August 2018

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The Suffering [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 22
Personal = 3.4


A appraiser finds himself stuck on an estate with a strange owner, a creepy house maid, and what appears to be a number of transients and bodies around the property. The premise and the magnetism of the protagonist compelled me to stick around despite this being an extremely slow burn. I wish I'd left, though. The second half had one silly and bizarre occurrence after another with no context and ultimately, the ending was predictable, long-winded, poorly executed and certainly not worth the time invested.

The Hills Have Eyes [1977]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 54
Personal = 7.9


A family's vehicle breaks down in the middle of the Nevada desert and leaves them unknowingly surrounded by cannibals. This gore horror cult classic, brought to us by one of the masters, Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street) is brutal, sadistic and, oddly, humorous in a tongue-in-cheek sorta way. Colorful and grotesque characters, strangely plausible albeit weird and ridiculous scenarios and some exceptionally good quotable lines. Still a favorite after 40 years.

Get the Gringo [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 68
Personal = 7.6


A thief, who stole a few million dollars from a corrupt businessman, smashes through the border wall into Mexico only to have corrupt police take his money and throw him in prison. But he's figuring out all the angles. Well written and thoroughly engaging caper film in which our protagonist has to find a way to save a boy and his mother, foil the plans of of the head gangster in the prison, deal with a corrupt consulate official, get his money back all while avoiding being hit. It was genuinely fun watching him pull it off.

Holidays [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 23
Personal = 6.1


An anthology horror film with each story centered around a particular holiday. Lots of vignettes in this one as they were all short and sweet. Some were pretty simple and straight forward. Others were seriously twisted and freakish. It has a few really choice moments (that Jesus bunny is real nightmare fuel), is darkly humorous, occasionally cringe worthy and, overall, pretty good ...not great but very entertaining.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II [1984]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 19
Personal = 1.8


This time, it's a bus load of young folks heading to a bike competition that gets stuck in the desert. It amazes me how Wes Craven could make such a classic cult horror film with the original and then follow it up with an absolutely awful sequel. This is simply horrendous. Not a single likable character, everyone is a total moron that makes completely ludicrous decisions. In fact, that's the only reason the 2 cannibals have any success as they're too damn stupid to be threatening. A totally amateur effort.

Creep [2014]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 96 / 65
Personal = 7.0


A videographer is hired to film a man's life for a day for $1000 under the premise that he's dying of cancer and wants his unborn son to see what dad was like. It doesn't take long before it's apparent a much more sinister motive is going on in this exceeding disturbing film. It's taking you to someplace horrible even though you have no idea where and you feel you should look away but the creep is so totally unnerving and unpredictable, you're locked in for the ride. The ending is a shocker.

The Hills Have Eyes [2006]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 58
Personal = 8.6


A case of someone making the mistake of trying to reboot a classic and making a superior film. See my review of the original if you want to know what it's about as this movie is exactly the same practically scene for scene, only better, right up to the trailer attack. Then the film goes into new territory that is grossly entertaining (pun intended) with incredibly colorful and grotesque mutants, violently brutal yet creative savagery and a relentlessness that doesn't let up. And they still maintained a level of humor. Bravo!

Sunshine [2007]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 73
Personal = 7.5


The sun is dying and the Icarus II is sent with a massive bomb to kick it back on 7 years after an apparent failure of Icarus I to do the same. This sounds like one of those totally implausible scenarios used to create a spec fx heavy adventure without any real science to back it up. But this film took great care to make it scientifically plausible and the human drama was as fantastic as the story. This is really good, hardcore sci fi and my only gripe is much of the action was blurry and shaky and was making me nauseous.

Scream of Fear [1961]

aka Taste of Fear

   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 79
Personal = 6.7


You gotta love innocuous movie titles like those that just throw words together like 'scream' or 'taste' and 'fear' without giving you a clue as to the movie's intent. The movie is basically your "let's drive the heir crazy to get her fortune" story but with some well handled surprises ...the surprise I saw coming hid the one I didn't. Good acting all around. It is somewhat slow and, at times, a bit wordy and redundant, but at only 1h 20m, I'm not complaining and it was quite good entertainment.

Shadow People [2013]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 28
Personal = 4.1


A pseudo-docudrama about a radio talk show host who gets sucked into the paranormal sightings of shadow people after the unexplained death of one of his distraught callers and he begins to meltdown while others, who have listened to his show, die under equally suspicious circumstances. A few good spooky moments does not overcome the obvious problem (at least, obvious to me) that a professional CDC expert doesn't figure out till nearly the end nor the unsatisfying and unresolved, anti-climactic ending.

The Possession of Michael King [2014]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 38
Personal = 7.8


After his wife is killed, indirectly as a result of a psychic's advice, Michael decides to evoke every spell in the book and film it all to prove, once and for all, that none of it's real. Probably not the best idea. This unrelenting horrific film moves along at a break neck pace as we follow what begins as an obsession to debunk demons and becomes all out spiritual war. Terrifying, violent, exhausting and, at times, cringe worthy, it's almost too much of an assault on the senses. As David Jung's first film, kudos to you, my man!

Quarantine [2008]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 59 / 44
Personal = 8.5


Read my review on the Spanish film, [REC]. Except for a few minor variations, this is practically a direct American copy. But a really good copy, nonetheless. [REC] was incredibly spontaneous and realistic. With so many familiar faces in this one, it had more the feel of a dramatization for the first hour or so but after the chaos kicked in, it was just as effective. If you're unfamiliar and you want to see the best version, I would still recommend [REC] in Spanish with English subtitles but this one is certainly a worthy substitute.

Asylum [1972]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 57
Personal = 6.1


An anthology of stories with each one being told by a patient in an asylum and one wrap-around story to bring it all together. This is pretty typical 70's horror fluff all based on stories by Robert Bloch, one of the great writers of the 50's thru 70's, including Psycho. Nothing too extreme or complicated - somewhat reminiscent of Night Gallery and rather slow, overall, but quite entertaining, nonetheless.

Europa Report [2013]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 57
Personal = 7.3


An ultra-realistic travelogue of a manned flight to Europa to search for signs of life. Presented as the occurrences that took place aboard the ship filmed through a variety of cameras, flight comms and computer data that comprised the last communication from the ship. Giving equal attention to the actual events on Europa and the human psyche in dealing with scientific discovery vs total catastrophe, this film was tense, personal, and highly visual.

The Hills Have Eyes II [2007]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 12 / 40
Personal = 5.1


A group of National Guardsmen trainees head into the desert to supply a scientific outpost and meet the cannibals in the hills. If you have any hope of enjoying this, please check your brain at the door. That way you won't feel intellectually insulted by those on the screen who obviously don't have one. Instead of keeping it's brutality in context, like the previous film, this one (including the revolting and unnecessary opening scene) is gratuitously vile and disgusting. Overall, average shlock shock film. Nothing more.

The Road [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 68
Personal = 5.3


A man and his son try to survive a post-apocalyptic world on their way to the coast. First the negatives: way too long, way too slow, and painfully depressing. The summary above is everything this film is about until the last 15 mins. On the plus side, this is an extremely well made film that is extraordinarily authentic in it's depiction of a dying world. The characters were physically, psychologically and emotionally quite distressed and believable. It's worth seeing if you have a tolerance for slow, painful movies.

Stake Land [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 62
Personal = 6.5


Follows the travels of a vampire hunter, known only as Mister, and a teen named Martin as they try to outrun the zombie/vampire plague and large groups of religious fanatics. Sort of reminded me of Zombieland but completely devoid of any humor. They pick up and lose several people along the way making this a very personal and emotional ride that relies heavily on the heartstrings. Some good action, good tension, some very good personal moments, an ambiguous albeit uplifting ending, but nothing really new here.

Reindeer Games [2000]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 25 / 27
Personal = 4.7


A bunch of criminals mistakenly grab the wrong ex-con just released from prison as they plan to rob a casino the ex-con used to work for. I saw the 2 hour 'director's cut' version and almost turned it off as it was boring me to death. When the bad guys showed up, it was no longer boring but didn't get much better either. It's so convoluted with twists and contrivances that it never came off as realistic or even possible and the ending was way to pat and silly. Gary Sinise was the highlight in this marginally entertaining film.

Ruthless People [1986]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 71
Personal = 8.7


A young couple kidnap a rich woman expecting the husband to pay the ransom. But he'd rather she be dead. This classic comedy has several individuals with different agendas all based on false assumptions creating a complicated chaos of catastrophe that's brilliantly written and totally hilarious. Great characters all around and some incredibly good quotable lines. You've missed one of the best comedies ever if you haven't seen this one.

Stitches [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 47 / 41
Personal = 5.2


Six years after a clown is accidentally killed at a kid's birthday party as the result of a prank by the kids, the clown comes back for revenge. This Irish, very tongue-in-cheek, gore, comedy is humorous and rather entertaining. Several outrageous gags; some of them worked very well (especially the umbrella gag) but most just missed the spot and came off as silly and over indulgent. And the constant use of puns really started to irritate me. Everyone did a good job though and I enjoyed it.

Black Sabbath [1963]

aka I tre volti della paura

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 76
Personal = 6.0


An anthology, hosted by Boris Karloff, of 3 films. The first was an excellent simple 60's Gothic horror piece that even sophisticated audiences of today can still enjoy. The second was an exercise in patience featuring an insanely stupid woman in search of a decent screenwriter. The third was mediocre at best. Even though this one featured the great Boris Karloff, who mercilessly stole every scene he was in, the rest of the story was filled with so much maudlin padding that it just became silly and predictable.

I Walked with a Zombie [1943]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 73
Personal = 6.7


What I expected was a hocky voodoo zombie movie and what I got was a very mature tragic love story. A plantation owner, in the West Indies, hires a nurse to care for his wife who had become just short of catatonic. The owner and nurse fall for each other. In fact, she's fallen so hard that she'll do anything to cure his wife as her gift to him ...even drag her off to voodoo rituals. It is somewhat melodramatic for my tastes but that's to be expected for the time period and, overall, it had me hooked from start to finish. Not bad!

Wraith [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 58
Personal = 2.2


An absurd haunted house story involving a friendly ghost, an evil spirit and a whole lot of anti-abortion propaganda. Absolutely nothing original here. The writing was pathetic and they have a girl who is clearly about 18 playing the part of an 8th grader. The most horrific thing in this movie is her acting. What a waste of time.


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