Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

Best Short Horror Films of 2019 Week 8!

 

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/mPtCeemqdE0/hqdefault.jpg?sqp=-oaymwEjCPYBEIoBSFryq4qpAxUIARUAAAAAGAElAADIQj0AgKJDeAE=&rs=AOn4CLDh_UfxcZNe5u6425f8IB_xRSS0rgCLAP, CLAP– A 2017 short film according to youtube, I just became aware of this one tonight. Directed by Brandon Piskorik and starring Aaron Burt it is everything you want from a 5 minute horror film. A setting, a narrative, a looming dread, and a payoff. It is a fantastic short film, so I was a bit surprised to see even IMDB has no entry for it. And there is seemingly no webpage or online poster image promoting the short. To go to the effort to make a quality film, then to spend no effort to publicize it seems to me a missed opportunity.

Horror while a popular genre, is a hard genre to get right. Get the editing wrong, the timing wrong, the pacing wrong, and it becomes dreary rather than dreadful (in the horrific, hoped for tone, you want your horror film to hit). Piskorik gets it right here. A solid B+. Worth a look.

 

Another worth a look short is DOOR TO PURGATORY, also from 2017 this one is written and directed by Alexandra Balda. There are no surprises here, from frame one this is a pretty straight forward horror tale, but it is told and photographed well, with a protagonist you find likable and want to keep following.

At 13 minutes it is longer than most shorts but is 13 minutes well spent. There are minor things that distract, showing too clearly and too long the horror element, and too much of the mustache twirling villain at the end. But beyond that it is a solid first short film. A solid C+.

And the things the film CLAP, CLAP failed to do to publicize that movie, is not repeated here. As this movie is on IMDB, is a festival circuit participant (and winner) and has a poster. Alexandra Balda is a filmmaker I look forward to seeing more from.

 

Now films that did not make the cut and why:

STICKS- while arguably more professionally assembled than others on this list, what hurts this is what hurts most horror films, whether short or long. People reacting without any commonsense. Seemingly the protagonist is a caretaker. Why she is cleaning the house at night, well people get busy no biggie. So i’ll ignore that. However, why on earth would any sane person go up those stairs given the circumstances of the short? Why would any sane person open a door given those circumstances? they wouldn’t. It is bad, lazy writing, and a waste of everyone’s time. And the movie is an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

TOOTH MAN- Not as slickly made suffers from the same issue. Characters acting completely braindead. With reason and commonsense seemingly a foreign language. You are babysitting and discover a bag of bloody teeth after a noise, and the possibility of an intruder, any sane person gets the kid and you get out of the house, and call the police/parents from a neighbors house. But no, not in this movie. I understand you need to create a situation of isolation for protagonist and threat, but you do that through smart writing, not lazy writing. On top of that I hate movies where adults lie to kids. Or husbands patronize wives about the obvious crazy stuff that happens in these movies. When those scenes happen they take me completely out of the movie.

 

 

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VOD Streaming Movie of the Day : Blake Edward’s Brilliant EXPERIMENT IN TERROR

Glenn Ford and Lee Remick in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Blake Edwards is a name that arguably, if known at all by a modern audience, is known for the PINK PANTHER movies. But true film fans know him as one of the greatest directors of that transitional period between the all powerful studio system and the rise of auteur directors and Independent Film-making.

Cutting his teeth in fast paced, often live television, (his most notable Television work being the excellent and both evocative and ahead of its time PETER GUNN) like his contemporary Don Siegel he brought a frenetic new pace and tempo to film making. Starting with the use of jazz to denote the soundtracks of his film, rather than the more orchestral, staid, European classical influences of earlier films, his films looked to modern composers, most notably Henry Mancini to tell uniquely American tales. Also his use of pacing and editing and shot selection were all revelatory.

And his use of characters of color stands out, one of the earliest directors to use background actors of color in non-stereotypical roles, to show an America peopled with more than just the traditional studio system view of an all white America. Seeing a mixed crowd, or a crowd with people o f color and whites just sharing the same space, as people, while taken for granted today, during the making of this film… it was groundbreaking. And many theaters in the south, the film could not be shown without cuts being done to it.

Anita Loo in Experiment in Terror (1962)

Directors like him, and Don Siegel, and Stanley Kramer and Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Richard Brooks, helped transition a very blinders on/white-washed 1950s America, into the more multicultural 1960s, and they did this through our entertainment, our films and our tv shows.

They, and the actors and editors and writers helped drag a more honest view of the American landscape into the light, a view full of different people and different backgrounds, and different challenges.. Both feeding and being fed by, the civil and human rights battles being fought at home and abroad, their veracity as filmmakers, helped open the door to this concept of film as something progressive and capable of change.

From these new daring Filmmakers like Blake Edwards, we begin to get film-making  that transcends complete artifice, and stereotyping.

We get the French New Wave Films, The Pan African Films, the Neo-Realist films of Italy, and at home we get the Independent Film Movement, to include the Black New Wave Films of the 70s ( dismissively titled Blaxpoitation by people who do not realize that Black Exploitation is the first 60 years of Hollywood Films. Where people of color had no positive representation in films, most films with no persons of color at all, and the few that did have people of color, offered them typically only one token person of Color in a film, in a menial/demeaning role. Actors like Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Harry Belafonte and directors like Gordon Parks, and Ossie Davis, helping to pave a view of an America that actually reflected the multitude of people in it, formerly invisible).

It is a thread, the evolution of film, that allows us to evolve from DW Griffith’s 1915’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION (which shamefully was the predominant mindset of Hollywood Film-making, both behind and in-front the camera, for the greater part of the 20th century). An evolution filled with achievements small and large, and filmmakers lauded and forgotten. A lot of films and a lot of filmmakers, and a lot of steps forwards, and moments of stumbling backward, to in a little over a hundred years go from THE BIRTH OF A NATION, to Ryan Coogler’s justifiably lauded BLACK PANTHER in 2018.

Glenn Ford, Lee Remick, and Stefanie Powers in Experiment in Terror (1962)

 

The films of Blake Edward are part of that thread. Not in any overt political manifesto, but just in his love of showing an America peopled with… the people he would see in the streets and in the crowds, his love for a veracity that transcended stereotype.

 

EXPERIMENT IN TERROR, is a pure thriller of a film, with not a wasted pound. And it has people of color in it, not because they are people of color, but because they are people, it is San Francisco of the time, before gentrification, where people you would see, came in multiple creeds and colors. It is a fantastic film that has nothing to do with ethnicity, but everything to do with being true to telling a story in a place and a time.

It is one of Blake Edward’s best films. However, Blake Edwards very rarely made anything that was not a ‘best’ film.

It is a uniquely tense, and thrilling film, even by Blake Edwards standard. I mean the tension in it holds up today. Lee Remick is one of the most beautiful women from an age of beautiful women, and she is also like most of Edwards leading ladies… delivering a phenomenally written and ground breaking tour de force performance.

Also starring the great Glenn Ford, who like the movie does not waste a moment, everything propels the story and the moment. Glenn Ford was one of those actors who never delivered a bad performance, and elevates everything he is in.

A stunning cast. A stunning script. And sumptuous film-making makes for a film that can be watched for free courtesy of AMAZON PRIME this month, but deserves in the age of digital to be owned on DVD/Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy here:

Experiment in Terror [Blu-ray]

https://amzn.to/2Gk6ZS8

I would also recommend picking up the gorgeous poster with the stunning Lee Remick as well as the CD and Album. Please use my links as they earn this blog a few, well needed, pennies. 🙂 .

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https://amzn.to/2DAaUXh

https://amzn.to/2MZGK3D

 

Thanks for looking. And if you enjoy this post please like, comment or order via the links. All three are greatly appreciated!

 

 

 

Streaming VOD Roku Fire TV Channel Watching Guide For Feb 2019 : HULU Edition!

HULU

 

1st Kudos to Hulu for, in an age where Streaming Services like Netflix are going price-hike crazy, actually offering a price reduction. Applause to HULU! This and Amazon Prime in my opinion are the best two Streaming services, in terms of both content, value, and ease of use/quality of the surfing experience.

Netflix lags FAR behind both channels, in my admittedly biassed opinion.

 

Okay onto the stuff you need to catch this month on Hulu (both old and new content):

https://cdn3-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/gallery/legion-season-2/dxqfn3rxkaa06zq-jpg-large.jpgThe first season of LEGION was nothing short of game changing television. Writer/Producer Noah Hawtey with this and the 2nd season of FARGO proving himself one of the best writer/producers of this new Golden Age of Television. [To that list of best writer/producers of this new Golden Age, I would add creator Drew Goddard for DAREDEVIL Season 1 (Was not a fan of Seasons 2 and 3), and Cheo Hodari Coker’s brilliant and criminally underrated LUKE CAGE Season 1 and 2. While DAREDEVIL Season 1 is the better Action Show, LUKE CAGE is the better show, both writing and importance, for reasons way beyond, one person hitting another.]

I am looking forward to Noah Hawley’s feature film directorial debut LUCY IN THE SKY (slated for this year), but until then I will be enjoying the 2nd season of LEGION on Hulu.

 

 

John C. McGinley, Nate Mooney, Deborah Baker Jr., and Janet Varney in Stan Against Evil (2016)

The Boondocks (2005)

Into the Dark (2018)

INTO THE DARK? A hulu curated series of feature length Horror Movies?? Count me in!!!!!

Dwayne Johnson in The Titan Games (2019)

THE TITAN GAMES is definitely inspired by AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR, and while not as compelling as that show, this is still a very good mid season fill-in for AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR.

I had my doubts about ATLANTA, but the first season made me a believer. A modern day renaissance man, Donald Glover is a creator to watch. And season 2 is now on HULU. This show and WAYWARD PINES are two shows that get painted with the TWIN PEAKS brush, as a measure of their strangeness; but both shows are far better than TWIN PEAKS ever was.

David Kellman, Robert Shafran, and Eddy Galland in Three Identical Strangers (2018)

Ted Allen in Chopped (2007)

Cities of the Underworld (2007)

The Tesla Files (2018)

 

Aldis Hodge and Jurnee Smollett-Bell in Underground (2016)

 

The first episode of UNDERGROUND Blew me away! Fantastic use of anachronistic music, and camera movements to tell this tragic and triumphant tale of horror and holocaust. It is of course not easy viewing, but is rewarding and essential viewing. I did not like and do not rewatch the film ROOTS, but the film SANKOFA which covers the same story of the slave trade but does it with such heartbreaking beauty and incredible visuals, it becomes an undeniable work of art, rather than simply a dry recounting of facts, or a pity party. That is what UNDERGROUND also brings to this shameful part of American history. The struggle of those who fought against the accepted horror of their time.

In that way, how much more heroic are they… than we. I look forward to completing season 1 and 2 this month on HULU!

 

Rick and Morty (2013)

RICK AND MORTY- much to my surprise is animation genius. LOVE IT. Right up there with the VENTURE BROS. Looking forward to season 4 showing up on HULU.

Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Called both the best and worst movie of 2018, depending on which reviewer you listen to, I’m really looking forward to watching SORRY TO BOTHER YOU sometime this month. And based on the track record of certain critics, I think this one is going to end up in my loved it pile.

The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Joseph Sikora, Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton, 50 Cent, Lela Loren, and Sinqua Walls in Power (2014)

I LOVE this series, POWER, and am way behind on it. So HULU this month will give me the chance to finish season3 and watch season 4.

Scott Grimes, Penny Johnson Jerald, Seth MacFarlane, Peter Macon, Adrianne Palicki, J. Lee, Mark Jackson, and Halston Sage in The Orville (2017)

I loved the first season of the ORVILLE. Season two started off great, but the second episode written by Wellesley Wild and directed by Kevin Hook, wow, that was a stinker.

It is some of the worst television I’ve seen since the 4th season of HELL ON WHEELS. Meaning really god awful, editor-less and rambling and self indulgent, please-fine-me-the-remote-fast-forward television. :). The odd thing is with just a less heavy handed delivery, no need for multiple hit us over the head holo-deck scenes, it could have been a good episode. the message was sound, the delivery unfortunately over indulged.

I will be very pleased not to see the name Wellesley Wild or Kevin Hook on any upcoming Orville episodes. 🙂 . Because other than that misstep, it has been a great and balanced show, not over doing the comedy and letting the drama shine thru when called for. And the visuals/ set and ship design and CGI, are just stellar.

It is the best STAR TREK on TV since the turn of the century. Wow. Let that sink in. 🙂

Castle Rock (2018)

Runaways (2017)

Kelsey Grammer, Russell Hornsby, and Rachelle Lefevre in Proven Innocent (2019)The premise of this show, addressing wrongful convictions, is I think very timely, and intriguing. Particularly in a witch-hunt/social media lynching America where people are found guilty and punished BEFORE trial, much less a verdict. In such an America where corporations the jury and the judges, rubber stamp social media verdicts, and special interests weaponize social media… a show about wrongful convictions… I’ll take a look.

Now the above are some of the top shows on or coming to HULU in February 2019, and reasons to give HULU a look this month.

So those of you who came just for the February 2019 STREAMING TV guide can leave now.

For those of you who want one of my inconveniently timed and inappropriately placed rants, 🙂 keep reading.

 

 

That last mention above, regarding the show PROVEN INNOCENT, made me ponder upon that subject.

One of the most idiotic postings I read recently, was this commenter piling on some guy accused of harassing a woman.

This guy was calling for the usual things the mob calls for, the accused to get fired, the accused to get stoned, etc. To which was pointed out that he knows neither the ‘claimed’ victim nor ‘claimed’ accuser,  that before taking sides and handing down his verdict, maybe this should go thru due process. Due process defined as If criminal… a court of law, if civil or corporate, a board of inquiry or a federal HR complaint.

When pointed out that there is a process for proving an actual crime or wrong doing, that perhaps has nothing to do with stirring up lynch-mob justice on Facebook or Twitter, and attacking someone who should be innocent till PROVEN guilty…. this guy’s response was….

 

“I TRUST WOMEN!!!!”

That was it.

Some woman he does not know, claims some horrendous deed was done to her, last week, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, and this guy takes it as gospel and attacks wherever she points.

You know where that also happened.

Salem Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693.

As well as the United States from the age of reconstruction through the 1960s, where many a body swayed from many a tree.

“ME TOO’, may be a great movement for healing wounds, and improving conditions.

However, it has no place deciding guilt or innocence.

Only facts should do that, not the baggage of the mob.

Here endeth the aside. 🙂

John Krasinski’s THE QUIET PLACE : A Movie/VOD Review!

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So A QUIET PLACE has been on my radar to watch for a while, however other things took priority. However I heard a Youtube Film critic, recently say that A QUIET PLACE was his best film of 2018. Given the stiff competition of monumental film-making occurring in 2018, that seemed like a bold statement.

But I am always open to discovering a new great film. So today I watched, courtesy of Amazon Prime VOD, John Krasinski’s A QUIET PLACE.

John Krasinski came on my radar as he did with most people  in the brilliant 13 HOURS (that reminded Michael Bay critics, Michael Bay can be a great director), and this year in Amazon’s equally brilliant JACK RYAN series.

Here with his Sophomore feature film, A QUIET PLACE, Krasinski makes a solid little horror film. The silent conceit is a nice touch, and the movie plays a bit like an updated SEVEN.

The third act I feel the audience is way ahead of the characters, at least I was, so you are screaming at the characters to catch up and figure out the ultimate solution to the movie. Also somethings seemed odd… why wouldn’t you, in such a world, carry around firecrackers with you at all times to distract the menace, and carry weapons, and set traps etc (ala a bear trap and an alarm clock, as these things do not seem too particular in what they attack).

But overall a good B-movie. A solid B-. John Krasinski as well as being an actor to watch, is a filmmaker to watch.

Grade: B-.

As far as claims of A QUIET PLACE being the best movie of 2018… in a word… no.

Even allowing for film being subjective, it is not even the best b-movie film of the year (that honor goes to the excellent UPGRADE) much less the best film of the year (that would go to films like BLACK PANTHER, AVENGER INFINITY WAR etc).

But it doesn’t have to be. It just has to be worth your time, and for most of its run time it is. Recommended!

p.s.

And in case you wonder what is my bar for great films. here are some films I consider great, as in best of the year great (in their respective years) in no particular order…

THIRD MAN (Carol Reed/Orson Welles)

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

SUPERMAN

WRATH OF KHAN

MEMORIES OF MURDER

DARESALAM

CITY OF GOD

HYENA by Djibril Diop Mambety

Just about anything by Michael Mann

Just about anything in the latter half of his career by the late Tony Scott

Just about anything in the first half of his career by Ridley Scott

THE MISSION (both the Johnnie To Film and the Turkish film of the same title)

TUCKER

BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA

MALTESE FALCON

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

GREED (Silent Film)

SUNRISE (Just about anything by Murnau or Fritz Lang or Alfred Hitchcock)

The early films of M NIGHT SHYMALAN

PICKPOCKET (Robert Bresson)

And to this list you can safely put AVENGERS INFINITY WAR, BLACK PANTHER, CAPTAIN AMERICA WINTER SOLDIER, and the first AVENGERS, which all transcend being genre movies, to just be great films.

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.

TV Show Review : DAREDEVIL Seasons 1, 2, and 3!

cool-poster-art-for-daredevil-season-3-highlights-the-hero-and-villain1

The first season of DAREDEVIL, was and remains game changing , ground breaking TV. In terms of action choreography, and initial complexity of storyline, and some amazing performances.  It remains an astounding season of television, however it didn’t quite stick the landing.

There was something rushed and not quite satisfying in the ending. Something that did not quite live up to the AMAZING buildup.There was always a slight worm in the apple, and that was what was best and most enjoyable and most likable about the series, what was really brilliant about the series, was never the main three protagonists, the great acting of the series was done by the so-called villains such as Wilson Fisk, Alexandra, Wesley  and by the supporting characters such as Ben Urich and Stick.

What was annoying about season 1, was Karen Page, and she got increasingly more annoying, like nails on chalkboard through the season. Her remaining on the show, when two other astounding characters met violent ends, really for me weakened the show going forward. Also Matt Murdock, his maudlin approach, begins to wear thin at the end of 13 episodes.  But all those caveats aside, the strengths outweigh the failings of that first season. A solid A- of a season.

 

Fast forward to season 2 , which has a strong first half, but disintegrates in the 2nd half, Karen Page gets more annoying, Matt Murdock gets more whiny and maudlin, and Elektra storyline doesn’t do much for me. Karen Page playing girl reporter, just emphasizes everything I find annoying about that character, and how much the character of Ben Urich is missed.  Season 2 has its moments, largely due to the Punisher in the first half, but overall is strictly fast forward material through much of the 2nd half of season 2. This season is the definition of uneven, coming in at a C+/B-.

 

Daredevil Season 3 Review

 

The DEFENDERS series plays very much as DAREDEVIL Season 2.5. Because we get to minimize exposure to the weakest parts of season 2, namely Karen Page. Even though the Elektra/Black Star storyline is largely nonsensical and uneven (she can take blows from Power Man, but is affected by blows from Daredevil. Nonsensical.) the series moves at a fast clip, and seeing these actors together, enjoyable. Overall, inane ending excepted, a fun series. Grade: B+.

 

That brings us to the just finished third season of DAREDEVIL. It starts off intriguing, But quickly, particularly in the later episodes, drowns in all the unlikeable characters.

Karen Page is show stoppingly annoying every-time she is on the screen. Also three seasons of watching Matt Murdock suck all the joy out of everything, is just tiring. “Ooh, I have special powers, to make up for being blinded, I have friends, a good job, a great apartment… Oh I’m so angry!” what the hell does he have to be mad about all the time? 🙂

Just a joyless, depressing performance. And I am not saying it is badly acted, the actor is good, it is just he is written with nothing to do but complain all the time.

By comparison all the so-called villainous characters are far more interesting, to the point I was rooting though the later episodes for Fisk and the Mystery Villain 🙂 to take out Karen Page (Again, a fine actress, she is just written with nothing to do but eat the joy out of every scene. And what works in a few scant panels in a limited story, over three seasons… tires), and beat Matt Murdock.

I felt the ending was very unsatisfying.  Matt Murdock/Daredevil just comes across as much a psychotic as those he fights, and a hypocrite on top of it. And again the character flaws that work briefly in panels on a comic page, does not wear as well over three seasons. Add Karen Page to the mix, and you have a season 3 that I lose interest in whenever the three so-called leads are on camera. (To be fair, I quite liked the character of Foggy. He was the one thing that worked in that triangle.)

Overall a very dissatisfying wrap up to DAREDEVIL Season III. Karen Page survives, where yet more good characters die in her stead. I bought the first DAREDEVIL on BLURAY,  I bought the first LUKE CAGE on Bluray, and will be buying the 2nd season when it is available. I might buy the DEFENDERS, its flaws aside, overall it worked very well, and what IRON FIST couldn’t do in his own series (be good) he manages to pull off in the DEFENDERS and LUKE CAGE Season II.

With Luke Cage having been canceled, I don’t see anything to bring me back to the Netflix/Marvel Properties.  Not a fan of PUNISHER Season 1, Jessica Jones I fell off of, Iron Fist show was a train-wreck, and DAREDEVIL can not get out of its own way. Should a MOON KNIGHT show pop up, or a WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, I would definitely give those a look, but for now it appears the great Marvel/Netflix ship of success… has capsized.

 

DAREDEVIL Season 1 A-

DAREDEVIL Season 2 C+

DAREDEVIL Season 3 C+/B-

Overall Grade: B