October 2018

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Mara [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 26
Personal = 4.4


Nearly the same movie as Dead Awake, it's yet another horror movie centered around sleep paralysis. With so many out now, you'd think they'd get more creative ...or at least, scarier. But, unfortunately, this is just another run-of-the-mill film on the subject. In fact, much of it seems to be a combination of bits and pieces of other similar horror films, including the bathtub scene right out of Be Afraid. The inevitable ending didn't help much either. It held my interest but that's the best I can say for it.

Hellraiser [1987]


                     
Rotten Tomatoes = 68 / 73
Personal = 8.7


Frank opens the box and gives in to the ultimate experiences of pain and pleasure incurring the wrath of the Cenobites. With just a bit of blood, Frank is trying to come back ...and the Cenobites don't like that. With 10 movies in the franchise, this is still by far the best with the second a close second. Main reason being Clive Barker (writer/director) established that this had little to do with hell and far more to do with the primal and grotesque instinct in some of us to experience it all, despite the consequences. Brilliant film!

What Happened to Monday [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 59 / 66
Personal = 7.3


In an over-populated future society, a set of identical septuplets must grow up learning to be one person by having each impersonate this persona on a daily basis to prevent having their family torn apart. I could see this more as a television series because so much happened in two hours that I felt a bit assaulted story-wise. But it was done extremely well, with a magnificent performance by Noomi Rapace, and the predictable, inevitable outcome even felt true and logical. Exciting, thought provoking entertainment.

Man of Tai Chi [2013]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 50
Personal = 7.1


A Tai Chi fighter is hired by an ultra-rich and evil entrepreneur that broadcasts fights to the uber elite. Basically one martial arts fight after another throughout the entire film. However, as director, Keanu Reeves did a superb job of providing fully formed characters and storyline (simple as it may be) in those few quiet moments adding a good deal of depth to the film. The fights are so imaginatively choreographed that I never had the feeling I was watching the same old thing over and over again. Well done!

Lion of the Desert [1980]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 93
Personal = 6.9


A historical biopic about Italy's invasion of Libya in the 20's to 30's, centered around the Italian Gen. Rodolfo Graziani and the leader of the Libya people, Omar Mukhtar. At 173 mins, it is excessively long winded and could have easily dropped a hour. Regardless, it is a compelling film that held my interest throughout. Although dated by today's standard, the warfare was well presented and, at times, quite brutal. Oliver Reed and Anthony Quinn were excellent and the human misery of warfare was captured well.

Hellraiser II: Hellbound [1988]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 56 / 58
Personal = 8.2


Directly following the events in the first film, a doctor has an obsessive need to resurrect Julia and enter into the world of the Cenobites ...a place of horrors unimagined. Christy just wants to find her father. Not quite as good as the first but only because the first is more grounded in our reality. This one spends much of it's time in another world that is somewhat cheap looking and lacking in authenticity but psychologically twisted enough to be quite surreal and disturbing. Gorier than the first one, by far.

The Yellow Birds [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 48
Personal = 6.8


An extremely dark and emotionally devastating story of 3 soldiers that experience something horrific in a war somewhere in the Middle East and the inability to cope with normal life at home afterwards. I didn't think I was going to give this film a very high rating for a couple reasons. The inability to deal with home life is forced down our throats to the point of annoyance. Also, continually jumping around in the story's timeline was irritating. But the ending reveal brought it all together in a cohesive, albeit, painful resolution.

Storm [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 54
Personal = 4.6


A Swedish film about ...well ...I don't know, really. Something to do with comic characters come to life and a cube. They drag some guy into the situation who's supposed to find out what's in this all-so-important cube and basically lives through a version of A Christmas Carol re-discovering some ugly moments in his past. When the cube is opened, it was like, "Really? That's it? I don't get it." With no explanation, this film is a pointless mish mash of story lines with one story line left completely unresolved. Bizarre!

Spinning Man [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 42 / 42
Personal = 5.4


A girl goes missing and a dedicated detective believes a somewhat absent-minded professor is responsible. The film does an excellent job at never making it clear if the professor is guilty or not while presenting an excellent and seriously intense character study of all those involved. Unfortunately, it becomes a one-trick pony as that's all it does until the resolution ...which is strange. The film never clearly defines many issues it brings up. Add an ambiguous ending and this viewer was left with a lot of questions.

Colossal [2016]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 59
Personal = 4.6


A man and woman, childhood friends, find that when they go to a park at a specific time, a monster and robot appear in Seoul, Korea that they control. Terrific idea for a film but totally wasted in this one. What this film is about is the mean-spirited relationships between a bunch of psychologically dysfunctional people to the point of exchanging blows and possibly a killing? The creatures are simply a gimmick to make it appear this is a comedy/fantasy but it's not. I found nothing funny here ...just a lot of deep-seated anger.

Black Water [2018]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 21
Personal = 4.9


A deep cover agent is captured and taken aboard a black site submarine and interrogated in hopes of receiving a drive with critical info. This movie is nothing more than your typical black ops fiasco with several people, all with their own agendas, chasing and shooting each other. Although mildly entertaining, there isn't anything here we haven't seen in a typical episode of 24 and is mainly used as a show piece to give Dolph and Jean-Claude something to do. At least, I wasn't bored.

Dave Made a Maze [2017]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 73
Personal = 6.7


Alone for the weekend, Dave builds a cardboard maze in his living room which becomes an expansive, ever-growing labyrinth on the inside complete with tricks, traps and a Minotaur. This simple, imaginative idea was exceptionally well executed making this film quite a joyful experience. The characters were likable and it kept me fully engaged despite the fact that the film was losing it's luster about halfway through. Didn't care for the ending either but still quite a fun, unique and well worth a watch.

Bleeding Steel [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 24 / 25
Personal = 6.4


A scientist gave a mechanical heart and bio-engineered blood to a young girl and now there's an international chase to either protect the girl or catch the girl and strip her of the biotech. This is basically your typical Jackie Chan action film and, even in his 60's, he still delivers. The story is simple with no surprises so if you're looking for substance, you won't find it here. But the characters were likable, the action was great and, although the ending was a bit ambiguous (sequel plans?), it was still good fun.

The Forest [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 10 / 22
Personal = 4.5


A woman searches for her identical twin sister in the Aokigahara Forest in Japan ...also known as the Suicide Forest. The first half hour spent its time setting up the journey into the forest and provided a couple jump scares (that had nothing to do with the story) to remind us this is a horror movie. The next half hour was spent wondering through the forest. Finally, the last half hour got interesting but not very scary and the ending was a let down. This might frighten some younger teens but I found it pretty dull. The trailer is scarier.

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