April 2019

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Await Further Instructions [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 25
Personal = 2.4


A Christmas reunion for a seriously dysfunctional family is interrupted by having their home sealed in by an unknown entity and are given increasingly bizarre instructions on their TV set. That premise is very promising. However, not only did they fail to deliver but presented us with something that simply makes no sense. Most everyone acted completely irrationally making me wonder how they were able to survive in everyday life. The reveal seemed completely incongruous to what's been going on making me wonder what the point is. What a nonsensical mess.

The Final Wish [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 27
Personal = 7.0


A down-on-his-luck, unemployed lawyer is forced to return home when his father dies. While there, he discovers that the wishes he's made, nonchalantly over the past couple days, are coming true. I wasn't expecting much and boy, was I surprised! This film is not a thriller and I wouldn't consider it that scary, either. But it is an extremely subtle and darkly well-written psychological character study on the dangers of wishing. The characters were human and normal, albeit angry and bitter, and the story was a compelling slow burn with a logical climax. Bravo!

Memoirs of a Murderer [2017]

aka 22-nenme no kokuhaku: Watashi ga satsujinhan desu

       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 100
Personal = 7.5


A serial killer, who killed 5 people in the 90's before the Statute of Limitations laws were changed and therefore can non longer be punished, publishes a book about the killings and becomes a media sensation. Is he the killer, a fraud, or is something else going on here? Extremely gripping film with not just one but 2 major twists ...one of them a complete game changer. The characterizations and story were strong and compelling, albeit a bit melodramatic, at times. Ignoring the fact that no one has aged a day in 22 years this is an excellent film.

Black Sunday [1960]

aka The Mask of Satan / La maschera del demonio

         
       
Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 77
Personal = 7.4


This Italian, Mario Bava, classic features a witch in the 17th century, fitted with the mask of Satan and sealed in a tomb inside a coffin with a window so she would have to stare at a cross for eternity. Well, 200 years, a broken window, a broken cross and a few drops of blood later, she's waking up ...and she's not happy. Exquisite B&W photography by Bava, exceptional sets, classic over dramatic and theatrical acting and dialogue and the incomparable Barbara Steele, this is a great example of Gothic horror for its time.

Us [2019]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 68
Personal = 7.9


Starts out as what appears to be a home invasion with the twist being the invaders are doppelgangers of them. What follows is chaos and a fight for survival that's tense, exciting, violent with just the right amount of humor to make it thoroughly entertaining. The ending took the story into a completely new direction and, imo, it was sort of strange and long winded with the ultimate twist not being that much of a surprise to me ...I sort of thought along those lines on a couple of occasions. But, that certainly doesn't take away from this being just a plain fun creepfest.

Suspiria [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 66 / 68
Personal = 6.4


An American girl gains entry into an extremely exclusive dance school in 1977. But perhaps its far more than a school and what is it hiding in its hidden corridors? You have to work pretty hard to figure this out. With a length of 2 1/2 hours, I was impressed that it kept me engaged enough to where it seemed much shorter and I did like the unique style and look of it. I felt the photography of the ritual was terrible, though; dark red, flashing with the cameras over-cranked ...I may have liked it if it wasn't so nauseating. More clarification would have been nice, as well.

The Terminator [1984]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 89
Personal = 9.0


The future, being controlled by machines but losing to the human resistance, sends back a Terminator to kill the resistance leader's mother before she gives birth to him and the resistance sends back a soldier to save her. One of the classic thrillers of the 80's by newcomer James Cameron, is still just as exciting today as it was then. Arnold Schwarzenegger is his initial outing in the iconic, bad-ass role that he would never outdo. Great action, gunfight, car chases, twisted story line, all moving at a breakneck pace that will keep you glued to your seat.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day [1991]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 94
Personal = 9.5


A decade later, two cyborgs are sent back in time to find their target, John Connors - an old style terminator to protect and a liquid metal terminator to kill. After the huge success of the first film (see above), the sky was the limit on the budget for this one and it shows in some of the most chaos driven action on screen. Many consider this the best of the Terminator films. Some consider this one too Hollywood and prefer the hard edged, lower budget, organic quality of the original. Either way, they're both winners in my book. Watch the extended edition.

Brain Damage [1988]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 63
Personal = 6.3


Form the creator of Basket Case comes this film about a parasitic, slug-like creature, with a jovial personality, that hooks slaves into providing it with brains in exchange for a "juice" that provides total euphoria. It's bizarre, twisted, gross, and delightfully wacky. Rick Hearst is perfect playing an obviously absurd role as the victim in a completely straight manner making it all the more amusing. There was a long time period in the middle that was dragged out pretty good - certainly enough time for a couple more gags - but good sick fun, nonetheless.

Velvet Buzzsaw [2019]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 63 / 36
Personal = 8.5


A man's dying wish is that his artwork be destroyed but it's found by an asst to a major art dealer before that happens and it becomes a global sensation! Then people start dying. Exquisitely well-written and acted character study that goes far beyond what you'd expect. In fact, the film is not presented, nor does it feel like a horror story as it manipulates the viewer into being as absorbed into the characters as they are into themselves and the horror is almost a side note. But, despite it's dark, conceited humor, this is a brutal and unforgiving horror film.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines [2003]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 46
Personal = 7.6


Another decade goes by and the Terminator is sent back, once again, this time to protect John Connor and friend. The machines send back a more advanced terminator, with both liquid metal and a variety of attachments, in the form of one mean chick. Much more action oriented and less invested in emotions and story as the first two films, with an ending that's pretty bleak, but I've grown to like this film more every time I see it. The action is grossly over-the-top but exciting and well designed even if the overall construction is lacking in the personal touch. It's fun!

Terminator 4: Salvation [2009]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 53
Personal = 8.0


A prisoner, to be executed, agrees to give his body to science. He wakes up in the middle of the war with the machines not knowing quite what was done to him. I really liked this film. It has its plot problems and the ending is kind of sappy but there's some good solid, realistic sci fi action, that's not nearly as over-the-top as the previous film (see above), and a good, albeit simple and familiar story. Great pacing, lots of crashes and explosions, a cameo by Arnie, and a logical sequel to the story. Great escapist entertainment.

Welcome to Mercy [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 40
Personal = 1.3


A woman and her daughter returns to her childhood home where she hasn't been since she was a child and strange things start happening. This film is just plain awful. Direct from the filmmakers of 'dragging things out', this ultra slow dirge provides us with no thrills, no scares, a story that's nonsense, no likable characters and we get to find out that most of it is a delusion! The sound track was completely incongruous to the events ...we've got a woman in the throws of demonic possession while we hear music fit for a funeral with crying mourners. Come on!

Terminator 5: Genisys [2015]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 26 / 53
Personal = 8.4


When Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor, he finds that everything has changed, including timelines, and he's having memories of events he never lived. This film gets a lot of flak as being confusing. I don't care ...it's a time travel story. None of them make sense, if you think about it. This one has lots of incredible action, a complex story (that you can follow if you're paying attention) and a logical conclusion. Has a good deal of humor it it, as well ...especially the ongoing one upmanship contest between Kyle and the Terminator. Good fun!

Pet Sematary [2019]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 26 / 53
Personal = 8.5


The 2nd adaption of one of Stephen King's most horrific stories about a special graveyard where the dead come back ...sorta. If you've read the book or seen the 1989 version, you know the story and it's pretty faithfully done here with just a few variations. The pacing of a family excited about starting a new life and slowly discovering there are things worse than death was excellent and engaging. The final half hour is macabre, savage, unrelenting and disturbing with a final scene that's priceless and will send shivers up your spine. Good stuff!

Tourist Trap [1979]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 47
Personal = 6.0


5 young people stumble upon a small wax museum out in the middle of nowhere when they venture off the main highway ...a detour that becomes a fight for survival. Typical slasher film for the time period, with the usual campy cliches, bad acting and dialogue and terrible music, which was actually quite entertaining. It has a good twist that was a complete surprise, although, in retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Things slowed down after the reveal and the climax was rather ho hum but overall, above average for it's genre and quite fun.

The Awakening [2011]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 51
Personal = 6.9


In 1921, a debunker of ghost phenomena, is asked to come to a boarding school to investigate a possible ghost sighting. Although listed as a horror / thriller film, it is neither, really, and the ghost story is more a vehicle to fully examine the story's characters; their lives, their fears, desires, emotions and, most extensively, their inner demons and how they can be far more dangerous to themselves and each other that ghosts may be. It's a very slow burn with few spooks and no action but if you like deep character studies, this film is quite engaging and superbly well made.

Red Rock West [1993]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 74
Personal = 8.3


A drifter, looking for work, stumbles into Red Rock, Wyoming, and is mistaken for a hit man. Thus begins a series of events reminiscent of Blood Simple on drugs. There are so many twists and turns in this movie that one literally has no idea what's going to happen 2 minute from now. Sounds confusing but it's not. It's tightly written with everything making perfectly logical sense ...even if it doesn't appear that way, at first. Nick Cage and Dennis Hopper are genuinely compelling and the rest of the cast plays their parts to perfection. Very satisfying thriller.

Stray [2019]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 57 / 13
Personal = 5.9


Reminiscent of Scanners, this film features a young girl, with a ancient power, whose family is being killed by someone with similar powers. Following the trend, the supernatural elements of the film are, once again, the backdrop for a character study ...mostly about a police detective, who's just returned to the force after trauma, and the complicated relationship she has with her ex-husband / boss. It's slow but the characters are likable, personable and kept me interested. I felt too much time was spent on somewhat irrelevant stuff, but overall, I liked it.

We Are Still Here [2015]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 48
Personal = 7.1


A middle aged couple, who's recently lost a son, moves into a haunted house with the titular spirits making their presence known is a big way. I nearly gave up about halfway through this as it was presenting itself as a totally cliche haunted house story with mild scares and few ghostly events. But then things took off and, holy cow! ...it was like blood-drenched roller coaster ride from hell!! Still not quite sure what to make of the ending but then ghosts don't really have to make sense, do they? I'll have to watch it again to figure it all out. Good gory fun, though!

Bohemian Rhapsody [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 61 / 86
Personal = 6.4


Well made film chronicling the life of Queen's lead singer Freddy Mercury and I would recommend it to those who have an interest in who he was. Now... let's get critical. I was 14 when Queen hit the charts and followed Freddy's career right up to his death in '91. As such, two things bothered me about the film. At no time did Rami Malek make me feel like I was watching Freddy Mercury. The music was wildly out of chronological order; song depicted on their first tour ('71) wasn't made until '78. In the studio making a song in the '80's that was released in '77, etc.

The Lodgers [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 55 / 45
Personal = 3.3


Twins, living in a dark, dilapidated mansion, have to lock themselves in their bedrooms at night so that undead things can come up through the floor after midnight ...I guess. Extremely dark, both visually and psychologically, exceedingly dull and depressing, contains a whole story around one character which, in the end, means absolutely nothing. No likable characters and an ending that left me shaking my head. What a waste of time.

The Girl in the Spider's Web [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 36
Personal = 8.6


Lisbeth gets hired to steal a computer program from the NSA setting off a series of events that involves the US, Sweden, the creator of the software, his son, a journalist, and the Spiders that are connected to Lisbeth's past. Having seen the first film and the Swedish, Tattoo, Fire and Hornet, this one had a lot to live up to and, by golly, they did it! Exceptionally well-crafted film and extremely smart with solid characters and realistic action. I'm amazed at how all 3 actresses have played Lisbeth so uniformly that I barely notice the difference. Awesome!

Planned Reviews Coming Soon

For my IMDb version of this list, Go Here!

Alice Sweet Alice [1976]
The Box [2009]
The Changeover [2017]
The Corruptor [1999]
The Fifth Commandment [2008]
Glass [2019]
The Head Hunter [2018]
The Hidden Room [1949]
Ip Man [2008]
Level 16 [2018]
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot [2018]
Never Grow Old [2019]
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms [2018]
Overlord [2018]
Paranormal Activity [2007]
Paranormal Activity 2 [2010]
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night [2010]
Paranormal Activity 3 [2011]
Paranormal Activity 4 [2012]
Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones [2014]
Paranormal Activity 6: The Ghost Dimension [2015]
The Prophecy 3: The Ascent [2000]
Screamers 2: The Hunting [2009]
Sorcerer [1977]
Triple Threat [2019]
Wildling [2018]

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