velociraptor. It's just not a fun movie.
A chameleon falls out of his owner's car and finds himself stranded in the desert. He makes his way to the little town of Dirt, which is undergoing a severe drought. He pretends to be a fearless gunslinger and soon finds himself appointed sheriff of the town, leaving him to deal with a menacing hawk, a gang of outlaws, a bad rattlesnake and the corrupt town mayor. The CG animation is really stellar here, some of the best I've seen. And the voice work by all involved, especially Johnny Depp as Rango, is outstanding. My only gripe is that the film is a bit dark at times, with characters actually being killed or swearing, so keep that in mind when putting the kiddies in front of the tube. Otherwises, it's an almost-classic.
Teenage Chris Munn lives with his father and younger brother on a hog farm. Chris is always getting into trouble and his little brother is always sick due to an eating disorder that makes him swallow dirt and paint. One day, their uncle arrives from prison, and Chris' dad lets his brother stay as long as he helps out. But when it's discovered that a sock with gold coins is hidden in their shack, an act of violence occurs that results in Chris and his brother running away with the coins, their enraged uncle in hot pursuit. The acting is superb here, especially by Jamie Bell, who plays Chris. Josh Lucas is the uncle and suitably creepy. The director allows for some very odd cinematic bits, like solarizations, image reversals and freeze frames. It's mostly a character piece, even with the stolen coins storyline, and the two don't really mesh, but I'd watch it for Bell's performance.
Four friends go to a cabin in the woods for the weekend and get drunk. The cabin has a sauna, which three of them make use of while the fourth does out in search of pot. When his three friends decide they've had enough, they are shocked to discover that the sauna door is barricaded, and they are trapped inside. When the faulty thermostat is activated, they must try to find a way to escape before the temperature reaches 247°F--when the human body starts to break down and they will die. While I felt their desperation, I wanted the film to give me several different ways for them to try and escape. They only think of 3 or 4. There's a neat moment that I won't spoil here, but the best part was the reaction of the fourth friend at the end of the film when he realizes how his friends were trapped. It's not great, but if you like claustrophobic flicks, check it out.
The Easter Bunny's son wants to be a drummer and not follow in his Dad's footsteps. Fred is a human being pressured by his family to find a job and do something with his life, but he has no clue what that something is. It all changes when he housesits at a mansion and E.B. shows up, having run away from home to find a career as a drummer. The Easter Bunny has sent three ninja bunnies to bring him back, but meanwhile, the second-in-command at the candy factory, a malevolent chick, is planning a takeover. Uneven parts all CG animation or live action, with the rest a smattering of the two blended, the film really was a bore. Unfunny with no charm or magic. And Russell Brand, who I can't stand in anything, voices the teenage E.B. Not sure if even the kids would like this, but I can't think of anyone else who'd want to see it.
LISA AND THE DEVIL
Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist in Italy who becomes disoriented and lost after seeing a fresco depicting the devil. Adding to her confusion is her chance meeting with a man (Telly Savalas) who looks exactly like Lucifer. She gets a ride from a wealthy couple but their car breaks down outside an old mansion. The owners, a blind woman and her son, allow the travellers to spend the night, but when the butler turns out to be Savalas, and the son reveals a creepy necro side to his personality, Lisa realizes that she is in extreme danger. Directed by Mario Bava, the film has an elegant dreamlike quality, even as the bloody flows copiously and the violence ensues. The son's nocturnal rape-scapades are filmed as beautifully as any love scene. I found it twisted, but fun.
THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM
After a string of flops cost director Mario Bava his US distribution deal, he had a hit with TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE. His next film was LISA AND THE DEVIL, which was also a bomb, both in Italy and abroad. In order to get the coveted US deal, Bava reluctantly agreed to heavily cut the movie and shoot new scenes with Elke Sommer and Robert Alda as a priest. Here's what the movie is about now: Lisa is a tourist in Italy and faints after seeing a fresco depicting the devil. She begins to thrash and spew hateful comments, so she is rushed to the hospital where it is determined that she is possessed by the devil. A priest comes to console her, and as he tries to perform an exorcism, Lisa (in demon voice) tells him about a house where the devil lives, having us cut away to the original footage of the goings on in LISA AND THE DEVIL. The priest performs the exorcism, but the ending is left questionable. This version is loads more exploitative, chopping us Bava's dreamlike vision and replacing it with vomit and cuss words. It's an interesting film in its own right, leaving me curious as to which one people prefer. I like LISA better, but there are fun schlocky moments in HOUSE.
MST3K: REVENGE OF THE CREATURE
Mike and the 'bots return from being energy forms at the end of last season (when the show got picked up by SciFi Channel) and watch REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. Now, I was aghast as most here when I found out that the show's producers now had access to the Universal Classics library and were going to be riffing on some of our favorite flicks, but I have to say...I thought it was funny. In an intro, Mike Nelson talks about how they felt REVENGE was a really good picture, but their deal with Sci Fi Channel was to only show movies that were horror/sci fi, and kind of pressured them into it. He even calls REVENGE an "A" picture! He says that Sci Fi also made the host segments start having ongoing stories themselves, which is why we have the Planet of the Apes and Ancient Rome adventures. The dvd also has a short bio on Jack Arnold.
MST3K: KITTEN WITH A WHIP
Mike and the 'bots riff on this drama about Ann Margaret pulling a "Lolita" on John Forsythe, who is running for state senate. Her escapes put his career in jeopardy, but he can't seem to get rid of her. Finally, her nasty co-horts show up and her secret is revealed, resulting in a run for the Mexican border. I've always felt that for the concept of the show to work, you have to show a movie that is interesting, whether because it's so bad or because it's got some goofy element that makes it entertaining. When you show movies that are boring to watch, no amount of funny quipping can save it, and that's the case here.
MST3K: OPERATION DOUBLE 007
Joel and the 'bots take on this foreign spoof of spy films. When the evil organization Thanatos decides to conquer the world with a device that will stop all metallic machines from operating, they call on a certain British spy to help. Unfortunately, he's not available, so they recruit his younger brother, a world-famous plastic surgeon and hypnotist who can read lips! The movie stars Neil Connery, Sean's brother, and is a mess, but the jokes are really good, flying fast and loose. The producers were sued over the use of "007" and changed the title to OPERATION KID BROTHER.
A bunch of pervy miscreants record themselves vandalizing houses and molesting women on the street. They get a job offer to break into a house and steal a videotape, but when they enter, they find the homeowner dead and a stack of tapes. Not knowing which tape is the one they need, they start to watch them all and explore the house. This is where we enter the anthology phase: In the first story, "Amateur Night" (directed by David "THE SIGNAL" Bruckner), three young men go out on the town, one of them wearing a pair of spycam glasses. They want to pick up some girls, take them back to their motel room and record themselves having sex. They succeed, but once they get the girls back, they find out they have made a bad choice. Next, "Second Honeymoon" (directed by Ti "HOUSE OF THE DEVIL" West) tells the story of a young married couple on vacation stalked by a woman wearing a mask who records them while they sleep with their own camera. Is she just insane or is some nefarious plan afoot? Third, in "Tuesday the 17th" (directed by Glenn "I SELL THE DEAD" & "STAKE LAND" McQuaid), a young woman takes her new friends to a lake in the woods for the weekend, only to reveal that she's brought them there for another purpose. Then, "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" (directed by Joe "HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS" Swanberg) tells the story of a young woman who Skypes nightly with her doctor boyfriend, studying on the east coast. She feels her apartment is haunted and has a nagging pain in her arm. She keeps seeing the ghost of a little boy and explores the apartment with her laptop so her boyfriend can see, too. She sees flashes of a small entity, but could there be more to this than just a haunting? Finally, in "10/31/98" (directed by the group Radio Silence), four young men go to a Halloween party but enter the wrong house and find something devilish going on in the attic, where it then becomes a fight to escape alive. Now, while the idea of a found footage anthology is an interesting one, the end result falls waaaay short. Most of the stories make no sense whatsoever and while asking tons of questions, fail to provide answers. SPOILERS: Who hired the thieves to break into the house and why? What was the creature we get a glimpse of in the basement (and once seen by one of the thieves is quickly forgotten)? What's the point of the relationship between the wife and the killer in the second story? In the third tale, who is the Glitch, why does he exist in static form, and how can he be in two places at once? The scariest story is the one directed by Swanberg, but it's infuriating by the end, when we have absolutely no idea what is happening to the girl and why (it does seem to have its foot in THE BROOD). The movie's wraparound story ENDS between the 4th and 5th tales, leaving the film to just go to THE END after the last one is shown! I was most excited to see the story done by Ti West, and while it's another in his string of slow burn efforts, this one just limps along and then ends with a lame "twist". The characters in the wraparound (directed by Adam "You're Next" Wingard) are all unlikeable so I don't care when they die. The best story is the final one, but the biggest disappointment was "Tuesday the 17th". Director Glenn McQuaid, responsible for some really good films, turns out an effort here that is entirely pedestrian. There's a lot of hype around this movie. Don't believe it. And yet, a V/H/S 2 has just been announced.
MST3K: ROBOT HOLOCAUST
Joel and the bots riff on what might be the worst 80s movie ever made. In the future, mankind lives in industrial complexes because the air outside is poisonous. A super computer called the Dark One rules the humans, making them work to generate electricity to keep the computer going. But when a room full of people are gassed with outside air and two of them seem to be immune, the older man is taken captive while his daughter escapes, joins up several warriors and plan both her father's rescue and the destruction of the Dark One. This is a great film for MST3K because it's really horrendous and easy to make fun of. The acting is atrocious and the costumes look like stripper-wear. The jokes are pretty good, too.
This new film has nothing to do with the original series of movies started with THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK. Instead, it's about a young woman who takes her friends to her father's cabin after his death. Why, I couldn't understand, because she's gone there to mourn, and her friends just want to party. They are repeatedly warned by a neighbor to stay out of the woods, especially the women, because a large hairy creature roams the area, killing guys and kidnaping girls to breed with. He suspects his wife was abducted by one of these creatures. The kids laugh him off, because, you know, they're kids and from the city, but soon, anyone who enters the woods after dark are killed by something big and hairy. Wow, was this film terrible. The movie opens with a sheriff and his deputy finding the remains of a couple in their car. The deputy pukes. Later, they find the remains of another couple attacked in their tent. The deputy pukes again. Before this can become (and deservedly so) a running gag, the characters of these two lawmen disappear and are never seen in the remainder of the film! The neighbor makes an appearance again toward the end, saving one of the girls, but he tells her to run, and she does, leaving him to stand there with his gun listening to the sounds of the woods. We never see him again, either. The lead actress has the range of a garden hose set to wide spray, and at the very end, when she confronts the beast, she stands there with her cell phone in hand and no facial expression at all. This film was stoo-pid with no atmosphere, no story and not worth your time.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
Six elderly Britishers decide to retire to India and a seventh one (Maggie Smith) reluctantly goes to have a hip replacement, because it's cheaper to have it done there. They find the high-pressure hotel owner in charge of accommodations that are less than what was advertised, and now each must cope with the disappointment and new way of living in their own way. Evelyn (Judi Dench) has recently lost her husband and has to sell her home to pay his debts. She goes in search of a new job. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a retired judge who grew up there and is desperately searching for a man he knew as a boy. A married couple (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton) are trying to live a new lifestyle after their daughter's business, which they heavily invested in, goes bust. A wealthy lady (Celia Imrie) hunts for another husband while an aged playboy still looks for women to sleep with. They must all deal with prejudices and disappointments as the hotel owner (Dev Patel) fights his mother's efforts to close the place down. It's a gentle comedy-drama, very British, with excellent performances, even if the script is a bit "comforable." But if you are fans of any of the actors mentioned, you will want to see it.
THE ARTIST (2011)
Great film (Academy Award-winner for Best Picture) returns us to the silent days of movie-making both in story and practice. A famous silent film actor discovers and inspires a girl who wants to be an actress, and as her career soars, his declines when he refuses to leave silent movies behind and lend himself to the new talking picture. The actress never forgets him, but the actor is oblivious to her attentions as he sinks lower and lower, soon contemplating suicide. The acting is marvelous. Since it's a silent film, the emotions are conveyed with facial expressions and excellently done. The real star here, though, is the cinematography, perfectly capturing (and I mean PERFECTLY) the look of a film made, oddly enough, not from the 20s but the 40s. The story is simple but charming with many wonderful moments (a lot pertaining to the actor's pet dog), but the only detractor is the film's score, which I felt was too modern and betrayed its 40's spirit. Still, this is a minor quibble. See it!
Five young people go into the woods on a vacation despite the legend of Shane, a murderous man roaming the woods. Shane was chained to a tree by his father until he escaped and now he roams the forest, the chains still on his wrists, killing anyone he comes across. The young people go into the woods one by one, and zzzzzzzz...... Nothing new here. The film has a weird look to it, partially solarized and warmed. It looks really odd. Acting is predictably bad. Next.
PEGASUS VS. CHIMERA
An evil man is trying to take over a kingdom by unleashing the chimera (which looks more like a manticore), a creature resembling a mutated lion. A warrior and his female accomplice try to fight, and the gods send them Pegasus, the winged horse (which only has wings when its in the air) to help them. Only the blood of Pegasus and strengthen a weapon enough to kill the chimera, but when the usurper to the throne learns that drinking the blood of the horse can grant immortality, he wants Pegasus for himself. Typical lame SyFy movie. The acting is bad, the thing is set in the woods, the camerawork is terrible, the effects are really bad CG and the story is dumb. There's nothing redeemable here. Next...
ALADDIN AND THE DEATH LAMP
Another lame SyFy Channel movie skewering legends and mythology. Aladdin finds the magic lamp but unwittingly releases an evil genie with a lizard noggin that roams the forest and kills people. He must fight evil villains to get the djinn back in the lamp for good. Bad acting, cinematography, effects, story, the same wooded setting...everything that makes SyFy Channel films worth hating. Although set in the distant past, at one point the camera looks toward the sky...and we see a jet exhaust trail. Bad.
DJANGO, KILL! ...IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT!
In this spaghetti western, a man known as the Stranger helps a gang of Mexicans and Americans rob a government wagon of gold. He is double-crossed by the Americans and left for dead, but claws his way out of his grave to head into the local town to get the gold and his revenge, aided by two Indians who help him make gold bullets. However, the townsfolk have already slaughtered the gang and hidden the gold, but a new gang of gay cowboys want the gold, threatening to start a war with the town unless they get it. They kidnap the alderman's son and gang rape him (off camera), causing him to kill himself, and the Stranger's new vendetta turns toward the murderous black-shirted thugs. Throw in a woman locked in her bedroom, the Stranger tortured with vampire bats in Christ-like garb and poses, a scalping, an evil stepmother, lots of blood, gore, animal cruelty and the cool stylings of Tomas Milan, and you have one of the weirdest westerns I've ever seen. Must be seen to be believed.
A young woman runs a popular video blog (vlog) but soon realizes that someone is killing the people who contact her through it before she is attacked herself (oddly enough, not a spoiler). The story is pretty simple with an attempt at a twist ending that you've seen before, but the acting is decent and the effects are gory and believable. One murder is a particularly (almost absurdly) long decapitation. It's an independent film from Anchor Bay, and decently done but the film is stylized with captions and chapter headings that add nothing except making me think it's too clever for its own good.
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE
Based on the true story of a man recruited to be the double for Saddam Hussein's elder son, who abuses his power by shooting, drinking and treating his people like his own personal playthings with no remorse or sensitivity, much to his double's growing disgust. The dual role is an acting gem for Dominic Cooper, who plays both the sadistic Hussein and the double wonderfully. The film gives us an insight into what life was like under the Hussein regime. The most telling scene was the son's rape of a bride at her wedding party, leading to her to commit suicide after he leaves. Not a great film, but interesting to watch.
4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH
When its announced that the world will end the following morning, an actor (Willem Dafoe) and his artist girlfriend live their final moments by having sex, peeping on their neighbors and frenetically trying to finish one last painting. Directed by Abel Ferrara, this movie really isn't much. An art house film to its core, the piece is spent watching the two actors try to figure out how to end things. Not that interesting.
Oh, god. Several friends go backpacking in the woods, even after being warned by the locals not to. They ignore a "No Tresspassing" sign and soon encounter an overalls-wearing, baseball cap clad killer who likes to skin his victims. To be fair, the film looks great, and the acting is okay...but it's a story we've seen before, and a farmer-type killer with no motivation given for what he's going? Lame.
THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS
Delightful animated film by the makers of the Wallace & Gromit shorts and CHICKEN RUN. Pirate Captain desperately wants to be named Pirate of the Year, but his booty of gold coins pales in comparison to the other pirates, so he sets off to get more, eventually landing in London where he meets Charles Darwin and his monkey butler who realize that the Pirate Captain's parrot is really a dodo bird. Pirate Captain presents the creature at a science conference where he wins Scientist of the Year, but this brings him to the attention of Queen Victoria, who wants the dodo for a very nefarious reason (shades of SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED!) and offers the pirate a roomful of gold, more than enough to win Pirate of the Year. Things get really crazy as the pirate and his crew set out to rescue the dodo and escape the clutches of Queen Victoria. Very gentle humor is the key, here, but the animation, the production design, the voice acting and the story are excellent. You may not like it as much as your children, but you won't fall asleep.
CORPUS CHRISTI: PLAYING WITH REDEMPTION
Documentary about a troupe of actors touring the country (and the world) performing the Terrence Malik play, "Corpus Christi", which re-imagines the story of Christ and the apostles as a group of gay men (even though some of the parts are played by women). The troupe must endure protests by religious members while dealing with their own attitudes toward faith, love and adversity. Now, moment of disclosure: the play's director, who also co-directs the film, is a very good friend of mine, Nic Arnzen, so I may be subjectifying my review here, but you can tell how close the actors were to each other, as well as how much the play meant to them. My only real complaint is that the film is made up mostly of talking heads and wanders all over the place, splitting stories into pieces and often jumping from unrelated shard to unrelated shard. At least it doesn't have John Waters in it.
Three female college students meet up with a fourth traveller as they roam Slovakia. At a party, a beautiful European woman tells them of a great party town and of a hostel they can stay at. Meanwhile, their pictures are put up on the site for the Elite Hunting Club, where members can bid on who gets to kill them. Two American men agree to torture victims, even though one is over-eager and another has his doubts. Of course, the girls are kidnapped, tortured and the slaughter begins in this sequel written and directed by Eli Roth. While there are a couple clever twists and an inspired kill scene, the movie is as pointless and without story as the first one. One of the characters is killed for no reason. If you liked HOSTEL, you'll want to see this, but the "torture porn" cycle of horror was ending as quickly as it began, and this didn't grab audiences.
The series was taken over by Scott Speigel who directed this entry with a European couple and four guys having an impromptu bachelor party running afoul of the Elite Hunting Club in Vegas. The spin here is that instead of a victim being taken to a private room where they are tortured and killed, they are taken to a room with a glass wall where a room full of wealthy people can watch and place bets on how the victim will plead for their lives, or how long they will last before dying, etc. While not a fan of the series, I did find this entry to be the most entertaining of them all, with more of a story, strong characters you actually like and creating high suspense and a satisfying ending. My only real problem was with some of the patented Scott Speigel shots: P.O.V.s from nothing that has a P.O.V. (for example, the camera shoots up from the inside of a bag as a surgeon removes some instruments, and later, the camera shoots from inside a girl's mouth as giant roaches crawl inside). Yes, there's gore, but not as bad as in the first two films, which actually made it more effective, and some nice twists.
A bickering rock band's van breaks down and the members are captured by a mutant race of pig people who torture them. The kids act in unrealistically stupid ways, escaping then getting re-captured. I didn't care about any of them and there were one or two I wanted to see get snuffed just to shut them up. Slop.
THE AMITYVILLE CURSE
Five friends buy the infamous house despite the fact that a priest had been murdered there (?) a year ago, and begin having nightmares and being attacked by ghosts. This film suffers from the worst curse...it's boring. The last Amityville movie in the series that dealt with the actual house.
Found footage film (only it's NOT, so I don't know what to call it) about two television ghost show crews both looking to explore a supposedly haunted penitentiary. One group debunks ghosts, the other tries to prove they're real because it will also prove that God is real. The groups clash with each other as they're locked in the joint and, of course, things get spooky and creepy. Bad acting and a shaky camera that's supposed to be the point of view from SOMEBODY sinks this effort.
DEATH AND CREMATION
A teenage boy who's continually picked on at school gets a helping hand from his boss (Brad Douriff) a funeral home operator who's also a serial killer who uses his crematorium to dispose of any evidence. Learning of his young charge's problems, Douriff seeks out the tomentors one by one and kills them, feeding their bodies to the flames of his furnace. When the boy finds out what he's doing, will he be repulsed by the actions or will he join in? Good performances and a creepy tone take this small, quiet horror film to higher levels. Check it out.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY
Bilbo Baggins joins a group of dwarves determined to take their kingdom back after being driven out by a dragon who loves gold. Fun film is enjoyable but too long at over 2 hours and does not have the same endearment that THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy does. The 3D was excellent but the HFR version was irritating, looking more like video than film.
Definitely not a love letter to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who comes off as a petty mama's boy more interested in advancing his own power and publicity than actually catching crooks, which was probably the case. His homosexuality is examined, as well as a plausible reason for his supposed cross-dressing. There are many good performances here, and the direction by Clint Eastwood is good, as is the script by Dustin Lance Black. But Leonardo DiCaprio is again miscast as Hoover and almost single-handedly brings the film down.
A luxury liner captained by the mean George Kennedy is rammed by a haunted Nazi freighter. The survivors flee in a rubber raft, which is also rammed by the freighter, and take refuge aboard the haunted vessel where Kennedy becomes possessed and the others are murdered. Seems their blood fuels the ship. Silly 80s fun.
THE NUDE BOMB
I remember liking this when it was released theatrically, but now...pee-yoo. Control agent 86 Maxwell Smart comes out of retirement to fight a new scheme from Chaos: a bomb that will destroy all fabric and render everyone in the world nude unless their demands are met. The bits from the show are there: the cones of silence, the shoe phone...as are the phrases: "missed it by that much", "would you believe...?" and more. But it's just not funny (except for one bit involving Max's desk turning into a vehicle). A very pale shadow of the hit TV show.
Two sisters seek out an infamous roadside attraction and find another called the Skull City Mine where the caretakers entice tourists, then steal their souls and kill the hosts. The two siblings must now find a way out of the mine, especially when one of them is hurt. Not that great, but not that bad, either. Middling.
DAYS OF DARKNESS
Okay, see if you can follow: when a comet appears in the night sky, the government tells its citizens there is nothing to worry about. They're wrong. Alien parasites from the comet infect people and turn them into zombies. A group of survivors turn up at an abandoned military base and begin to fight amongst themselves. The biggest jerk is an actor from a second-rate TV show who threatens the others with a gun, and a boyfriend is angry with his girlfriend when she shows signs of pregnancy, even though she denies she had sex with anyone else. This is made more perplexing when a porn star's daughter, who claims to be a virgin, also becomes pregnant. The group tries to repel the alien-possessed zombies who explode, revealing slugs that try to spread their invasion-plague. It gets crazier from there, especially in a nod to INVASION OF THE SAUCER-MEN, they discover the aliens' weakness. The acting isn't the best and the cinematography isn't too good, either.
AMERICAN HORROR HOUSE
Trying to cash in on the TV series "American Horror Story", this no-relation film is about sorority pledges who discover the house where a Halloween party is being thrown is haunted by an old house mother suffering under a curse trying to add more ghosts to the residence. Very low budget, and didn't work for me.
Someone is killing women who are attending an anthropology professor's night class, and the police suspect him, especially when it's discovered that all the murdered girls were having an affair with him. There are plenty of other suspects: the lesbian dean, the Peeping Tom janitor, the owner of the local diner, and even the detective's partner. But could it be...someone else? A smaller, more serious (and sometimes dirty-feeling) slasher film, with the killer wearing black leather and a motorcycle helmet. If you pay attention, it's easy to figure out who the killer is.
WONDER WOMAN (1974)
Before Lynda Carter, there was Cathy Lee Crosby as Wonder Woman, although this version was based on the period of time Wonder Woman lost her powers in the 70s. Nothing more than a very clever secret agent (who is her boss Steve Trevor's secretary, even thought she's way more qualified than anyone there), Diana investigates a super-villain's attempt to build a bomb that will destroy the world. EVERYONE knows she's Wonder Woman. When she checks into a hotel, someone calls Andrew Prine and says, "Wonder Woman is here." She's attacked in an elevator, knocks the guy out into the hallway then calmly goes into her room and unpacks! Ricardo Montalban is the villain, and his face is hidden until the end, but his voice clearly gives him away! When he does appear, he's wearing an all-white suit! Cathy Lee Crosby is an emotional stone block in this, and her yellowing teeth ruin her looks. Oh...and the costume is stupid.