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.

Movie Posters of the Day!

Joker Movie PosterI’m glad this film is getting good reviews, and hope it is good. However I personally have not loved the trailer. And Todd Phillips helming this film, with a history of only comedies behind him, is a question mark for me. Since I am not a fan or audience for his previous films. Still I hope this is great, but don’t have a big interest in it. The TAXI DRIVER and FALLING DOWN or MAN BITES DOG films, are not my cup of tea, and that seems to be the ground this is aiming for. But I’ll wait to see if the reviews pile up one way or another after opening day. But likely if they are not glowing I’ll wait till it hits streaming.

Midway Movie PosterNice poster. No interest in the movie.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Motherless Brooklyn (#2 of 2)

Another nice poster. No interest in the movie.

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Gemini Man (#4 of 6)

The talk of the look of this film and the technology, getting the 120 frames per second thing working correctly, and early positive reviews, has me interested to see this in the theaters. Ang Lee is not a director whose films I typically gravitate to, but  I look forward to being pleasantly surprised by this one. And Will Smith is a star for a reason.

Whatever else the film offers, he always comes into it giving a 100%. He’s a star for a reason. And this film where he gets to act against himself, gets to clash the actor he was, against the actor he is… a riveting concept. And it is cool, how much young Will Smith, looks like his son, Jaden.

The Two Best Star Wars Films of All Time!

I appreciate all the Star Wars films, even the ones that do not appeal to me or I did not love.

We have a tendency to want to glamorize the three first Star Wars films, but as someone who saw those films when they first came out in theaters as a wee lad, while wildly popular, with the exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, none of the original three were masterpieces. They were flawed films, but the mythos, the characters, the message, the hope, and the gestalt, the end product was enough to outweigh any flaws.

Perfection is for Gods. And the goal of filmmakers and a film is to try to give us something… wondrous. To share a bit of love, and awe, and joy with us.

I never liked the first Star Wars, even as a kid. It was overlong, badly paced, dragging in the middle.

But I found things to like and to love in that imperfect movie. The characters, the visuals, the bad guys, the spectacle. I never loved the first Star Wars film, but I never hated it. I always liked it, if finding it flawed.

As an adult having revisited the first STAR WARS film several times throughout my life, if is still flawed, and overlong, and badly paced, and plodding in the middle.

However the good in it, always outweighs the negatives. The great characters, the wonderful visuals, the hopeful message. To not take away more good from all that effort expended and all that talent and all those moments, to not at the very least appreciate a flawed but essentially good movie, I think would say more about the viewer than the viewed.

The first STAR WARS for me is not a 10 movie, but it is at least a solid 7 to 8. Which is a passing and respectable grade. EMPIRE is a 9 to 10. RETURN is an 8 to 8. 5.

All in all it is a fondly remembered movie trilogy. But I do not judge things on Nostalgia.

Because something came out when I was a kid doesn’t make it the greatest thing ever, and because something new comes out when I am an adult, it is not the worst thing ever. Because it fails to be for my adult sensibilities, what that old movie was to my kid’s sensibilities does not make it wrong.

As an adult re-watching those movies, I can judge them based on not what they made  me feel as a kid, but on what I get from them now. And the same for a new movie, we should not judge it based on what we want or thought… it would or should be, we judge it on what it is.

The prequels for me, judged for what they were, I thought they were underwhelming. They had nice visuals, but suffered from core characters not as interesting, and a story not as compelling or well told as the original trilogy. I was not a fan, I did not like them, but I did not hate them. They were simply a miss for me, simply not for me. Not everything is for everyone. For me they were flawed films, possibly a 5 to 7 for the trilogy.

However I realize for a younger audience, the trilogy, flaws and all, may be more appealing to them. Again not everything needs to appeal to everyone, and with the Prequels, after a long layoff, Lucas was perhaps looking to  introduce his aging Mythology to a new generation. Not a bad idea. a good idea actually, just not well pulled off in various areas. But overall, flaws and all, it is a rich addition to the mythology. The good that came out of the films, being a richer mytholgy that subsequent tv shows and movies get to build on.

Enter the new Disney Star Wars films. As of this writing, four films, FORCE AWAKENS, ROGIUE ONE, SOLO, and THE LAST JEDI. Films that for some inexplicable reason have met with controversy and hate from some corners, most vocally SOLO and LAST JEDI.

As I said, I have never hated a Star Wars, I can’t readily think of any movie I hate. Hate is a strong word, and I do not go into a theater, pay money, looking to hate or tear something down. I go into a movie looking to be entertained. And even when a movie has flaws, just like that first Star Wars movie all those years ago, if the good outweighs the bad, I count that as a win. It may not be 10 out of 10 movie, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good,. With me, in a world spinning toward mendacity and hate, if a movie has hope and heart and a cogent story and a likeable cast, that cuts a lot of weight with me.

I think all 4 of the new Disney Star Wars films have at least been 8 out of 10. If I had to rate them off the top of my head I would say 8.5 to FORCE AWAKENS, 8.5 to 9 for ROGIUE ONE, 8.5 TO 9 for SOLO, and 9 to 10 for LAST JEDI.

For those of you counting I am saying yes, the new batch of films, as a whole I find more enjoyable than the original 40+ year old trilogy.

With the big exception of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, I, an original Star Wars fan who saw the trilogy in the theaters, have no problem not seeing them with rose-colored glasses, and saying quite easily… as a whole the new movies are better made.

They are, as a whole, better movies than the original trilogy. Which is no slight against the original trilogy, but is respect and kudos to just the progress in the level of craft of filmmaking and directors.

And yes I will go further with my sacrilege, I think Rian Johnson’s inexplicably panned and railed against THE LAST JEDI Is a flat out masterpiece. Is it perfect? No, nothing made by man ever will be, or should be, but it comes close enough to earn my standing ovation.

My better half and I just finished watching it again on Netflix, we loved it the first time we saw it. But rewatching it.. it is even more impressive. It is in its DNA the heart and soul of STAR WARS distilled right to its closing moments.

Both of us throughout the movie kept marveling at how good the movie was, and openly mystified by the virulent hate and attacks those involved in this movie endured.

Again I have never hated a movie, much less to extend that hate to people whose only ‘crime’ is making a living trying to entertain people, it is for us the inexplicable mewling of the mob. Of people who grade movies either 10 or 0, and attack movies for not agreeing with the version of the movie they make up in their head. It is the mewling of people who watch all the trailers, and spoilers, and gossip, and script leaks, pre-chew and digest and second guess the movie before ever getting in the theater, than complain about how there were no surprises in the movie.

I don’t aim this at those  who fairly watched LAST JEDI and it wasn’t for you, that is fine, not every movie is for everyone, but the attacks LAST JEDI has endured is largely from armchair directors and armchair writers, railing against the movie for not being their fan-fic of what the movie should be.

And for that demographic, who go into cinema looking for something to rail against on social media, the 10 or 0 crowd, the truth is, they would have hated the original trilogy just as much as THE LAST JEDI if they came at it with this same level of entitlement and armchair quarterbacking.

If today’s fans, was the fandom of the original STAR WARS film, that film would have bombed and there would have never been an EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Fandom has become people with uninformed opinions and too much access, spreading their noise over the signal.

These are the same behind the curve types who hated on Carpenter’s THE THING when it first came out, or buried Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL.

Here is the thing.

People, the taste you have today, will grow and mature as you do. And things that do not resonate with you today, you likely will grow into tomorrow. That, is the goal, of growing and maturity. So be wary of sticking your flag too deep in the ground on what you hate, because the ground shifts.

Always.

Two best STAR WARS films of all time?

That’s easy.

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

And the most gorgeous, and visually impressive STAR WARS film of all time, well, not even a question, Rian Johnson’s THE LAST JEDI.

That we lost out on him completing his trilogy due to the mewling of the uninformed social media lynch mob, well we and a future generation of film-goers who rediscover THE LAST JEDI (just like THE THING was rediscovered)… will be the losers.

Here endeth the lesson. 🙂

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

Go back ten years in this blog and you will see I was singing the praises of Walter Hill’s EXTREME PREJUDICE as not just one of Walter Hill’s best films, but one of the best action films ever made.

Here is where all of Walter Hill’s loves and inspirations (from John Ford to Sam Pekinpah) took him furthest and took all involved furthest. Much like Anthony Harvey’s seminal THE LION IN WINTER it was the best film of everyone involved.

So EXTREME PREJUDICE‘s lack of availability in a great Bluray, and better yet Steelbook format, has always struck me as a missed opportunity.

While the US has yet to correct that wrong, Germany and Japan (and the UK had an out of print version as well) evidently know a brilliant movie when they see one, as you can get Walter Hill’s best film on BluRay thru those countries.

Shame on you US!

In my best PLANET OF THE APES growl… “BOW YOUR HEAD!!!” 🙂

But yeah, came across the below BluRay version from Germany…

I have recently gone on a steelbook kick thanks to recent absolutely jaw droppingly beautiful steelbook releases by Shout Factory. I’ve kinda grown to despise the titular blue bar on the top of traditional BluRay packaging. I was never a fan of that branding, but accepted it because, that was all there was.

Well today we have great companies releasing wonderful Blurays done with an eye to aesthetics, that makes not just the film a work of art, but the whole gestalt, the whole process, a work of art. Which is what hopefully anything that takes up space, precious space, in our homes and our lives should be… a thing of beauty.

A thing that makes us smile, to look upon it.

The twelve movies below, including the aforementioned EXTREME PREJUDICE release… make me smile.

Reach out to me, if you need assistance in acquiring any of these.

Without further ado… 

Today’s 12 MUST OWN DvDs and BluRays in the Age of DIGITAL!!!!

The Japan and Uk version use similar art for the BluRay, but both are out of print. But they have that blue branding at the top that I can deal with, but does not inspire me to rush out and get a copy. These days I drag my feet before buying anything that doesn’t completely thrill me. Streaming has spoiled us, even us DVD and Bluray fans: today even for an increasing # of us, owning physical media is a luxury that has to justify itself, in an age of Digital.

Digital… meet justification. The German mediabook of EXTREME PREJUDICE…

 

HOLY … BLOODY… HECK!!! 

That is a magnificent cover! And I even forgive it the Blue branding at the top.

Man… when I saw this, even though the book portion is in German (And the title is AUSGELOSCHT which translates loosely to Elimination or Annihilation), I had to have it. Especially when I saw that it was sold out nearly everywhere. 

Okay that was one Bluray down, here are today’s other 11 must own BluRays.

 

 

https://amzn.to/2LeMZ4s

Yes, I listed THE THING Steelbook last time, and yes it still takes my breath away. SHOUT FACTORY has just knocked it out of the park with this and their other recent Steelbook releases. I own it now and still am impressed with it every time I see it on my shelf.  And people, this is nearly out of print everywhere. Pick it up while you can.

 

And moving on, here are the remaining must own Blurays of today!

 

 

https://amzn.to/2Lgq2Oj

https://amzn.to/2NKS3iF

 

https://amzn.to/2zMhgkM

The Blue Branding is just a removable cardboard piece, thankfully, and at the price this classic is a must own.

https://amzn.to/2NLjN6X

https://amzn.to/2MS9CxN

https://amzn.to/2NLzsmF

 

https://amzn.to/2MR0HMT

https://amzn.to/2HCv1qf

I do not love THE HOWLING steelbook, but it is growing on me. I kinda like it. And it is currently affordable.

https://amzn.to/2MSacvt

While everyone is proclaiming the death of physical media, I have to tell you, there are people like me, who will always support beautiful things. And while it is great to stream movies, and stream comics, and stream books, and stream magazines, there is no substitution for being able to hold and peruse and showcase a well designed work of art.

So if companies up their game like SHOUT FACTORY is doing, don’t just slap a photo on the cover, but put some bloody creativity into the packaging. Custom artwork, great design, and they will sellout their SteelBook Blurays… just like SHOUT FACTORY is doing. People will support… quality.

Choir… preach. 🙂

Guys if you like this post. go ahead and support this blog by using the links provided. Purchases thru the included links earn this blog a few much appreciated pennies to keep the virtual lights on. 🙂

Thanks for viewing, leave a comment, like or email or subscribe. It is all appreciated. Till next time… be well!!

 

Movie Posters of the Day!

 

 

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Harriet

The poster grabbed me, but what really made me excited about this film was seeing it was being directed by Kasi Lemmons of EVE’S BAYOU fame. One of my favorite films, just such a magical, yet somehow easily beautiful little film, that defies easy genre labels. If she can bring that deft touch to this ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ tale of HARRIET TUBMAN, we could have something very special here.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Movie Poster

Intriguing poster and trailer, but the jury is out on this.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for Terminator: Dark Fate (#1 of 2)

THE TERMINATOR franchise has largely been a case of diminishing returns since the second one. And while I have no great interest in a new one, with Tim Miller at the helm, I’m intrigued to see what he can do.

Extra Large Movie Poster Image for The Expanse (#5 of 5)

THE EXPANSE is one of the best scifi shows(full blown space opera) to arrive on the scene since FARSCAPE. Not sure if we are getting a new season but the existing three seasons are a brilliant self contained novel, ala BABYLON 5 and DEEP SPACE NINE. If you have not watched it, watch it. You’ll find it time well spent.​

 

Currently Watching : I STILL SEE YOU by Scott Speer

Sometimes what you get out of a movie, is about what you bring into that movie. I mean the movie has to be well constructed, to elicit a favorable emotional response. But beyond that, to elicit a formative response from you, a significant response from you, the movie can only delve so deep. When you respond to it on a deep level, it is often because it has touched something in you, that you are dealing with, in a particular moment or time.

You may catch that movie at a different time, or a less attentive time, and those triggers do not reach you. You remain… untouched.

This movie caught me at the right time.

I STILL SEE YOU by Director Scott Speer, and capably led by young actress Bella Thorne, is a very good coming of age Horror film in the vein of IT FOLLOWS, I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT MIDNIGHT, and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. While not in the league of those films (it meanders a little in the middle, and is not as cinematically stylized), stick with it as the premise is strong, the performances felt, and the ending…worthy and emotive.

That said, I could have done without the final shot, I think it weakens the message of the end of the film, and seems more than a bit formulaic and pandering; but that aside, a strong film, that I am glad to have seen.

Grade: B

 

Best Youtube Channel of the Day courtesy of Roku/Amazon Fire!

If you are not watching CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT you are missing out on one of the essential resources for movies on DVD and Bluray, especially of the classic B movie and cult status variety. CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT celebrates those works of yesteryear that are worth picking up, even in this age of streaming.

His latest episode, and he sold me on purchasing the UNIVERSAL HORROR COLLECTION VOL 1 on Bluray.

Mostly because I am a huge fan of THE BLACK CAT. What is the BLACK CAT you ask? Well beyond being the name of the famous Edgar Allen Poe Short Story, it was also the impetus for many films of that name.

This 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer directed BLACK CAT (which only uses Poe’s story as a aesthetic, to  go places even Poe dared not) is the best of the half dozen or so feature films to use that title.

Powered by a lurid, and haunting, and maniacal story by Edgar G. Ulmer and Peter Ruric, the film grabs and does not let go. Ruric would never write anything as memorable or deranged or sublime again. Which leads me to believe even though the script is credited to Ruric, that it was Ulmer’s hand you see in it. 

 

Ulmer, an unfortunately little remembered director, was one of the best directors of the strange and the avant-garde (experimental, forward looking), and the disturbed. This film fits perfectly in his mold. And with the best combination of big time studio, large budget, iconic stars, talented craftsmen, that he would ever get, he produced his best movie.

BLACK CAT beyond being Ulmer’s best movie, is without argument the best of the Karloff and Lugosi collaborations, and is arguably the best UNIVERSAL movie, right up there with masterpieces such as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and THE INVISIBLE MAN.

 

Ulmer’s BLACK CAT is so stylized, and so paired to the bone, that like the short story it derives its impetus for, it is entirely possessive of your attention and your awe. And even though I consider BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN a masterpiece, there is something even more heightened and hypnotic in Ulmer’s BLACK CAT.

The only real cinematic comparative to it, would be the feel you get from watching Erle C. Kenton’s ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, which predates BLACK CAT by two years. ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, like BLACK CAT, was both acclaimed and vilified for its horror and its sexuality.

 

Both are films I consider seminal films, masterpieces of mood, and must own films. And i have owned both films for years in DVD, as generally speaking I do not see the need to upgrade to Blu-ray with these earlier 4:3 Black and White films. However with this new Blu ray also sporting multiple new commentaries, it is worth the double dipping for me.

If you are still deciding check out the video below, and subscribe to the CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT youtube channel… and tell them HT sent ya!