January 2018

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P.O.V. - A Cursed Film (aka POV: Norowareta firumu) [2012]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 29
Personal = 5.4


Two girls, who run their own little talk show, show some fan submitted videos of ghosts filmed at one of the girl's school. They decide to investigate and things get strange. This was a weird little film that was more entertaining then say and an episode of Ghost Hunters but ultimately, like said show, nothing really happens. There's a few cheap spooks and the false ending was a nifty twist but I would have enjoyed seeing something a bit more sophisticated than just one spook after another.


Downfall (aka Der Untergang) [2004]

IMDb = 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 94
Personal = 7.8


A biopic about the lives of those in the Berlin bunker on the last few days of WWII. This has to be the most extensive, comprehensive and personal account of that moment in history that I've ever seen. They managed to brilliantly capture the insanity of Hitler and the horrifying level of fanaticism of his followers ...which was as bad, if not worse, than any religious cult in history. Quite a poignant and remarkable film. My only complaint is that they probably could have shortened it by about 30 minutes.


Crooked House [2017]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 63
Personal = 7.3


A controlling family patriarch is murdered. With a whole house full of people, who are not the least bit concerned about his death and who all seemed to have a motive, the ultimate reason for the murder is far from what you would expect. Truly typical Agatha Christie shot in an absolutely stunning mansion. It was a fine film but really not much more than what you'd except from any Christie TV episode. Also, I was able to figure out a couple of the reveals 10 mins ahead of time and this film was really dark. Turn on a light!


Django Unchained [2012]

IMDb = 8.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 91
Personal = 8.8


A bounty hunter acquires a slave as he needs someone to identify 3 fugitives. Once again, Tarantino is back in top form with an epic western that is violent, funny, irreverent, and such a joy after the abominable Inglourious Basterds. The performances of Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson are priceless and everything else about this film works. Grab the popcorn and kick back for an entertaining ride.


Man on Fire (aka Absinthe) [1987]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 72
Personal = 4.1


A has-been CIA agent gets a job as bodyguard to a young girl who subsequently gets kidnapped. Practically everyone is badly miscast and the film is soooo melodramatic. I didn't entirely dislike it until the girl actually gets kidnapped ...which took half a film to do. I figured it would pick up but then we watched a hero, who is totally incompetent and obviously lacking in military training, stumble around until the end ...which confused the hell out of me. Go see the Denzel Washington or Bollywood versions. Mucho better.


Insidious 4: The Last Key [2018]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 27 / 61
Personal = 5.1


Parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier, and her ghost hunting team, are forced to go back to Dr. Rainer's childhood home where it all began. The first half was rather slow paced but interesting enough to not be annoying. Unfortunately, once things finally started getting exciting, there were still scenes that seemed to drag on endlessly, which, as a result, defused much of the tension. Ultimately, I was rather confused with it all. It had a few good scares but overall, it was fairly unremarkable ...and, literally, very dark.


2 Guns [2013]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 66
Personal = 8.3


When a pair of smuggler's deal of passports for coke doesn't work out, everything escalates into a huge complicated mess. As far as buddy movies go, this one is not as good as Lethal Weapon but it is well above the average. The chemistry between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg is magic, full of wit and a reluctant camaraderie as they realize they're perfect for each other even if they don't like it. Supporting characters are quirky, story is complex but easy to follow, lots of great action. This movie is just good fun.


The Disappointments Room [2016]

IMDb = 3.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 17
Personal = 3.3


Just another 'family moves into a haunted house' movie. The room mentioned in the title refers to the practice of the rich and prominent, way back in the old days, creating a room in their homes to hide a disappointment ...like a deformed child. What we end up with is a film that should have been called the Disappointments Movie. It's never very clear if we're experiencing a real haunting or if the hauntings are the results of a delusion. Either way, they're dull and without a single scary moment in the entire film.


The Stepfather [1987]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 65
Personal = 8.2


A stepfather has a pathological need to have the perfect American family. When it doesn't work out, he slaughters them and tries somewhere else. If you haven't taken the time to catch one of the best subtle psychological thrillers of the 80's, you've missed out. Terry O'Quinn is masterful at switching between the perfect family man and a complete psycho. The pacing is perfect as the movie slowly builds with an uneasy tension from what appears to be the perfect family to a brutal and shocking finale.


Molly's Game [2017]

IMDb = 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 88
Personal = 7.8


True story of the prosecution of Molly Bloom, the woman who ran one of the most elite poker rooms in the world. I'm usually not that interested in biopics but I saw this one for a number of reasons. I didn't know how the story would turn out, I like poker, I like the people in the film, and it had a good trailer. Was it worth it? Damn, straight! The characters and motivations were sincere, well fleshed out and totally engrossing. A very fine balance of tension, danger, excitement, and people we enjoy watching and care about.


The Burning (aka Cropsy, The Cropsy Maniac) [1981]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 61
Personal = 3.1


A prank at a summer camp results in a man being horribly burned and now he seeks revenge on summer camps in general. Typical gory teen exploitation slasher film done in the Friday the 13th style. But then again ...considering it was created, produced, and co-written by Harvey Weinstein and features about a half dozen very familiar actors back when no one knew who they were and considering recent events, you kind of have to wonder if it's a "new talent" film. Legitimate or not, it's pretty awful in every way.


Garm Wars: The Last Druid [2014]

IMDb = 4.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 42
Personal = 4.5


On the alien world of Annwn, two tribes, the Grima and the Columba, have been warring for centuries. Enter the last Druid who is supposed to have all the answers. The first 30 minutes of this film is intriguing, fascinating, and exciting with some of the most incredible and imaginative alien eye candy I've ever seen. Unfortunately, after totally grabbing my attention, the whole rest of the movie was little more than talking and traveling and, ultimately, it gets crushed under the weight of its own philosophical nonsense. Pity.


[REC] [2007]

IMDb = 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 81
Personal = 9.2


The host of a show, along with her camera man, accompanies a fire crew as they respond to an emergency. After they arrive, the whole building is locked down and the nightmare begins. This is arguably the best first-person hand-held camera film out there. It feels totally authentic from start to finish and it is one hellaciously intense thrill ride that is violent and terrorizing. I would strongly suggest watching the original Spanish audio version with English sub-titles. The English audio version is done well but it loses something.


Autumn Blood [2013]

IMDb = 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 35
Personal = 4.9


Siblings, whose father is killed by the mayor of a small mountain village, must find a way to fend for themselves after their mother dies and the girl is assaulted by the local hooligans. There isn't more than a dozen lines of dialogue in the entire film as the main character is the Austrian mountain setting. The photography is gorgeous! The protagonists were immediately likable, the antagonist, immediately hated and they kept me somewhat engaged even though the film was agonizing slow ...damn near put me to sleep!


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017]

IMDb = 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 90
Personal = 8.1


Four high school students are teleported into a computer game and must save Jumanji without getting killed. An exciting, humorous, action-packed adventure with the featuring of its characters as its strongest point. They're endearing, hilarious, and they make sure you never forget that they are normal students trying to deal with personas completely unlike themselves while having to tolerate the personalities of each other. Some of the jokes and situations are laugh-out-loud funny. Extremely enjoyable.


Ditch Day Massacre [2016]

IMDb = 3.3
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.3


A man whose wife and daughter were killed in a hit-and-run accident is on a killing spree. A modern day H.G. Lewis style gore film that tries to take itself seriously and fails. The story is totally cliche - sex, kill, sex, kill - the acting and writing are atrocious, the characters motivations and actions are illogical and the makeup was awful ...this guy had a scar on his face that looked like feces. Had a few gnarly kill sequences but mostly it was just terrible. At least I can say it didn't bore me and that's good.


[REC]2 (aka [REC]2: Fear Revisited) [2009]

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 60
Personal = 8.8


Picking up, to the moment, exactly where [REC] ended, we are once again thrust into a non-stop thrill ride that'll leave you breathless. Whereas the first was filmed from the perspective of a news crew's camera, this one is filmed from two different perspectives; the helmet cams of a SWAT team and through the camera of a few teenagers that found a way into the building. Once again, the action feels totally spontaneous and authentic. How the virus got started is an interesting and unexpected twist, as well. Bravo!


Bereavement (aka Malevolence: Bereavement) [2010]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 29
Personal = 3.8


A delusional psychotic kidnaps a boy, who can't feel pain, and trains him on how to slaughter women. In the meantime, a 17-year-old girl is forced to move to her Uncle's because of the death of her parents. When the two stories meet, everyone becomes really stupid and the movie pulls out one contrived scene after another. Neither characters nor the movie itself have any personality whatsoever ...there is nothing interesting here. Oh, watch the scar on the kids face ...or the lack thereof depending on the scene.


The Iceman Tapes [1992-2003]

IMDb = 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 85
Personal = 8.1


Richard Kuklinsky is known as quite possibly the most prolific mafia hit man in history with possibly well over 100 murders under his belt. The Iceman Tapes is a YouTube video compilation of the HBO shows - Conversations with a Killer, Secrets of a Mafia Hitman, and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist. The first two are mostly historical info with much of it being repetitive. The last part, centering around his psychology, is the prize with one of the most horrific interviews of evil that I've ever seen. This guy is just plain scary.



Rings (aka Ring 3: Rebirth) [2017]

IMDb = 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 7 / 24
Personal = 7.0


A professor finds a copy of the dreaded VHS tape in an old VCR he picked up from a swap meet. When he realizes what it is, he begins conducting experiments in the longevity of the human soul and gets several others involved. Chaos ensues. I'm surprised at the low ratings on this one. Yes, it's somewhat contrived and cliche, nobody's going to win any awards and there's nothing really new here but it was very entertaining, a good continuation of the story with a nice twist, better than Ring 2, and I really enjoyed it quite a bit.


The Rundown (aka Welcome to the Jungle, Call of the Wild, Helldorado) [2003]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 70 / 66
Personal = 6.4


A mobster sends his retrieval expert to Helldorado, Bazil to find and bring back his son. Of course, things don't go as planned. A generally entertaining adventure but nothing special. Wasn't serious enough to be taken seriously. The writing and the personalities weren't really witty or sparkling enough to be humorous. The action, although done fairly well, wasn't particularly memorable or exciting. As a result, not a bad film ...just sort of bland.


The Quatermass Xperiment (aka Shock, X the Experiment, The Creeping Unknown) [1955]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 68
Personal = 7.0


Dr. Quatermass' experiment is to send three men 1500 miles into space and back. Upon its return two of the men have disappeared and the third ain't feeling so good. Putting aside the overacting that you'd expect in a '50's thriller, this is really an engaging film that's sort of a cross between The Fly and The Blob. Using people's reactions and the aftermath of a situation rather than try to create cheesy effects was a nice touch and when they did use effects, they were done well ...especially considering they're 60+ years old.


Deathgasm (aka Heavy Metal Apocalypse) [2015]

IMDb = 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 66
Personal = 7.5


Four misfit metal heads form a death metal band and unwittingly release the King of Demons by playing an ancient song called the Black Hymn. This is a gore fest with much of its roots firmly planted in films like Evil Dead 2 and Dead Alive. Also, like the aforementioned examples, funny as hell (pardon the pun). The characters are likable, the story is weird, the action is violent, goofy and insane and I had a smile on my face the entire time. If you like laugh-out-loud gore fests, check this out.


The Commuter [2018]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 57 / 50
Personal = 7.6


An ex-cop, now insurance salesman, is approached on a train to perform a service for $100k. Intrigued, at first, the situation turns into chaos and the lives of everyone on the train are in danger. Pretty much your standard 'regular guy faced with impossible odds' scenario with a good story and not a lot of action but really high on suspense ala Hitchcock style. The pacing was excellent as the movie continues to get more intense by the minute to a super climactic ending. Well done!


The Toxic Avenger (aka Health Club, Health Club Hero, Health Club Warrior, Atomic Hero) [1984]

IMDb = 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 70 / 63
Personal = 5.6


A dysfunctional nerd, who works in a health club as a mop boy, gets exposed to nuclear toxic waste and is transformed into a grotesque monster who goes on to become a hero. Totally campy, silly, gross, and, at times, downright stupid, it's entertaining simply because it's so utterly without shame. Over-the-top, outrageous performances by everyone. I didn't particularly like the movie but, try as I might, I just can't hate it.


The Post (aka The Papers, The Pentagon Papers) [2017]

IMDb = 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 74
Personal = 7.7


Biopic featuring the folks at the Washington Post when the Pentagon Papers (discussing the real reasons we stayed wrapped up in the Vietnam War all those years) were discovered. The historical details on these papers is represented but the incident, and the story itself, takes a back seat to the real focus of the movie which is the incredible mental, emotional, personal, psychological, and financial turmoil involved in answering a simple question... Do we publish this or not? Great performances by everyone.


Enemy from Space (aka Quatermass 2) [1957]

IMDb = 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 58
Personal = 6.8


Upon investigating a remote area of England, where strange, seemingly controlled meteorites are falling, Dr. Quatermass discovers that Earth is being invaded. Once again, put aside the limitations and misconceptions of a typical '50's sci fi monster movie and there's a lot good stuff here. The style of the invasion was rather original and it had a sense of dread to it. Biggest threat, though (which quite often seems to be the case) is the ignorance of people. They can really make a mess of things.


We Are What We Are [2013]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 49
Personal = 6.8


A reclusive family, lorded over by a fanatically religious father, must maintain the family tradition when the mother dies ...a tradition that's destroying them and has been responsible for the disappearance of hundreds. A very slow and unnerving character study, creating a sense that something horrible is going to happen any second, keeps you tense throughout. And, just as expected, the ending is sudden, shocking and terribly unsettling. Excellent performances by the two girls.


Valhalla Rising [2009]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 49
Personal = 7.1


As viewers, we ride along and observe an ex-slave / barbarian, a young boy, and a bunch of crusaders, as they travel from the Northern Highlands of Great Britain to North American sometime around 1100 AD. That's about the entire story in a nut shell. However, it's extremely authentic and exquisitely photographed. We get to know and understand the characters explicitly with little dialogue. As slow and somewhat pointless as it turned out to be, I was mesmerized throughout and I think it really deserved a bigger audience.


Five Million Years to Earth (aka Quatermass and the Pit) [1967]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 73
Personal = 9.1


While excavating a new extension for the London subway, workers run across what may be a space ship that's been buried for 5 million years ...and it may not be dormant. This one is, by far, the best of the original Quatermass movies, imo. Special fx were great for its time and the story is advanced, imaginative, and quite intriguing. Overall, a very exciting movie that's worth watching more than once.


Piranha [1978]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 41
Personal = 6.1


Military grade, genetically modified piranhas are stupidly released into the river system where they proceed to munch on lots of people. This is your typical film involving freaks of nature killing man. It moves along at a quick pace and the excitement level is maintained throughout. The attack scenes were well done. I've seen better. I've seen worse.



Proud Mary [2018]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 24 / 59
Personal = 6.5


A mobster hit woman starts a gang war when she kills a gangster who is mistreating a boy she made an orphan a year earlier. Both my wife and I are fans of Taraji P. Henson so we probably enjoyed the film more than most. It has a lot of flawed logic in the story line but if you take it with a grain of salt and just roll with it, it's actually a fun movie with a lot of excellent gun action, some good characters, and I thought the banter between Mary and Danny was quite humorous and touching.


P2 [2007]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 35 / 36
Personal = 4.3


A psychotic security guard terrorizes a woman in a parking garage on Christmas Eve. I defy anyone to say they don't feel some anxiety walking though an empty parking garage. So, I expected this film to be quite a thriller. What I got was frustrated as I'm forced to watch a woman running around aimlessly trying to avoid a stupid psycho in one contrived scene after another. She only defends herself in the last 15 minutes. Plenty of fire axes and hoses in the garage but no alarms? Seriously?? Dumb movie.


Den of Thieves [2018]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 73
Personal = 7.3


An elite police unit is pitted against an elite gang of thieves. I pretty much spent the first half of the film waiting for the second half while I sat through the disintegrating marriage of the main cop that had no relevance or resolution within the story and simply served to provide 20 minutes of padding in a film that's lengthy to begin with. The second half rocks! The tension of the main heist and a shootout that's very close, but not quite as good as Heat. Great twist ending. Despite the unnecessary subplots, good stuff!


The Taking of Pelham 123 [2009]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 51 / 52
Personal = 8.3


A group of thugs take over a subway car in NYC and demands $10M dollars. John Travolta, as the ruthless leader of the gang, and Denzel Washington, as an every-man dispatcher who is suddenly responsible for the lives of the hostages, both have stellar performances in an edge-of-your-seat tension filled thriller. Awesome!



Barking Dogs Never Bite (aka Flandersui gae, Flanders' Dog) [2000]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 78
Personal = 3.0


A Korean film that, from what I can gather, is supposed to be a comedy about killing and eating dogs. I was not amused.





13 Cameras (aka Slumlord, The Landlord, CCTV) [2015]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 77 / 37
Personal = 6.4


A landlord rents a home to a couple who are expecting their first child. He then voyeuristically observes their lives through numerous cameras he's installed in the house. Unnervingly slow and insidiously creepy from start to finish, we're put in a position of being the voyeur as we watch the landlord subtely manipulate a family that is disintegrating through infidelity and mistrust. Quite uncomfortable, stark and not easily forgotten, Neville Archambault is brilliant as the socially vacuous landlord.


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