August 2017

Excalibur [1981]

IMDb = 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 80
Personal = 7.3


An epic version of one of the many stories surrounding King Arthur and his sword of power, Excalibur. The director, John Boorman, wanted to do The Lord of the Rings but couldn't get the rights so he did this instead ...and quite well. Although a bit dated by today's historical fantasy standards, it's still quite compelling with a cast of actors that were virtually unknown then but are big stars now. Nostalgic, exciting story that's well worth the 2 1/2 hour sit through.


Man on a Ledge [2012]

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 31 / 52
Personal = 7.4


Clever little story about a complicated plan - hatched by an ex-cop who's escaped from prison - that involves standing on the ledge of a building in downtown Manhattan to prove his innocence. Complex story that kept me on edge (pardon the pun) with a lot of minor twists and turns making it totally unpredictable ...I really had no idea what would happen next. Great performances and very smart writing.


Sleepaway Camp [1983]

IMDb = 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 60
Personal = 4.3


A bunch of kids at a summer camp are dying one by one. I liked the ending for two reasons. First, it genuinely surprised me ...well, not who the murderer was - I figured that out. It had an additional twist I didn't see coming. The other reason I like the ending is because it signified that the movie was over ...Thank, God! And they made 4 ...count them, 4 sequels!!



Get Out [2017]

IMDb = 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 99 / 87
Personal = 8.4


Think Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? with a somewhat different result. Rose takes her black boyfriend to meet her upper-class, aristocratic parents who appears to accept him with open arms. In fact, all their friends do. But despite their cordial friendliness, Chris knows something is terribly wrong. This is a tense, insidious and extremely uncomfortable movie to watch ...but in a good way. Twisted, creepy, and highly original.


Perdidos (aka Strayed) [2014]

IMDb = 4.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 2.6


Found footage of four students making a documentary in a haunted prison. They film halls and cells as they wander around with hand-held cameras. Then they use some hand-held cameras to film cells and halls as they wander around. Then one of them looks in a mirror! They film cells!! They film halls!!! Oh, yeah ..then there's that scene in cell 18 where..... The ONLY thing this movie has to offer beyond what's in the trailer (which is much better despite being Spanish) is english subtitles and 90 minutes you'll never get back.


Ritual [2013]

IMDb = 3.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 22
Personal = 2.5


Woman calls husband for help as she's in a motel room with a guy she stabbed to death. Husband comes and determines it's self-defense. Even finds a video cam with a recording of a satanic ritual where they sacrifice a young woman. Call the police, right? No, they proceed to do one phenomenally stupid thing after another to the point of me screaming at them. Every scene was a long-winded exercise in patience and the whole movie was silly, pointless, and massively frustrating. Aaaargghhh!!!!


Banshee Chapter [2013]

IMDb = 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 42
Personal = 8.5


When a friend - who is writing a book on secret CIA experiments in the 60's using a chemical called MK-Ultra - disappears, a journalist begins her own investigation with horrible consequences. Do the chemicals just create hallucinations or do they open doors best kept closed. Best moments of an adrenaline rush from a movie I've had in quite some time. The tension is palatable, the performances and dialogue are excellent and the story is cerebral, complex and gripping. Bravo!


The Horde [2009]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 41
Personal = 8.5


A gang of cops seeking retribution raid a building to take out a gang of drug dealers ...just as the zombie apocalypse breaks out. This dead serious (pardon the pun) and brutally savage French film highlights the social dynamics of two groups, who would love to shoot each other on sight, coming together to survive. Easily the most visceral zombie film I've ever seen. Is all that blood on the walls realistic? Hell, no! Is it psychologically effective? Hell, yes!! Holy cow, this film is violent!!!


Major League III: Back to the Minors [1998]

IMDb = 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 21 / 24
Personal = 5.5


If you're looking for something as funny and well thought out as the original Major League, this isn't it. In fact, most of the stars from the original and the sequel are not in it. However, if you like light comedy and baseball, this movie will fill the bill. Fun, colorful characters and some good laugh-out-loud moments made this film rather entertaining and pretty much exactly what I expected.



Ratter [2015]

IMDb = 4.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 59
Personal = 2.8


A girl from Wisconsin moves to NYC and becomes the victim of an electronic stalker. Nice premise ...badly executed. This movie is viewed entirely from the stalker's POV so, unless you're a real voyeur who has a real need to watch the rather uninteresting life of an average college student, this movie is not for you. Although our protagonist notices some strange electronic activity, she doesn't even know there's a physical threat until the last 15 minutes, i.e, no tension. And the ending?? (smacking forehead and walking off)


Deathsport [1978]

IMDb = 3.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 28
Personal = 5.3


1000 years from now, there is Deathsport! Terrible ratings, but... this is a 70's, ultra-low budget, Roger Corman production so one should expect simplistic story lines, cheesy acting, inane dialogue, contrived action scenes (featuring lots of explosions), matte paintings that look like paintings and spec fx you can create in your garage. Oh... and boobs! Knowing what to expect, I thought this movie was really quite fun.


The Horde [2016]

IMDb = 4.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 69
Personal = 5.0


Totally cliche horror movie. We have the bloody intro followed by the main group of victims heading to a lake. Interrupt the trip to run into a possibly mentally unstable stranger and throw in a fight scene to show how good our hero is at being an ex-navy seal. 40 mins into the film, we have our first killings within the group ...naturally, it's the couple who were having sex. Our hero must now save them all. It wasn't a particularly bad movie ...it was just so contrived and unoriginal that I had to laugh.


Criminal Desire (aka Lovers and Liars) [1998]

IMDb = 5.0
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.5


An advertising agency is a front hiring models and then sending them to Europe as slaves. Also involves a kidnapping of an ultra-rich man's daughter. This is a ludicrously low budget movie filmed on video tape that comes off like a badly made episode of a soap opera. Michael York and David Carradine must have really been hurting for cash. Smart idea to gave this film two names - Lovers and Liars in '98 and then Criminal Desire in '05 - just in case you missed it the first time around. (grin)


Bowery at Midnight [1942]


IMDb = 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 40 / 17
Personal = 5.2


Bela Lugosi leads a dual life as a psychology professor and as the owner of a soup kitchen which acts as a cover for recruiting criminals and committing crimes. Fairly typical crime thriller for that era along with the types of characters you'd expect. Pretty good, though, with Bela Legosi doing a good job without being over-the-top. I enjoyed it.



The Hot Rock [1972]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 63 / 68
Personal = 7.3


Donald Westlake wrote a series of very funny novels featuring Dortmunder, master thief who seemed to have everything go wrong on every heist. This film is faithfully based on the first novel and features a plan to steal a precious diamond that, due to bad luck and a comedy of errors, requires one heist after another. Quite humorous and well thought out with great characters, this was probably one of the best caper movies of the '70's. Very fun.


Guilty Conscience [1985]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 44
Personal = 6.1


Made for TV movie written by the team that brought us Columbo, this was an interesting character study of a high-profile lawyer who wishes to murder his wife and spends his time going over various scenarios in his head trying to come up with the perfect murder. But, as they say, the best laid plans... The three primary actors were great and all the different possibilities of what could happen and what does happen makes for some very entertaining twists.


Farm House [2008]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 37
Personal = 4.7


We spend the first 45 minutes watching a couple traveling to Seattle and, to keep the trip from being too monotonous, they treat us to a large dose of back story through an enormous number of flashbacks - involving gambling debts and the loss of a child - that don't seem to have anything to do with anything. Then they get tortured on a farm for an hour (watch for the cheese grater). Finally the twisted ending that brings everything together is far too absurd to appreciate. Ho hum, at best.


Death Race 2 [2010]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 37
Personal = 7.7


Far more character driven than Death Race, this one probably should have been named 'Death Race: The Beginning' or 'The Origin of Frankenstein' as it's obviously the beginnings of both and a prequel to the first film. In fact, if you've been thinking about watching the franchise, I'd watch this one first. Camera was shakier in this one making it harder to follow the action but the story and characters were a perfect fit in context and it's quite a satisfying thrill ride. I loved it!


The Hidden II [1993]

IMDb = 2.7
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 14
Personal = 3.1


Taking place 15 years after the events in The Hidden, the evil alien has spawned and a new hero has come to save the day. Well, here's the thing. The original was one of the best high-octane, alien monster movies in the 80's with cars, guns and rock 'n roll that simply doesn't stop. Then someone thought it would be a good idea to spend a fraction of the budget on a sequel with a few amateur actors and throw in a couple fight scenes and everything would be ok. Pfffftttt!!!! The trailer is so misrepresentative, it's hysterical!


The Wicked Within [2015]

IMDb = 4.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 24
Personal = 3.0


Demon possesses a woman and destroys her family. Three tips for movie makers - 1) In order to develop some sense of tension, peril, empathetic danger, you need to make sure the viewer cares about the characters of which, I couldn't care less about these. 2) Include something original. We've already seen this film hundreds of times ...and better. 3) If you're going to have a twist ending, you should make it far less ridiculous and conceal it better ...I saw it coming long before we got there.


Sacrifice [2016]

IMDb = 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 36
Personal = 6.0


A doctor stumbles across the desiccated body of a young woman in her backyard and begins to connect it to a local cult involving new births and sacrifice. Labeled as a horror movie but it's not. It's actually a fairly good conspiracy mystery with a good story and performances and with a nice twist ending. Not much more than what you'd expect but it was certainly good enough to hold my interest till the final credits.


Ab Tak Chhappan (aka 56 and Counting) [2004]

IMDb = 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 91
Personal = 7.5


Hindi police drama centering around the head of a special crime unit in Mumbai that basically goes out and kills gangsters. Very well presented story without resorting to sensationalism with terrific characters providing some extremely personal and, at times, emotional drama. Although somewhat long-winded, it kept my interest throughout. Well done!



The Newton Boys [1998]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 44
Personal = 4.6


Biopic about the Newton Boys who robbed over 80 banks in the 20's without killing anyone. They do a pretty good job of killing this movie, though. In a word ...dull. Neither dramatic nor humorous, serious nor campy, acting was mediocre, characters were transparent, dialogue provided nothing interesting to listen to, no action to speak of, and overall it was just dull ...dull, dull, dull, dull.



Plague Town [2008]

IMDb = 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 19
Personal = 4.7


A family stumbles into a remote community of mutant and very dangerous children. It started off rather cliche with the bloody intro followed by 30 mins of establishing that most of the principals are complete morons. Once things got started, it improved (despite the lousy camera work) but the ending was both contrived and ridiculous. It wasn't all that bad and had a few good moments but I would suggest taking it with a very large grain of salt.


What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? [1969]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 62
Personal = 6.7


Once a woman discovers her husband left her nothing after his death, she resorts to hiring housekeepers, getting their savings (under the guise of investing them in stock), kills them and buries them in her garden. This delightful bit of fun has some super performances by Geraldine Page and Ruth Gordon. Very nostalgic Old Biddy style suspense film that was popular around that time and definitely one of the better ones. The trailer is rather silly, though.


Murder! [1930]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 38
Personal = -


A woman is found guilty in what appears to be a slam dunk murder. One of the jurors has doubts, though, and conducts an investigation of his own. I believe this was the first British talkie. Maybe that's why it seemed that some of the characters behaved weirdly and scenes seemed to last forever with people speaking in overly dramatic ways. It was way to arduous for me to watch and I couldn't finish it so I'm not going to give it a personal rating.


The Girl with All the Gifts [2016]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 84 / 66
Personal = 7.6


A military research facility is raising a group of children who were born about the same time a virus turned everyone into flesh eaters. They can be quite normal ...as long as they're fed. This uniquely bizarre film focuses around Melanie, one of those children. Although there's gore and zombie violence, this movie is more about the ethics, dilemmas, and emotions of dealing with a new race of people and raises some very scary questions about who deserves to survive. Disturbing and fascinating story.


Stand Off [2011]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 30
Personal = 6.3


Taking place in Ireland, a simple hold-up to pay off gambling debts turns into major mess involving the police, the SAS, the mob, gypsies, as well as others. The problem with this film is that it's too farcical to be taken seriously and too serious to be a comedy. However, the highly complex story is loaded with misunderstandings and one thing after another making the situation worse by the minute. That, and the performances, were plenty enough to entertain me and I liked it.


Diario de um Exorcista - Zero (aka Diary of an Exorcist - Zero) [2016]

IMDb = 5.2
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 4.7


Title says it all. This Brazilian film is obviously an ultra-low budget, amateur film with no new ground covered as far as the "exorcising demons" genre goes. But, when you consider the main actor is also the writer, director, producer, photographer, make up artist, and Lord knows how many other hats he wore, he didn't do too bad a job, really. It wasn't a good film, per se, but I've seen a whole lot worse with far more support behind it.


Necronomicon: Book of the Dead [1993]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 39
Personal = 6.4


The Book of the Dead is used to present an anthology of H.P. Lovecraft stories. It's low budget, there's nothing particularly complex or profound about the stories and, if it weren't for the gore, it'd be easy to mistake this film as a made-for-TV movie. However, I thought it came off rather well. The overacting gave it a surreal quality (including overacting master, Jeffrey Combs), the gore was sufficiently squishy and the creatures were definitely Lovecraftian in nature ...especially Cthulhu. Very entertaining.


From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter [1999]

IMDb = 4.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 23
Personal = 4.6


This one takes place in the 1910's. Except for the time period and different characters, this is pretty much a remake of the first film minus much of the thrills, humor, gags, and imagination. The characters aren't nearly as colorful, either. The first hour was boring. The rest had a few good moments but nothing new to get excited about.



Death Race 3: Inferno [2013]

IMDb = 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 46
Personal = 6.3


This one is a sequel to Death Race 2 but still a prequel to Death Race. However, rather than taking place on Terminal Island, Frankenstein is shipped over to the Kalahari in Africa for a desert race. The overall production quality is noticeably less in this one ...contrived action sequences, shallow characterizations, hardly any attention paid to the other drivers, etc. The ending was good and it was a lot of fun ...just not as much fun as the previous entries.


Dead Awake [2016]

IMDb = 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 26
Personal = 5.2


Sleep paralysis is when you wake up but you can't move for awhile. It will happen to nearly everyone at some point in their lives. It's happened to me a couple times and let me tell you, it will scare you witless. This movie offers the theory that if you stay paralyzed for too long, an old hag will suffocate you. Interesting premise and the film is eerie but the idea's wasted. It's not a bad film - I wasn't bored - but it was all rather timid and lame. It's not rated but it would easily pass for PG.


Inbred [2011]

IMDb = 5.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 29
Personal = 5.2


A pair of case workers take a bunch of young delinquents to a small British hamlet for (I'm guessing) some sort of community service thing. If you like gore, this film has some of the most extreme, messy, over-the-top gore I've seen in some time. I was truly impressed. However, making the protagonists morons only shows the filmmaker's inability to move the story forward in an intelligent way and generates no sympathy for the characters. I was cheering for the inbreds ...they were smarter!!


Three (aka San ren xing) [2016]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 46
Personal = 5.1


Chinese film about a thief in the hospital who's been shot in the head and refuses treatment presumably to be ready for his buddies to break him out. Apparently, Chinese's sensibilities towards their entertainment is different from us dudes in the US as this is basically a study of characters that were rather pathetic and nothing really happens for an hour. When the action does start, the movie goes into this stylistic slo-mo shoot-out that felt like The Matrix on quaaludes. For me, it was marginally entertaining.


The Blob [1988]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 61 / 55
Personal = 6.8


A meteor containing a blob-like life-form crashes near a small town and begins eating everyone. Presented somewhat like a matinee B-movie, this is one of the great monster films of the '80's based on The Blob ...one of the great monster films of the '50's. This one is quite a thrill with some great performances, including Shawnee Smith in a very early role, and some highly imaginative ways of the blob taking out various unfortunates. Get your popcorn and enjoy the ride.


KL Zombi [2013]

IMDb = 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.7


Malaysian slapstick comedy of a zombie breakout. There's a very fine line in slapstick between really funny and really silly. I don't know what they consider funny in Malaysia but for me, this went so far into the really silly area that the line is no longer even in sight. None of the gags worked. Many of the scenes played out way too long. Most of the characters were goofy caricatures that were totally unbelievable. The zombie make-up was very good. That's the best I can say for it.


The Lego Movie [2014]

IMDb = 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 96 / 87
Personal = 7.3


In a Lego universe, a nondescript construction worker become the 'Special' and is tasked with saving the universe from Lord Business. This was suggested by a web site guest and I found it to be very amusing, brilliantly colorful and highly imaginative. I don't recall any laugh-out-loud moments but I had a lot of fun watching it. Great for the whole family. Thanx for the suggestion.



Skinwalkers [2006]

IMDb = 4.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 25
Personal = 4.1


Two werewolf factions. One wants to be cured, the other doesn't. The key lies with a 13-year-old half-breed. This is really nothing more than a chase movie where the bad guys are after the kid. The fact that the pursuers and the protectors of the kid are both werewolves really don't make much of a difference as far as the story goes. It wasn't horrible ...it's just that there's nothing original here and everything in this film, right down to the make-up, is mediocre, at best.


Conan the Barbarian [2011]

IMDb = 5.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 24 / 30
Personal = 5.1


Conan seeks revenge on a guy who killed his father. The guy seeks a woman whose blood will operate an ancient weapon. This is exactly what I expected from a Conan movie ...and less! It was fine for what it was even though the photographer seemed to have a hard time holding a camera still long enough to discern what's happening. It's been over 30 years since the original Conan so I expected something a bit more up-to-date but Jason Momoa ain't Arnie. The original is mucho better.


Trouble Every Day [2001]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 49 / 56
Personal = 3.3


Two doctors and their wives, sex, cannibalism, and a maid. Beyond that, I don't have a clue as to what is going on in this so-called sensual French art film. Excruciating slow, I sped through much of it as I didn't find extended scenes of making a bed or cleaning a bathroom or someone riding around in a taxi to be grand entertainment. There wasn't a single person in this film that acted like a normal human being. Oh, it must take place in another reality, right? Am I close? Yes? No? I give up!


The X Files: Fight the Future [1998]

IMDb = 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 72
Personal = 8.1


An ancient alien pathogen has broken loose and Mulder and Scully are on the case ...despite the governments attempts to thwart them. I liked how the film was developed to be both a stand-alone feature - for those that don't follow the X-Files TV show - and continue the X-Files mythos for the fans. Overall, the movie is nothing more than an X-Files bridge episode between seasons 5 and 6 that's twice as long with 10 times the budget ...but that's OK. It's a great episode.


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies [2016]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 44
Personal = 5.1


The title says it all. I'm familiar with the Pride and Prejudice story so I was certainly curious about this one. This movie had a lot of problems. They really underutilized the whole zombie thing ...it could have been P&P at war and you would have had much the same result. I didn't like the casting so I had trouble buying the characters. Also, the whole idea is farcical but I think this movie actually would have improved if they had tried to make it far more serious. Overall, pretty ho hum.


SiREN [2016]

IMDb = 5.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 38
Personal = 7.3


This is a full movie re-write of a short story called "Amateur Night" from the movie V/H/S featuring the same siren / harpy character. This one involves 4 guys on a bachelor party road trip that end up at the wrong place. Although they do make some rather stupid decisions (and you know how I feel about that), there were good performances all around and the movie was sufficiently creepy to keep me wholly engaged throughout. Nicely done.


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