February 2017

Phone Booth [2002]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 64
Personal = 8.1

Excellent performances by Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker and Donald Sutherland (even though it's only his voice) highlight this story about a guy trapped in a phone booth by a crazed sniper who threatens to shoot him if he hangs up. Makes for a very tense thrill ride.

The Ring [2002]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 48
Personal = 8.1

The U.S. version of Ringu is a horror treat that is complex, creepy, and a wholly satisfying story that will get under your skin. Bravo!

A Bucket of Blood [1959]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 68
Personal = 7.1

Classic and campy early film by Roger Corman. A socially awkward simpleton becomes greatly admired by his peers when it's discovered that he's a master sculptor. We'll disregard the fact that he actually just covers dead bodies with clay.

Rear Window [1954]

IMDb = 8.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 95
Personal = 9.3

What would you do if you were confined to your apartment because of an injury? Watch the neighbors, of course. What if you suspect one of them committed murder ...and no one believes you? Suspenseful, classic Hitchcock that ought to especially appeal to the voyeurs among us.

Desert Saints [2002]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 55
Personal = 7.8

An indie gem, Donald Sutherland gives an excellent performance as a ruthless hit man trying to finish one last job. He enlists a girl to help with the intention of killing her afterwards but this girl isn't his usual accomplice. The acting (besides Sutherland) is not the best I've seen and it's obviously low-budget but it moves along at a nice steady pace, develops the characters nicely, has an interesting twist and a great final scene.

Used Cars [1980]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 69
Personal = 8.2

Hilarious comedy about rival brothers who own used car lots across the street from each other. This is a really funny comedy classic. If you haven't seen it, and you want to LYAO for an evening, get it.

My Favorite Year [1982]

IMDb = 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 85
Personal = 8.7

Peter O'Tolle's fantastic performance as Alan Swann, a 1950's motion picture swashbuckler who's been asked to play on a live TV variety show. “I'm not an actor. I'm a movie star”! Very funny and quite touching, it's a “must see”.

Identity [2003]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 75
Personal = 8.7

The story revolves around a group of people trapped in a desert motel that start dying off one by one. Both the viewer and the character's in the film come to the same conclusion – this doesn't make any sense. Then the twist is revealed. Brilliant!!

Jack Reacher [2012]

IMDb = 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 67
Personal = 8.9

Although criticized for not looking all at like the Jack Reacher character portrayed in the books, even the author admits that Tom Cruise did a good job. And it's a good movie about a veteran sniper that's being framed for killing 5 people.

Inception [2010]

IMDb = 8.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 91
Personal = 9.3

A dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. How far down can you go and for how long? This incredibly imaginative tale is both a thought provoking thrill ride and an incredible feast for the eyes.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back [2016]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 37 / 43
Personal = 7.2

Lost a bit of the style that made the first Jack Reacher movie so good but it's not bad. Better luck next time.

Ju-On [2002]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 66
Personal = 7.5

Japanese version of The Grudge. Scary and disturbing with some intensely frightening imagery. Same director went on to make an arguably even more frightening version in the U.S.

Ju-On 2 [2003]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 57 / 68
Personal = 6.6

This has nothing in common with the U.S. version of The Grudge 2. As a sequel to Ju-On, it lacks the impact of the first film but still a worthy addition to the series.

The Grudge [2004]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 38 / 46
Personal = 7.8

The U.S. didn't blow it on this one. Just as disturbing as the original Japanese Ju-On with more state-of-the-art imagery that will give you nightmares. I suppose the same director for both had something to do with that.

Maniac [1980]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 58
Personal = 6.2

The sick and depraved cult film about a guy who kills women to dress his manikins with their scalps. There's an incredible shotgun scene orchestrated by the make-up genius, Tom Savini, who sets himself up as the victim for the effect. Beware censored copies that cut it out.

Under the Skin [2013]

IMDb = 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 55
Personal = 5.4

This is a dull and long winded story about an alien (played expertly by Scarlett Johansson) who seduces and kidnaps humans for her race ...I guess. They never really make that clear. Nothing really happens beyond that for the first hour. Then, it ends on a massive downer.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans [2009]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 57
Personal = 6.7

I like Nicolas Cage but there's some roles he's just not suited for. This was one of them. Slow and pondering story about a corrupt cop that never feels authentic.

The Grudge 2 [2006]

IMDb = 5.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 10 / 40
Personal = 5.5

Quite a let down after the first one but, unlike Ring 2, it wasn't total garbage. Full of nightmarish imagery, if you have an interest in seeing where the story goes, it's definately worth a watch.

The Mist [2007]

IMDb = 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 65
Personal = 7.3

A good monster movie that got wrapped up in it's own narrative, i.e., too long and I wanted nothing more than for that woman preaching hellfire and brimstone to just SHUT UP! The monsters were cool and it had some fine moments. The ending is incredibly ironic and sad. Not a bad ending ...just be prepared for it.

[Rec]3: Genesis [2012]

IMDb = 5.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 39 / 28
Personal = 3.5

Taking place in Barcelona during a wedding, this virus outbreak has no other connection to [REC]. They tried to make this one campy and amusing but failed miserably. What an awful addition to the franchise.

The Grudge 3 [2009]

IMDb = 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 27
Personal = 4.7

Taking place in Chicago, I think this film's connection to the events in Japan was only necessary in that it allowed the film to be made in the U.S. Some good moments but, overall, it just falls flat.

Ouija: Origin of Evil [2016]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 57
Personal = 7.2

The original Ouija was a pretty lame film. So, this prequel was really quite a surprise. The events build slowly enough to keep you on edge but not so slowly that you'll fall asleep. Insidious and creepy, give it a watch.

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