February 2017

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Phone Booth [2002]

Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 64
Personal = 8.1

Tense performances by Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker and Donald Sutherland (even though it's only his voice) makes this story about a guy trapped in a phone booth by a crazed sniper who will shoot him if he hangs up, quite a thrill ride. If you like edge-of-your-seat tension, check this out.

The Ring [2002]

Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 48
Personal = 8.1

The US version of Ringu, about a videotape that causes the viewer to die 7 days after seeing it, maintains the creepiness of the original but adds some seriously intense and shocking moments. This horror treat that is complex, disturbing, and a wholly satisfying story that will get under your skin.

A Bucket of Blood [1959]

Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 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 that fact that he actually just covers dead bodies with clay. A totally absurd golden oldie.

Rear Window [1954]

Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 95
Personal = 8.8

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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 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. I found it to be quite entertaining for a feature I found in an 8-pack Action Movie DVD set.

Used Cars [1980]

Rotten Tomatoes = 77 / 69
Personal = 8.2

Hilarious comedy classic about rival brothers who own used car lots across the street from each other. Came out the same week as Airplane. A critic, who saw both on the same day said, "Airplane made me laugh more often. Used Cars made me laugh a lot harder". This may not be very well known but it is a seriously funny movie. If you haven't seen it, and you want to LYAO for an evening, get it!

My Favorite Year [1982]

Rotten Tomatoes = 96 / 84
Personal = 8.7

Peter O'Tolle is fantastic performing as Alan Swann, a 1950's motion picture swashbuckler who's been asked to play on a live TV variety show and who has a bit of a problem staying sober. "I'm not an actor. I'm a movie star"! Very funny and an excellent view into the live comedy shows of the 50's. Both thoroughly amusing and quite touching, it's one of the "must see" classic comedies.

Identity [2003]

Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 75
Personal = 9.2

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. And that's when the twist is revealed. Absolutely brilliant!! One of my all-time favorite, profoundly twisted films.

Jack Reacher [2012]

Rotten Tomatoes = 63 / 67
Personal = 7.4

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 with Jack gathering evidence to show his guilt. But what he finds isn't what he's expecting. Tense, smart and full of action with a few good one-liners, this is quite exciting entertainment.

Inception [2010]

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? Both a thought provoking thrill ride that will warp your brain and an incredible feast for the eyes. Supremely imaginative, it's one of the most elaborately designed fantasy films of all time.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 37 / 42
Personal = 6.7

Jack makes friends online with a girl in the military. When she gets framed, Jack sets out to uncover a government conspiracy. Similar in style and action as the first film but not as well developed ...hence, not as memorable. Still a good film, though. Better luck next time.

Ju-On [2002]

Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 66
Personal = 7.5

Japanese version of The Grudge ...a story in which the ghosts of a violent and gruesome family murder haunt and kill all those who enter the house. 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]

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 (probably because it's not new) but still a very worthy addition to the series with some really disturbing creep-out moments.

The Grudge [2004]

Rotten Tomatoes = 39 / 46
Personal = 8.3

Many don't agree but I don't think the U.S. version blew 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. Giving the original Ju-On director a bigger budget went a long way towards developing an excellent re-make, imo.

Maniac [1980]

Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 57
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 make-up genius, Tom Savini, who sets himself up as the victim for the effect. Beware censored copies that cut it out. Joe Spinell (who was also co-writer) was brilliant in his portrayal of the maniac ...he has you totally convinced that he's certifiably psycho.

Under the Skin [2013]

Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 55
Personal = 4.4

This is a dull and long winded story about an alien (played expertly by Scarlett Johansson) who kidnaps men for her race ...I guess. They never really make that clear. Nothing really happens beyond that for the first hour. Then she embarks on a journey of self-discovery trying to determine what being human is like ...which I found tedious. Then, they end it with a massive let down. It had it's high points but I didn't like this film much.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans [2009]

Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 57
Personal = 5.2

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]

SEIZURE WARNING: The trailer has a segment of intense flashing.

Rotten Tomatoes = 12 / 40
Personal = 5.5

Quite a let down after the first one but not particularly bad. Full of nightmarish imagery, if you have an interest in seeing where the story goes, it's definately worth a watch.

The Mist [2007]

Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 65
Personal = 7.3

A really 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 fire and brimstone to just SHUT UP! The monsters were cool and it had it's startling moments. The ending is incredibly ironic and sad. Not a bad ending ...just be prepared for it.

[REC]3: Genesis [2012]

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. With the exception of a few scenes here and there, this was an awful addition to the franchise. In fact, for those that may want to follow the franchise, skip this one completely ...it's far more a spin-off than a sequel ...and an unnecessary one at that.

The Grudge 3 [2009]

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, the story is kind of outrageous, above and beyond the theme of the franchise, and it just falls flat.

Ouija: Origin of Evil [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 57
Personal = 7.2

The original Ouija was a pretty lame film so I wasn't expecting much. Well, this prequel turned out to be 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, that little girl was really fun to watch. Contains some really horrific imagery, as well. Good job!

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