Alligator (1980) – Click HERE for full review
Alucarda (1977) – Click HERE for full review
Attack of the Killer Donuts (2016) – W: Nathan Dalton, Chris De Christopher, Rafael Diaz-Wagner; D: Scott Wheeler
Some REANIMATOR-like experiments go awry at a California donut shop, and the delicious pastries mutate into monstrous creatures that terrorize the town. It riffs on a few classier horror titles, such as PSYCHO, but most of its inspiration comes from low-rent fare like ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. It looks cheap, the acting isn’t great, and the dialogue is frequently lazy (“Two hits: me hitting you, and you hitting the floor!”), but the worst part is its juvenile sense of humor. If you’re going to have a fart gag, it better be a good one; if you’re going to have multiple fart gags, it better not be the same one over and over again. On a positive note, the soundtrack is pretty good, and the CGI donut monsters are cartoonish but charming. Just not nearly charming enough.
The Bat People (1974) – Click HERE for full review
The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965) – Click HERE for full review
Ben (1972) – Click HERE for full review
Big Ass Spider (2013) – W: Gregory Gieras; D: Mike Mendez
A professional exterminator (Greg Grunberg) teams up with a hospital security guard (Lombardo Boyar) to destroy a killer spider that is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s a standard B-grade plot ripped straight out of the 1950s, but brought knowingly into the modern day with a wink and a nod. The special effects are admirable considering the modest budget, and the action scenes are decent enough to get the job done. It’s schlocky stuff, but a good cast and a sense of humor help us to look beyond the predictable cliches and tired tropes that it relies so heavily on. Much better than the made-for-SyFy garbage that it typically gets lumped in with, BIG ASS SPIDER may not be great, but it’s good and it’s good fun. And sometimes that’s all you need. Lin Shaye, Ray Wise, and Clare Kramer also appear.
The Big Bird Cage (1972) – Click HERE for full review
The Big Doll House (1971) – Click HERE for full review
Black Candles (1982) – Click HERE for full review
Blood Feast (1963) – Click HERE for full review
Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) – Click HERE for full review
Blue Jay (2016) – W: Michael Ciulla, Sara Lindsay; D: Michael Ciulla
Not to be confused with that other BLUE JAY released in 2016 from Mark Duplass, this BLUE JAY is a pretty basic wilderness survival film, along the same vein of THE CANYON (2009) and FROZEN (2010), though not quite as riveting. Here, new couple Ashley and Jack (Sara Lindsey and Travis Aaron Wade) embark on an extreme hike on Mount Whitney, but it’s not Mother Nature that proves to be dangerous; it’s the pack of countrified Alpha-male weirdos who descend on them. There’s beautiful scenery and a few moments of promise, but ultimately the whole ordeal is too derivative and drawn out to offer any sort of suspense or thrills. The opening sequences were actually my favorite, when there wasn’t much happening on the surface, but once the baddies showed up, it was a slow slide down a steep mountain into mediocrity.
Body Bags (1993) – Click HERE for full review
Bummer (1973) – Click HERE for full review
Bus Driver (2016) – W: Jay Black, Brian Herzlinger; D: Brian Herzlinger
This action film feels like a throwback to the direct-to-video flicks of the 1980s, whether that was the filmmakers intent or not. The premise is simple and promising: a school bus breaks down, leaving the students in the path of violent criminals. Only the bus driver, a military veteran, stands between them and certain death. This is the role that Jean-Claude Van Damme would have filled in a previous decade, but it instead went to Steve Daron, who has been in a string of low-budget action movies, but doesn’t quite have the chops to impress. His sidekick/field trip chaperone is played by executive producer Steven Chase, and is over-the-top like a bad Joe Pesci impression. The action is inept and too reliant on a hokey trick where the scene rewinds to show us something we weren’t privy to the first time around. The dialogue is silly, the CGI is poor, and the whole production feels cheap. And yet, it manages to be simultaneously earnest and aware, meaning that it’s absurd, but mesmerizingly so. There’s no denying that it’s bad, but it’s also somehow quite watchable and makes for a decent late night treat. Robert Forster makes a painfully brief cameo appearance.
Caged (1950) – Click HERE for full review
Cannonball (1976) – Click HERE for full review
Carnage Park (2016) – Click HERE for full review
Case of the Full Moon Murders (1973) – Click HERE for full review
Channel Zero: Candle Cove (2016) – Click HERE for full review
Chill Factor AKA Demon Possessed (1993) – Click HERE for full review
Cloak & Dagger (1984) – Click HERE for full review
Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968) – Click HERE for full review
The Corpse Grinders (1971) – Click HERE for full review
The Corpse Grinders 2 (2000) – Click HERE for full review
The Corpse Grinders 3 (2012) – Click HERE for full review
Crawlspace (1972) – Click HERE for full review
Craze (1974) – Click HERE for full review
Critters (1986) – Click HERE for full review
The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964) – Click HERE for full review
Curtains (1983) – Click HERE for full review
Dead Mate AKA Graverobbers (1988) – Click HERE for full review
Deadly Eyes (1982) – Click HERE for full review
Death Note (2017) – W: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, & Jeremy Slater; D: Adam Wingard
Adam Wingard adapted the Japanese manga from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata for American audiences as a Netflix original film. There were accusations of whitewashing almost from the moment the film was released, and it was doomed to negative reviews. Those who were familiar with the source material mostly despised it, while those of us who were not tend to be slightly kinder to it. Seattle high school student Light Turner (Nat Wolff) finds a mystical notebook in which whoever’s name he writes in it dies a death of his chososing. Ryuk (voiced by Willem Dafoe), the death god who comes with the notebook, wants to corrupt Light, but he and his girlfriend Mia (Margaret Qualley) use the power to become self-styled vigilantes. Needless to say, things quickly go off the rails. Lakeith Stanfield, Shea Whigam, and Paul Nakauchi also feature prominently. Controversy aside, it’s a great concept told stylishly, and this is a good cast, but the film tried to pack too much into a brief running time. It would have excelled as a miniseries.
Death Sport (1978) – Click HERE for full review
Deuces Wild (2002) – W: Paul Kimatian & Christopher Gambale; D: Scott Kalvert
It’s the 1950s, and street gang the Deuces have been working hard to keep heroin off their block in Brooklyn. Rival gang the Vipers have struck a deal with the local mob, though, that will have the streets flooded with drugs. This leads to an escalating gang war from which not everyone will escape. DEUCES WILD may not have the cache of films like THE OUTSIDERS or THE WANDERERS, but I still find it lots of fun and extremely entertaining. The editing is occasionally too stylized during the fight sequences, and it’s likely not that accurate a representation of the era and lifestyle, but it’s got a hell of a cast that sums up the time that it was made perfectly: Stephen Dorff, Brad Renfro, Fairuza Balk, Norman Reedus, Drea de Matteo, Vincent Pastore, Frankie Muniz, Balthazar Getty, James Franco, and Matt Dillon, just to name a few. It’s a bit formulaic with its Romeo & Juliette subplot, but you can sink into the familiar like a pair of old shoes. People love to hate it, but DEUCES WILD is a comfortable throwback to the juvenile delinquent films of the 1950s that so many of us adore.
Don’t Breathe (2016) – W: Fede Alvarez & Rodo Sayagues; D: Fede Alvarez
Young Detroit hooligans Alex, Rocky, and Money (Dylan Minnette, Jane Levy, Daniel Zovato) make extra spending cash by breaking into homes of the wealthy clients of the security company that Alex’s father works for. Their latest job is supposed to be the big one that will finally allow them to leave the city for good–the dilapidated home of a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang) hiding a pile of insurance money. That’s not the only thing he’s hiding, though, and he’s willing to kill to protect what’s his. Horror fans may see a similarity in setup between this and THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, but DON’T BREATHE stays firmly rooted in the real world. It’s gritty, grimy, and absolutely relentless in its tension. Despite a few inconsistencies in the old man’s abilities, it ultimately feels all too real, and you’ll be rooting for the youth’s survival. A twisted reveal will either throw you off this train or cement you in place for the duration. Destined to become a modern suspense classic.
Doom Asylum (1987) – Click HERE for full review
The Dummy [Short Film] (1982) – Click HERE for full review
Evil Come Evil Go (1972) – Click HERE for full review
Extremities (1986) – W: William Mastrosimone; D: Robert M. Young
After narrowly escaping a sexual assault, Marjorie (Farrah Fawcett) discovers how broken the system is. The police are unable to help her, and all but tell her that without her actually being raped, there’s nothing they can do. A short time later, her attacker (James Russo) shows up at her house to finish what he started, and Marjorie turns the tables. This film was based on a controversial off-Broadway play by scriptwriter Mastrosimone, in which Fawcett and Russo had previously acted in the same roles. The first two-thirds or so are quite difficult to watch and will make you squirm in your seat, but then things come to a screeching halt. After that, it’s nearly all chatter and dialogue, but it still manages to keep the suspense levels fairy high. Because of the subject matter, it’s fairly easy to dismiss the film as exploitation, but that’s an unfair assessment. It’s not here to titilate, but to actually comment on rape and the way it is dealt with by society. In order to do so legitimately, it has to be an ugly and uncomfortable product. Interestingly, director Robert M. Young also directed SHORT EYES, another play-turned-movie that could be lumped in with exploitation but actually has much to say. EXTREMITIES is a powerful, if uneven, watch that I saw far too young and far too frequently on cable. Alfre Woodward and Diana Scarwid costar.
Fighting Back (1982) – Click HERE for full review
Five Minutes to Live (1961) – Click HERE for full review
The Flesh Merchant (1956) – Click HERE for full review
Funeral Home (1980) – Click HERE for full review
The Funhouse (1981) – Click HERE for full review
Girl in Gold Boots (1968) – Click HERE for full review
The Girl in Lovers Lane (1960) – Click HERE for full review
Givertaker [Short Film] (2016) – Click HERE for full review
God’s Bloody Acre (1975) – Click HERE for full review
The Greasy Strangler (2016) – Click HERE for full review
The Great Gabbo (1929) – Click HERE for full review
The Green Inferno (2013) – Click HERE for full review
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? [Short Film] (1958) – Click HERE for full review
High School Hellcats (1958) – Click HERE for full review
The Hitch-Hiker (1953) – Click HERE for full review
The Hole [Short Film] (1962) – Click HERE for full review
The Horror of Party Beach (1964) – Click HERE for full review
Humanoids from the Deep (1980) – Click HERE for full review
I Bury the Living (1958) – Click HERE for full review
The Incredible Melting Man (1977) – Click HERE for full review
Jailbait Babysitter (1977) – Click HERE for full review
Lila AKA Mantis in Lace (1968) – Click HERE for full review
Little Evil (2017) – W&D: Eli Craig
Gary (Adam Scott) loves his new wife Samantha (Evangeline Lilly), but her son Lucas (Owen Atlas) is something of a terror. In fact, he just might be the Antichrist. Its basic premise is a goofy comedy version of THE OMEN (1976), but it has a few sappy messages about love and family to pass on, as well. Eli Craig’s 2010 horror-comedy TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL slowly developed a huge fanbase among horror hounds, but this direct-to-Netflix picture didn’t live up to audience expectations. I still found the jokes to be decent and a few chuckles make it worthwhile. Owen Atlas is suitably creepy, Adam Scott is always likable, and the rest of the cast—also including Sally Field, Clancy Brown, Tyler Labine, and many other familiar faces—is excellent. Forget the comedy that you’re hoping for and give it a shot.
The Loft (2014) – W: Wesley Strick; D: Erik Van Looy
The original LOFT was a 2008 film from Belgium, and it was remade in the Netherlands in 2010. Here, the original director returns again to adapt it for an American audience. Five married friends share a secret loft apartment where they can safely cheat on their wives, but when a dead girl is found in bed, it’s apparent that one of them must have killed her. It’s something of an open-concept locked room mystery, which sounds intriguing but is actually a bit of a slog. There’s a good cast here, but the film is full of problems. There’s not a single likable character, and the movie isn’t as clever, erotic, or subversive as it seems to think it is. It’s like a self-serious VERY BAD THINGS (1998), but in a smaller world with grander ambitions. Presumably the original(s) fared better. Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, and Matthias Schoenaerts star.
Lost, Lonely and Vicious (1958) – Click HERE for full review
Making Contact AKA Joey (1985) – Click HERE for full review
Mara of the Wilderness (1965) – Click HERE for full review
Memorial Valley Massacre (1989) – Click HERE for full review
Midnight (1982) – Click HERE for full review
The Monster Squad (1987) – W: Shane Black & Fred Dekker; D: Fred Dekker
This homage to the Universal Studios stable of monsters imagines a world where Dracula assembles the Mummy, the Wolfman, the Gillman, and Frankenstein’s Monster in order to take over the world. The only thing standing in the way is the Monster Squad, a group of kids who have studied horror films and know all the ways to defeat them. If you saw this as a youngster, you thought that it was the best thing ever—and you likely still do. Although aimed at a younger audience, there’s no pandering here. THE MONSTER SQUAD touches on serious issues like marital strife, the stakes are high and life-threatening, and the monsters are actually scary. Dracula (Duncan Regehr) in particular is a nasty and menacing fellow, though the sympathetic Frankenstein Monster (Tom Noonan) steals the show. The cursing and crude dialogue shouldn’t be too much of a problem—I was a boy once and can assure you that they actually talk like this when they think nobody is listening—but the homophobic slurs are difficult to stomach in this day and age. Two of the stars, Andre Gower (Sean) and Ryan Lambert (Rudy) have reconnected in their adult life and now host the frequently-amusing SquadCast podcast together.
Murderlust (1985) – Click HERE for full review
The Mutilator (1984) – Click HERE for full review
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) – W&D: Werner Herzog
Herzog’s remake of the 1922 silent film NOSFERATU takes a cue from the original source material, Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, and returns the characters to their original names. It tells the familiar story of Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) whose business dealings with the vampiric Count Dracula place him and his wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani) in grave danger, with a few minor alterations. It’s a bit slow going at first, and some interstitial scenes seem pointlessly drawn out, but it’s well told and beautifully shot. Light and darkness are equally important here, and this is a masterclass in shadows. Klaus Kinski’s portrayal of Dracula is stunning and eerie, with a palpable loneliness and ratlike characteristics. This may not be Kinski’s best film, but for many it is their favorite, and it is among his most accessible. It’s interesting that to make the Dracula film feel fresh again, we had to go back to where it started. With Roland Topor as Renfield and Walter Ladengast as Van Helsing.
The Number 23 (2007) – W: Fernley Phillips; D: Joel Schumacher
Funnyman Jim Carrey gets to strap on his dramatic shoes as animal control officer Walter Sparrow who becomes fascinated with the 23 Enigma–a real phenomenon in which the number 23 appears to be connected to many significant events–after learning about it in a book that mirrors his own life too closely to be a mere coincidence. He grows obsessed with discovering the truth behind the number’s cosmic ties, and the identity of the mysterious author. Carey does a fine job swinging from goofball to melancholy to mania, but the scenes where he’s portraying edgy private investigator Fingerling from the book he’s reading are a little more difficult to take seriously. The enactments of these scenes are somewhat important to the plot, but they’re too frequent and too stylized for their own good. It’s an occasionally fun but overall convoluted and confusing mess that tends to drift into the ridiculous.
Of Unknown Origin (1983) – Click HERE for full review
Offerings (1989) – Click HERE for full review
Orca (1977) – Click HERE for full review
Over the Top (1987) – Click HERE for full review
Paparazzi (2004) – Click HERE for full review
Phantasm (1979) – W&D: Don Coscarelli
Young Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) becomes obsessed with the strange goings-on around the Morningside Cemetery, and the deeper he digs, the more worrisome it becomes. Aided by his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury) and friendly ice cream man Reggie (Reggie Bannister), they uncover a bizarre mystery involving a sinister tall man (Angus Scrimm), a tiny cloaked army, deadly Swiss Army orbs, and a world beyond our own. My father saw PHANTASM at the drive-in the same year that I was born. It was maybe 12 or 13 years later that he introduced it to me on VHS. Neither of us were prepared for the weirdness, and all these years later, it’s still difficult to steel yourself for it. The movie has a choppy quality to it, with interstitial scenes that we are so used to as an audience being absent from the proceedings, and dialogue from one scene bleeding over into the next. It is subtly nonlinear even in its most straightforward moments, filling even the few mundane periods with a dreamy quality. It functions on nightmare logic and an uneasy chronology, which keeps your nerves frazzled and your mind boggled. This is not ineptitude or happenstance, this is clearly by design. Some may view it as a jumbled mess of a movie, but the rest of us view it is a genius piece of filmmaking that is focused on doom and dread, with only hints of a deeper mythology. It is our subconscious mind, and our fear of death, turned upon itself and brought to life. Which makes sense, as the basic idea for the film reportedly came to filmmaker Don Coscarelli in a dream. He maintained control of the franchise, and four sequels followed.
Phantasm II (1988) – W&D: Don Coscarelli
Mike (played now by James Le Gros) is released from a mental institution following the events of the first film, having been told that they were all delusions of a sick mind. He manages to convince Reggie (Reggie Bannister) that the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) is real, and the two embark on a road trip to hunt him down and put a stop to his dirty deeds. The recasting of Mike caused some controversy among fans, but Universal Studios had ponied up a chunk of money and retained some control of the project. Ultimately Coscarelli was forced to choose between his Mike and his Reggie. This is a more action-oriented film than its predecessor and not quite as dreamy (though still far from traditionally coherent)—again, due to studio interference. It obviously can’t match the original, but it’s still a great deal of fun and a solid continuation of the franchise. Extra kudos for the creation of the quadruple-shotgun. Paula Irvine also stars as Liz, with whom Mike shares a psychic connection, plus Samantha Phillips as Alchemy, and Kenneth Tigar as Father Meyers.
Piranha (1978) – Click HERE for full review
Piranha II: The Spawning (1981) – Click HERE for full review
Revenge of the Virgins (1959) – Click HERE for full review
Road to Ruin (1934) – Click HERE for full review
The Ruins (2008) – Click HERE for full review
Satan’s Blood (1978) – Click HERE for full review
Satan’s Children (1975) – Click HERE for full review
Satan’s Slave (1976) – Click HERE for full review
Schizo (1976) – Click HERE for full review
Shaft (2000) – W: Richard Price, John Singleton & Shane Salerno; D: John Singleton
Samuel L. Jackson plays John Shaft, nephew of the original character, in this semi-sequel/semi-reboot of the 1970s franchise. Shaft here is a detective with the NYPD who gets pushed over the edge when a rich, racist murderer (Christian Bale) skirts justice. Eventually kicked off the job, he goes renegade to get justice his own way. Although slicker than the blaxploitation films from which it takes its cues, SHAFT is still a fun action throwback to a character and era that so many of us adore. Jackson was the perfect choice for the role, and he says “motherfucker” with an effortless grace. Richard Roundtree reprising his role as “Uncle” John Shaft gives the film an added weight and authenticity–like it or not, this is a legitimate entry in the SHAFT series–and John Singleton does an admirable job of keeping things grounded in modern reality. Mekhi Phifer, Vanessa Williams, Jeffrey Wright, Dan Hedaya, Toni Collette, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and rapper Busta Rhymes all appear.
Sledgehammer (1983) – Click HERE for full review
Sleepaway Camp (1983) – W&D: Robert Hiltzik
Traumatized by an accident that killed her family eight years earlier, Angela Baker (Felissa Rose) is a bit of an odd duck. She doesn’t talk much, frequently has a blank expression on her face, and can usually be found staring into the distance. She starts to come out of her shell when she and her cousin Ricky (Jonathan Tiersten) visit Camp Arawak for the summer, but unfortunately some lunatic starts killing off the campers and counselors alike. SLEEPAWAY CAMP may have derived the general idea from FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), but it really went crazy along the way and became something all its own. Aside from the bizarre performance by Desiree Gould as Ricky’s mom, the rest of the acting is decent enough for this sort of endeavor, as are the special effects. Nearly every character is mean and nasty, but this movie is so charming that you kind of like them anyway. There’s a creepy aspect of teen and adolescent sexuality here, and a good deal of the adults are of a predatory nature. From start to finish, the whole film is just mean and nasty. One of the best slashers ever, containing one of the best and most shocking reveals at the end. Sequels followed.
Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988) – W: Fitz Gordon; D: Michael A. Simpson
This sequel begins with a clever nod to the original, as a group of campers recount the events of the first film around the campfire. Little do they know this isn’t some mere local legend. It’s all true…and Angela (Pamela Springsteen) is right there among them. She’s now a counselor at Camp Rolling Hills, where the breasts are pert and plentiful, and she takes summer camp very seriously. Any time somebody breaks the rules, it’s curtains for them. It’s interesting that early slashers, such as FRIDAY THE 13TH, accidentally wandered into the puritanical ethics of the genre (sex, drugs, and alcohol equal death; only the virginal survive), while those that came after blindly followed suit. SLEEPAWAY CAMP II, though, openly embraces these tropes by having these actions be against camp rules. Although sometimes over the top, and a bit more comedic in tone than the original, this is actually a pretty great little sequel. The children of the first film have been replaced with teenagers and young adults, so it’s not quite as nasty of a watch. It’s self-aware to a certain extent–there are references to Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface in rapid succession–but never quite lapses into parody. Good bloody fun. Renée Estevez, Brian Patrick Clarke, Walter Gotell, Susan Marie Snyder, and Tony Higgins also appear.
Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989) – W: Fritz Gordon; D: Michael A. Simpson
Having assumed the identity of a young woman that she murdered, Angela (Pamela Springstein) arrives at Camp New Horizons with a chip on her shoulder and a knife in her hands. Once again, bad campers get killed off one-by-one, with tongue kept firmly in cheek. This sequel keeps the humorous aspects in tact, and though it remains a good bit of fun, it’s pretty much just more of the same. There are also some racially-charged moments here that are uncomfortably played for laughs. The further we get from the original film in chronology, the further we get from the original film in quality and tone, too. Three films in, and this scarcely bears any resemblance to part one. Angela’s name remains the same, and it takes place at summer camp, but everything else has been tweaked, reworked, and replaced without mercy. Don’t try too hard to connect the branches of the family tree, though, and you just might have a good time. Tracy Griffith, Kim Wall, Daryl Wilcher, Sandra Dorsey, and Michael J. Pollard also appear.
Slipping into Darkness (1988) – Click HERE for full review
Something Wild (1961) – Click HERE for full review
Sonny Boy (1989) – Click HERE for full review
Sorority Row (2009) – W: Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger, & Mark Rosman; D: Stewart Hendler
This remake of 1983’s THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW follows members of the Theta Pi sorority as a cruel prank goes bad, resulting in the death of one of their own. Fearful of facing the consequences of their actions, they dispose of the body and promise never to speak of it again. Eight months later, just prior to their graduation, a hooded figure purporting to be the dead girl begins stalking them and killing them off one-by-one. Despite being a remake of a 1980s horror film made in the 2000s, SORORITY ROW feels more like a slasher film from the 1990s, when slick production values, pretty young faces, and a radio-friendly soundtrack were the driving elements. If I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER revolved around a sorority house, this is precisely what it would be. It’s entertaining enough and has a few decent scares, but overall it’s rather by-the-numbers and doesn’t have a likable character amongst the mostly-talented cast that includes Matt O’Leary, Audrina Patridge, Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Margo Harshman, and Carrie Fisher. A middling effort, but it has its charms.
Southland Tales (2006) – W&D: Richard Kelly
After his DONNIE DARKO (2001) became a cult hit, Richard Kelly delivered this bigger budget extravaganza that combines elements of comedy, drama, sci-fi, action, and musical into one bizarre whole. Set two years in the future of 2008, in a country on the verge of collapse, it follows the intertwining adventures of an amnesiac action star (Dwayne Johnson), a porn star attempting to become a media mogul (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a cop with ties to a conspiracy (Seann William Scott), and various revolutionary groups and political factions. It has an epic ensemble cast that also features Curtis Armstrong, John Larroquette, Jon Lovitz, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Zelda Rubinstein, Will Sasso, Wallace Shawn, Kevin Smith, Justin Timberlake, and countless others. It’s a bloated mess of a film, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense, it draws parallels between itself and the book of Revelations, and it is too grandiose and convoluted for its own good. Still, there’s something intriguing behind its ideas, and it’s so big that multiple viewings will allow you to catch things you didn’t notice the first time around. It’s CLOUD ATLAS (2012) crossed with REPO MAN (1984) by way of Edgar Cayce. That is to say, it’s on its way to cult status.
Splice (2009) – Click HERE for full review
Steel and Lace (1991) – Click HERE for full review
Stone Cold Dead (1979) – Click HERE for full review
Street Trash (1987) – Click HERE for full review
Stuff Stephanie in the Incinerator (1989) – Click HERE for full review
Sweet 16 (1983) – Click HERE for full review
Teenagers from Outer Space (1959) – Click HERE for full review
Ten Violent Women (1982) – Click HERE for full review
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Click HERE for full review
Three on a Meathook (1973) – Click HERE for full review
Torso (1973) – Click HERE for full review
Track of the Moon Beast (1976) – Click HERE for full review
Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) – Click HERE for full review
The Ventriloquist (2012) – Click HERE for full review
Vigilante (1983) – Click HERE for full review
Village of the Giants (1965) – Click HERE for full review
When a Stranger Calls (1979) – Click HERE for full review
Willard (1971) – Click HERE for full review
Wolfen (1981) – W: David Eyre & Michael Wadleigh; D: Michael Wadleigh
This adaptation of the novel by Whitley Strieber came out in the same year as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and THE HOWLING. Of the three, it may be my least favorite but it’s still quite good, and offers a spiritual glimpse into the subgenre. Dewey Wilson of the NYPD (Albert Finney) investigates a series of killings perpetrated by a wolf-like animal that can’t be connected to any known species. His investigation leads him to a group of Native Americans who purport to be shapeshifters. We’re give quite a few shots from the creature POV, depicted in something of a reverse-polarity image, which may have looked cool decades ago, but is kind of dated and tired now. There’s a sincere theme of ecology and preservation here, putting this on something of a higher plane that many of its exploitation peers, but that sincerity was not what the studio heads at United Artists wanted, apparently, and it was dumped unceremoniously into theaters. The effect is really driven home by the great performances from a solid cast that includes Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, and Tom Noonan. Advanced warning: there’s a lot more male pubic hair in this picture than anyone has a right to expect.
Wonderwall (1968) – W: Guillermo Cabrera Infante; D: Joe Massot
Oddball professor Oscar Collins (Jack MacGowran) becomes unhealthily fascinated with Penny Lane (Jane Birkin), the model who moves into the apartment next door. He spends the majority of his free time peeping on her through a hole in the wall, getting off the crazy scene unfolding on the other side. His consistent observations begin to make him feel as if he is a part of her life, which, obviously, he is not. The wall dividing them may be symbolic of the distance between the old and young social mores, but maybe I’m just attempting to attach some sort of meaning to this nonsense. Penny is absolutely beautiful, and the camera loves her whether she’s nude or draped in her amazing mod fashions, and the plethora of surreal and fantastical scenes are a real treat for the eye. Unfortunately, the plot is practically non-existent and most everything here is just gibberish. It’s all just set dressing, but good lord, the dressing is beautiful. The visuals here are absolutely stunning and suitable for framing–or for ingesting hallucinogenic substances. This is an LSD movie, plain and simple, but it can’t possibly hold up when you’re watching it straight. The movie really slows to a crawl when Oscar is onscreen, and all we want to do is get back to his peephole. George Harrison composed the sitar-heavy score, and the released soundtrack, Wonderwall Music, was the first solo album from a member of the Beatles and the first album released on their Apple record label. Dutch artist collective The Fool were the set designers, so we have them to thank for most of the redeeming visual qualities here. Also appearing: Irene Handl, Richard Wattis, Iain Quarrier, Beatrix Lehmann, Sean Lynch, Bee Duffell, and Noel Trevarthen, with uncredited cameos by Suki Potier and Anita Pallenberg. Worth a watch? Almost certainly, but best saved for the midnight hour when you’re prepared to throw logic out the window.
You Asked For It: Bela Lugosi [TV Episode] (1953) – Click HERE for full review
The Young Captives (1959) – Click HERE for full review
Zodiac (2007) – W: James Vanderbilt; D: David Fincher
Fincher delivers the true story of San Francisco’s infamous Zodiac Killer, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Robert Graysmith. It focuses primarily on Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) experiences as a cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle who gets wrapped up in the investigation with journalist Paul Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.). Fincher took part in his own investigation before the film, and so the movie is often praised for its historical accuracy. Even more importantly than getting the facts right, though, it gets the drama right. ZODIAC is a thrilling mystery with an amazing cast that never truly sags despite the running time. Even if you’re familiar with the basics of the case, this is sure to educate and entertain in equal measure. It’s a brilliant examination of obsession, and how events such as these leave more victims than just those who are killed. Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, John Carroll Lynch, Dermot Mulroney, and Chloe Sevigny all appear in roles of various sizes.