September 2017

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Lumberjack Man [2015]

IMDb = 4.3
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 40
Personal = 0.7


A lumberjack monster is slaughtering folks in a bible camp. I absolutely hated everyone in this film within the first 10 minutes. The whole film was ludicrous and infantile and insulted my intelligence so completely that I was nearly shaking with anger when the credits rolled. Michael Madsen must have done this as a favor as I can't believe his career has actually sunk to this level. If you watch this, I guarantee afterwards you will say, "Should have taken Doc's advise and skipped this one". One of the worst movies I've ever seen.


Dark City [1998]

IMDb = 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 74 / 88
Personal = 9.3


The inhabitants of a dark city are being used in an experiment by an alien race that rebuilds both the city and everyone's memories every night in an attempt to determine what makes us human. Although very different films, you can't help notice the similarities with the manipulated environment of The Matrix. The film noir quality, the surreal landscape, the strangers, the writing, the performances, the absolutely phenomenal spec fx, everything in this film works on so many levels. Nearly perfect.


Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh ich seh) [2014]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 64
Personal = 7.7


Identical twins believe the woman who's living in the house, wrapped in bandages, is not their mother. What follows is an insidious descent into madness which climaxes in an extended sequence that is visceral, disturbing, psychotic and heartbreaking. Although the pacing may be considered slow by some, I found it perfectly suited to keep one's attention constantly questioning who's nuts and who's for real. Excellent film and I'm glad I saw it but I won't watch it twice.


Shallow Ground [2004]

IMDb = 5.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 33
Personal = 7.4


At a rural sheriff station, a naked boy shows up covered in blood and anyone touching the blood sees visions of murder. The opening credits waste no time in letting you know that you are in for a gory ride. The story was original, gruesome, and everything followed a logical course right up to its twist ending. The characters were genuine, believable people and they weren't morons! Exceptionally well made movie. I would avoid watching the trailer as it sums up the entire film in less than 3 minutes.


12 Rounds [2009]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 45
Personal = 7.1


A New Orleans cop manages to capture an international terrorist but the terrorist's girlfriend is killed. A year later, the terrorist forces the cop to play a game to save his girlfriend. This non-stop, edge-of-your-seat, thrill ride is somewhat over-the-top and forced at times but overall, it's incredibly exciting with a few 'cheer' moments. Also, the story was well written with a twist that changes everything. The director of Die Hard 2 and Devil's Pass was in great form on this one.


The Pact II [2014]

IMDb = 4.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 14
Personal = 5.3


It appears a Judas Killer copycat is on the loose and a comic book artist and trauma scene cleanup girl begins having paranormal visions of the murders. This is a fairly worthy follow-up to The Pact. Camilla Luddington's performance is good as a girl who is smart and doesn't scare easy and Patrick Fischler's performance as an FBI Profiler was just plain creepy. As usual, the ending left us with a handful of ambiguities ripe for another sequel. Not a lot of scares and nothing really new here but it was an enjoyable watch.


The Devil's Candy [2015]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 68
Personal = 8.0


An artist begins to paint demonic visions after he and his family move into a new country home. Also, the obviously psychopathic previous occupant is coming home. You're only presented with what is personally happening to the individuals so you never really get a clear pictures as to what is going on. However, the events and pacing are intensely unnerving as you're dragged, kicking and screaming, to the end. Awesome performances all around especially Pruitt Taylor Vince.


The Expendables [2010]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 42 / 64
Personal = 7.5


A group of mercenaries get hired to kill a general of an island nation for $5mil. Upon doing some reconnaissance, things get personal. Movies that feature old action stars are fun for me simply because I grew up watching these guys and they're still putting out action films. And, wow... what an action film! Sylvester Stallone has proven that he can direct. This film has some of the most well choreographed action and fight scenes I've witnessed ...and filmed properly. Great, exciting stuff!!


Doomsday Book (aka In-lyu-myeol-mang-bo-go-seo) [2012]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 54
Personal = 4.7


South Korean anthology with 3 sci fi tales. The stories were too simple and, thereby, too long. They tried to add some humor - both situational and personal - but it fell flat most of the time. Nothing new offered in the zombie story ...although the end was kind of cute in a macabre sort of way. The second had WAY too much philosophy concerning whether man or robot is the real monster. The third story was an extinction event that had a novel twist but was ultimately just silly. Good eye candy.


Carriers [2009]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 65 / 39
Personal = 5.3


A small group of people are trying to remain uninfected by an ultra-contagious disease that has wiped out most of the population. The filmmakers didn't appear to know what they wanted from the viewers. The lead character was an obnoxious goon who I detested immediately and everyone else took turns doing stupid things. About half way through, the movie finally started examining the morality vs survival issue in depth. By that time, I didn't know if I was supposed to sympathize or care at all.


Dying Breed [2008]

IMDb = 5.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 23
Personal = 3.2


A scientifically funded group of 4 people go to the outback of Tasmania to look for the extinct Tasmanian Tiger. One of the 4 is a complete jerk who beats up one of the local hicks, which are obviously cannibals. Why the other 3 would go anywhere with this a-hole is against all logic. But then, they're to moronic to notice that the locals are freakin' dangerous despite every alarm bell that should be going off in their head. Full of unnecessary scenes and people who just don't behave that way. Try more realistic writing next time.


We Are Not Alone (aka No estamos solos) [2016]

IMDb = 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 5.5


A Peruvian film about a man, his new wife and his girl (who's got issues with the new step-mom) moves into a haunted country home. Since there are thousands of haunted house movies, one doesn't judge on originality but rather how well it was made. In this case, not bad. Not a lot of intense scares but the atmosphere and photography had an almost horror film noir look making the house uncomfortable. The people were real and their reactions genuine. Nothing new here but worth a watch if you got nothing else planned.


Antiviral [2012]

IMDb = 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 65 / 40
Personal = 8.6


Mixing the body horror influences of his dad with a bit of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, Brandon Cronenberg has created a tale from the near future where people have become so celebrity obsessed that they'll infect themselves with diseases directly from their favorite stars. This is one of the most vividly surrealistic and viscerally physiological films I'm ever scene. Whether you condemn it as too disturbing or praise it as a horror masterpiece, there is no denying that it is unlike anything you've ever seen before.


Suspension (aka Dead of Night, The Haddon County Massacre) [2015]

IMDb = 4.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 17
Personal = 6.7


A girl, who's intimidated by a teacher and other students because her father was a serial killer, escapes by drawing violent comic book art which may or may not be coming true. See, that's the thing ...we're dealing with seemingly more than one reality and it's hard to know which one you're in from scene to scene. Many may be impatient with being jerked around for 90 mins but I found it to be great fun. I guessed the ending but the film was such that I had 4 different endings in mind. Pick one and see if your right.


Battle Royale (aka Batoru rowaiaru) [2000]

IMDb = 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 89
Personal = 7.8


A Japanese film about a government sanctioned contest where a 9th grade class is dropped on a deserted island and the last one alive gets to go home. I found the film to be quite entertaining partly because it was exactly what I expected it to be ...above average example of the "last-man-standing" concept - better than most, worse than a few - and quite bloody violent.



Sharknado (aka Dark Skies) [2013]

IMDb = 3.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 33
Personal = 6.3


A hurricane strikes Los Angeles bringing storm surges, water spouts and tornadoes full of sharks. Totally cheesy from the dialogue to the spec fx, this completely self-aware movie doesn't take itself seriously for a minute. As such, it's garnered an incredible cult following and 4 sequels (so far). Unless you're simply unable to appreciate good quality camp, this movie is just plain fun. Bring out the popcorn!


Mutants [2009]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 31
Personal = 4.4


French film about a couple's attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse caused by viral infection. Technically and visually, the movie was quite effective at being brutally realistic and quite unpleasant as we watch the virus slowly destroy someone in horribly, gut wrenching ways. Beyond that, there's hardly any story here at all and the pacing was quite slow ...most action takes place in the last 15 minutes. Avoid zombies, survive climactic attack, wait for rescue. That's pretty much it.


Before I Wake (aka Somnia) [2016]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 42
Personal = 7.2


A couple (who recently lost their own child) are approved to be foster parents for a child about the same age who's had a very strange past. The illogic of grieving parents getting approval to be foster parents not withstanding, what we have here is a remarkably well told story of dreams, guilt, and a child's view of the world. Pacing was an issue in that more time was spent scaring the viewer than time spent finding a solution but overall, a creepy yet very personal and touching film.


Suicide Club (aka Jisatsu sakuru) [2001]

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 69
Personal = 5.3


Japan is suffering an epidemic of suicides for unknown reasons and someone is presenting the death count on a website before they happen. It's almost like the movie was made in reverse with the opening of 54 school students leaping in front of a train as its most auspicious moment. The longer it went, the more surreal and disjointed it became with a lot of philosophy and symbolism that wasn't making any sense to me ...perhaps lost in translation? Then it just fizzled out leaving me scratching my head.


Open Desert [2013]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 5.1


A vacation for a lawyer and his girl friend in Morocco gets interrupted by business forcing the girl to tour on her own. She decides to wing it with a rugged stranger and they end up stuck in the desert. The photography is wonderful but the pace was somewhat slow and it seems that no one can speak in full sentences ...I get tired of people saying, "Why are you asking?", instead of just answering a damn question. Not a bad movie ...it just wasn't very exciting or memorable. SPOILER ALERT. Trailer is basically the whole movie.


American Assassin [2017]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 35 / 73
Personal = 7.6


A man seeking revenge against terrorists, for the killing of his fiancee, attracts the attention of the CIA and becomes a recruit. Well made, high action film with a complex story and fully realized characters. Excellent and enjoyable dynamics between the new recruit and his boss. All in all, it sort of comes off as a high budget episode of 24 ...but a real good one. And, holy cow!! You'd be hard pressed to have a more explosive climax than this. Great fun!


Titicut Follies [1967]

IMDb = 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 91
Personal = 7.0


This documentary of life inside the Bridgewater State Hospital Massachusetts was banned to the general public until 1991. It's incredibly disturbing on many levels. Although it depicts a lot of abuse (more subtle than overt), I think it's the complete lack of respect given to the inmates by people who don't really have a clue on how to deal with their condition that was really upsetting. The complete lack of narrative gives the viewer the choice of deciding the morality of all this. Bleak stuff.


V/H/S [2012]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 55 / 41
Personal = 7.7


This anthology centers around a gang of thugs breaking into a home to steal a specific VHS tape. What they find is a lot of tapes and when they start playing them, things fall apart. The five stories, plus the wrap-around story are intriguing, frightening and disturbing. All made with hand held (or similar) cameras (including one made entirely from webcams), the stories feature a different director and writer for each providing us with some very unique and disturbing visions. This is good stuff.


All Hallows' Eve [2013]

IMDb = 4.9
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 30
Personal = 7.0


After trick 'r treating, a boy finds a VHS tape in his bag of candy and the babysitter puts it on. It contains 3 horrific stories featuring the meanest clown this side of Pennywise. The filmmakers were smart in not trying to push an obviously low-budget into something beyond their ability. Despite the lame dialogue and average at best acting, they managed to create a hell of an entertaining film with grotesque imagery, edgy tension, goofy aliens and blood splatterings worthy of Herschel Gordon Lewis. Nice job.


Her [2013]

IMDb = 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 82
Personal = 7.2


In the near future, a man and a new self-aware operating system fall in love. I was getting increasingly frustrated about an hour into it as it seemed to be spending far too much time on the physical and sexual aspect of this bizarre relationship. But once it got past that, it become an extremely personal, emotional, and philosophical view of true love and demonstrated clearly that a relationship with an OS can be just as wonderful and complicated as one with a human being. Quite a thought provoking film.


V/H/S/2 [2013]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 70 / 51
Personal = 8.0


The original V/H/S was excellent. This one blows it out of the water. Five tales of horror all filmed with hand held cameras, spy cams, eye cams, dog cams, etc. The stories aren't anything complex but they grab you by the throat and won't let go. Original, horrific, gruesome, disturbing and painfully memorable, there isn't a bad story in the bunch. Good fun!



Soldiers of Fortune [2012]

IMDb = 4.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 14 / 9
Personal = 4.9


A bunch of ultra-rich men supply arms to an island resistance group in exchange for being part of the action. Lot of familiar faces in this one and they all do an adequate job. Nothing new or remarkable about the film. It's enjoyable (certainly better than the ratings seem to indicate if you aren't too critical) but pretty much everything about it is average.



Night Gallery [1969]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 75
Personal = 7.4


Made-for-TV movie and a pilot for the TV series hosted by Rod Serling featuring short stories each centered around a piece of art. Rather than the zombie, slaughter, maniac style horror that is prevalent on TV today, what we had in the 60's was mostly psychological horror which actually required a certain amount of imagination to get it's full effect. This was a supreme example of great psychological horror at the time ...especially the last story which still sends shivers down my spine.


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.


Amusement [2008]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 26
Personal = 3.9


A psycho kidnaps and terrorizes 3 women who laughed at him in school. Save me from writers without the imagination necessary to progress their contrived story without making everyone stupid. Scenes were dragged out so long that they quit becoming suspenseful and became just annoyingly frustrating. The psycho inspired no sense of dread and any of the victims could have killed him just about anytime but none seemed to be smart enough. Silly movie.


The Man Who Knew Too Much [1934]

IMDb = 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 68
Personal = 6.8


A family on vacation in Switerland, is befriended by a man who is killed but passes along information of an assassination plot before dying. The family's daughter is kidnapped to keep them quiet. Although we're still talking low-tech 1934, this film was well-paced and far more modern in style than many films from that era. I was also surprised by an extended gun battle which was well executed. Nova Pilbeam was terrible as the daughter. However, Peter Lorie was awesome as the bad guy.



Se7en [1995]

IMDb = 8.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 95
Personal = 9.6


A serial killer is killing his victims in grotesque ways to mirror the seven deadly sins. David Fincher has made some fabulous films over the years but this early effort is arguably still his best. If it isn't the darkest, dirtiest, most disturbing serial killer movie ever made, it has to be in the top 10. Phenomenal story and performances by everyone and an ending that will rip your heart out. "WHAT'S IN THE BOX"?!?!?


Horns [2013]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 49
Personal = 5.2


A young man, that everyone suspects killed the love of his life, begins growing horns and can suddenly manipulate people. This was a simple and original story that was well told. However, I had a really hard time grasping the subtleties of what's going on here and the movie could have been vastly improved if it was at least 30 mins shorter. It was interesting and I could see where a lot of people would like this movie but, sorry... I'm not one of them.


Headshot (aka Fon Tok Kuen Fah) [2011]

IMDb = 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 48
Personal = 6.0


A Thai film featuring a character study of a cop who becomes a convict who becomes an assassin who gets shot in the head, and now sees everything upside-down, and who is now running from a past that wants to kill him. This is not an action thriller but rather a solid drama with some action in it. I was interested enough with the main character to enjoy the view but overall, it's slow and, at times, rather redundant. The upside-down world idea is just a draw ...they don't really do anything with it.


It Follows [2014]

IMDb = 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 96 / 66
Personal = 8.3


After a sexual encounter, a young woman learns that a malevolent entity will relentlessly pursue her until she has sex with someone else. The film is done in an understated, Stanley Kubrick style, that is slow with rarely any action or violence and the entity just walks. However, this style (along with the incredibly distorted music) makes the film even more dreadful and insidious as you realize there is no escaping it. Another bonus ...everyone acted like normal, intelligent human beings! A landmark horror film.


Here Alone [2016]

IMDb = 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 55 / 55
Personal = 4.6


They shot for heart rending but ended up with an ultra boring story of 3 people trying to survive in the wild as a virus turns the earth's population into zombies. But can they survive each other? I guess the message here is, even in a fight for survival, a stupid teenager's hormones trumps all ..I think. It's hard to figure out what would motivate anyone to do what they did. I just don't get it.



The Rezort (aka Generation Z) [2015]

IMDb = 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 22
Personal = 7.2


The world is still recovering from a zombie outbreak that occurred 10 years ago and killed 2 billion people. One way to make you feel better is to go to the Rezort ...an island where you can spend your weekend killing zombies. Despite the ludicrous premise that the whole security of the park can be shut down by a computer virus, this was actually the best zombie flick I've seen since The Horde. Good action, smart characters, and lots of zombie.


Mind, Body & Soul [1992]

IMDb = 2.7
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.7


A man takes his girlfriend to a satanic cult sacrifice and now they want to kill her. This is basic filmmaking 101. I'd have guessed it was done by a middle school class except for all the boobs and softcore sex. The acting and dialogue were so inane. People just don't act like that and the actors were simply doing what was necessary in a scene to get to the next scene ...many of which don't make much sense. Yet, oddly, at no time did I want to turn it off. How the hell does that work?


Star Trek [2009]

IMDb = 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 94 / 91
Personal = 8.2


This reboot of the franchise presents Kirk, Spock, Bones, and many other USS Enterprise alumni boarding the ship for the first time under Captain Pike as they hunt down a psycho Romulan from the future who threatens to destroy planets. This is really nicely done with a super complex multiple timeline story that'll make your head hurt if you think about it too much but it's presented in an understandable way. The character dynamics were great and the spec fx are just awesome. Bravo!


Bloody Wednesday (aka The Great American Massacre) [1987]

IMDb = 4.1
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 30
Personal = 4.1


Harry is a simple man who is slowly going insane. This movie features a no-budget production quality, terrible pacing and amateur acting. However, what little money they had went to some pretty imaginative ideas and overall, it's not really that bad a movie.

Summer Camp [2015]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 38
Personal = 4.3


Four American counselors are setting up a summer camp in Spain when they inexplicably become psychotic killers. (heavy sigh) Ok... The agent that inflicts them and how it works is very good and quite unique. That alone had a huge potential to make a great movie. However, once again, the filmmakers decided to make all the principals morons. By the time the first one was inflicted, I was so frustrated in their behavior, I didn't care what happened to them. What a waste of a good idea.


Top Secret! [1984]

IMDb = 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 80
Personal = 7.1


From the creators of Airplane comes a comedy with a similar style featuring an American rock artist who gets wrapped up in a war between East German fascists and the Resistance. Irreverent, silly, corny, and extremely punny, this film is just good fun. Val Kilmer's musical performances as the rock star with everybody dancing and Omar Sharif's performance as a crushed car are hilarious and priceless. Get some popcorn and laugh awhile.


The Watcher (aka Driven) [2000]

IMDb = 5.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 10 / 28
Personal = 6.1


A psyche damaged ex-FBI agent is reluctantly drawn into a case hunting down the same serial killer that damn near destroyed him. This was a very tense and entertaining game of cat and mouse with James Spader (cop) and Keanu Reeves (killer) turning in some excellent performances. The ending was somewhat cliche and a bit of a let down but overall, an exciting film much better than the ratings seem to indicate and well worth watching.


Animal House [1978]

IMDb = 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 89
Personal = 9.4


One of the true comedy classics centering around a frat house full of the most unruly bunch of students in history. National Lampoon has never been able to top it since, imo. I also have the original Faber College yearbook that came out the same year and probably the best publication NL has ever produced. Truly funny stuff. These are the kind of movies that really make you miss the talents of Doug Kenny (writer) and the late great John Belushi. Always a favorite.


Nothing Left to Fear (aka Stull) [2013]

IMDb = 4.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 8 / 17
Personal = 4.1


Pastor and family move to Stull ...a quiet little country town with a very dark and deadly secret. Two nightmare sequences (completely irrelevant) and a shock sequence saves the first hour from completely boring us to death with mysterious but unexplained behavior and veiled ambiguities. Finally, things get started with some very nice horrific spec fx but it looses its luster after 20 minutes. In the end, I really don't have any idea what happened or why ...nor do I care. Pretty lame movie.


Blade [1998]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 54 / 78
Personal = 7.5


A vampire half-breed, with their strength and skills but still able to operate in daylight, is fighting a war to destroy vampires for the killing of his mother. The vampires are busy trying to summon the blood God, La Magra. One of the great action pieces of the '90's, Wesley Snipes is perfect as the vampire killer. Good story, good acting, good action, good everything. A movie with very few flaws and super fun.


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