Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

dog-eat-dog-paul-schrader-nicolas-cage-willem-dafoe-6Paul Schrader has had the privilege of being associated with some of the most important and prestigious films in history. Dog Eat Dog is not one of them. That, in just the slightest of paraphrases, was the introduction Schrader provided to his movie in remarks before its screening at the 2016 London Film Festival. The film rolled shortly thereafter, proving him absolutely correct. Dog Eat Dog is simultaneously nothing special and somewhat fascinating, the latter due to the enormous amount of talent associated with the project, starting with Schrader, but extending to a cast that features Willem Dafoe and Nicholas Cage as well as the source material for the script, a novel penned by Edward Bunker, an ex-con who starred as Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs and wrote the screenplay for Runaway Train. (more…)

another evilIt turns out that 2016 actually saw the release of two new Ghostbusters. The better known of the two was, of course, the all-female lead version that was met by controversy and misogyny from the time the first trailer dropper. The movie itself was amusing; the cameos from the original cast were terrific; and no tender fanboy egos were harmed in the making of the film.

The other Ghostbusters has flown under the radar since its premiere at SXSW in March. It could be because the word “Ghostbusters” does not appear in its title or any of its promotional material. The movie has none of the original cast or crew and makes no effort whatsoever to align itself with the 1984 comedy classic. But don’t be fooled by this. The little indie gem Another Evil is a spiritual sequel to the beloved Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd et al romp. (more…)

The Eyes of My MotherEvery year, we invariably hear of one or more movies that “redefine” or “reinvent” the horror genre. Most times, careful viewings of the films in question reveal a slick repackaging of familiar conventions. Often, the redefining is a twist on a twist; the reinvention is a reversal of expectations. Horror fans take these slight alterations in style in stride, noting the degree of success by the extent of the imitations they spawn. The new becomes the old within a relatively short period of time, and the genre is reset. (more…)

The Greasy StranglerHow you feel about The Greasy Strangler coming out of the theater will be directly related to how you were feeling going into the theater. In other words, the more altered your perception of reality, the more likely you are to spend the 93 minutes giggling and gagging, while enjoying yourself immensely. The designated drivers among you will not be having the same experience. In the spirit of full disclosure, when seen at a 6:30 screening by a stone cold sober critic, The Greasy Strangler still provoked some laughter and absolutely no ill will. (more…)

The Disappointments RoomYes, I suppose we need to get the obligatory pun on the title of this awful movie out of the way.

Q: What’s a disappointments room? A: Any theater showing this mess of a would-be horror film.

While we can acknowledge the guts, foolhardiness, or disregard surrounding the decision to title a film The Disappointments Room, nothing else in the endeavor merits recognition, beyond the scope of the disaster and a vague desire for answers to inexplicable questions surrounding this production. Simply put, The Disappointments Room is one of the worst major releases (1554 screens) of 2016. How bad is it? After the first weekend, Rotten Tomatoes had a reading of 0% on its Tomatometer for this movie, meaning that even the hack critics who live to see their name in blurbs did not have the balls to give this a thumbs up. (more…)

Under the ShadowThe Iran-Iraq War was an interminable sequence of horrors, largely unseen by the West and then quickly overshadowed by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War. The conflict stretched from 1980-88 and featured some of the most brutal warfare since the First World War including child soldiers, chemical weapons, trench fighting, human wave offensives, and wide-scale civilian bombing. To set a fantastical horror movie within the horribleness of this conflict would seem to risk trivializing the tragedy, but the eloquent, understated film Under the Shadow amplifies the terrors of the war and the all too real consequences for the populace. (more…)

ThirstFirst things first – Thirst is a lousy name for this movie. It’s a pretty bad one for almost any movie at this point, considering how many times it’s been used in the last 40 years as a film title. On almost every occasion, the movie in question has been about vampires. That’s not the case here. This Thirst is about an alien that arrives on earth hungry. Yeah, apparently Hunger as a title might have given too much away.

And that beautifully illustrates the core problem for this movie – it’s lazy, sloppy work. The inspiration likely came from the mind of a nine-year-old boy who spent his school days drawing fantastical creatures in his spiral notebook and his nights watching Alien, Predator, and Terminator movies. The monster in Thirst is a B movie classic – with a lizard body, an alien mandible, predator dental work, a terminator metal skeleton, and an anus in the middle of its chest. Nice work, kid.

Unfortunately, that same nine-year-old apparently wrote the screenplay. How else to explain that the character among the group of eight wandering the Utah backcountry who is given the most backstory is among the first killed? Or that no proper motivation can be given for the group going further away from civilization after a dead body is found? Or that the most annoying among the many annoying characters sticks around until almost the end? (more…)