Halloween Countdown – 7 for 7 – Seven Movies and Seven Reviews! Day 12!

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Dark House This film has intriguing visuals, Victor Salva creating another memorable movie boogie man in the Axe-Men, and the syncopated way they move.  However the movie gradually loses steam to a forgettable ending. Worth a look, but not a keeper.

 

DISCARNATE is another movie, where the monster/monster design is unfortunately better than the movie it is in.

The movie is ok, worth a look, but I feel the creature is the most interesting thing, and the surrounding actors and plot, while talented, have the definite feel of very rote and not particularly engaging. When not on the monster effects, it all seems a bit by the numbers.

 

 

Pikovaya dama. Chyornyy obryad (2015)

 

QUEEN OF SPADES – I have praised this movie before. A lot of other movies do the “kids daring each other to summon up things that go bump in the night” very few do it as competently, or intriguingly, or captivatingly as this film. Most of the time, it is just a bunch of stupid choices made by stupid people, followed by even more “lacking common sense” responses.

Yes we are entering the world of the fantastic, but even in that fantastic world, the responses have to be responses that we feel we would or could make in such fantastic situations.

And when the choices are even more fantastic than the premise, that is when suspension of disbelief breaks down, and we are done with the movie.

That is the problem with the vast number of horror movies. Not so here. You feel the path the characters are on, and the choices being made, are true to the constraints of the world and situation created. Huge fan of this movie. It’s a solid B/B+ of a movie. If you are a fan of LIGHTS OUT the short and feature (while this film isn’t to that level, it is not far off), give this one a try.

 

HELL HOUSE LLC- This has a bit of “people behaving not the way a rational person would behave in such a situation” vibe, it feels to me. However the movie keeps it moving, and slightly mollifies the protagonists stupid actions, by painting him into a corner, and when you feel you are in a corner, stupid decisions tend to trump rational ones.

Besides that, the movie is just well constructed, leading to the forewarned ending. Not a great movie, but a very good one. And one I can re-watch. One of the best Scare House movies (WAY better than the HOUSES OF OCTOBER movies)

Leaving D.C. (2012)BAD BEN series – I can not even tell you how many BAD BEN movies there are. IMDB list at least six, however there may be some tangentially connected films as well. I’ve seen at least 4 of the BAD BEN movies proper, and starting with the 1st (LEAVING DC) I have been a fan.

Just a great series that has fun with the haunted house and found footage tropes.

It is not Shakespeare, does not take itself too seriously (well the first one is the most sinister and ‘serious’ of them all), but isn’t just played for laughs, it is told straight forward, but like SCREAM the protagonist is aware of the movie tropes, so it is a bit “inside baseball” fun to it.  But it is fun, and is better than most horror movies out there that trod similar ground, and that have stupid, unlikable 20-something protagonists.

Ben is a character you definitely like, and root for during his misadventures.

 

Hex (2017)HEXI enjoyed this film. Dire, and complicated, and horrible, and beautiful, and an ode to hatreds and conflicts… and the emptiness and wastefulness of those hatreds and conflicts. It is haunting, in the best and worst ways. Not a big film, or a great film, it is a small intimate film, yet there is something… great in it. Not as beautiful as THE WITCH but it, like that film, stays with you long after you see it.

With a title like THE SHE-CREATURE and being from the schlock days of 1956, especially with the poster art, you wouldn’t expect much from this film. But what people forget is even though the special and creature effects were in their infancy and it shows (that poster is everything that is wrong with this movie, selling the monster rather than the mystery), the acting and direction is actually very strong in a lot of these films.

And THE SHE-CREATURE is an example of real actors (past their prime in some cases, and in roles arguably beneath them, but still delivering that star power), beautiful direction and cinematography and an intriguing premise that includes (for 1956 and arguably even today) controversial concepts of hypnotism, past life regression, spiritualism,  and a palpable racial memory that lives on in our very genes, that hold up, despite the limitations of the creature design and affects.

The film would have been better served if it never showed the monster, or showed it only in brief glimpses (ala NIGHT OF THE DEMON) unfortunately selling subtle over schlock, was not an easy sell then or now.

So we have a movie that is actually engrossing, until the outlandish rubber suit monster at its core turns up. But despite the ludicrous of everything associated with the creature design, there is a brutality to the murder scenes that the monster leaves behind, that is ahead of its time.

And bottom-barrel rubber suit or no, the story and performances around it, keeps me intrigued enough to keep watching. That aside I still enjoyed my watch.

In-fact if you were to CGI in a credible monster, over the awful blonde haired sea-monster with boobies rubber suit (Those are words you do not expect to use together in a sentence. 🙂 . Even for the 50s that monster design is deplorably bad, and a bit inexcusable when people were able to do impressive creature designs such as CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON), or edit around those scenes, you would actually have a good little movie. So definitely not a must see by any means, but it is worth a look on a slow movie day. There are things to like about it, even in 2019 going on 2020. 

So… 4 solid recommendations, and 3 not quite ready for prime time films reviewed for Halloween. If you have Amazon Prime, all the films are available to view at no cost. Come back tomorrow to see what makes the list on Day 11, of our Halloween countdown.

Filmic Fridays! AVENGERS ENDGAME early thoughts

While everyone is busy pondering and obsessed with how many Billions of Dollars AVENGERS ENDGAME will eventually take in, I find myself not really on that hype train.

I do intend to see AVENGERS ENDGAME (quick aside: that is a terrible title. While perhaps definition-wise apt, the actual use as a memorable, imaginative, compelling title… leaves much to be desired) and given the Russo’s track record in their past three Marvel movies I expect it to be great. But as far as getting into the speculation game is how much richer this movie will make one of the richest companies on the planet, I could not care less.

This sense of ownership comic fans show toward these films they own no part of, and corporations that 99.999% of them own no stock in, is very reminiscent of house slaves taking a sense of ownership in the gaudy trappings and parties of their masters.

I dislike Disney.

I have always disliked and distrusted Disney.

From a little kid there was something off about the company, an undercurrent always contrary to their seemingly family friendly/kid friendly fare. As a kid I always felt about all their product there was something so…. forced and insincere and cloying.

Time and egregious acts such as Disney being one of the first companies to buy a news division, (ostensibly to not be scrutinized by a free press, but to actually be the owners of the news) to now being one of the biggest monopolies in the world, has only strengthened my distrust of the company.

All these morons clamoring for Disney to subsume Fox, for no better reason than to see a movie with fictional IPs interacting, to have their Avengers meet their X-men, not understanding the broader real world implications of one less movie and TV company, one less alternative, in a world clearly running out of things not owned by Disney.

Disney has proven themselves historically to be an opponent of concepts such as public domain and creator owned, concepts that enrich culture, and move us forward.

And now that they in little more than a couple of decades have completely eaten any promising rivals to their claim of being the ‘Dream Studio’ from PIXAR, to MARVEL STUDIOS, to LUCAS FILMS, to now FOX, they are the textbook definition of a SUPER MONOPOLY.

About a 108 years ago the Supreme Court was RIGHT in breaking up Standard Oil. The Rockefeller’s monopoly of the oil business. Understanding a company with such broad reach could set prices, fix wages, even create and change laws. They were right to break Standard Oil all to pieces. And they are wrong to not actively be doing the same to Disney.

One company, especially one with as combative a policy on public domain and creator rights, should never have been made the owner (jailer?) of so many cultural and pop cultural properties, a large portion of which, like Shakespeare, like the writings of Mark Twain, Like the works of Poe, should already be in public domain. Batman, Superman, Captain America, these are concepts around long enough to become part of the cultural lexicon and conversation and hence, owned and own-able by all.

So just like any studio or TV station can put out Poe derived properties, the same should be the case with many of the early properties of Disney. Public Domain not keeping companies from making money off these concepts, it just keeps them from being the only entity to do so. it spreads the wealth, understanding that at some point, if a story lives long enough, it becomes the story of all men, and not the property of a single man or monopoly.

And Public Domain being only one of the rights of man trampled on, when a company grows too big. A company of sufficient size can set wages for an industry, effectively blacklist or put out of work who it chooses, suppress and eliminate competition/ choice.

Marvel Studios getting bought by Disney was not a good thing.

We are the poorer when viable competition to Disney or Microsoft or Apple or Google gets taken off the board.

So I hope for my own enjoyment that AVENGERS ENDGAME is a good movie, but as far as if it makes money, breaks even. I don’t have a dog in that fight. I’m not a theater owner, I’m not a studio stock holder, I’m not one of the people who worked in or on the movie, so in no way am i profiting from whether the movie does well or badly, anymore than as a film fan.

And for a fan to be interested in if he will see more of a franchise is understandable, but for a fan to be rabid about a film breaking records or how much billions it makes or its opening Weekend hall, is to lose sight of that money is largely going one way, out of many diverse people and  communities into a very few pockets.

In many ways those Billions a movie makes are further funds siphoned, to widen the gap… between rich and poor.

Now i do not fault a movie for doing well, but I will be much abused or maladjusted, before I cheer billionaires becoming bigger billionaires, when the bulk of people in this world, are getting poorer.

That’s my take on how completely, a monopolized media can skew us against our own best interests.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

🙂

 

 

 

What’s Hot and What’s Not STREAMING/VOD Guide Week 11 – AMAZON PRIME Edition

WORTH FINISHING/PRETTY DARN GOOD:

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Both movies from the early 90s are of course very dated. Martial Arts had only broken into  the main-stream American conscience barely 15 years earlier. And American Martial Arts/Fight Choreography was still finding itself. And we were still in that very formulaic 80s urban crime/ Deathwish style of filming. All those caveats aside the movies remain incredibly entertaining, with a few pretty awesome sequences. Jeff Wincott and Cynthia Rothrock were prolific 80s action stars for a reason. And that reason is on display in these movies. Along with movies such as SILENT RAGE and PERFECT WEAPON and THE LAST DRAGON these films are fun and fine examples of American Cinematic Martial Arts in its early days.

 

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I consider Patrick McGoohan one of the best actors ever. And his SECRET AGENT MAN/ DANGER MAN one of the best TV shows. His fight choreography in that show, which predated the James Bond films, elevated fight choreography. The same way that the first season of ARROW raised the bar. Then the first season of DAREDEVIL raised it even higher. Patrick McGoohan, former soldier, former boxer, brings all that to his roles. And here, a much older McGoohan past throwing punches, is no less, cinematic gold.

Richard Burton in a horror movie? SOLD!

https://cdn.cinematerial.com/p/500x/quedcqtx/the-witch-who-came-from-the-sea-blu-ray-cover.jpgThe late 60s and early 70s was such an interesting time for film. Just as borders were being changed and challenged in our world and ourselves, they were also being expressed in our fiction. Particularly our films. There is a malleability and ephemeral-ness to much of the best films from this period. They are not any one genre, or any one thing. Are like our night-scapes, daringly un-solid, and always changing, depending on the viewer, and the viewed. This film will stay with you, long after you have seen it, until you are not sure it was ever a film, but rather maybe a dream, you forgot to dream.  The sight of breaking bone, and spurting blood, is everywhere in this film, and no where. A haunting film.

This one does not start well. Took me a couple attempts to finish it. Much like GOATSUCKER  that started awful, it just gets better and better, culminating in an impressive ending.

INTERESTING / JURY IS OUT

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NOT WORTH YOUR TIME / AVOID

Nightshot (2016)https://i0.wp.com/www.dreadcentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/mortalremainsnew.jpgStarts interestingly, but like most failed horror films, loses any concept of common sense by the third act. Is this something any rational person would do? If the answer is no, then do not put such stupid actions in your darn movie. I wanted the time I spent watching it, back. Avoid.

 

Three must watch Short Werewolf Horror Films! On VOD Now!

 

Delightful. Suitable for all ages.

Definitely not suitable for all ages, Pretty disturbing actually. But incredibly well done.

End of the Road (2015)

All three of these movies are great for different reasons. END OF THE ROAD skews closest to the traditional WEREWOLF film,and it pays off in a GREAT creature design, and just a pretty memorable and fantastic sequence. A must watch.

 

Check Vimeo, or Amazon Prime, or Youtube to view the above titles. Would love to hear your comments once you do.

Favorite Directorial Debuts of the 21st Century!

I recently did a post highlighting some of the best directorial debuts of the last century. A lot of classic greats such as Orson Welles  CITIZEN KANE, Branagh’s HENRY V, Ossie Davis’ COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (which for the time when it was made, 1970, was really revolutionary as far as staging chase scenes. It’s often over looked in great car chase films, however it is one of the first and best. And the movie as a whole is disarming, tinges of heart felt humor in it, but also a surprising bit of wrath, brutality and action).

This time around I wanted to cover some of the best directorial debuts of the still relatively new 21st century.

In our fragmented increasingly monotheistic film landscape, the importance of film that comes outside of the ever repressive Disney structure has never been more important (shame on you Disney for firing James Gunn. And shame on you Twitter for not deleting ten year old quotes when asked, and instead holding on to quotes and allowing them to be militarized and sold to neo-conservative/neo-nazi hatchet men with a desire to use social media, the stupidity of the masses, and the immorality and venality of corporations,  to destroy any and all opposition to their madness.)

So until Disney is broken up by Anti-Trust laws like it needs to be, we need alternatives to standard mass media. We need streaming and VOD, and that’s where the interesting films and filmmaker get a chance to have a life, and earn an income. We need a new generation of great and gusty filmmakers, and I am happy to say they are out there.

So without further ado, here are the best Feature film directorial debut of the 21st century:

Serenity

Serenity (2005)

15 | 119 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Director: Joss Whedon

Following (1998)

15 | 69 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller Director: Christopher Nolan

Intruders PosterINTRUDERS (2015) –

Director:

Adam Schindler

 

The Evil Within PosterTHE EVIL WITHIN (2017) – It is NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but instead of a slasher film, is a perverted episode of TWILIGHT ZONE. A little known movie but worth seeking out.  Like most of these films it can be seen if you are an Amazon Prime member.

Director:

Andrew Getty

The Monster Project (2017)

THE MONSTER PROJECT (2017)

Director:

Victor Mathieu

last_will_and_testament_of_rosalind_leigh_xlg
THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (2012)

Director:

Rodrigo Gudiño  – To date the only feature film by Rodrigo Gudino, I love this film. However, It is one of the few director’s commentary I do not like, as his take on the movie runs contrary to the wonderfully unique atmosphere the film creates, and really talks you out of liking the movie, and his interpretation takes the magic, and wonderful horrific atmosphere. So a rare case of watch the movie, but avoid the special features and commentary. And I typically LOVE Commentaries.

Most Beautiful Island (2017)MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND-  Wow. I didn’t know at all where this movie was going. And that is how I suggest you go into it. Do not watch trailers or read anything else beyond this on it. I will say the opening pre-credit sequence…very masterfully done. Robert Bresson is arguably one of the greatest directors ever, and he mastered what is considered the empty frame, or the pregnant frame.  He created the camera opening on a vacant scene, and building expectation as you waited for that space to be filled. The opening of this movie has some of that Bressonian genius. But pushes it somewhere odd, depending who you are, and what you bring to the film, that opening scene may highlight how almost on an instinctual level their is a vouyeristic and somewhat predatory nature to how we look at people in groups, and what people we focus on. It is hard to explain, but you will arguably feel it in the motion and lack of motion of the camera in that opening sequence. And ends just as brilliantly and conflictedly.  A great film by star and first time director Ana Asensio.

JOHN WICK

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER

THE WITCH
SOUTHBOUND
STOMPING GROUND
CRAWL OR DIE
DEVOURED
CALL ME KING
A MESSAGE FROM THE KING
ABSENTIA
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
EUROPA REPORT
FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR
THE TALL MAN
BONE TOMAHAWK
PONTY POOL
UNDER THE SKIN
THE ARROYO
BOY WONDER
Honorable mentions: IT FOLLOWS unfortunately is the 2nd film of its Director, or it would be at the top of this list. I consider it (along with A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT) one of the greatest Horror films made since Carpenter’s 1980s output.

The worst thing that can happen to movies and free news is for Disney to gobble up Fox Studios and yet another news channel..

There is a reason a hundred years ago antitrust laws , and labor laws and child labor laws and unions came to be… because we learned the hard way… unchecked capitalism and greed is indistinguishable from tyranny and murder.

Companies were literally killing people to make a penny more in profit.

Let us not go backwards.

Say no to Disney gobbling up another studio and another network and news division. That would make them even more, the makers of truth..

Too much power for any company or any man.

Comcast is no prize, but in this situation, having them buy the Fox portfolio, it is clearly the lesser of two evils.

 

Here endeth the Lesson.